Packing It In

I’ve talked about it before, it’s nothing new. Target project completion dates continue to be chased but are often left unfulfilled, I remain to be my own worst enemy in this recurring theme of sluggish progression. Still though, my perspective with respect to the importance of effective project planning is left unchanged; you can’t meet a goal or a timeline if you don’t plan one. This update marks yet another leap of faith for both the GT6me build and Mike’s rotary powered Miata build. No, our projects are not being put up for sale or anything like that but we are now working towards a common deadline: move out day.

I offer my sincerest apologies to our current shop mates as they are now left with the burden of finding new tenants to fill our shoes. While the company and the space itself have been great over the past year, bigger and better things are in the works. More of that to come later. With a deadline assigned to the both of us, we have carefully chosen realistic milestones to accomplish prior to departing our friends at Works Garage.

My to-do list? Completion of the electrical system, fitting the new sender units for the ETB instruments gauge cluster and firing up the new power-plant for the first time. As detailed in my previous blog post, the Mazda sourced engine has already inhaled unfiltered atmosphere and consequently exhaled orchestrated fire out of its open head. The electrical system has been completed, tidied and proven out without any readily apparent failures. Really, the only remaining task at this point is fitting the new sender units to the car.

In order for the new instruments to read accurately, the coolant temperature, oil pressure and fuel level senders had to be replaced. Brass thread adapters made very simple work of the coolant temperature and oil pressure senders, however the fuel level sender required significant modifications to the fuel tank itself for proper installation. Another great opportunity to learn!

The factory fuel tank is configured to accept a Smith’s style sender unit which unfortunately is not compatible with the ETB sender unit. Adaption was made possible through simple measurements and drawing up a weld-in flange to match the bolt pattern of the ETB unit. The drawing was sent over to a local laser cutting facility for manufacturing and upon receipt was deburred, faced and subjected to tig welding. Nuts were welded to the underside of the flange to accept standard machine screws for securing the unit to the fuel tank. After I tacked the assembly to the fuel tank, Mike finished welding the flange to ensure an air tight seal as his hands work much better magic behind a torch than mine ever could. It is important to note that the new fuel level float arm needed to be bent to match that of the Smith’s sender as pictured above, this was a surprisingly time consuming task to get just right. Overall the modifications turned out really clean and OEM looking. I am extremely happy with what I learned during this project and the overall execution of the fuel tank.

With my projects being crossed off the list, I was able to lend a helping hand to Mike with his last project before departure, the Wankel exhaust. Constructed of entirely 304 stainless steel, Mike, Brent and I strategically indexed very thick wall cast elbows, checked, tacked, re-checked and repeated until we mocked up a 13B peripheral port header reminiscent of a professional contortionist. Bouncing ideas off of these guys is not only inspiring but also extremely productive with respect to knowledge gain, not to mention the smiles and laughter that were had in the process. The ample research, skilled craftsmanship, time and money that went into the exhaust made it possible to achieve the beautiful results pictured below which will be an amazing addition to Mike’s build.

This entire post is such an important reflection on what has been accomplished during my occupancy at Works; the electrical system was completed, the car fired up for the first time since 1978, fabrication projects were completed, I learned tons about exhaust both systems and fabrication, and of course, plenty of caffeine was consumed. Good times. Soon to come will be details surrounding what will be the new home for the GT6me build. Stay tuned.

– Sean

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