It’s finally back on the road!! After a whole month on jack stands. The only part missing was the one outer tie rod end. I bought it from Mazda Motorsports with my newly opened account. I also picked up some rod end sway bar end links from Mazdaspeed since my old ones were all rusty, especially the bolts. So I put them on as well. Then I put the wheels on and took it for a test drive. Well the test drive didn’t last for long. At first I thought it was just rust knocking off of the brake rotors. But the vibration quickly became severe. I nursed the car around the block and back in the driveway. the vibration was coming from the right front, like the brake bad was sticking in spots. Upon taking the wheel off everything looked OK, except that it was clear that the brake rotor was rubbing on the caliper bracket. It took me a little bit of looking around to realize the rotor was not seated square on the hub. I took the rotor off and the only thing out of place was a small knob of metal on the underside of the rotor. It turned out to be rust that was built up. It self destructed with some contact from a sanding disk on my drill. With the brakes all back together and on another test drive everything was OK now. In fact the car felt good. It was not as harsh over bumps as I had imagined. Of course I had the shocks set to almost the lowest settings. I didn’t want to push the handling. It was just a shakedown run to make sure everything was OK. The next day Irene brought me up and we drove the car home.
There was still a lot to do. I noticed that the rear end was leaking and could not get the fill plug out. It almost looked as is someone had put some sealant on the threads. IT was a matter of time before the rear end drains itself and blows up. It was already making a noise on coasting. Needless to say I didn’t drive it much. And we discovered that one of the rear brake pads was down to nothing while one was at full. Plus now one of the front rotors has a “flatspot” to it, which caused a vibration. The next step was to take it for an alignment. No problems there, though I was worried that the front alignment bolts, which we didn’t get to replace would brake. They didn’t. I was prepared, having new ones on hand. But that would have made the alignment go longer and cost more. I got a fairly aggressive alignment, but is fairly stock for an STS2 Miata. All the specs were gleaned from various message boards and from Andy Hollis’ GRM blog (check my blogroll). The specs are -2.2° camber in the front, which is about as much as you can get when you max out the caster, -2.5° camber in the rear. 1/8″ toe out in the front and 1/8″ toe in in the rear. The first autocross with all of these changes would be the next day. The report on that later.