LS FD on hold

It’s been a while since I updated, lots have happened. Namely, I picked up a pre-swapped LS FD in New Mexico, drove it home, and put it in storage for a year or two. Earlier this year, I started working on it, trying to fix everything the previous owner half assed.

From Feb – August, I’m 95% of the way toward getting it running. Only thing I haven’t touched yet is the suspension, which I’ve started gathering parts for.

Unfortunately, I just started school late August, and haven’t had much time to work on the car. Yesterday I cleaned up the garage and basically put the car in “storage mode” yet again. I’m shooting to get the car completely finished during my week break when this session is complete in 3 weeks.

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Other LS Rx-7 builds

Over this weekend, I had the opportunity to check out some other LS FD’s for some idea I can use during my own build. I met up with Dan, the guy who inspired me to take on the swap myself, he went over details of his car and took me to see another local build.

A little background on Dan, I was checking out random cars at 7stock when I stumbled on his car. Turns out he did the swap at age 68 a few years ago, never did anything other than oil changes and brake flushes. He was one of the first guys in CA to do the swap, when it was only Hinson offering any sort of parts. Pretty amazing!

Dan's LS FD
If the car looks funny its because it’s jacked up from the driver’s side.

LS FD engine bay

Anyway, pretty much have the fuel system down, plans as of now is to bypass the stock Mazda fuel filter, run the Corvette fuel filter / FRP in the engine bay with the stock hard lines for supply and return. Pretty nifty how the Corvette has a filter / FRP all in one, I haven’t seen something like this before. Alternatively, I can run the vette filter in the back, near the fuel tank and the start of the hard lines, just use 1 of the lines for supply and connect that to the LS1 fuel rail. We’ll see if I can find a suitable mounting position, having less fuel stuff in the engine bay is always safer.

After checking out Dan’s car, he called up a buddy of his, Mike, from the v8rx7 forums so I could take a look at his work in progress. It’s pretty amazing, steel wide fenders in the rear, repainted satin black engine bay, built engine, even stripping out unnecessary wiring from the harness. Whole 9 yards! My original plan was to do the bay in flat black like this, but I was scared of how it would hold up. After seeing his car though, and how easy it is to touch up spots, maybe this is the direction I want to go in.

Mike's LS FD
Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe this car.

built LS FD

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Rx-7 Dashboard Removal

Got home from work today and decided to finish pulling out the dash. I figured it was easier to work on the wiring if the dash was out; I’d also be able to go ahead and take out the carpeting and sound deadening as well. Is sound deadening removal worth it? Probably not on a ~2800 lb car with high 300 tq, but hey, this is always something I wanted to do with one of my project cars, just never got around to it. Funny though, all my previous cars have been low weight low hp cars (2 EK civics, 1 ae86), and I’m finally getting around to doing the sound deadening thing on a car that wouldn’t benefit as much.

The car as it sits now:
DSC02126 resized

If you look closely, you can see the steering wheel sitting on some books. When you loosen the bolts to the steering column, you need to support it somehow, something that the Mazda instructions neglected to tell. I decided that I should probably put something there when I saw it hanging by the wiring. Not good. There’s also 2 blue wiring clips on both the passenger and drivers side that need to come out. I found this out after a good amount of yanking. The bolts for the parking brake bracket also need to be taken off, and put aside so the dash has room to come out. The instructions I tried following really weren’t that good, but now I know!

FD3S Dashboard
What a pain in the ass. I’m not looking forward to trying to shove it back in.

Next step is to take a billion pictures of the engine bay and how everything fits, and strip it.

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09 Subaru STI Cusco Coilover Install

I put together an STI coilover install write up for my friend last year but we ended up never using it. Since I put quite a bit of work into it, I felt like I should at least put it up now so somebody out there might get something out of it.

As stated, this took a while to do with all the nifty pictures and all, please don’t reproduce this without my permission or bad things will happen to you! Bad things!

