Priming the roll cage, and odds and ends


One major task for this weekend, and several small ones.  I’d planned on trying to get the interior completely painted, but the weather on Sunday didn’t cooperate.  while Saturday was 75+, Sunday barely made it to 55.  Sure, you “can” paint when the temp is above 50…but, should you really?  Anyway, Saturday spent the day prepping and then priming the interior and cage.  So, I’d wanted to get “self etching primer”, many people recommended the NAPA brand primer, but none of the local stores had it in stock.  I called a Sherwin Williams and they had their “prep & primer”.  This stuff wasn’t exactly what I’d expected from talking to the guy on the phone.  Its called “prep & primer”, but from what I can tell its more like “prep”.  For bare metal with minimal rust, the recommended application method is to mix 1:3 with water, and brush or spray on with a squirt bottle.

So, that’s what I did.  I mixed it a little stronger than recommended…and then sprayed it onto all the bare metal.  I let it sit for 30 minutes, and then washed it off with water.  It left the metal very dull with a slightly whitish hue.  The surface was quite “rough”, not smooth and slick like bare metal.


The next step was to dry all the surfaces—particularly the floor pan where the water pooled.  I sopped up a bunch of it, but I finally just took my shop light and used it as a heat source to help evaporate the water.  I chose to use the heavy duty Rusto primer to prime the whole surface and get a mostly uniform base coat.  Painting the whole car like this takes a little bit of fore-thought: you don’t want to get stuck in the car…more importantly though,  you don’t want to end up with paint all over your hands, arms, and legs.  Nor do you want to get your hands in a freshly painted surface. In order to do that, you have to paint the surfaces that you have to reach to.  So, if you have to reach over the roll cage to get to the deepest part of the trunk…you don’t want to paint the roll cage first.  If you do, then you end up touching the paint on the cage 47 times while trying to paint the back of the trunk.




Also, my wife helped by painting the package tray bits, and the doors.  These mostly still had orignal paint on them, so she just scuffed, cleaned and painted them.  I’ve been debating back and forth between white and grey.  I like the looks of both, but I finally decided that the grey would probably stay more “clean” looking than white would.  You’ll just have to wait to see what I’ve chosen for the cage though.



So, that pretty much took care of Saturday.  The plan for Sunday was to actually put color on the cage and the interior.  Alas, Mother Nature had different ideas.  So, I worked on a number of smaller jobs that just needed to get done.  First up: install the Catalytic converter pipe.  Not much to say about this: its four bolts and nuts.  Actually, I do have one thing…I want to keep the car street legal.  That means I need to keep the cat while driving on the street.  It won’t fit in the stock location, obviously.  But, I think it will fit on the end of the cat replacement pipe.  So, my plan is to take the car to a muffler shop, and see if they can cut the stock exhaust pipe, bolt the cat in place, and then weld the exhaust flange back so it mates with the cat.  Then when I get the race exhaust, I can just remove the semi-stock exhaust for track days…and switch back for street driving.


Next up: install the battery cutoff switch.  I bought a kit from Advanced Autosports.  Dave has a clever way of of installing the switch.  Here’s a diagram:


The nice thing is that it uses a single pole switch, and keeps a load on the alternator.  There are two ways to do the install:

  1. Wire it in without moving any wires.
  2. Move the positive battery cable from underneath the car to inside the passenger compartment.

The first option is quick and easy: 30 minutes tops.  The second way is more trouble, but in the end you end up with no wires running underneath the car.  When it comes time to drop the diff or tranny, there’s no wires to deal with.  In the long run, this is the better way to go.  So, that is what I opted for.  Besides, its cold and raining outside, and I was “stuck” in the shop.


Step 1: remove the battery terminal end and just delete the rear defroster wires.



Step 2: Carefully separate the battery cable from the wire loom.  It takes a razor knife, and a careful hand to get all the tape and corrugated covering off.

Step 3: Pull the battery cable through the gromet in the RR wheel well.  Be careful not to damage the rubber boot or pull the negative cable through, too.


Step 4: pull all of the fasteners off the power-plant-frame, and remove all the tape and covering off the cable.  When you get to the transmission, the battery cable is taped with the transmission wires.  Again be careful and separate the battery cable from these wires.  On my car I could reach all the tape from under the car.



Step 5: Up top, you can reach down below the CAS and just catch the harness containing the battery cable.  Find the cable and pull it up without putting too much tension on the transmission wires.  Pull the entire battery cable up and free into the engine compartment.  At this point, I stopped to thoroughly clean the cable with mineral spirits.   Then feed the cable into the passenger compartment through one of the AC holes.


Step 6: Feed a new length of 18 awg wire into the engine compartment through the same hole as the battery cable.


Step 7: Remove the white wire from the alternator, remove the connector, attach a larger eyelet and attach to the postive terminal on the starter.

Step 8: Add a small eyelet to the new wire from the passenger compartment.  Attach this to the alternator terminal that was occupied by the white whire.


Step 9: Attach the other end of the red wire to the battery side of the kill switch.

Step 10: Attach the original battery cable to the switch, and attach another cable from the switch to the battery.  Done!


I finally managed to get around to installing the heater bypass.  I’ve had this for months!  It was one of the first things I bought for the Miata.  I still need a sender to plug the hole.


Last job of the day, install the R-package chin spoiler.  Its not exactly an air dam, but every little bit helps.


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