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December 15, 2003:
I was supposed to take delivery of the frame today, but a problem with the CNC plasma cutter that is used to cut the aluminum panels raised some questions as to whether it would ship in time or not.
I've asked CMC to hang on to the kit and ship it to me on January 5th, after I get back from holidays. This way, there's no chance of the frame sitting around a shipping depot in Denver for three weeks. It turns out the cutter was fixed in time and I could have taken delivery, but that's the way it goes.
The garage is getting into shape for the build.
No, really it is! Consider that besides the Miata parts, there are also 4 extra Cadillac heads, a Land Rover head, differentials, steering boxes, random other parts and even a Cadillac 429 stashed around (or in the middle of the floor). Doesn't everyone have spare engines all over?
The spring/shock assembly for the kit.
It's a 9" spring, and I'm thinking that a shorter spring could easily do the trick while saving some weight.
The rear end for the Seven is ready.
It's a viscous LSD - not held in high regard by much of the Miata community, but it's what was in my donor. It's also 13 lbs lighter than the favoured Torsen setup and this one appears to be working nicely. I had a spare rear housing for the diff to replace the broken one off the donor.
A trick for a little more stiffness in the diff bushings.
January 6, 2004:
Well, the frame didn't ship yesterday.
Grassroots Motorsports has descended upon the CMC shop and is trying to put one of these kits together in a week. Somehow, this has prevented my finished kit from shipping out. I thought it was already boxed and ready to go given the reports I had received earlier, but I guess not. That's a little disappointing beause I was all charged up to get started as soon as I got back from holidays. It was bad enough that I'd decided to wait. The original quote for shipping time was the first week of December.
In the meantime, I have been given a cool Mountney steering wheel by my friend Eric. It should suit the car nicely! I can also do some refinishing on the suspension parts that I do have from the donor.
January 8, 2004:
Madness at the CMC shop.
Here's why my kit didn't ship. I'm impressed - I had originally heard the GRM guys were going to do the build in a week. Instead, they took two days. Ouch.
The new wheel for the Seven.
All I need is something to attach it to...
January 9, 2004:
I had a good talk with Steve at CMC today.
The GRM build helped to work out a number of kinks in the kit and mine will be better for it. Thanks, GRM! But more importantly, my car will be in Denver at 8 am on the 15th. Wooohooo! The GRM built took two days with an average of 5-6 guys working on the car. Steve figures mine will take about 60 man-hours. He's not taking into account the fact that I'm using a different steering rack and will be wiring the car from scratch, of course, but that's a nice number to hear.
January 10, 2004:
After a drive with the local Miata club (in the snow, with no heater in my stripped-out Miata), I took apart the suspension uprights and brakes to clean them up.
They're in pretty good shape, even down to some rusty but salvageable rotors. I'll need new pads and I'll probably throw on some stainless steel brake lines. I feel like I'm getting somewhere.
By the way, I just discovered that the photos page stopped working correctly in the last day or two. It's fixed now, so you can see more than the last 10 photos. Sorry!
Crusty old brakes.
Anyone who's disassembled a car knows this - keep everything well labelled and organised.
You will thank yourself down the road. The baggies make it easy to see what's inside and move things around without getting slimy.
The various suspension parts get a coat of paint.
I'm wondering if black would look better - Krylon and I have different ideas of what aluminum looks like! A tip for those using Miata parts - a spray can cap is the perfect size to mask off the rear hub.
January 12, 2004:
Well, I've got the suspension parts ready to install now.
They turned out glossier than I would have preferred, but that's what you get for doing an initial coat of chrome paint! I did have to pay to have the rotors turned to remove a spectacular amount of rust and I've installed new Porterfield R4S brake pads. The spending has begun but I figured both of those were reasonable expenditures. I am resisting the urge to put stainless steel brake lines on the car - at least for the moment.
Frame update: I've decided to have it shipped directly to my work instead of to Denver. This saves me a day of driving across mountain passes although it does almost double the cost of shipping. I think the total cost works out the same. It's being picked up tomorrow afternoon and should be delivered here on Monday if all goes to plan. Let's hope so.