From 8/24/08:
Front Coilovers
First off, I know these pictures don’t show the stock coilovers. During the actual install, we totally forgot to take pictures, so we just went back after the cuscos were in to show where all the nuts and bolts are. Hope this helps!

1. Jack up the car and take off the wheel (obviously).
2. Take off the bracket for the brake line and the ABS sensor, and pull them out of the way so they won’t get in the way of taking off the bigger nuts and bolts.
3. Take off the 2 big bolts and nuts. They are NOT the same, the lobed one is the camber bolt with a washer and it goes on top.
4. Underneath the hood are 3 small nuts holding the shock in, after these come out, there’ll be nothing holding in the suspension.
5. Very carefully take out the stock suspension, make sure the ABS wire and brake line aren’t in the way. It’ll be very bad if you start yanking on them. Don’t yank on them.

Congrats! The stock suspension is now out! Now to put in your shiny new coilovers.

1. Line up the coilover’s threads up on top, put them through the holes in the body and put the nuts in very loosely, just enough that the coilover won’t fall if you let it go, we’ll tighten them down later.
2. Line up the 2 holes on the bottom of the coil, slide the bolts though and put on the nuts, but make sure they’re loose. What we want to do is give as much positive camber from the camber bolt as possible. The Cuscos sit VERY low if you put them in without adjustments, and there’s enough negative camber / caster that if you put the camber bolt in with negative bias, your wheel might actually rub against the springs when you U-turn. Not good. Adjusting the camber bolt creates some much needed clearance between the coilover and the tire. The Cuscos come with a camber plate up on top anyway, so you don’t need to worry about looking like the only dweeb with a STi running positive camber.
3. Make sure the camber bolt’s lobe is pointed outwards, away from the engine bay. Remember, the washer goes on the top bolt. Tighten both the bolts down. Hold the bolt side down with a wrench, and tighten the nut. Service manual says 129 ft-lb.
4. Go back up top and tighten down the 3 small nuts. 14.5 ft-lb. Make sure the camber plate adjustments are facing the right direction, the strut should be able to slide left and right perpendicular to the fender.
5. Mount the brake line and ABS wire back onto the strut, I just hand tightened them with a ratchet, but if you’re anal, it’s 24.3 ft-lb.
6. Put the wheels back on, lug nuts are 73 ft-lb.
7. Pat yourself on the back, front coilovers are in! Not too hard right?

Rear Coilover Install
1. Again, jack up the car and take off the wheels
2. There’s going to be 3 bolts, use a 6 point head for the 2 bigger ones on the outside (rear lateral link and strut). You’re going to need a breaker bar and possibly a long pipe for more leverage. These are insanely tight, using a 12 point might strip the bolt and then you’ll have some real problems. The smaller bolt is the end link, take that off too.
3. Take out the carpeting in your trunk, there’s going to be two little plastic pieces covering the top of the suspension, take those out to expose the nuts.
4. Take out these two nuts, make sure you don’t drop them!
5. Force the arm down and carefully wiggle the stock coil out.

That was a little harder than the front, but nothing you couldn’t handle. Install time.

1. Slide in the new coilover, we’re going to start with the bottom first. Match up the holes for the rear lateral link, strut, and endlink (this is the one with the smaller nut), and put the nuts and bolts through, but don’t tighten them yet!
2. Take a jack, and start jacking up the corner from the nut sticking out right behind the bottom of the rotor. This way you can slowly raise the shock and navigate the threads until they poke out of the two holes in the trunk area. Have a buddy guide you if you have somebody helping you.
3. Tighten the two nuts in the trunk area, 22.4 ft-lb
4. Tighten the two larger nuts / bolts on the bottom (strut and rear lateral) 89 ft-lb for both. Do not tighten the end link yet!
5. Mount the wheels back on, lower your car, tighten the lugnuts, 73 ft-lb again.
6. Shimmy under your car and tighten the end link bolts 33.2 ft-lb. Why the hassle? They need to be tightened under load and that’s not happening with the car on jack stands.
7. Grab a coke and a smile, you’ve done it!

