Project Old School - 1988 Mazda RX7 Convertible - with added turbo!

Discussion in 'Reality Check' started by Jenn, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. Jenn

    Jenn
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    This is the saga of project old school (or "stupid vert" as it's also been called).

    About 4 years ago, I came across a 1988 vert (in silver with a blue interior) for sale for like $1000. The body was ok, and the rear rotor was gone in it (the guy couldn't get it to run, but that was mainly because the CAS was unplugged). But, the car had a good top (bad headliner), so I thought, yeah, I can rebuild this. Only had around 150,000 km on it (93,000 miles)

    Anyway, it turns out, it was missing a bunch of other stuff too - the seats w/ headrest speakers, the wheels, the vinyl cover for the top, etc.

    Fastforward to about 2 years ago - I see another 1988 silver vert with a blue interior for sale. This time, the top is bad (good headliner), but the engine is newly rebuilt, the body is in great shape, and it has the original seats. I pick that one up as well. I figure - hey, now we can make one good car! This one only has 116,000 km on it (72,000 miles).

    We discover that the second car also has a lot of good stuff on it, including:
    - Cartech FC NA Turbo kit (rare) with Air to Water intercooler, the original rising rate fuel pressure regulator, and lots of other stuff
    - A full suite of gauges, including EGT, AFR, and Fuel Pressure - and many more - built into a gauge pod in the ash tray
    - The original CD player (!!) and all of the original audio gear and controls

    I figure, after doing some research, I can make a truly period correct resto-mod of this car with these components. The principle behind it is that I want to keep it fairly old school while making some subtle modernizations.

    For our 10th anniversary, my husband buys me a set of Mazdaspeed MS01-LM wheels - they're missing the clips, but we had a new set re-manufactured by a local machine shop.
    For my birthday, he picks me up an Adaptronic Plug & Play S4 ECU.

    We couldn't get the second car to start, so we start taking it apart, and that's where the project really begins......



    In the last 3 weeks, we've accomplished the following:
    - New Walbro 255 fuel pump with upgraded wiring
    - Complete removal of the emissions rats nest
    - Removal of EGR, Air pump, ACV
    - Modification of Throttle Body to remove BAC valve, secondary plates, thermowax, and cold idle cam.
    - Elimination of Fuel Pulsation Dampener
    - Full servicing of a set of turbo injectors
    - Removal of the torn top
    - Removal of a lot of electrical installed by previous owner ("sleepy eyes" switch, window switches were removed and replaced with toggle switches, fuel pump was wired to just a switch - not the ignition)
    - Complete strip down of the parts donor car (it's ready to tow away today)
    - Accumulation of a lot of parts....

    To do in the coming 4-5 weeks:
    - Pull the engine and check the assembly under the front cover - there was a slight wobble in the main pulley, so we want to check deflection and that the front assembly is correct
    - Final installation of block off plates for cold start and BAC Valve
    - Fabrication of custom air intake
    - Installation of new radiator (upgraded version we had left over from our race car)
    - New Fuel AEM Pressure Regulator
    - New Innovate LC-2 + wideband 02 sensor
    - Installation of "interrupter" switch for de-flooding
    - Installation of the power window switches that were tested working on the "parts" car
    - Some new hoses, heat wrap, etc
    - New seat upholstery (on order from Racing Beat as of yesterday in a custom 2-tone old school)
    - New speakers - including new headrest speakers
    - Need to swap out the headliner from the bad top to the good top - this involves removing the back window --- any tips???
    - Installation and tuning of Adaptronic ECU
    - Installation of Rays valve stems in the wheels - the tires currently don't hold air because of the plastic valve stems
    - Installation of top on the "good car".
    - A thorough cleaning of the interior and re-assembly using some plastics from the parts car to replace missing sections on the good car.
    - Paint!

