Dzus All the Things!

…or at least, the bumper. More.

Now that the engine is in, and I’m waiting for the wiring harness work to be completed, I took a little time for a side project I’d wanted to do for a while. Removing the bumpers on these is a pain in the @$$ due to a few things, but mainly due to the 2 studs on each side that can only be tightened from underneath the fender. Since I had a welder, some dzus fasteners, some fenders and some time, it was time to break out the grinding wheels. And since I’d recently converted the welder over to a MIG configuration, I wanted to get some practice before working on the exhaust.

These are the studs in question:


A little gentle massaging with a cutting disk and a sanding drum to clean everything up, and you’re left with a smooth surface on the inside of the bumper skin:



After putting the bumper on to mock up the position of the Dzus fastener:


And the finished product, after painting over the welds and cleaning up the overspray with mineral spirits:



Engine Swap v1.8

Forgive the massive pic dump. Today was a huge day, and we got a TON done. Found a bunch of undocumented issues that we had to work around, but in the end, we were triumphant.

The “go-to” fueling solution for the 01+ swap into an NA is to use a 1999 fuel rail and the NA Fuel Pressure regulator so it’ll work with the stock return lines, as opposed to the NB’s returnless fuel system. The first we were going to have made itself evident fairly straight away. The fuel feed line was interfering with the mount for the stock VTCS solenoid (I’d already deleted the VTCS). Fortunately, the fuel lines are super soft metal, and a quick, careful bend on the vise got me the clearance I needed. This will become a running theme.


Up next was figuring out the FPR side of this. The 1.6L FPR was interfering directly with the air-space that the upper intake manifold wanted to be in. Another gentle, careful bend on the vise got it where it needed to be. It’s not very pretty, pointing straight up, but it works. For future posterity, the part number to convert the Mazda ‘quick release’ (maybe if you have the tool, I don’t) fuel line to a standard barb fitting is Dorman 800-116.


The next issue was getting the BeGi reroute spacer spacer to fit. The retainer for the cover on the back of the exhaust cam was getting in the way, so I cut the bottom half of it off and got the clearance I needed.


The final fitment issue was the upper intake manifold now interfering with the feed tube on the 99 fuel rail. I hit the manifold with a dremel and a sanding wheel, and carefully ground a little at a time until I could see daylight between the manifold and the rail with the bolts snugged down. It took several tries, simply because I didn’t want to take too much material off.


Once we got done with those small, but time consuming issues, it was time to start actually putting things to right. Here’s the vac line routing from the FPR. I threw on some loom cover to protect it from chafing on the bottom of the throttle body mounting plate.


Clutch pron. Because…do I really need a reason? It’s art.


We went ahead and ran fuel and coolant hoses run while it was still out of the car for convenience sake, but otherwise ready to slide tab A into slot B.


Finally in! No pics of the process because it was an all-hands-on-deck affair. I had to re-learn tricks on how to line up the motor mounts, as the tricks I know for the NA mounts don’t work for the wider / longer NB mounts. It took a little time, but once I figured out that both mounts needed to be in place in the chassis, loosely, and then the engine slid into place, we got it done.


More loom over the fuel hoses to prevent chaffing of those. Because that would be bad. I’m really not a huge fan of how that FPR forces the fuel hose to be run, but it’s field expedient, and will probably be fixed with a new fuel rail w/ a remote pressure regulator.


Installed the Jackson Racing header and a custom intake. The JR header actually doesn’t look too bad in the picture, but it’s a real POS, barely a step above eBay specials IMO. The welds are awful inside and out, the flanges are huge and ugly… I’m happy I got it used for very little money. The EGR bung was deleted by cutting & welding.



Added some go faster parts from JamesCH. I didn’t think I’d actually like the pool ball shifter, but it feels SO right in the hand, so it’s staying, and the Nardi Touch of Class wood-grain knob is going up for sale.


There are still a few big jobs to do: wiring modifications, a new throttle cable (the NA cable is 2″ too long, you’ll need an NB2 cable for this swap), a different ECU to run the VVT, tuning, etc, but the literal heavy lifting has been completed.

New Engine Part: …I’ve lost track.

After making a few repairs to the roof of the workshop, it was time to get to the real work.

The first job was to get the front coolant neck off and replace it with a block-off plate that also houses the radiator fan temp sensor. The cam gears and timing plate have to come off for that. The red is a ring of RTV to seal everything up:



I replaced the VC gasket while I was there as I had a new one kicking around, and swapped in new exhaust studs. I also finally found a home for the Unorthodox Racing pulley I’ve had kicking around the shop for several years. I really do like how clean the motor looks without the stock coolant neck. It’s a stupid thing, but it cleans up the front of the engine a lot.


The alternator, lower intake manifold, injectors, oil pressure switch, cam & crank sensors, alternator and several other odds and ends are installed. The NB2 motor (or, at least, this 03) uses all manifold studs instead of a mix of bolts and studs like the earlier motors, which makes hanging the manifold and installing the hardware so much easier.



Fitted up the EGR blockoffs.


And yes: Loctite on basically everything. To the point where I, for the first time ever, finished one of the large tubes of Loctite and had to pick up another. I’d never run out before…I didn’t think that was possible.

Still a long road involving a new ECU and some wiring changes for the new motor & sensors, and the VVTuner, to get it running, bit it’s so very close to being ready to drop in.