It’s out…

The engine in the Miata. It’s finally out. It didn’t come without a fight though. There is a lot of rust on the underside of this car. The body/frame itself looks OK. But subframes, control arms, exhaust pipes are all pretty rust. So was the front 1/2 of the differential. It seems the front half is cast iron and the rear aluminum. The aluminum part wasn’t rusted, the cast iron part was rusted to hell. That is where our troubles began.

Most of the stuff on the car wasn’t that hard to remove, save for a couple stubborn (read rusted) exhuast bolts and the power plant frame (PPF). Exhaust stuff is always rusted and hard to break the bolts loose so that was to be expected. And it wasn’t that bad. I’ve dealt with much worse. The PPF gave us a real fight. It connects the transmission to the differential. It takes the place of the traditional trans mount and adds additional stiffness to the chassis. There are 4 pretty big bolts that go through it, 2 in the trans and 2 in the diff. They were in tight. But the ones in the trans busted loose with some persuasion from a breaker bar and a pipe. Once loose an impact wrench finished the job. One of the bolts on the diff was similar, the front one. The rear one was a different animal all together.

We sprayed all the bolts with PB Blaster. Standard operating procedure. We tried my electric impact on it. Nothing. So we got out the 1/2″ drive breaker bar and a peice of pipe and managed to break it loose. It was tough. It turned about 1/2 turn before it let out the signature noise that tells you a tight and rusted bolt has been untorqued. We figured we could back it out the rest of the way with the impact. NOPE. Wouldn’t turn. So we just kept turning it by hand w/ the breaker bar and pipe. Shouldn’t the power tools have more grunt than your arms? Anyway my Dad and I had to take turn unscrewing this thing b/c it was so tough and our shoulders would get sore. What a thing! At some point I heard another sound like a bolt was loosening again. Which was weird b/c we had backed it out 4 or 5 turns.

After a little while longer of turning (which had got harder since the sound) my Dad says “Stop I want to see something”. There was a hump of metal at the top of the PPF where the bolt was presumably threaded into. We couldn’t see it, just feel it. It felt like it was a bushing that was maybe welded to the PPF. Well it wasn’t welded. It was just pressed in. I later found out the bushing has small splines on it like a wheel stud. It is pressed in b/c the PPF is aluminum! Looking at the thing I just figured it was steel. Well anyways this bushing was just spinning. It had broken loose of the PPF!! Just great. What are we going to do now? After a few minutes of head scratching we decided to cut the head of the bolt off. Dad thought we had enough room to pop it out after doing this and neither of us had any vice grips to try on it. Well that turned out to be a mistake. We didn’t have enough room. After more head scratching and some cursing we realized we could just push the transmission and PPF apart with a crow bar ang get the motor out. At thing point we had the car up on jackstands and the hoist all hooked up so we cranked away at it and got it out. We only hit a few more minor snags. I missed a spot where the wire harness was hooked to the trans way down by the firewall. I missed either the backup or neutral switch on the trans. And the left motor mount bracket was getting hung up on the P/S line. All of those were solved pretty quickly. And the motor was finally out.

This being ther first time I have taken an entire engine out of a car it was pretty nerving, exciting, stressful all at the same time. One of our mistakes was not putting something on the front bumper cover. The engine hoist ended up jacking itself against the car and since it’s not too big or expensive it just cleared the rad support and bumper cover. Leasons learned. Another thing of note. My Dad wanted to jack up the car on all four jack stands in the driveway which is on good slope. I said no as I was worried the car would want to go down hill and the jacks would tip over. I made him push it out into the street where we got relativly level ground. As it was the car was really just teetering on just two jack stands. Either the ground was still a little uneven, or the frame it bent. 😮