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Below is a recounting of various car events I've attended along the years, from car club meets, autocrosses, track events, and enthusiast drives.

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2004/06/07 Turbo Blues...
π 2004-06-07 10:19 by Merlin in Cars

Current Music: South Park - Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson - O Canada
Current Mood: I know why I'm not a mechanic

So, the dreaded exhaust leak problem came back after about a year, and sure enough, the FM3 turbo kit from Flying Miata was really not supposed to be installed with bolts. I so wished that they had told us though... Of course, now they do tell you on the phone that you should use studs and locking nuts, and they sent me a bag for $10, but that doesn't make up for the almost entire day Jason and Matt spend on my car a year ago to replace two of the bolts on my wastegate with studs, or the entire saturday I just spent at Jason's to do the other two when one of them fell out a year later (to put things back in perspective, the wastegate does hang from the manifold, and it's exposed to high vibrations and extreme heat (800-900 degres C), which does put bolts through a lot of strain).
Anyway, this time, the valiant knights were Jyri, Carlos, and Jason also helped us out, even though he had to stay focus on his engine rebuild.
Jyri and I first took the turbo out, which took close to two hours (lots of nuts in uncool places, but that was nothing compared to what was in front of us). Carlos arrived around the time when we were removing the wastegate (which was now being half held by just one bolt since the other one had fallen out).

Putting the studs in with Jason's double nut trick wasn't too hard, but we spent the several following hours trying to figure out how to put a bolt back on the nut as I did lose the single hardest bolt to replace in the car: the bolt that holds the external wastegate to the 90 degree adapting piece. It's not that we didn't have the right tools, but no wrench would fit there because the bolt was too close to the wastegate, preventing anything but an open wrench from fitting there. The small hitch was that you couldn't use one because the engine was in the way.

So, the next logical move was to remove the manifold so that this could all be bolted together without the engine being in the way, but the kicker is that the manifold can't be removed without removing the wastegate adapting piece, and that's the one that we spent so much time putting in place with studs last year so that it wouldn't move ever again (that was the part that was falling out soon after the turbo install).
After too much time of fudging around without getting the damn nut tightened to any useful extend, Carlos came up with the great easy to shave off some material off the wastegate, did nothing else but remove the TIAL lettering, and that turned out to be enough. It's really ironic that the logo was what prevented us from putting a bolt on, but that's actually what happened.

You missed some funny parts where Jason and Carlos used a PVC pipe on top of an angled wrench to get more leverage, and make sure the nut never ever comes off (considering that it's a day's worth of work to get to it...). We then started the job of putting everything back together (including jacking up the exhaust so that the downpipe would match up with the turbo long enough for us to put the bolts back on).

After that, Carlos had to leave so as to remain married :) and Jyri stayed until most things had been put back together, and I proceeded to wait for Jason who had a previously planned dinner with friends, and we finished putting the remaining pieces back together when he came back around 23:00.
In the process, we fixed a coolant pressure leak, replaced some hoses that were either very tired, or insufficiently heat insulated and would have failed soon, and made sure to give them extra protection so that hopefully they'll last this time.
There wasn't a whole lot to put back together, but it still took another two hours as we applied a few last minute fixes and carefully checked things up as we were putting them back (and had to figure out why nothing was plugged in the blow off valve, and were the missing vacuum hose was). I proceeded to slice one of my fingers open by reaching for my swiss army knife in my pocket (which I hadn't quite closed from its last use), and thanks to all the people mentioned, I got home around 01:30 with a working car again.
I have to give Jyri, Carlos, and Jason a big thank you again, and the guys who designed the FM3 kit, a big fist in the air for having designed the most unmaintainable kit there is out there.

You can find all the pictures here , including a cool small video of the wastegate here here

So, obvious questions some people could ask:
Is it all worth it? Well, when you turn blots a 16th of a turn at a time and leave pieces of your arm in the engine bay, it may not be that obvious, but when back on the road with a huge grin as the boost gauge is hitting 10, the answer is an absolute yes :)
How about buying a faster car, can't you afford that? That's a sensible one: well, today I probably would, but putting aside the blood and tears, I do have for less than $20,000, a car that's faster than an S2000, a porsche boxter, or a Z3/Z4 (not M) and that can also outhandle both of them. That said, there is something to be said for buying a car where all the stuff is already fitted from the factory and they did use studs instead of bolts were needed. My guess is that today, I might consider alternatives, especially knowing the pain when maintenance is required. That said, the friends I made through BAMO, priceless...

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