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build diary

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January 22, 2004:
CMC is sending a replacement nose due to the damage.
They tell me they've never seen a crate get pounded like that. It's the first time they've used SAIA for shipping and will definitely be the last. Nothing that was damaged is going to hold me up.

Last night, I started work on the suspension. Cleaning up threads, doing rough assembly and generally familiarising myself with the design. The control arms are solidly made and will offer a bewildering amount of adjustment for alignment. It'll take me a while to get this thing dialed in but it's going to be an excellent learning experience. The upper ball joint hole in the front uprights needs to be drilled out in order to fit the rod end - that was done this morning.

More thoughts on brakes - I think I'm going to fit a pair of Wilwood pedals for the brake and clutch. This will also let me run two separate master cylinders for the brakes with a balance bar - a better way to do brake balance than using a proportioning valve. Given the fact that my old master cylinders probably need a rebuild (the downside of getting a donor car that's been wrecked for 5 years), it's not going to cost much more. Hey, I got the donor for free so I'm not complaining!
entry 56

Cleaning up the threads in the control arms before installing the rod ends.
entry 57
While the kit didn't come with instructions (it's a very early one), these labels sure helped to clear up some mysteries.
Thanks, CMC.
entry 58
I put together the rear suspension for general layout.
Looks like I will need a bushing for the top of that upright - CMC had said no, but I think that might have been a bit of a miscommunication. I happened to find two bushings that were exactly what I needed kicking around Flyin' Miata.
entry 59
In order to install the upper control arm, I need to drill out the tapered hole for the upper ball joint used in the stock suspension.
Careful measuring makes sure this hole is straight!
entry 60
Make sure you use lots of cutting oil if you want to keep your drill bits.
The little burning pieces of metal make fun smoke trails this way, too.
entry 61

January 23, 2004:
I assembled the suspension last night using the correct bolts and with a bushing for the rear upper control arm.
Now the car is on its wheels! There are some tight tolerances for the parts, such as the balljoint mount on the front lower arm. Everything fit very well with minor tweaks required - a millimeter here and there. Now I can bounce the frame up and down and do other childish things, as well as figure out the geometery of the steering rack mount. I should point out that I've decided to use a different rack than CMC usually does, so that's why it's not a simple bolt-up like it usually would.

Once the car was rolling, I decided to start hanging body panels to kill a few minutes. It's part of familiarising myself with the kit. The aluminum floor panel apparently missed the boat so I'll have to get CMC to send it out. More of a problem is that the transmission tunnel cover was bent a bit wrong, making it impossible to fit. Everything else sits right in place and I'm starting to get a good idea of how this will look when it's rolling. No photos until tomorrow though be.
entry 62

January 24, 2004:
The floor panel has been found!
Remember that damaged shipping crate? Well, a couple of pallets fell off the bottom when we were unloaded it. Turns out the floor panel was strapped to these and wrapped in cardboard. It was outside the big plastic wrapping so we didn't pay any attention. Whew!

Today I designed and welded up the mount for the steering rack. It took a fair bit of time because I was being careful to set the geometry up so bump steer was minimized. Hopefully I've got that right - we'll find out later, won't we? The calculations worked out well.
entry 63

Looking to figure out the layout of the front suspension and position the steering rack.
entry 64
In order to fit the lower ball joint into the lower control arm, a bit of grinding was needed.
The tolerances from CMC are quite tight - impressive.
entry 65
The front suspension assembled.
entry 66
With the suspension together, I was able to put on wheels.
All of a sudden it looks like a car! I can bounce it up and down as well. Hey, it's more fun than watching TV.
entry 67
Another view of the front suspension.
Why so many photos of the front? Because it's easier to see! Plus I'm thinking about steering.
entry 68
The scuttle bits in place.
Overall, the aluminum panels from CMC are quite accurate. The only exception is the transmission tunnel cover.
entry 69
Time to weld up the mount for the steering rack.
First, a little research to avoid bump steer. Allan Staniforth provided the exact diagrams I needed in "Competition Car Suspension" and "Race and Rally Car Sourcebook".
entry 70
To do the welding, I took the frame back to the shop.
You get a lot of attention carting something like this around!
entry 71
My rack mounts.
They should be fairly solid and they're certainly light.
entry 72
The rack in place.
I can easily space it up and down for some fine-tuning as I had to guess at the final ride height. I'm also going to use rod ends on the tie rods so I can make adjustments there as well.
entry 73
The rack is the perfect width (but the photo is offset!)
entry 74

January 27, 2004:
Every project and race car I've done in the past has involved a hard deadline, whether due to a race or my own goals.
In the case of the Seven I'm deliberately trying to avoid this. Since I'm working at a more relaxed pace, sometimes other projects will get in the way. So on Sunday, after a lot of Seven work the day before, I decided to repaint part of my house and rework a couple of rooms. The frame should get painted in the next few days once I cut the CMC pedal mounts off the floor. It depends how good the skiing is this weekend, really...
entry 75

By request, a comparison of the front suspension control arms.
The lower arm from the Miata is slightly bent.
entry 76
A comparison of the rear suspension control arms.
entry 77
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