Turbo Miata: Part Three

After a brief hiatus, I come bearing lots of updates about the Miata.

First things first, I finally have a running, driving car again.  After a literal week of messing with the Miata for 5+ hours a day, I have it put back together.  What started as the seemingly ‘easiest’ part of the project became a huge investment of blood, sweat and tears (almost).

The initial teardown went pretty smoothly and I got all the parts out with little or no difficulty.  Once things were stripped down to the timing belt, I locked the cams off with crescent wrenches and started the task of swapping out the timing belt, water pump, pulleys and various seals (cam/crank).  The water pump went in smoothly, then my job was tackling actually timing the motor.  This was a gigantic pain and I won’t sugarcoat it.  There seems to be a tendency that videos make everything seem easier and trust me this was no exception.

Days later, after finally getting the motor in time and the car back together it was time for a test.  I opened up the radiator and began to fill it with coolant and was greeted with the most unpleasant of sites… A coolant leak.


Before even being able to turn the car over, I knew I was going to have to tear things down to the point I began at.  Without being able to exactly pinpoint the leaky spot, I feared for the worst, ie having to remove the timing belt and readjust the water pump.  I stripped all the covers and belts off, including the timing belt to access the water pump and re-seat/re-torque the bolts.  After doing so I fortunately got the motor back in time pretty easily.

Then came another test of the coolant system and low and behold the leak persisted.  I finally located the spot of the leak and it was on the water pump inlet.  I had some issues getting the gasket to seat and after separating the inlet and water pump the gasket was completely off center causing no seal.  The bad part is that gasket seal was also used so the gasket was rendered useless (not bad, it’s a 2$ part).  When the local stores didn’t have the gasket I needed, I decided to resort to gasket creator RVT.  After a little trial and error, the inlet held the coolant in and everyone (mainly me) was very happy.

I put everything back together, seated the valve cover and completed my final check of the engine bay.  I sat back, turned the key and hoped for the best.  Fortunately, minus a bit of a lifter tick (car has been sitting for months) it ran excellent.  No leaks, no weird smells and no scary noises.

From this point, I swapped out the stock airbox with an adapter and pod filter, in preparation for the turbo.  Additionally, I made a new coolant overflow with a Monster can and installed a boost gauge.  Yes that’s right… I installed a boost gauge in a naturally aspirated car.  I’m going down the list of turbo parts and changing things so the car could still in theory run.  I plan to do all the major mods (manifold, turbo, exhaust, oil lines, etc) when the weather starts to warm up again.  Therefore, I’m doing the little things now.  The gauge is cool, 7 color changing and it reads 0 psi of boost… not for long?



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