Hiked Mount Wilson and Broke my Miata

I had Friday off and was home in LA so I decided to go on a nice 14 mile round trip hike up to Mt Wilson from Chantry Flats. This is a location that gets SUPER crowded on weekends so it was nice to have an empty mountain to myself. It was also about 25 degrees F (feels like 15 with wind) up there when I checked the weather before leaving my apartment. It was like 40 by the time I got up there, although with the wind still howling it certainly wasn’t warm. Rare for some southern California hiking! It is February though so I’m not entirely surprised. Here is a photo dump and then the story of how my Miata broke on the way home but thanks to a roadside temporary repair, the adventure made it all the way home still.

Quite a clear day!
Snow! Shady spots up high were well covered
100 inch telescope
Quite the mighty big telescope
The ocean!

So after a nice long hike with some beautiful views, I finally made it to the car right as the sun was setting. I then made it about 45 minutes down the freeway before exiting for the last 15 minutes of my drive. Everything was going well until the car misfired and then got extremely loud. It was as if my header fell off and shit was idling all over the place. I pulled over immediately, opened the hood, and noticed a spark plug wire flopping up and down! Clearly that was my issue. Although the car ran far better than I expected for only three cylinders. What I discovered after getting my headlamp on and shutting things down was that the Spark plug had come entirely out of the engine! And even more surprising was that the tip of the electrode had broken off so that plug was done for. However I had no backup spark plugs, because why is that something I would carry? I was soon to accept the reality of needing to call an Uber to get to the nearest autoparts store, therefore admitting defeat!

Figuring I might as well at least try to be creative, I noticed there was still a little bit of the electrode left that maybe I could bend into place and get enough spark to get home. I found a pair of pliers and burned my hands a few times from the hot as hell plug. But eventually got it to look kind of like a normal spark plug with some gap that I figured might work for now. I should have at least tried to gap it with a credit card instead of eye balling it but i figured I’d just give it a try as is. Thankfully I had a spark plug tool and a nice 8 inch extension so I made quick work of reassembly. Then to my surprise again, the car started right up! I made my way home as carefully as possible, hoping nothing would explode or break again. I figured something surely wasn’t right if a spark plug shot out on its own so it would need further investigation and a new plug before driving it beyond a crawl.


Well I spent all weekend doing other things so I never got around to working on the Miata. The STi was reliable transportation all weekend and I needed the back seat anyways so it worked out just fine. And now that I’m enroute to Dallas for the week, that problem is tabled for next weekend. My goal is to replace all four spark plugs (making sure to torque wrench them in) and then change the oil and filter. Why change the oil? Well that broken piece of electrode likely fell into the engine since I didn’t find it and is hopefully floating in my oil pan or stuck in the filter rather than any other alternatives. That should be an adventure!

Anyways, very fun day!

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