As you can see, I went with black suspension.
Serves me right for just using the paint I had around! The uprights and brakes are ready for the car.
January 13, 2004:
It's been shipped!
Now it's all up to the trucking company. I've also found a 1.8 throttle body and TPS that I'm going to use. Since I'll be wiring the car from scratch, it's going to use the ECU from a 1.8 car. This gives me more options in the future if I decide to go with individual throttle bodies. It might not make sense now, but trust me on this.
January 16, 2004:
No, the frame hasn't arrived yet.
It left the Memphis depot at 6:34 am on the 15th - not that I'm checking.
I have picked up the engine management for the car now. I'll be using a Link ECU similar to the one in my Miata. Those of you familiar with Flyin' Miata will not be surprised. The MAP sensor is from a 1.6 car so that it will fit the plug from the Miata harness. This will be a little atypical for most CMC builds as I'm going to build my own wiring harness. I've also grabbed a good Pierburg fuel pump. It's what we've used for years to feed high-power Miatas. The pumps are from an Audi, so they're extremely reliable. They're also reasonably quiet and weatherproof enough to use on a Seven. CMC now uses them on my suggestion and they work a treat. It'll also flow enough fuel to feed pretty much anything I can do to this motor - our Track Dog race car runs one and it makes 350 hp at the wheels!
More exciting photos - the new engine management computer I'm going to wire in.
The fuel pump is a Pierburg, capable of supporting a whole lot more power than I'm liable to need.
More importantly, it's ultra-reliable and well suited to hanging in a location that's exposed to the weather.
January 19, 2004:
Of course it's not here yet. My car was loaded onto a trailer in Denver at 2:25 pm and then sat there. So maybe tomorrow. Now what am I going to do for fun tonight?
January 21, 2004:
There was much excitement in the shop when the crate arrived. You can see the photos. Unfortunately, the crate was badly beaten during shipping. The car arrived mostly unscathed, but there were two suspension brackets that were bent slightly. That's an easy repair. More disappointing is the fact that the nose cone was damaged. Steve at CMC says that one of the shippers walked on top of the crate - ouch! There's also a mysterious cut in the nose that looks like it was done with a saw and we can't explain that one. The fuel cell was not in the crate but CMC tells me now that it wasn't shipped. I later realised there were no stays for the fenders either, so I'm waiting to hear about that. Overall, the welding looks good and the frame seems well made.
So, progress last night? Well, we welded in the roll bar. The fitment wasn't ideal but we were able to make it work with some effort. We also played around a bit with a spare engine, making a "car" out of the bits and pieces we had. Wouldn't you?
It's here! But I'm not terribly excited about the state of the crate. Update: Steve at CMC says this is only the second crate to take any damage in shipping out of 300 or so crates. My advice would not be to worry about CMC's packing job but to avoid SAIA Shipping.
Lots of excitement at the shop as we tear apart the packaging.
Ken and Steve hard at work.
All unpacked, Ken and Steve go for a test drive.
Yes, they're both tall.
This isn't good.
The nose cone is cracked. It was well packed and protected, but apparently one of the shippers walked on it! CMC is sending a replacement.
The frame damage from shipping.
The radiator support is tweaked and one of the suspension mounting points is bent. A simple repair.
Bill welds on the roll bar.
It's shipped unattached to keep the size down.
The angles on the roll bar supports were not quite correct.
How to install an engine in a Seven.
Tools required: two guys.
Installing an engine.
Our spare engine is now "installed".
I believe this process will be a little more complicated when the engine is actually dressed.
At this rate, we'll have it done in no time! These are not the wheels that will be used on the final build and I suspect the track is a bit on the wide side.
Now it's my turn to go for a test drive!
"Oh no, that invisibile sealer from POR-15 doesn't work the way I thought it did. Now I have to wear pants when I drive!"
Disassembled once again, it's into the truck we go.
The first puzzle - brackets for floor-mounted pedals.
But the Miata pedals are hinged at the top. Hmm. Turns out the Miata pedals will not fit with the exception of the accelerator.
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