    Eventually, we will be taking the Dual Racing Beat exhaust off the race car (a '1986 RX7 coupe) and repurposing it on the convertible with a special adapter. Also, will likely harvest the suspension off the race car when it gets upgraded - KYB AGX, Ground Control Sleeves, Eibach Springs, HKS pillowball mounts.


    Some pics for you:

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  2. Dewie

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    YAY! Photos! I look forward to hearing/seeing more!
     
  3. v-mac

    Fire / Hazmat / GSAR

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    Awesome little project Jenn!
     
  4. v-mac

    Fire / Hazmat / GSAR

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    Seems like that's a rather large mechanical fan for the size of those engines.... do people ever replace them with electric fans?
     
  5. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Yes, but actually the mechanical clutch fan is very reliable.

    On the race car, we have a large electric fan (from a Ford Taurus) and it's quite powerful, but it required some significant wiring to handle the electrical load it draws. :)

    Rotary engines produce a lot of heat, so they need a very beefy cooling system - large rads, large fans, shrouding to channel the air flow....
     
  6. Dewie

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    How are you controlling it? in-line thermal switch or just a switch on the dash?
     
  7. Jenn

    Jenn
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    In the race car, it's a switch in the many toggles. We just flip it on. Had to do a relay though in it, because the wiring had to be upgraded and the switch wouldn't have handled the amount of power it draws.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
  8. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Here's the intercooler that came on the convertible, btw...

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Dewie

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    Relays aren't bad at all :)

    Interesting - does it use a separate coolant system for the intercooler or the coolant from the engine?
     
  10. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Yes! It uses one of the coolant overflow bottles as a reservoir, has a pump, a separate radiator, and lines running in and out of it. Inside that unit there's a small radiator like intercooler. :)
     
  11. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Here's the dash, you can see the gauges in the lower right (NOTE: The faux granite finish is going to be disappearing very quickly)

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    And for fun, a panorama of the garage:
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  12. Scott

    rawr

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    all I see

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  13. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I've had that comparison before. :lol:

    We're currently in the process of replacing all those gauges with this badboy:
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Duggan

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    After screwing around with beaker, I would love to learn how to do more with mechanics and cars. I wish there was a hobbyist course available through one of the trade schools.
     
  15. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I basically started with maintenance type stuff - oil changes, brakes, etc when I was a kid.

    Then, did lots of research, was willing to try doing something myself at least once, and picked a lot of it up along the way. I'm now at the point where I can rebuild a rotary engine, and pretty much know this car inside and out - our race car and the convertible are the same generation of the same car. Between youtube, books, and forums, it's easy to find the info. :)
     
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  16. Duggan

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    It is less easy to find the room in my garage for a project that takes up 400 sq' of space. Lol.
     
  17. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Bye bye parts car. We will make good use of your parts to help others of your kind.
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    More room!

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  18. Beaker

    Lifestyle Enthusiast

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    Don't worry. There's lots more work to come.
     
  19. Beaker

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    Also looks cool. Simple pancake motors are tough enough for me for now. That stuff looks way more complicated then I want
     
  20. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Took the wheels off to get new valve stems put in
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    Got the car on dollies so we could move it around and make some space.
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    Now working on the headrest speakers - these are pretty slick to install!
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  21. STYLINator

    Missy

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    those wheels are in amazing shape.
     
  22. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Thanks Jerome! The previous owner of them did a full restoration of them, since you cannot get them anymore and haven't been able to in about 20 years. I am finishing the restoration myself - I have reproduction stickers for the spokes (Mazdaspeed) and we had Ace Machining make some new clips for the centre caps (they have the wire piece that clips in to the screw on piece). Everyone lost the clips years ago, but a friend had 2 of them, so we used one of his as a template and they built a jig to replicate them.

    Unfortunately, when I got the the tires broken down and the new Rays valve stems put in, then remounted/balanced, we found out that two tires have bubbles in the sidewalls from the initial mounting by the original owner - need to buy two new tires, but I can get the same ones and the others are new so they'll still match up.
     
