Well let’s just say things haven’t been going well for awhile. I could bore you with the other shit, but let’s stick with the car for now. My god damn Miata.

The car has never been as good as I thought it was going to be. Not that an NA Miata is a bad car, in fact I had a much better one which was brutally wrecked by some douchebag in a Jeep. That one almost never went wrong, and always ran perfectly. This one is a fucking pup. It’s a 1990, and although it only has about 60k on the clock, it feels more like 150. In fact, it might have even been rolled back. Who knows, but it would be my luck with this car. The chassis is fine, although it has some Michigan rust. But that feckless demon lump of iron and aluminum under the hood caused me problems to no end. It seemed to run fine for the first 10k miles of ownership, up until the water pump shaft began to fail. No big deal, stopped by work and got a pump, timing belt kit, and some coolant.


It was my first time ever changing a timing belt, but I spent a lot of time reading up on the procedure and watching videos, and felt confident. After aligning the marks, properly releasing the tensioner, and buttoning everything up, I fired the car up. It ran like shit, sounded like it was only on three cylinders. Figured I was off a tooth, did the job again. Same result. Did it again. Same thing. Waited a few days, looked up what could be wrong, couldn’t find anything I messed up. Did it again, no change. Found out cylinder two wasn’t firing, turned out that the coil pack had decided to wait until I did the belt change to stop sending spark to two. Got a new coil pack, all was well and dandy.

Until three days later, when it started misfiring hard one evening. Looked like I was low on gas, so I figured that was it. Filled up, it seemed to go away for a bit, and then it was back in full force. From that point on, whenever the car was warm, it would always misfire randomly. Over the next few months I tried time and again to determine the cause, to no avail. New plugs, wires, checked over the fuel system, double checked the new coil, timing advance, the OBD1 diagnostic, nothing. I did a compression check, and it turned out that cylinder two was low. Initially, I thought I had found the culprit of the misfire. But, like the coil pack, why did it decide to strike when the timing belt was done? The car didn’t misfire before, even if it did have low compression.

Advertisement

There were only two courses of action. I could rebuild the original 1.6, but it’s a short nose crank engine, which means there is a chance the crank could still fail on me at any point. I also didn’t fancy the idea of taking on a first time engine rebuild with the only engine I had for the car.

Here’s more crappy photography from my garage.

The other option, which I went with, is to swap engines. To keep it easy, I went with a 1.8 from a later car, a rather straightforward swap. Got myself a good engine, hoist, and prepared for the hard road ahead.

It arrived about 3 weeks ago, and I’ve only just gotten the actual thing in the car. As soon as I get a major project to sort out before summer, it turns out all my friends need help with their cars. They’re clueless and do shit like let their brakes get all the way through the pads to metal on metal, and they’re broke as fuck. So if I don’t do it for pretty much no money they’re going to die and then I’ll only be able to count the number of people I kind of like on one hand. Then of course, there’s always more problems with their shit that we find when we’re fixing the original problems, and of course bolts always break. The important ones, like for motor mounts and control arms. So what was supposed to be a “you help me, I’ll help you” situation (as I need another person to help get the engine in, more on that later) turns out to be a “turns out we’re gonna spend 12 hours in your garage on your only day off working on my car for no money because of the aforementioned bullshit, and then we won’t actually get it fixed so my car will have to sit in front of your house until later on in the week when we can work on it again. So I need a 15 minute ride home, no gas money is cool right? It’s only three in the morning and you haven’t eaten all day, don’t be a bitch. OH and good luck on getting that engine in.” type situation.

Nevertheless, I persevered, and at least I can always count on my father, who was the one who actually helped me get the damn thing in finally. Could have done it myself, but the propshaft was seized to the differential, so I had to guide it in while putting the engine in.

I don’t think it did awful for my first time.

I’ve been trying to keep myself sane by imagining how good it will be when it’s done. The wheels are repainted, the engine bay is clean, it will have much more power. And I know I’m close. But every day, the frustrations compound. The water outlet for the engine was broken in shipping. It’s aluminum, so I can’t weld it, it’s hard to find without ordering it online, and it can’t go on without the cam gears being off, so I can no longer proceed. And on top of that, someone stepped on my freshly cleaned and painted heat shield and bent it all to shit.

Oh, exhaust. That’s another thing I have yet to completely figure out.

Anyways, rant over. I expected the project car bullshit, but it’s a lot of stress to go through when none of the other shit in your life seems to be going right now. It’ll be over with enough though.