When Five Days Feels Like One

I woke up Friday morning… and before I knew it I was driving to work Wednesday in my Miata. It’s not so much an issue of the days flying by… but rather five days blending into one.

I started on Friday morning at 11 a.m. with an engine block and the crank installed. By about 6 a.m. Saturday morning I had what was essentially a completed engine. I did not sleep a wink in between those two times, and I ate once. I exhausted every last ounce of mental and physical energy, and slept until about four in the afternoon on Saturday.

On Saturday I woke up and started pressure washing the intake manifold and motor mount brackets, and installed the intake and the rest of the brackets and accessories on the engine. I called it a day after that and went to bed early so I could see the Formula One GP of Bahrain on Sunday.

On Sunday I woke up at 1:30 pm after forgetting to set my alarm to go off .  The race started at noon, and the watch party I intended to go to had already started. So I could only catch the last 25 laps at home. I was not too happy about that. Sunday afternoon I managed to install the new light weight flywheel (10 lbs compared to the stock 20) and clutch, and bolt up the transmission and starter. By the time I went to bed I had the engine ready to go into the car.

Monday was the big day (sort of). I enlisted the help of my friend Raphael, and we started the install around 3 p.m. By 8 p.m. we had the engine installed, and had managed to offend just about every neighbor and jogger in earshot with our profanity laden pep talks (directed towards the engine of course). I finished installing the new Flyin’ Miata exhaust, and got every wire and sensor on-line before realizing I never bought a replacement radiator cap for the one I trashed at the start of this project. This was literally the only thing stopping me from starting the engine. Of course it was midnight when I realized this and would have to wait until the morning when the parts store opened.

Tuesday was the big day! With a radiator cap on, and the clutch bled… I decided it would be best to give the engine a few cranks without fuel to prime the oil pump. I had packed it with assembly grease, and pre oiled some of the passages… but I still wanted to be certain.  With the fuel injection fuse pulled, I turn the key. Much to my disappointment… it turned twice before giving up. The battery was a bit weak after its two month vacation. Jumper cables attached… I gave it another try. It cranked solid and I decided it was time to do it for real. I installed the fuel injection fuse, slapped the car on what I suppose would be its butt… and let her rip. It took a second for the fuel to make its way up to the injectors, and then…

VROOM! S.U.C.C.E.S.S. ! She sputtered for a second before coming to a nice, smooth, perfect idle. I looked for any major leak, closed the hood… and took her out for a spin. Delicious. Buttery smooth. Awesome. I had my baby back.

Every success story would be incomplete without a few hiccups. Hiccup number one presented itself in the form of an oil leak that was discovered after the first drive. It was coming from the oil feed line that runs from the block to the variable valve timing. I apparently overlooked this copper crush washer when replacing them. Go figure… a seventy cent part. No big deal. I caught it and torqued it to its upper limit torque spec which slowed the leak to an infrequent drip. I will replace that washer this weekend.

The second hiccup scared the s*** out of me. I was driving to my friend’s house when all of the power just vanished. I would put the throttle down and the engine would lose power. I let off the throttle and it stayed running. “Oh f***, what the hell is going on!” Well… it would seem that after completing complex tasks like re-building an engine… you may forget minor details such as… oh… filling the tank with gasoline.

All in all I must pat myself on the back. Not only did I save myself a lot of money… I learned some pretty awesome skills along the way. I have friends who don’t know how to change their own oil. I can re-build an engine. I will gloat about this for a while I am sure.

I might add… now that the engine runs so smooth, I notice how noisy the transmission is. It may need to be rebuilt at some point… but I can honestly say I will let someone else deal with that.

Enjoy some pictures:

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~ by ddmotorsports on April 25, 2012.

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