Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pushing Ahead

I'm really trying to maintain some forward progress on the '94 Miata refurb. It's way too easy for these kinds of projects to fade into the background and the next thing you know there's a car in your garage with crap piled on top of it and it hasn't moved in five years. So this weekend I'm getting into the engine compartment. I've removed the radiator and disconnected all the wiring harness connections to the engine. I'm starting to remove accessories and ancillaries in preparation for painting the engine compartment. Today I had planned to remove the cylinder head and intake manifold. I didn't quite get there, though, because the EGR tube fitting on the exhaust header was BEEYOTCH to get off and I didn't have enough steam left in me to get the head off. I also realized that the header is going to have to come loose from the cat so I can get it out of the way, so I decided to stop for today and continue later in the week. I'm really interested to see the condition of the cylinders and the valves, so that will be exciting.
When I pulled the cam cover yesterday, I was pleased to see how clean the top of the engine is. It's got a nice bronze coloration to it, but no sludge or varnish whatsoever. Just goes to show the benefit of running synthetic oil for the last 130,000 miles. It may be a different story inside the combustion chambers, though. This engine was supercharged for 10,000 miles a few years ago and it's been beat to hell on the track and on the street for 18 years now. Recently I had a lot of pinging caused by a dirty AFM so I would not but surprised to find the valves in poor condition. We'll see. Also, I didn't get a picture of it yet, but there is a pretty massive oil leak from the front main seal. This concerns me because I think it's my fault and I think it may be really hard to fix. When I did the timing belt last, about 35,000 miles ago, I replaced that seal but I had a REALLY hard time getting the old seal out. I pried at it with some rather unsophisticated instruments before I really learned the trick to getting stubborn seals out and I think may have scored the side of the recess. If that's the case, I may have an engine that's going to leak for the rest of its service life, and that's a shame because it's a solid bottom end with a lot of life left in it. It sure has made a mess of the front and bottom of my engine, though.
I also started the repairs to the cracks on the dashboard. Using some Permatex PermaPoxy Plastic Weld epoxy (available at your Friendly Local Auto Parts Store (FLAPS)) I welded some small strips of plastic to the underside of the dash, spanning both sides of the three biggest cracks. I also smeared some along some smaller cracks that radiated out from the big ones. There are a couple more I need to get to but I ran out of plastic scraps to weld on. I also ordered a plastic repair kit from Eastwood. My plan is to use this kit to tackle the top side of these cracks because the Eastwood kit can be had in black, clear, or white. Of course my dash is black so my hope is that I can effect a top-side repair that blends in. Already, though, the leading edge of the dash is FAR more sturdy and solid. I have high hopes that this will be a good repair.

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