Tag Archives: nc mx-5

Mazda MX-5: Jacksonville Miata Mini-Meet on my Florida Road Trip

I’ve been trying to organize a Florida Miata get-together ever since I bought my car and nothing seemed to pan out, until now! I finally managed to meet up with a local MX-5 owner in Jacksonville on my way to Daytona Beach, Florida… yay!

I’ve been communicating with the owner on Miata.net for a little while now, following on mods he’s been doing to his car and sharing information on my little projects. This opportunity to meet up and share ideas over dinner was great. I especially liked checking out the stuff he’s done in person… like the $38 eBay trunk lip spoiler which I’ve been considering doing myself. Or the larger windshield washer tank that is only available in Canada and not the US. Or his most recent mod: the hood struts which standard Miatas don’t come with. Or the custom steering wheel that is almost double the girth of the original. It was pretty neat!

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If the car looks a lot like my Miata, it basically is… both are 2007 GT PRHT models… same exterior in Copper Red and same interior in Camel Brown or Orange or whatever the hell it is. But this car has a Manual Transmission while mine is an Automatic. It also has a cone K&N filter while mine is stock…. and the few things I mentioned above that I wanted to see to decide whether I should get them too.

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I do really like the idea of the hood struts, that makes things easier.

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And the finish looks like it came from the factory like that.

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Come winter time I’ll probably wish I had this larger Canadian washer bottle.

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As much as I like the idea of a fat steering wheel, the fact it cost over $400 to ship and install, I can say it is nowhere near the top of my wish list.

I’m really grateful for the opportunity and for my new friend shouting a tasty seafood dinner… not something I was expecting but hopefully I could repay the favor in the future.

Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2016 is a GO!

Happy to report that I’ll be attending the Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this October (10/1 and 10/2). I won’t have my NC with me but the flights have been booked and hopefully my rental car is something cool… as much as I can’t afford this trip I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this event first hand, check out the big MX-5 car show, and watch a bunch of owners take to the famous track with their Miata’s. I also missed the opportunity to sign the Millionth Miata when it was in Germany at TidM or closer to home at Wayne Mazda on their NYC stop of the tour or the Easton Mazda on the Philly stop. Hopefully I’ll get to autograph it myself.

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I’ll also be staying for the week after until Pirelli World Challenge takes to the same race track for their season finale. I can’t wait to marshal at Laguna Seca again… I’ve done the Corkscrew corner before from several different stations and different points of view, hopefully this time I’ll get to experience another vantage point.

Either way it’ll be extremely exciting.

So far I’ve used some frequent flyer miles to fly JetBlue from JFK to Oakland and Virgin America from San Francisco to Newark. The flights weren’t as cheap as I would hope to find them, but about $129 going and $159 back if converted to cash. The car rental from Hertz was similar amount, though I’ll keep checking to get a lower rate. I’ll also try to rely on CouchSurfing to keep my accommodation costs down.

This is going to be a blast and a fine way to end my marshaling season… what an adventure it has been so far!

Mazda MX-5: Wheel Bearing Hub Replacement with RX-8 (F189 33 04X) Timken Part#: HA590360

Today’s project involved replacing the stock MX-5 front wheel bearing hubs with an upgraded RX-8 hub from Timken part #: HA590360 (OEM part #: F189 33 04X which is ironically stamped on the back of the Timken product along with a Mazda logo – mind you there was no Mazda logos on the original hubs I took off the car). And it’s all thanks to fucking Detroit… and Jessie who diagnosed the problem simply by hearing the symptoms.

So long story short I went to volunteer for Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix completely forgetting how fucked the roads are in Michigan. Some of the pot holes I hit on this trip were teeth clenching and made me curse myself out for doing it. I love Detroit, but it’s a city you fly into and rent a car and not destroy your personal one. Lesson learned $206 dollars later. I was lucky enough to find a deal through RockAuto.com who was selling the Timken parts for a good 3rd less than the competition. Plus I found a 5% coupon online and there was no tax, with free shipping having the part arrive the day after I ordered it. How cool?!

I was volunteering in Pennsylvania the day the part arrived, doing my first IndyCar event at Pocono Raceway, and driving there confirmed something was amiss as the front end of the car was making some humming noise. It wasn’t terrible. There was no vibration that was annoying, but it was in the background.

Today I stopped by AutoZone to rent some tools I’d need for this job including a slide hammer and a torque wrench (which was broken) all in $120 dollars deposit, which I got back upon returning the tools a few hours later. I also stopped at Lowe’s home improvement store to pick up some Loctite blue thread locker in addition to the anti-seize I picked up at AutoZone with the tools.

The job was fairly straightforward. There was no videos to watch on YouTube of someone else having done this, and frankly I wasn’t really going to do it myself because I lack the technical experience to do the job. But it was simple. Few things went along stubbornly but otherwise it was a quick job. I took a shit ton of pictures of most of the process which I’ll share below.

Unlike the right hub being bad, it turns out that the bearing in the left hub was damaged. It was making some noise when turning right especially so you can see how I was tricked. But I think the failure was at the very early stages because everything felt pretty tight on the car when I tried to diagnose it (besides hearing the noise).

