Rocket Surgery

What. A. Weekend.

I successfully removed the 1.8L from my 2001 Miata, along with the transmission. My good friend Raphael proved to be quite useful when it comes to turning a wrench, and four hands is always better than two. I will be tearing the engine apart this week… and hopefully have it to the machine shop by the end of the week.

It was not that bad, all things considered. There was one minor ‘snag’… in the literal sense of the word. It seems Mazda decided to route the wiring harness for the rear of the car around and behind the bracket for the clutch line where it connects to the transmission. I had assumed (incorrectly) that there would be no issue with leaving the slave cylinder and partial hardline attached to the engine/transmission. Well, once the engine was pulled free of its mounts it snagged the wire harness… which is thankfully a very tough tangle of wire. If you ever needed to rappel down the side of a mountain and all you had was a Miata wiring harness, you would be fine.

With the engine not wanting to go back down, and the nut on the hardline/bracket/flexible clutch hose not wanting to break loose… I found myself in quite a pickle. I could not get my hands in a good position to remove anything that might help the situation, so ultimately I made a $30 decision to cut the flexible clutch hose so I could lift the harness over the stuck bracket. The stock clutch hose is not $30 dollars… but the nice new stainless steel braided one that will replace it with is. So that was an old hose I was happy to cut… ditto all the cooling hoses. Why fuss with the clamps when you will be replacing it all anyway?

With everything free and the snags un-snagged… it came out without a fuss. A balance bar on your engine hoist is pretty much a must. It helps you manipulate the angle of the whole assembly to clear the firewall/front end. If I were to do this again I would have shortened the chains on the hoist. We had to drop the car from its jack stands to clear the front after reaching the max travel on the hoist.

I feel like Ziploc should be an official sponsor of this rebuild process. I have been bagging and tagging every single bolt, bracket, thingamabob, doodad, and whatchamacallit that gets removed. Avery address labels are good for tagging the wiring harness as well. It’s almost OCD how organized I have been through all of this… but at least I have the comfort of knowing that everything that came out will go back in the right place.

I ordered the Mazda factory manual for my car to help me through the rebuild. I am still considering having the machine shop do the assembly for me once everything is cleaned up… but my intention is to have them rebuild the head, and I will assemble the bottom end and everything else. I have been told by some folks that with the factory manual it is no big deal. Others have told me I am too ballsy and that somebody else should do the assembly. I have always been a DIY sort of guy. At the end of the day, the only thing that separates me from the machine shop is experience. Some will argue that this is the point… but where do you get experience if you are not willing to dive in and do it yourself. I am not afraid of unexplored territory…  and I know how to use a torque wrench.

The saga will continue…



~ by ddmotorsports on March 12, 2012.

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