  23. Dewie

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    That parts car you junked - I've fixed worse... :lol:

    Those new speakers look way better than the old ones - I assume you have to pull the seat covers to install them?
     
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  24. Jenn

    Jenn
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    The parts car is deceiving. The fenders, every time I touched them they crumbled in my hands. Underneath the car was VERY rusty - pinholes in the floors, needed rockers, quarter panel repair....

    The other car is in much better shape.


    Yes, I took the headrests off the seats and pulled the vinyl off of them. They seem like they're MUCH better quality than the old ones, and they were a direct drop in.

    The seat upholstery was ordered on Friday afternoon and will ship from California in about 2 weeks.

    I am ordering a couple plugs to plug up old O2 sensor bungs today - there's a wideband on the car, but it's WAY too close to the turbo to get an accurate reading. I'm moving it back 24".

    We're still debating on pulling the engine from the car and checking the assembly of the front stack. There's a little wobble in the main pulley, and the possible causes are:

    - Belts too tight
    - Incorrect assembly of the front stack
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  25. Dewie

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    Better safe than sorry...
     
  26. Jenn

    Jenn
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    That's why there's an engine crane sitting next to the car. :lol:
     
  27. Beaker

    Lifestyle Enthusiast

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    if you need a broker to get shit from the states use willson direct or whatever. they worked well for me.

    aslo dont use freightcenter.com. call r&l carriers. they were cheapest deliverd to my door
     
  28. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Fortunately, most of what I've bought has been able to come USPS directly from the shipper. I have a friend in Connecticut who acts as a relay for me, which works well for things I can't ship directly to Canada.

    Took the Bissel carpet cleaner to the trunk carpet, door panels, and one side of the interior carpet last night - what a difference!

    I also finished reassembling the headrests with the new speakers - they're ready for interior now. :)

    We have decided not to pull the engine just yet. We found a tensioner pulley that could have been causing the wobble. Anything beyond that will require us to pull the engine, and some of the stuff will require pulling it apart, whether I start it first to try it or not. So we're going to reassemble everything, start it, and if the wobble is bad, we'll pull it all apart again.

    Hoping my block off plates for the BAC valve and cold start assist arrive today so I can finish my throttle body/UIM assembly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  29. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Block off plates arrived and are installed!

    Busted out the Bissell carpet cleaner the other night and started to shampoo the carpets, etc. What a difference!
    Below is a pic of the cleaned side (passenger side) vs the still dirty side (drivers side).
    [​IMG]
     
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  30. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Picked up some bits and pieces at lunch. A new fuel filter, some more carpet cleaner, and stainless hose clamps, and something to plug a hole in the intercooler that won't be used with the current setup.
     
  31. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Changed out the fuel filter last night, changed out the stupid granite finished gauge cluster surround for a plain black one, blocked off something on the intercooler, cleaned the drivers side carpet, reinstalled the drivers side door panel and put a new vent in it because the old one was broken.

    Next, we're taking off the downpipe tonight so I can get a new O2 bung welded into it. Also, I need to put a proper gasket between it and the Turbo - right now they have copper silicone, but on a rotary, the high exhaust gas temps will burn that up.

    Also, hunting around the garage last night, I found a bunch of Racing Beat parts I bought like 4 years ago that will go on this car - rad hoses, new exhaust gaskets, a new resonator... I love finding stuff I forgot about. :lol:

    I decided not to pull the rad because it looks in good shape and like it has been replaced.
     
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  32. Jenn

    Jenn
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    Before and after shampooing the carpet:

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    Oh hi thar!
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    Shots from under the car - downpipe, wastegate, etc.
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    They really though silicone would hold as a gasket on a rotary :lol:
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  33. ouird

    I'm Weird

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    You need more flames, and NOS stickers. that will put it over the top.
     
  34. Scott

    rawr

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    and spoilers
     
  35. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I have some +5HP stickers too.
     

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