|February 6, 2011 - After the reinstalling the interior, I pulled it all back out again so I could add some soundproofing.|
Miatas with hardtops are quieter inside than they are with the soft top up, but it doesn't seem like it. Eric has to commute a fair distance, so the goal is to keep the exhaust noise down somewhat. Besides, a previous owner had added holes through the stock body panels and soundproofing, probably for a trunk-mounted subwoofer. So the car was particularly vocal.
You may have noticed this is now being written in the first person. Well, yes. That's because it's my project, not an FM project, and it's really weird to write about myself in the third person.
|February 6, 2011 - The left front fender was pretty banged up.|
I think it was off Scruffy originally. Anyhow, we had another one at FM Salvage that was straight but had a bad aftermarket paint job. Since this car is getting repainted, that's not a problem.
|February 6, 2011 - Now doesn't that look better?|
Okay, maybe not yet. But it will. You can also see some body filler on the nose where I've patched up the holes from the the nose badge and the usual nose dimples.
Now, I should point out that I haven't done much bodywork before, and I've only painted the Targa Miata race car and a couple of body panels on other cars. This car is practice, to learn how to do it better. It's not going to be perfect and I will undoubtedly do a few things wrong. That's how you learn. Eric is aware of this - it's how he's getting a paint job for the price of the materials!
|February 9, 2011 - Here's the current interior of the car.|
Standard, basic 1996 Miata. Now, I'm not going to make any massive changes here. But there are a couple of things.
|February 9, 2011 - Step one: remove the dashboard.|
I've always preferred the look of the 1990-93 dash - it's got a more vintage feel to it, one more appropriate to a sports car. The later dash just looks blobby by comparison. Sure, it feels as if it's made of cardboard. But that's not important.
As an added bonus, the early dash is significantly lighter. Almost shockingly so. You do lose an airbag in this swap however. The dash came out in about half an hour.
|February 9, 2011 - The next step is to transfer all the wiring over to the "new" dashboard.|
This isn't difficult, but you do have to pay attention to how it's routed. One other thing to remember is that the VIN is attached to the dash and almost impossible to access when the dash is attached - so if you want your car to stay your car, you'll have to move it while the dash is out.
The donor for the 1.6 dash is none other than "Whoosh", Bill Cardell's original Miata. It's currently getting the dash from a 2005 Mazdaspeed.
|February 9, 2011 - A little touch, but one that makes the conversion feel finished.|
The 1996 dash has a little bracket for the OBD-II port. Now, it would be easy to just zip-tie this to the mass of wires under the steering column. But then it would be a pain to access. A much cleaner solution is to drill two holes and mount the port to the 1990 dash in the same general location. Two black plastic fasteners were reused so it all looks (almost) factory. It doesn't take much longer to do it this way, but it'll make the car feel more finished.
|February 12, 2011 - The new dash is in.|
Mostly. It's amusing - this is a 1990 shell that had a complete 1996 installed inside, and now it's being "modified" with a 1990 dashboard. But since Eric wants a more vintage look, he went with the earlier design.
There are a few small things that need to be sorted out still. The stereo mounting is different, the early dash has two interior lights that aren't in the wiring harness and I need to get my hands on a 1.6 steering column shroud to replace the 1.8 unit due to very small size differences. Nothing major, just the little stuff that comes from playing the interchange game.
Having the dash out also allowed me to check over the car. Given the history of this thing, it wasn't surprising to find a few missing fasteners and little alignment problems.
Notice that red bolt in the center of the dash at the base of the windshield? That's not Miata red. That's the red used in the Martini paint job on the Targa Miata - this bolt was on the car when it was painted. The Targa car has a Martini red bolt in that location, and I thought it would be fun to put one in Eric's car as well. It'll be covered up, but we'll know it's there.
|February 12, 2011 - Time to start work on the paint.|
This means lots of sanding is in my future. Remember, this is a car upon which to learn. The color will be fairly forgiving and the owner is understanding.
