Well, that was a cock-up…

Not been doing too much to the car this last week but small steps forwards were made over the last couple of days. Mostly heater related. Being an ignorant person whilst also wanting to make sure I used as many standard parts as possible to make replacement due to failure easier I was insistent on using the original Herald heater valve. For those not in the know, it sits on the outside of the heater box which lives in the engine bay. It attaches to that by having a rubber olive seal directly onto the pipe of the heater matrix and the unit is bolted to the heater box so it’s secure enough to be cable operated. I couldn’t use the original any more as the engine is where the heater was, so I’ve used a mk4/1500 Spitfire heater box inside the car. And I couldn’t mount it directly onto the pipes of the heater matrix as one pull on the cable to adjust temperature would bend it all. So, one block of aluminium later there was a solution!

Those with a good memory will remember I was going to use a mk3 heater. I’ve swapped for a later one as it’s slightly faster. I’ve bypassed the resistor and now it’ll run at full speed rather than having two settings. I have no need for a slow fan. If I want less warmth I’ll turn it down with the heater valve. I only really want it for screen demisting anyway as I’ve not had a working heater for some time now and I’m used to it. I’ve also not cut any extra holes in the bulkhead for its inlet. Instead I’ve spaced it from the bulkhead so it’ll constantly be re-circulating cabin air. This may see the windows getting mistier as it heats moist air, it may not. It’ll certainly make bottom burps more potent.

I’ve also had a problem with a leaking fuel tank which after a bit of faffing was solved. But that lead to me spotting injector number four was leaking. After a bit of research I discovered that Mazda changed the insulator between the injector and inlet manifold early in the MX5 production. What I had fitted to my car was the early (and probably never touched before) one which didn’t like to be disturbed which I’ve obviously had to do to paint the manifold. The new ones were also used on mk2 MX5’s and will happily be removed and messed around with numerous times before they begin to leak. Turns out these new insulators aren’t very cheap either, well, I consider £20 for four little bits of rubber coated plastic to be expensive! So I bought an injector seal kit for the same price and set to it. Very quick and easy as it turns out, but then that could be in part to me being careful and thinking out a few things last time I reassembled everything with the intention of making strip down quick and easy!

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So now it was time to fill the car up with water and discover my cock-up. I’d made my own manifold gasket when I took it apart. This is shaped and not reversible. I guess it’s for the engines original turbo configuration that it has a strange water way into the cylinder head at one end underneath cylinders three and four which doesn’t go anywhere. I’d made my gasket to fit perfectly, removed it, applied some sealant and then fitted it the wrong way. A fact I only found out when filling the car up with water and hearing it splash onto the floor. Whoops! Wondering if I’d cracked the head from using too much copper slip (still working hard to use up a tin of the horrible stuff) and hydro-locking a bolt hole or from running the engine with no water for a few seconds I slowly removed the manifold. Again, an easy job thanks to a little thought earlier. It was then that I saw the water way and gasket. I must have fitted it as a final job one day when tired. Anyhoo, new gasket is made and it allowed me to get some paint onto the areas which had been stripped from the petrol.

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Oh, I also tinkered with the dashboard some more. I tried to use the film I had to coat it with and ended up with a horribly creased mess. So I went out and boat a can of spray paint and have it a quick blast.

Rust be gone! I hope…

It’s 8am as I start to type this. I’m onto coffee number 4 already. Well, it’s instant stuff and I’m using two spoons of granules per cup. Does that make eight cups of terrible coffee? I dunno and the wizard behind me is telling me to stop typing rubbish and hurry up with this entry so we can go and ride the magical sand dragon together. I’m getting a bit fed up of it to be honest, he’s getting very demanding these days since he bought his new staff with some inheritance.

I’m hopefully done with all the welding, woohoo! Although I’ve said that before, so shhhh. The chassis needs work but it’ll last until next year, hopefully longer. I’ve no reason to look over other bits of the car now either so shouldn’t find any more rot. In fact, there’s nothing else to check! I think…

Other than the boot corners the major rot was where the boot floor bolts to the chassis. It was bad. Very bad. The only option I had was to rip it out and see what happened. So I took some measurements, wrote them on the car over the primer already on there, braced the tub with wood then got cutting.