Go ahead and drive around slowly with the windows down. Make some U-turns and listen for rubbing. If nothing’s wrong get an alignment!

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Rx-7 Bodywork

After removing the tranny, I decided that I definitely need to take care of all the surface rust in the engine bay, first things first, take off all the body work. I thought it would take me an hour for the head lights, fenders and bumper, funny how it managed to extend itself into a 2 day fiasco.

First of all, what the hell is this:

2 of these bolted in the bumper into the bumper support, I have no idea how Mazda expects me to get this out, or what kind of tool is required for it. The first one came out after 15 minutes of banging on the edge with a flathead screw driver, the 2nd one took much longer. Eventually PB Blaster + vice grip worked their magic after a few hours. I was actually thinking about cutting away the bumper tab where it connects. Seriously, worst engineered car ever. Even the forum community I turned to didn’t know what screws I was talking about, I suspect all the cars are now on their 3rd, 4th, 5th+ owner; once the bumper is removed and these screws come out, there’s no way anybody is putting them back in, so not too many people have to deal with it.


This is how the car sits now, after another stripped screw and breaking some tabs on the headlight cover, I finally got all that crap off. Next step is to completely strip the engine bay, I really hope I can put everything back together.

On another note, I was very impressed with the roller, before this, the fenders have never been removed from the car, paint is all original, and I suspect the bumper and headlights have never been removed either. Clean is an understatement!

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Dana Point Turkey Trot 5k

Just did a 5k yesterday, as far as my pseudo running career goes, this wasn’t as bad as I expected. I pretty much did everything wrong this time around, didn’t train enough or properly hydrate, I was expecting to get above 30 min. I somehow pulled a low 28, my PR is somewhere in the high 24 / low 25 range, I don’t quite remember.

I did, however, manage to drag my coworkers out to this event, for a few of them it was their first event. We had a pool going, unfortunately, one of them turned out to be a track runner, he finished in 23, I was a distant 2nd at 28. Oh well, it was good doing something like this again, I know that I would’ve just gotten lazy otherwise. Maybe I’ll start heading in another direction and try to gain a bit of mass for now.

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New Rx-7 Project

On 10/12/09, picked up yet another ugly Montego Blue FD, the difference between this one and the last one is the engine, or lack of. As rollers go, it was extremely clean, pretty much everything except for the longblock, accessories, and radiator came with the car. I used a paint meter on it, everything was within stock specs, nothing was repainted.


Apparently, the car has quite a history, it was owned by a respected rotary enthusiast on, he pretty much did all these is to do to the car and blew it up about 3 years ago. It’s been sitting in his garage until his job relocated him earlier this year which forced the sale. It went to another guy who parted out the entire car, definitely making it worth his while, before ending up in more or less stock form, in my garage.

So far, I’ve yanked out the tranny, with plans to strip the engine bay for a repaint as there’s some surface rust which will never get taken care of if not now. As for the motor, the best bang for your buck is still the LS1/T56 combo. I was looking into the LS2 (c6 longblock) and LS6 (c5 zo6), but in the end, the price of the stock LS1 and potential for power with just cams and heads would be more than enough in a car that weighs about 2800 lbs. In stock form, I’ll be looking at ~330whp/tq, with the heads and cams, 400+, definitely enough for me.

I considered building a rotary for a while, but after my first experience, I decided I wouldn’t be able to justify putting money into an engine that could fail anytime. I was already experiencing overboost issues on the stock twins with just ~3k on a rebuilt engine, all it takes is 1 case of detonation and you’ve got yourself a paperweight in the garage. Single turbo is also a pretty popular way to go, but the cost of a single turbo FD is comparable to an LS FD, hp #’s are similar but the v8 puts out low end tq like no other. Other benefits include not randomly blowing up. That was the end of the debate for me.

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