The car does have some very deep scratches on the quarters. I started by sanding these down to the metal and feathering out the edges. I then laid down a really thin layer of body filler and sanded it all flat using long sanding boards. I will undoubtedly find some bumps later, but I'm rapidly getting better at it.
|February 12, 2011 - All of this sanding of Mariner Blue paint left me looking like I'd murdered a smurf.|
Very, very blue.
|February 12, 2011 - The blue dust came in handy on the white fender.|
This fender had been given a fairly crappy paint job in the past, complete with a number of runs. By running a hand covered in smurf dust over the surface, I was able to highlight the runs clearly. Then it was just a moment's work with a sanding board and some 180 grit to knock them down. I'll go back over this one and smooth it out more.
|February 12, 2011 - The patch for the original mirror holes took a couple of tries to get right.|
My first application of filler was too thin in one spot, so I had a low point. It feels really good now.
You can see the keyhole shaped mounting hole for the new mirror here.
|February 13, 2011 - I picked up the hardtop for the car today.|
Apparently, when it moved from Arizona to Colorado it did so on the roof of a Subaru. I wish I'd seen that! The Big White Truck solution seemed easier to me.
The blue hardtop that was on the car earlier was borrowed from Janel's car so I could drive Project 707 around after pulling the soft top. This is the one that will end up Aquamarine.
|February 13, 2011 - The hardtop is on the car temporarily, mostly to keep all the sanding dust out of the interior.|
Once you start doing things like this, you discover there's a lot more paint damage than you originally thought! The light blue patches have been sanded, the greenish-yellow ones are fresh body filler that's waiting for sanding.
I'm trying to decide if I should shoot the whole car with primer, or just a couple of spots. It'll all get primer/sealer before paint, but that won't sand well. I know I really should do the primer stage, I'm just not looking forward to all the extra sanding that entails. At least the Miata is a small car.
|February 13, 2011 - The car has a cracked windshield, which will be replaced after painting.|
Since the grommet around the windshield gets replaced at the same time and it's a great place to leave an obvious seam during masking, I trimmed it back so the windshield will have smooth, unbroken paint.
|February 15, 2011 - Unfortunately, the car's got a bit of rust.|
Not a lot, but it does need to be sorted out before paint. This patch is at the back of the right rear wheel opening. I've spent a lot of time probing and pulling out bad metal here to find out how prevalent it is. It's not too bad.
|February 15, 2011 - There was also rust on the lower rocker, in the usual Miata trouble spot.|
Oddly, it wasn't the usual type. Typically, this comes from inside the rocker. In this case, it looks like the corrosion was just in the outer layer of the sill, which is only attached to the structure with a couple of spot welds.
I was originally going to get this repaired professionally, but figured I'd have a look inside the sill first. When that top layer came off, I realized that it wasn't too bad at all. I decided to finish the job myself.
With the sill open, I got happy with a wire brush to check the condition of the metal. This was followed by some rust converter and followed it up with some 3M inner panel rustproofing.
|February 15, 2011 - And voila!|
I cut a patch out of sheetmetal, shaped it to fit the (very simple) arc of the sill using snips, and welded it into place. It took a bit of time to get the shape just right and I had to be careful when doing the first tack welds to make sure it was aligned correctly. Once it was in place, I smoothed out the welds. Now I'll spread a bit of body filler over the repair and find a way to duplicate the original texture. I'm thinking spray-on bedliner.
One comment that I get quite a bit is that I have access to skills and tools that other people don't, because of where I work. But this is how you develop skills. Crack a book, talk to people who know how to do it - and most important, give it a try. I'd never repaired a rusty sill before - but now I have. It's the same as patching the holes for the mirrors, but with a few extra steps to make sure the rust has been wholly expunged.
|February 19, 2011 - Time to address that rust in the rear fender.|
Step one was to cut out the bad metal. There are two layers in this area, the inner fender and the exterior metal. It also gets much more complex just behind the location of this cut. Luckily, this got all of it.
|February 19, 2011 - A salvage Miata donated a repair piece.|
It had about four layers of paint on it, so I cleaned it up with a wire brush and my bead blaster. Looks brand new! After a bit of careful trimming, it fit right into the notch in the car.
Well, almost right in. I ended up with a bit of a gap at the top. Oops. Time for a bit of careful filling with the welder.
copyright Flyin' Miata 2010 | privacy
policy | all prices in US dollars - currency