For a bit of fun and curiosity I removed the wooden brace and the boot floor never moved which I’m guessing means I was wise and I’ve done a good job of getting the other holes filled and solid before doing the boot? You can’t buy repair sections for the boot floor so I used the old bonnet to make very simple repairs. It’s rough, but it’s ready.

I’ve just got some paint on it this morning. It’s not very pretty, the wise will spot the double skinning has gone from areas I’d repaired and I don’t care. No spots welds, it’s all seam welded and more importantly it’s solid. I’ll get some more paint on it later.

Hopefully it’ll last a little while before I can find a new rear tub, the funds for one and the motivation to do it. It’s had so many repairs now that there’s hardly anything original left! In fact, if you look you can see previous weld repairs from the previous owner – they’ll be the pretty ones. Yep, I should have cut them out so I only had one repair line. Nope, I don’t care. I didn’t have the time to do a “proper” job, it just needed to get done. It’s a bit like a car fiddled with by English Heritage now as well, you can see all the previous work. It’s a Grade Turd listed car. Also notice the terrible colour match from what was meant to be the correct paint and paint reaction I’ve got to sort out. Brilliaaaaaaaaaaaaaant!

Ok, other stuff. The speedo got damaged and ended up with it’s needle pointing straight down so I decided to strip it all. Turns out it wasn’t needed as it’s an interference fit and just needed moving round but I now know how its internals work which will help further trouble shooting. A bit of knowledge for five minutes work is always ok with me.

This also got me thinking, can I make my own gauges? So I put some rice onto boil then fired up the scanner. One tasty dinner and a very quick flap with a scalpel later and I had the following.

I’ve decided it’s good enough to at least keep tinkering with. Others who have seen it in the flesh like it as well. A job to explore later me thinks so it could get interesting.

I also finally finished painting bits in the engine. I’ve rotated the injectors so the plugs are easy to get to as well and I’ve learnt more about the engine. Again, it’s all knowledge I’m gaining to help me in the future. Plus it looks perdy. I’ve left the throttle body as a horrible dirty mess as it’d be a bugger to strip down just to paint and I’m lazy.

It’ll be interesting to see how many air leaks I’ve created….

Mostly rust and something shiny

So when installing my boot light and what not I noticed a small rusty patch in the boot and decided to get jabby with a screwdriver. The holes got a touch bigger but nothing which worried me. The petrol tank didn’t really need to be removed to fix them but whilst I had the welder out I thought I may as well repair the wheel arches which the tanks does have to come out for as you have to get to bolts to remove the rear valances. This is where it got interesting! The boot floor bolts to the chassis in two places on the floor pan, both of which have strengthening panels. Yep, you guessed it, rotten. It’s going to be an interesting repair as the rear body tub needs to come off to do it really but I can’t be arsed! It’ll have to come off later to replace some chassis bits I’ve already got but I don’t want to do that job just yet. I’m also discovering that everything I’m repairing or replacing has been don’t be a previous owner in the past.

Doesn’t look too bad, pretty small really.

Until I poked some more and decided I needed to remove this lot. That’s a small portion of what’s been cut out. I even found the inner wheel arch on one side wasn’t attached to the body in places so I’m happy I went over the top with the screwdriver.

So, you get the gist… Since fitting the Mazda engine I’ve had a slight smell of petrol from the car and I think I found out why as I was doing all this. It appears that it was leaking at the return to the tank which will be an easy fix. But to make sure it was only that and not a hole in the tank I present to you my method of tank pressure testing!

As this was all going on I thought I’d have some quiet time so took the rocker cover off to paint it, resulting in one sheared thermostat housing bolt. Yes, I’ve painted that as well. I’m not after a super amazing finish, just something nice. As said, that’s the whole point of the car. Nice, usable, fun but deffo not a show car and rough edges are more than fine! This is how it is right now, rattle can finish is good enough for me! Complete with one random dog hair which somehow floated on it when the top coat was wet.

And also had a quick run out with a couple of mates at one point as well.