Miata teardown has begun!

Yesterday I finally began the process of taking apart the Miata in order to prep it for an engine rebuild. It has only taken me like 4 months from when I stopped driving the car due to an obvious rod knock until I have turned the first wrench on the repair process. Now, I am still not entirely sure that the rebuilt engine will ever go back in this shell, but that is later’s problem since no matter what, taking it apart comes first. It took me so long because my apartment does not allow me to so much as check my oil level so any sort of work done there is a no-go. This past Saturday, I finally had some help in getting my car relocated from home to work where I have access to a shop that I can do most of the work on the car. Unfortunately, I found out that some sort of stupid safety regulation bans any engine cranes from being used at this shop. Somehow in the infinite wisdom of these regulations, actually removing an engine is not expressly banned so “more creative” measures of removal are fine, even if its actually more dangerous. But my general plan right now is to detach all of the stuff in the way, remove accessories and fluids, and then move the car someplace else for a quick engine removal. I can just call up AAA for a free tow and hopefully they dont ask too many questions about why it doesnt run.

Anyways, so far I have been documenting everything I removed and labeled and bagged all of the bolts that came out. Hopefully this will make any attempt at reassembly a little more streamlined. In the two hours that I spent working on the car I accomplished the following:

  • Shock Tower Brace removed
  • Intake removed
  • Radiator drained and removed
  • Spark plugs and coils removed
  • Valve Cover removed (I put it back on without bolts for storage just to keep dirt out)
  • Wiring harness completely disconnected
  • Miscellaneous bolts loosened for the throttle body and accesories

I also made a to-do list of everything else that I would like to get done next time I get over to the shop:

  • Remove belts
  • Remove alternator
  • Remove throttle body
  • Remove hoses
  • Remove exhaust manifold
  • Remove bracing from bottom of car
  • Remove exhaust
  • Drain motor oil
  • Drain trans gear oil
  • Drain diff gear oil
  • Remove the wiring harness from engine bay to get it out of the way (needs replacing anyways)
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Other things that I know have to get done but will take longer and require me to research how to do it:

  • Drain and possibly remove the AC stuff
  • Drain and possible remove the PS
  • Remove transmission

This is mostly stuff I should be able to finish with a couple of long days this month at some point. And then spend a day to tow it to the other shop, pluck the engine out, toss the car in a corner, and then start the rebuilding process. I may have purchased another Miata by that point if I find the right one, so it will determine how large of a priority the rebuild is. Either way, I want to accomplish it but it will be mainly as a backup engine if I buy another car. Unless I somehow find a clean car with a crap engine but most cars I have looked at have BOTH crap engine and crap body. But the only other combo I seem to find are decent engines with terrible everything else. Or the price is just too much for how shitty it really is, regardless of what the seller thinks they have...

Looking at a couple of promising leads in the near future but I won’t be holding my breathe too much, communication with these sellers has been questionable and I havent seen the cars in person yet.

An ‘03, reported as an LS trim but also said it has a 5spd. Paint is “fresh” so probably a repaint, will have to investigate the quality. Timing belt and other maintenance done recently. Listed at $5500 but will see if its flexible at all. Would be a good choice if nothing is wrong with it and price can get down to around $5k. 130k miles on it right now. I am prepared to buy this one Friday if it strikes my fancy and has a negotiable price. Will probably show up with the money to sweeten the negotiation process. 
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‘99 10th anniversary edition that is well maintained and looks great. Was supposed to look at it Monday but the seller stopped responding day of. Also listed for $5500 and mileage in the 115k range and same maintenance done. If the seller ever responds again and it hasn’t sold, im still highly interested in this one.

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