Motor: Year 5, and Unknown Miles... let's rebuild it.

                 When we got the LS1 out of a 1997 corvette we had no idea how many miles it had. Hell we didn't know it even ran. We told the guy selling it on craigslist “when you show up with the motor we’ll test is and then we’ll decide to buy it”. This was a bluff. We assumed just by showing up he knew the motor was good. We slapped it in the Miata and ran hard for the last 5 years. Needless to say it’s time to rebuild it..  

The guy we decided to let build the motor was John Bouchard. You know… The guy from Horsepower TV. John is a former marine Veteran. Johnny C is an Army veteran. I know John will go the extra mile and handle any issues that might turn its head. Also we picked john because his work on the Television show. Past episodes show John always focused on oil passages. Allowing the oil to return to the pan. This is critical in racing engines, And is a factor that is overlooked by most motor builders

We took some time to figure out a simple issue. How do we keep engine oil out of the back seat of the jeep? We bought a harbor freight trailer and built an engine stand that will work with the trailer. 

Finished up and the motor delivered to john’s shop in TN. 

build updates:

John was filtering in photos from the build.


The skirts are scraped up. 
A little nick from the valves on the piston. These pistons are not going to work. The vales should be replaced too… 
No chain tensioner…. Woops.

UPDATES 1/19/2015

John removed the old beat up pistons. The early ls1 cast pistons are huge and weight in at 578.7 grams. 
Our new pistons are a lightweight when compared to the old ones. These Probe pistons come in at just 498.0 grams.  A savings of 80 Grams 

Johns going to have some fun pulling 640 grams out of the crank.  

Updates soon


Adding a racing wheel to a Miata.

Some gentle advice on why not to buy a "weld on" quick release hub. Recently we did a swap from a "weld on" to a Sparco hub and Momo Quick release. A new steering shaft was required to remove the old weld on hub.

Step 1. Get the right parts...

LTB momo bolt on quick release hub.
sparco hub: miata spline-to- sparco and momo bolt pattern.

A New Steering column from thanks TOM! 
For extra cleanliness we painted it flat black. 

What not to do: All steering wheel quick release mechanisms will develop play. How long it takes depends on use. Our car does 29-30 events a year. A quick release in our miata needs to be replaced after a year.  You can see the welded unit on the end of our column.

Photo credit speed hunters. 

Corvette racing uses a OEM tilt column for divers changes. This will exponentially increase the life of a quick release hub. 

The install: 
 step 1 column to hub. All Mazda columns W/Sparco hubs get the TQ spec at 33ft lbs.
After that: Tighten up the momo Quick release to the sparco hub. I use german specs for this. AKA goot-in`tight
Wheel distance is a personal preference. Personally I like a close wheel. If the wheel is close to you it is important to use collapsible components. In this set up the wheel. Sharco hub, and the column are all collapsible. This does not grantee safety, but gives you better odds.

Collapsible- just means the item is engineered to fail in a certain way.  With steering equipment it is meant to absorb the energy of an impact.
After the wheel was installed on the column, we installed the column in the car. 

I like to call my cockpit the “industrial look”. 

steering column-
momo/sparco hub -
quick release -

NEW Components. V8 Roadsters

When the LS1 miata project was started the chassis had just over 250,000 miles on it. That was the #1 reason for seam welding. Some time has passed and it was determined that it would be a good idea to replace everything. *Enter V8 Roadsters* 

V8 Roadster makes the LS1-into-mitata sub frame. Along with other swap items. The current OEM control arms had a grotesque amount of miles on them. In a quest to remove anything on the car that came with it. ( a goal that we reach closer to everyday) we opted for the v8-r A-arms. 

Unlike a-arms out of a junk yard, these had 0 miles on them. They are not totally worn out. One thing that boggles the mind is why do people buy old clapped out race cars? You'll need to replace everything on it anyway. If you're replacing everything, you might as well build a one. end rant-- onward! 

  The new A-arms where installed toot sweet! Also the Diff was rebuilt with a 3.23 gear. 

We set the suspension at 954 racing's specs of 3.5* camber (F) and 3* camber (R) 0 toe. We managed to find 8* of caster. That's right 8* of caster. On your stock miata you would be lucky to get 3*. The new A-Arms have a ridiculous amount of adjustment.  For auto x we might trade some caster for extra camber. Where we are going we want the extra stability. It's nice to know you have choices..   

 To test them,  we ran a little track in Northern Florida. I'm sure no one's ever heard of it. leave your guesses in the comments.. 

With the new suspension settings and the reduced bind from the suspension. we picked up 0.2G's on turns. The little monster is now pushing 1.0g's on street tires. Before this the max we could muster was .8g. all data was recorded by an AIM Smarty cam and SOLO DL.


Allot of people like to use 954's box suspension settings,  we wouldn't recommend their set-up on a over powered miata. They like to fiddle with the rear tow to get the car to rotate. on a under powered car that might be necessary.  A v8 car doesn't need any help rotating. We have power to rotate. rear tow shouldn't be messed with. your playing with alot of drag, and possible wonky handling. 

 A good set up using v8 roadsters control arms is listed below. This is the same setup used to get 225/45r15 BFG rivals to hold over 1G  (a spec miata with a slick can hold about 1.2g)

Super speedway 160+ mph - sounds funny on a miata hua?  
F-Camber 3.5*
caster 8*
tow .5* 

R-Camber 3*
Caster 0 
tow 0 
Road coarse or auto x. This set up for anything that isn't an R-oval. 
F-Camber 4.5*
caster 5*
 tow 1* 

R-camber 3.2*
caster 0
tow 0 

Changing out the dash, and a little wiring.

The NB dash that was in the monster originally was a bit too...let be nice and call it Grass Roots. Switches with tape on it, holes ect. An over all dirty look.  

The main harness that was in the car was wired by yours truly. Having never done a harness before, doing a 2nd time would yield better results.

Being not very proud of the job that was done, this file photo will offer a close to accurate description.

The Ever famous Holley ECU was bolted to tabs, and welded to the dash bar. Although this looks cool when you pop the airbag cover off. It wasn't the sturdiest place to mount such a high dollar device. The Tabs have a tendency to vibrate, and we all know that's not good for electronics.

STEP 1: if you compare electricity to a tree.. stump= battery- branches=relays&switches - leafs=lights.  we can then take the steps like climbing a tree. Step 1  The battery (that's already mounted) goes directly to this. A fuse panel was needed, this panel is modular. Ie.. it can be removed as a whole. If the car got totaled out the panel can be move to a new chassis with ease.

The back side of the panel holds all of the relays. again this panel can be removed and transplanted into almost any chassis.

Next up the tree is the switch panel. The switches will control the; Lap-timer, Ecu, main ACC drives, headlights, starter and windshield wipers.

The switch panel too is modular. Cut the rivets that hold it to the NA dash panel and it can be moved to any chassis.  TOP TIP: when riveting plastic like a dashboard put washers behind the rivets. The washers will pull the rivet in and won't deform the plastic.

The NB shaped Gauge cluster bolted directly into the NA gauge cluster mounting points. I hid all of the wires behind the gauge hood.
Amazingly! I put all the connections together and she worked the first time.