2014: The year of the Kart: Coolant ReRoute pt 1.5

The car was not running as cool as I like because the fan was taking too long to come on. My theory at this point is that the temp switch for the fan is simply not seeing much coolant in the thermostat delete.

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Given that, a buddy proposed whipping up a thermostat housing delete, and putting the switch in there. To test this theory, he did it in his car and had positive results, so he sent one my way. A lot of people put a freeze plug in where the t-stat neck went, which is fine, but the coolant sensor has to go somewhere (we could run the fan off the ECU, but that takes some hardware upgrades I don’t feel like doing at this point).That’s the easiest place. He also sent me a ‘surprise’ he threw together from something he had sitting on his shelf. Already threaded to go on the shifter 😀

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Once the car comes back from the cage builder, I’ll be digging into the cooling system yet again, hopefully for the last time for a while, to get this installed.

Hill Climb Prep Part 2: The car

Something not previously mentioned is that my car has been at my cage builder’s for a few months. He has an infant, and I have a ride for the season, so the understanding was that it’ll get done when it gets done. No worries, but, safety improvements have been happening.

Originally posted on: 09-20-2014

Did some work on the car this weekend. A lot of it was finicky fitment type stuff (make sure the front hoop firewall support doesn’t interfere with my left foot, make sure the clutch actuation isn’t affected), so not a ton big progress, but a lot of the hard stuff got done. The remaining work will be the relatively easy door bars, rear-to-front-hoop supports, and a few gussetts.

While we were there, we also did a bit of work on getting a dash cover made up. Dave had the genius idea to keep about a third of the stock dash bar to support the center ‘console’ and the steering column, and tie that into the front roll hoop.

Front hoop up top, stock dash bar bits on the bottom):

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Made a cardboard template of the space available for a dash cover:

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Since it was all straight lines, we cut it out of the 8×4′ sheet of ABS with a circular saw. Easy-ish. I’ll have enough ABS to make the air-dam for a proper front splitter, and a rear spoiler.
Here it is in place and taped in. Dave’s going to get a few weld-in Dzus brackets to put on the leading edge, and to make a few supports up from the front hoop to the dash cover, also with dzus tabs, so it’ll be 6 or 7 quick release fasteners holding the cover in place.

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It looks better in person than in pics, but it’ll have the added bonus of helping shield the electronics from spray (much less of a concern now than it was last year, but still).

Originally posted on: 08-13-2014
1 step closer to Hill Climb for next year

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Hill Climb Safety Prep Part 1: Driver Gear

Originally posted on: 05-22-2014

Picked up a couple things in the last few weeks for the next fun thing (IE: SCCA SEDiv Time Trial & Hill Climb):

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Mid-top boots, gloves, nomex socks & balaclava, arm restraints (open top car, no window nets, etc):

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Maybe I can get 3M Duct Tape to sponsor me!
(…riiiiight)

Originally posted on: 09-05-2014

Last major piece of safety gear acquired for TT / HC. I was planning on begging / borrowing a HANS from a friend, but this one came up for sale locally for utter peanuts. It’s an older model, but I took it to Downing Atlanta (ie: the people who created the HANS) to have it re-certified and get sliding tethers installed. So… new-to-me HANS device for <$200 all told (including initial purchase). Friggin. Score.

Before:

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After:

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2014: The year of the Kart: Breather & Intake

Real race-car classes: if you don’t like how something is, quit bitching and make a new one to fix it. Deleted the PCV and added a proper 1 qt breather.

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Another small improvement. Went from this (note the amazing strategic use of zip-ties to secure the intake to the tub):

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To this:

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The filter has a provision & reinforcement in the center for a bolt to go through, so I made a little bracket out of some bar stock and secured it in place. Now the damn thing won’t be dragging on the damn tub anymore every time the engine moves, and is clear of the new radiator tubing as well.

