Targa Miata
July 18, 2006 - A large number of our parts are coming from salvage vehicles.
Here's one of them. Seeing the chassis in this sort of condition makes it easy to spot the structural improvements made over the years.
entry 12 - tags: stiffening
July 19, 2006 - These two front uprights are the same except for one thing - the one in the foreground has an ABS sensor.
Our car won't have ABS, but we're going to use the upright with the sensor because it may come in handy for our rally computer. The front wheels don't spin so they should be more accurate in reading distance and speed.
entry 13 - tags: computer
August 8, 2006 - Eric found a pair of used Peltor rally helmets along with an intercom.
By a quirk of fate, they fit us perfectly. As an even bigger bonus, they have competed in the Targa before in a Miata. We're quite excited about this.
entry 14 - tags: safety, intercom
January 24, 2007 - There hasn't been any construction done on the car in the past few days, but I've still been busy.
I'm talking to a few suspension specialists about options. The JICs (the gold ones in the picture) are an excellent track option, but the spring rates and damping might be a little aggressive for the Targa. We have some new shocks coming in from some other companies with excellent reputations but are new to the Miata, and a Miata specialist is also going to be revalving some stock Bilsteins for us to evaluate. This will be interesting, I'm trying to come up with a good test procedure for them.
entry 15 - tags: suspension
January 25, 2007 - The car is being prepped for paintwork.
Every last nut and bolt is being stripped off. I'm also going to grind off some old unused brackets. The body is almost ready but the doors need significant work.
entry 16 - tags: paint
January 25, 2007 - In order to move the car for paintwork, I installed a rudimentary suspension.
These control arms were used because they're already fitted with polyurethane bushings - but it looks like the right front lower arm is deformed. That's not good. We'll replace that. This is where our association with Flyin' Miata comes in very handy, as we have access to a wide variety of used parts.
entry 17 - tags: suspension
January 25, 2007 - The car is on a major weight loss program.
These are the hinges for the trunklid. The lid will be cut down and then attached with pins. I'm going through the car front to back looking for little places to save weight. There's more to come out of the dashboard as well despite the previous work.
entry 18 - tags: weight loss
January 28, 2007 - In order to make it easier to weld the cage in and paint the car, I removed the windshield.
This is always a little unnerving because it's easy to break the windshield and it's hard work. This one is a fairly good piece of glass (barring a bit of weld spatter from the previous owner). Mazda recommends piano wire on a couple of handles, so I used safety wire on a couple of screwdrivers. In conjunction with some razor blades, it did the job.
I then got in trouble for stashing the windshield in the spare bedroom. This is apparently a no-no. The single life made it easier to work on cars!
entry 19
January 28, 2007 - It's chopping time on the car.
I cut out this folded steel bracket. It's the original seat mount. In order to maintain both a low seating position and some adjustability, I decided to remove it. I'll bolt the seat rails directly to the floor. For those concerned about the strength implications, the car will have reinforced floorboards and frame rails as well as the full cage. I might put a small cross bar in front of the seats but I don't anticipate there to be any need.
entry 20 - tags: weight loss, ergonomics
January 28, 2007 - Time to lighten the doors.
I recently saw a picture of a Miata with every removable panel made out of carbon fibre. The owner claims the doors are 9 lbs each. We don't have that budget, but this door has been dropped from 32.45 to 24.35 lbs. Enough structure is being left in place to allow the retention of a manual window crank and windows.
It's not as extreme as I've gone in the past. For a previous race car I helped build at Flyin' Miata, was built a door that wouldn't support its own weight! That one was about 14 lbs. However, we are required to run the factory inner door panels for the Targa and we also want windows for the Newfoundland weather.
entry 21 - tags: weight loss
January 28, 2007 - The bits and pieces that came out of the door.
The side impact beam is the heaviest piece. Switching from power to manual windows also saves over a pound.
entry 22 - tags: weight loss
January 28, 2007 - Extreme lightening.
In order to shave precious ounces, I removed the plastic locking levers from the door handles. Actually, I really did it to keep them from rattling. We won't have locks on the doors because 1) we won't need some of the inner door structure and 2) we don't actually have the keys to these locks.
entry 23 - tags: weight loss
January 29, 2007 - A test fit of the dashboard substructure.
It's a little shocking how light all this is. I did remove one of the support braces in the middle of the beam, and this may not have been a great idea. I've spent a fair bit of time on track with a car with a similar dashboard and never noticed any steering column movement, but it is possible to flex the beam slightly by hand if you yank on it. Perhaps one vertical brace would be a good idea.
It would also be a good idea to clean up the footwell of the car!
entry 24 - tags: ergonomics, weight loss
January 29, 2007 - The cage is almost ready to go in.
This was provided by Hard Dog Fabrication and is a fantastic piece of work. It drops right in to place and has all the fishmouthed joints finished for us. We'll go a little further than the usual Spec Miata installation and tie it to the windshield frame as well.
entry 25 - tags: safety, sponsors
January 29, 2007 - A hurdle to overcome.
The cage was designed to be installed on a car with the dashboard in place, it seems. I can install the structure underneath, but the plastic covering (which seems to weigh about a pound!) won't go in without more surgery. Since we want to paint the cage along with the body of the car, I do need to be able to pull and replace the dash somehow. There's a way, I just have to figure out the best way to do it.
entry 26 - tags: safety, weight loss
January 30, 2007 - As part of checking the ergonomics, I test-fitted a seat with the cage.
It's a bit of a tight squeeze unless I reshape the transmission tunnel very slightly. We're still investigating various seats as well. Most Spec racers use aluminum seats, but they don't have the comfort we want for a week-long race.
entry 27 - tags: ergonomics, seats
January 31, 2007 - Just in case anyone thinks the Targa Miata is being built out of shiny new parts on an unlimited budget...
this gauge cover came out of a car that was wrecked in 1998 and sat outdoors for five years afterwards. That's not dust, that's crust. Most of the non-essential parts on the car are scavenged.
entry 28
January 31, 2007 - A bit of reinforcement for the chassis.
This frame rail reinforcement kit is from our sponsor Flyin' Miata. It slips over the frame rails and provides a surprising improvement in stiffness of the chassis. An added bonus for us - beyond the fact that our 200,000+ mile chassis could use all the help it can get - is that it also armors the underside of the car somewhat and allows us to use the entire length of the frame rail as a jacking point. It's an extra 14.5 lbs, but worthwhile. At least the weight is very low and centered between the wheels!
entry 29 - tags: sponsors, stiffening
January 31, 2007 - The rear bumper cover has been cut up fairly drastically.
Why? Because it will offer less aerodynamic drag. It will allow us to remove some substructure and weight. And also because the car that donated the rear bumper cover had a center exit exhaust, so it had a goofy cut right in the middle of it!
entry 30 - tags: weight loss
February 1, 2007 - Progress continues on preparing the body panels.
The rear bumper supports will be cut down shortly to knock a few pounds off the very back of the car. The passenger's door has been cut up to match the driver's as well. The cage will be welded up this weekend.
entry 31