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December 17, 2004:
I added a short short video clip of what it's like to pass on a country road. Pretty quick! The videos are now in a more Mac-friendly format, my apologies to those of you with OS X. This weekend is supposed to be nice, I'll head back out again with the camera.
How do you polish wheel rims? With a 130 hp lathe of course!
The wheels are polished. The solution to the nasty kerb scars was an 80 grit flapper wheel on a die grinder. Overkill perhaps, but it sure did the trick. This was followed with some 220 grit to clean things up, then some coarse and fine Scotch Brite wheels. A rub with a coarse Scotch Brite pad put a nice satin finish on things, then I wet-sanded with 600, 1000 and 2000 grit. Some rubbing compound (the missing link from yesterday), aluminum polish and a final shot with Nevr-Dull wadding and boom! A very shiny wheel. It turns out I started with the worst wheel of the lot. Two had no kerb marks at all and those cleaned up in about 30 minutes. I did all the work with the wheel spinning to avoid variations in the shape of the rim. With the polish, those would have been very obvious.
So after all the polishing, I cleaned everyhing up with brake cleaner, carefully masked the rims and started painting. Two coats of self-etching primer, two coats of the Dupli-Color and then a coat or two of clear. How will it look? Hard to say, I'm heading off to put the second coat of black on right now.
While waiting for paint to dry (how exciting!) I checked a few things on teh car. The connection between the upper control arm and the upright was backing out a bit, so I tightened that up after taking out a bit of camber. I also raised the ride height by about 1/2" to give me some more peace of mind. Just for fun I threw the car on the scales - the cross weights are 50.2/49.8 with me in the driver's seat. Not bad for an eyeball setting, really!
The final polish result.
One thing I noticed last night when flipping through an old issue of EVO - their R400 was orange with black front fenders and black wheels with polished lips. Sounds familiar although they did paint all the body. And that suspension lift last night seems to have made the car ride better although I'm not sure how much of that is psychological.
A finished wheel out in the sun.
I should have the opportunity to get some work done on the Seven this weekend. Plans are quite tentative at the moment as to exactly what will be happening, but I've been eyeing a set of individual throttle bodies that happen to be on the shelf at Flyin' Miata. Ooooh, the temptation. I should also really work on the wipers but the thought of drilling the holes in the scuttle makes me sad. I've also started researching trailers and trailer designs. Can I build a Seven trailer with electric brakes for a reasonable price? Let's see.
Oh, and a new project has arrived: a 1988 Mazda 323 GTX. It's a little AWD turbocharged hatchback that just happens to use the same 1.6 engine as my Miata and the Seven. I now have three very different cars in my garage that all run off the same powerplant. This will be fixed up to daily driver status.
A bit of Googling around the net has turned up a couple of interesting things. Apparently my build was being mentioned by the CMC folks a few months back - you can read about it in several Lotus club newsletters including page 4 of reMarque. I also found that rec.auto.makers.mazda.miata seems to have decided I did my best to build the ugliest car possible out of a Miata. A BMW rebody was viewed as a better choice. I think they got a misleading idea of the size of the car judging by their "expert" analysis. Ahh, nothing like the courage of anonymity. To each their own, I'll wave as I go by.
Things are still happening, though. The tires - Falken Azenis RT215 in a 195/60-14 size - arrived today and were soon installed. Tonight I'll put the wheels on the car to see how it looks. I have noticed that Caterham has a habit of putting wheels with black centers and polished lips on their cars. Of course I was never influenced by that. Testing the tires will have to wait as it's raining and generally miserable here. I'm also considering pulling the head off the Seven while it sits for a while to get the valve seals fixed.
My new helmet has also arrived. I ordered it yesterday from Discovery Parts and it showed up today! Incredible, overnight from Georgia to Colorado. And I choose the free shipping instead of paying for expedited. Now I'm curious - how quickly would it have shown up in that case? Anyhow, it's a nice shiny new Bell M2. I'll spend the evening wearing it so I know it's the right size and comfy. It's already better than most of my borrowed helmets. It's also covered in "MOTORSPORTS ARE DANGEROUS" disclaimers. Well, yes. If I didn't know that, I wouldn't have ordered a helmet, would I?
A side project has been disassembling and "depowering" a steering rack for someone else's build. I didn't document this well when I did mine, so that problem has been rectified! I should have a short how-to available soon. The documentation will also come in handy for another project that's upcoming. More details on that when I have more news myself.
My new tires (Falken Azenis, 195/60-14) have arrived and are mounted.
I've been concerned for a while with the angles of my rod ends on the steering at full droop. So while talking to my favourite parts yard, I ordered a couple of front uprights from a 2002 Miata. For the 1999-05 cars, the mounting point for the tie rod was moved up 7mm from the earlier design. This might help me enough. They're also unmolested so I'll have the opportunity to use stock ball joints instead of the bolted rod ends I use now - that would completely eradicate the problem. I could also relocate the steering rack but I'd have to change the length. Coincidentally there's a broken steering rack on the way as well that might help me out with spare parts to do just that. It's not bump steer I'm chasing here, it's the stress that is put on the rod ends as the suspension reaches maximum droop. A bit of grinding might solve the problem - more investigation is needed. This way I'll have the parts on hand, and if I don't use them I'm sure another "locoster" would be interested.