Cleaning and Painting the Suspension, I

P1010001I have several jobs lined up for this weekend.  First I received my new pedals from SRP racing.  I wanted to fine-tune the height of the brake pedal, so I got these pedals.  They are machined out of 6061-T6 aluminum.  They mount to the existing pedals by drilling holes and through bolting them to the old pedal surfaces.  I plan on putting spacers between the new brake pedal and the old one to adjust for proper heel-toe alignment.  The funny C-shaped piece is an extension for the gas pedal.  I haven’t decided if I will use this, because I alread have a “loud pedal” from Dave Wheeler.  The extension bolts behind the existing gas pedal.  I’m not sure how strong that might be.  It could bend if mashed in a fit of “red mist”.  The pedal on the left is a dead-pedal cover.  Just to round out the look under the dash.

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My next task is to remove and repack the front wheel bearings with redline CV2.  Removing these is quite a feat.  The passenger side has been squealing, so I know I needed to do that one.  I figure I might as well do both while I’m at it.  It was quite clear that the passenger side was the original 18 year old bearing.  The dust cap was totally sealed onto the bearing.  I had to use a very thin screw driver to slowly wedge the cap off.  Once I got enough separation, I could fit a larger screw driver in the slit.  Again, I worked my way around the cap.  Finally I used two screw drivers to get the cap off.  I had to wedge with one while I twisted with the other…to generate enough force to separate the cap from the bearing.

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Once the cap is removed the wheel nut is revealed.

P1010029P1010012This sucker is held on with 180 ft-lbs of torque.  I’ve heard some horror stories about removing these nuts.  It takes a 29mm nut for the fronts.  I used my 1/2” drive breaker bar, and the handle from my jack.  Actually first I tried with just the breaker bar…that was silly.  I was able to remove the passenger side nut with the breaker/cheater combo.  But, on the drivers side, my breaker bar broke at the head.  So, I switched to my half-inch torque wrench.  I didn’t really like the idea of using my torque wrench, but I didn’t really have another good option.  Unfortunately, the torque wrench won’t fit inside the jack-handle.  So, I just had to stand on the end of the wrench.  I’m a “little” over 180 lbs, so it did manage to remove the nut.

P1010019 P1010020The next job for the weekend is to remove all the control arms, shocks/springs, and sway bars…in preparation for installing the race suspension when it arrives next week.  In addition while I have it all apart, I want to paint the wheel wells, and the control arms.  Not really necessary, but its a pride in workmanship kinda thing.  A racecar deserves to look good, and be clean.  I removed all parts from all four corners.  But, I only took pictures of the driver rear.  I already detailed most of the front disassembly when I replaced the tie-rods, lower ball-joints, and upper ball-joint boots.  Removing the front control arms is almost identical to removing the rear arms once the knuckle is out of the way.

First I removed the rear knuckle.  I removed all nuts from all bolts before removing any bolts.  That way I can be sure that I a part doesn’t start rotating on me when I un-torque it.  There is a single bolt that goes through the bottom control arm and the knuckle, and a single bot through the top.  I removed both nuts.

There are two bolts through each control arm and connect it to the sub frame.  The lower control arm has the cam bolts.  There is a single bolt that passes through the lower shock mount.  On the fronts these have a nut on the other side.  In the rear they thread directly into the lower control arm.

P1010021P1010022I marked the position of these with white-out before removing them.  Once all the nuts were remove I used a hammer and a punch to push all the bolts through and out.
P1010014Finally, the upper shock mounts.  There are two nuts holding the top-hat studs in place.  On the drivers side (where I took these pictures), the top bolts are behind and kind of under the gas tank filler hoses.  The more rearward nut can be removed using a short and long extension. The forward side nut is more tricky.  I ended up with no extension, and turning the wrench around to face towards the passenger compartment.  I was able to get about 1/8 of a turn this way.  Slow going, but it worked.

P1010031P1010016 The whole reason for all the work described above (times 4), was so that I could paint all the control arms.  Maria used a detail brush, and some soap and water to clean them all off.  Here they are all cleaned up.  Just need to mask off the rubber bits, and the ball-joint tapers, then they will be ready to paint.  Going with a pumpkin orange!!

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I’m also painting the insides of the wheel wells.  So, out comes the detail brush and soap and water, again.  I scrubbed all inside and cleaned everything as good as I could.  Here they are.  They just need to dry, then I can mask them off and paint them tomorrow.  I’m going with a brushed nickel paint for the wheel wells.

Finally, here are all the old suspension parts.  Won’t every go back on this miata again.

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