2014: The year of the Kart: ECU & Battery Relocation

Originally posted on: 03-29-2014

Started relocating & stripping down the battery harness to move the battery to the passenger footwell. It’ll get that (little…) weight lower in the car, and also give me a handy place to house the ECU so that I won’t need to do zip-tie a grocery bag over it anymore to keep it dry in transit.

Had to get all this:

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(yes, that’s zip ties holding lead down… emergency fix to keep us legal at Nats) To here, to strip the harness down:

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Not sure yet if I want to mount it transverse (as shown), or laterally down the tunnel. Mounted like this, I can use the stock ECU cover studs as 2 tie down points for the box.

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The “floor plan” is about as tight as I’m comfortable with for clearance between the battery and ECU, but it’s enough. It’ll fill in a lot more with the wiring for the main engine harness to the ECU, alternator to battery (via master kill switch), and kill switch to battery wiring in place. That gold bit on the floor of the box is 1 of the battery mounts, made from the battery mounts from the trunk (modified to fit the way I need them to), appropriately enough. So far I’m happy with it. I’m waiting on a few bolts to come in from McMaster to get it bolted to the chassis to do a final mock-up, then make a slot to run the wiring harness in, and start running wires for the battery harness.

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Originally posted on: 04-02-2014 Finished mounting the battery box, cleaned up the battery, alternator and ignition switch wiring, and, oh yeah, dropped in the drivetrain. It’s starting to look like a car again

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Originally posted on: 04-03-2014 Finished up wiring The Box, buttoned up like, a BUNCH of stuff on the engine & trans, and terminated the wiring for the master cutoff switch. I’m genuinely pleased with how the battery box came out. Not having to worry about the ECU while running or towing in the rain will be nice.

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Master switch tidied up.

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2014: The year of the Kart (and fixing / upgrading my miata): Coolant re-route

Originally posted on: 02-20-2014

Well it’s been a while, but I’m finally tearing back into this and doing a bit of a refresh and taking care of some maintenance. Mazdaspeed Motorsports is the shiz as always, and is going to help a lot. My $150 shopping cart there would easily be triple using dealer prices.

The big items are: Transmission input shaft seal, and a full refresh of the cooling system. The Water pump & TB are pretty new, but just about everything else is getting cleaned up and replaced. I’m also installing a modified BEGi reroute while I’m at it. I got the kit used and most of the parts are for stock cars, so a lot of them are being eliminated. There are a few minor jobs here and there as well that’ll take place.

For now, step 1. While I had it out, I did a quick fix to prevent the throttle body screws from backing out (common on 1.6s at high RPMs). No pictures and the TB’s already back in, but… it’s done.

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For the coolant system: As stated, I’m modifying a BEGi kit to use in my car, and removing a lot of the stock coolant hoses, including eliminating all of the heater core facilities. Done so far. -Eliminate the Throttle Body and Intake Manifold coolant hoses. Used 3/8″ bypass covers to cap them off. Probably not totally necessary, but I felt better doing that rather than having a bunch of open ports. -Cutting a Thermostat to keep coolant system pressure up, but eliminating a failure point for if the t-stat were to ever fail, as they fail closed. Sub-optimal. -Plug the heater core port on the BEGi spacer. -Install the rear spacer and thermostat housing. -Delete the stock front thermostat housing, install cover plate with facility for coolant fan temp switch.

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To do: -Instead of using the cobbled together various hoses and tubes the BEGi kit comes with, I learned that you can use a Cadillac Escalade upper radiator hose that does the entire run from the rear thermostat housing to the upper radiator port. Ordered one from my local FLAPS, should be in tomorrow. -Replace the coolant cap at the back of the head, along with a couple others. I’m not using regular 3/8″ bypass covers for those, but the stock Mazda part as it’s specifically for coolant, which these will be seeing. 1 goes at the intake manifold, 1 for the stock coolant neck where it would go to the throttle body, and then the last one for the stock back-of-the-head location. -Order Water Wetter. Originally posted on: 02-25-2014 Coolant re-route easy button. 2002 Cadillac Escalade upper rad hose. It’ll need to be cut to fit once the engine and radiator are back in place. It’s kinked because I’m ‘hanging’ it off the throttle body to keep it off the ground, btw:

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Don’t need these anymore…

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Don’t need this anymore…

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Don’t need that…

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Or that…

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And definitely not those…

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Originally posted on: 04-01-2014 Probably not the prettiest thing I’ll ever make, but I fabbed up a quick & dirty blockoff plate for the air valve, and also capped off the PCV & IM nipple for the PCV. Used the stock bolts (which are not fully threaded) and ran a tap down to the head, then cut them to length.