I did both sides simultaneously so it went along pretty quickly.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story:

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Notice how the Timken product has Mazda stamped on it with the OEM part number on the back of the plastic ABS sensor cover.

I still can’t believe this box arrived by FedEx in one day!

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Beautiful day to tinker with the car!

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First order of business was to spray every bolt and nut with CRC degreaser… that stuff works like magic!

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After I sprayed everything I went to the store to pick up my AutoZone rental tools for the job… $120 deposit later, they’re here:

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Notice that the slide hammer and the axle puller are separate parts.

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Then started spraying the CRC some more, and more… the screws holding the rotors/disks on were a pain to get going!

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A couple of angry yanks on the slide hammer and the hub popped out, this was actually the easy part!

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And the other side:

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Comparing the OEM MX-5 hub on the right with Timken RX-8 hub on the left side… similar but there are obvious differences like that dimple in the center of the RX-8 hub.

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I used some plastic baggies I had laying around to cover up the ABS sensor which was the first thing I unbolted in this job.

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The old hubs:

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Another side by side between MX-5 and RX-8 hubs:

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Time to lube them with anti-seize and do the easy work, installing the new part:

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Perfect fit, and so much easier to install then uninstall:

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I dabbed Loctite thread locker on every bolt I put back in.

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Job done… took the car on a test drive on the way back to AutoZone to return the rental tools. Sounds so much better! And feels tighter too. I thought the car wasn’t loose to begin with but now the steering is much much tighter than when it was with the shot bearing. Very happy with this install and will get to try it out on my next road trip to VIR in a couple of days. I hope the gas mileage improves because lately it had dropped from 34mpg I typically got going to Watkins Glen to just about 31mpg. That’s a big difference!

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Mazda North American Headquarters Visit in Southern California

So the highlight of my trip to Southern California wasn’t marshaling  Long Beach Grand Prix, it was instead a side trip further south to Irvine, Orange County to visit the North American HQ of Mazda.

I can’t say I planned the trip there in advance, it sort of just happened. I was hoping to meet up with some local SoCal MX-5 Miata owners during the event but for some reason that meetup never materialized, and since I had some time to kill on Monday before the flight home I decided to do a few Miata related things. After a quick Google search I had a list of three places to try to check out if the California traffic would allow it. Mazda HQ was stop #1 (a visit to Racing Beat and Roadster Tuner followed).

While I tried not to get my hopes up for the actual visit, I was excited. I kept my expectations low because having both Mercedes-Benz of North America and BMW of North America Headquarters just minutes away from me in New Jersey I knew there wasn’t much to see there for random visitors other than an office building. But what’s the worst that could happen? Right…? I figured at the very least I’ll get to check out the lobby. And so it went, the lady at reception confirmed my speculation that there wasn’t much to see and nothing to buy in a gift shop because there wasn’t one. So I mozzied on out, took a few shots of the building, many more shots of the countless MX-5’s in the parking lot and was ready to leave.

And then as if a God-sent, I see three pristine red MX-5’s of various vintage rolling into the parking lot and heading straight for the Visitor Center… I later found out that the NA Miata in the group was the original car unveiled at the Chicago? auto show when the car was first introduced in America in 1989. There was a gorgeous Mazdaspeed NB that followed it, not sure about it’s history. But the red NC in the group was the 25th Anniversary edition of which there were only 1,000 made. I started chatting with the Mazda guys driving the cars into the building and the fella tried to stress the importance of the rarity of the NC… while I countered that I saw three or four of them show up to my little Sydney MX-5 fish & chips run just a few months ago…. how rare could they be? Ha!

It was by dumb luck that I stumbled upon these cars and the guys working there. But boy did that make my day! I shamelessly asked for some Mazda swag referring to the Long Beach Grand Prix Mazda Owner’s Lounge running out of hats by the time I was able to make it there on Sunday as an excuse, and  the guy come through… big time!  I got a whole swag bag full of key chains, lanyards, a Zoom Zoom magazine and some other trinkets and knick-knacks. Not that I actually need more of that stuff, but bringing home souvenirs like that was pretty awesome. I’m really grateful for the opportunity!

Of course I couldn’t help myself and took a million pictures:

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So for all you Mazda / Miata fans out there visiting Orange County, California thinking about a visit to the North American HQ… is it worth it? Hell yeah! Granted unless you luck out and stumble upon something similar to what I did, you’ll have a blast… on any other day though the visit may be slightly more mundane… but you never know until you go for it!

PS. after visiting Racing Beat the fella there suggested to check out the Mazda R&D facility where they store all kinds of goodies like the 787B race car…. that would have been nice to know about had I had more time to kill (and not rush for a flight!)

PPS. a few days after I got home pictures and videos surfaced on facebook from the same lobby I visited featuring a fourth vehicle… one I would have been really keen on seeing had I had the time (which I didn’t) the vehicle was the ND MX-5 RF targa prototype… D’oh!!!!