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Baby’s First SCCA Solo Nationals

Originally posted on: 09-01-2013

All packed up and ready to head out to the big show in Lincoln, NE. SCCA Solo National Championships bound.

We drove the whole way on Sunday. Left at 3:30 am Central, arrived at 9:00 pm Central. 1000 miles is a LOOOONG way

Originally posted on 09-04-2013

Suffice it to say that Nationals was a freaking riot. Tuesday went so-so. It was my 1st runs ever at nationals and I was inside my own head, and stunk it up pretty badly. But even my co-driver, who held his own in the car couldn’t do much due to the point-and-shoot super high-speed into a pin cone nature of the East course. I was not a fan of the course, and it did not agree with my car.

We added 6 lb of weight in the morning, and rolled across the scales at 1700 lbs even on day 1. Min weight is 1695. *phew*

Peter was 12th and I was 14th of 16 after day 1.

We added another 9 lb of weight that evening for Wednesday’s west course, which walked fun, and drove REALLY fun. The car was well set up for it, we made a small tweak which made it even better, and just had an absolute blast… until my last run when we found out we apparently burned a LOT more fuel than expected. The thing is acting like it’s almost totally out of fuel. I’ve never fuel starved a miata before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. It happened to me about 4 times on my last run, but alas, live and learn. Even with that, that course was excellent. So much fun. Hang on as tight as you can and find out exactly how much you trust the car. Lots of sweepers and transitions.

Peter ended the day in 11th, and I was in 12th. After my utterly abysmal day 1 performance, I’m pretty pleased with that (1 of the places I gained was due to a Lotus with a dead throwout bearing).

All in all, a very successful 1st Solo Nationals for us. Lots of beer drank. Lots of 4 Square played in the Atlanta paddock.

Now, to trade my 4.3:1 diff for a 4.1:1… because damn do we need the gearing. It was better on the West course, but through the slaloms in the 1st couple sections I was just riding the limiter in 2nd.

And onward the project goes

I should probably get a little rest… we’re getting up at 3am to pick up the trailer (with the car already loaded) from the event site for the 17 hour trek home. Fingers crossed that it’ll be as uneventful as the tow up.

Originally posted on: 09-08-2013

Like I told my co-driver when we backed the trailer into my drive-way last night:
“This was a really, REALLY stupid idea. We should do that again sometime.”

Nationals was a great and eye opening experience, and sort of like the 12 Hours of Sebring or the 24 Hours of LeMans (ok, it’s nothing at all like those…), it revealed a few shortcomings and weaknesses in my car. 1st off was the diff. It’s way, way too short. The 4.3:1 just won’t cut it on short 13″ tires. A 4.1:1 is going in today. If that’s too short still, a 3.909:1 can be brought to bear, but I fear the gearing on that may be TOO long. A 4.1 will give us what we need for locals.

Unfortunately in pulling the diff, the end-caps on the axles (we’re using 94-95 axles with stub-shafts) popped off, so now I’ve got to pull those and re-pack the inner CVs. New axle nuts ordered from MMD.

We found a LOT of difficulty changing into 3rd gear, something we’d not had trouble with in the past. Looking at the video, we’re getting a lot of drivetrain movement. The shifter used to be pretty rock solid. It’s jumping all over the place now. After about 5 or 6 years of nothing but autocross use, it appears that my Mazdaspeed motor mounts are on the way out. I’ve got a set of Delrin bushings coming to replace those.

I also figured out why on my last run at Nationals I kept getting fuel starve…