29 06 2010


I’m off to the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Friday.
This is a test post from my Android phone to see if it works.


Retro door pulls

25 06 2010

The standard Eunos door handles are fine, but I find that I’m forever banging my right knee against the driver’s door one. I’m 6’1″, and I can get a great driving position in the Roadster, apart from this one minor niggle.
With the JDM handles there’s no armrest to lose, and so I was looking for an alternative.

There’s a guy on the MX5Nutz forum (KFC, a.k.a. Rik) who’s a car trimmer by trade who makes some great retro leather door pulls in various colours.
I ordered some a couple of days ago and they arrived today:

Great quality, easy to fit. The little red things are cut down Rawlplugs, which you insert into the original hole left when you remove the standard door pulls. These let the stainless screws supplied bite properly.

Fitting’s easy – pop the plastic screw cover off the top of the handle with a small flat screwdriver, then undo the two large crosshead screws underneath and lift off.

Put the metal end on the leather strap, insert plastic Rawlplug into hole (I split them in half as the original holes weren’t that big) and screw back again.
The result:

Best of all, I get my knee-room back, much more comfortable on long drives and hard corners.

Minor job of the day – strap the battery down

24 06 2010

When I got my Eunos, it took me a while to notice that the battery wasn’t actually held down by any more than the positive and negative terminals. On closer inspection, the original Westco battery had been swapped out for an aftermarket one, and presumably the retaining metal work didn’t fit, so the previous owner had just gone without.
This also explains the tiny mark on the rear wing, where the corner of the battery must have dented the wing from the inside.
In usual Landwomble fashion, I’d remedied this using some particularly cheap and low-tech tools: in this case, cable-ties. Enough of these daisy-chained together and cinched tight seemed to work, with a folded up dust cloth between battery and wing just in case it ever loosened. It’s been OK for 6 months of pretty, well, spirited driving.
I noticed whilst doing this that the rubber tubes that allow battery gasses to vent to the outside world without corroding the wing were missing. Still, how bad could that be? Batteries can’t vent *that* much gas, can they?

Anyway, given the MOT is fast approaching, I decided I should bolt it down properly – sourced a battery clamp from The Bay for £20, and fitted today.

When I removed the battery to fit it, I noticed that the dust cloth I’d placed behind the battery had a neat hole burnt through it directly opposite the vent hole on the wing side. Oops. Perhaps those vent tubes were fitted by Mazda for a reason, rather than as a whim.
A quick trip to Halfrauds for a length of windscreen washer pipe, a T-junction and a couple of connectors and I’d made up a replacement for the missing factory vent tubes, venting out of the convenient hole in the floor adjacent to the battery.

As my replacement battery’s a little taller than the OEM Westco one, I needed to remove it in order to fit the top clamp. Disconnecting is easy, but by christ it’d be easy to short that positive terminal to earth whilst working on it. Carefully disconnected and wrapped the positive terminal in gaffa tape first, to avoid a stray spanner shorting the terminals.

It’s in now, and all I’ve got to do is work out how to programme the impenetrable aftermarket Sony head unit.

The Kumihimo Drift Handle

21 06 2010

There’s a well known Roadster mod that involves unscrewing the plastic recessed handle on the roof that you grip to raise/lower the roof, and inserting a doubled-up length of fabric in order to give you a convenient handle to let you raise and lower the roof more easily.
It means you don’t have to stretch so much, and gives you a bit more leverage when raising the roof one-handed.

I wondered if this could be made a bit more, well, interesting.
I’ve just become aware of the concept of
drift charms
. I’ve also (as I may have mentioned) a Mate With A Miata, who is pretty good at making stuff out of paracord.

I had an afternoon of idly browsing wikipedia (protip: do not search for “Japanese Ropework” whilst at work!) and came across the concept of Kumihimo.
This is an ancient Japanese technique of knotwork to create decorative and functional pieces of braid.
Money quote:
“The most prominent historical use of the cords was by Samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their lamellar armor and their horses’ armor”

Now, how can a JDM-junkie with a slammed steed *not* get off on this idea…?

So, what did we come up with?

Costs nothing, works great, and you can make them in any colour combination you feel like.

Guide to making various paracord braids here:

EDC Forums guide

I dub this mod: The Kumihimo Drift Handle.

Dechroming door handles and deckplates

21 06 2010

I’m a big fan of Teh Shiny on my car. I’m trying to make sure that I don’t over-bling the Eunos – sticking with interior chrome bits like KG Works brace, vent rings and the like.
At the opposite end of the scale is Jon and his Eunos. He’s been slowly deleting anything shiny on his – if I were still driving VWs I’d call it “Cal-look”.
He’s swapped the stainless grille for a black one (guess where the shiny one ended up?), and we swapped the gauge face surrounds for the all-black variant when we switched dials last month. The rather nice Mk2 Sport wheels he fitted the other month have been sprayed anthracite. You get the picture.

Atone for the Chrome

This left a couple of obvious external shiny candidates to dechrome – door handles and rear deck plates.

By chance, my father in law runs a powdercoating business. This gave me an idea…

Before we started, a second set of door handles and locks was sourced off eBay – from past experience getting stuff coated may be free, but it can take a while. Fair enough, really.
I suggest you start on the passenger side, just in case you have any problems. For what it’s worth, we started this job as it was going dark and completed it for the first time within an hour – including the time taken to ring up Wayne at Onestop Roadsters to ask how the hell you disconnected the locking mechanism rods! Before you get anything powdercoated, you’ll have to remove all plastics and strip it back to the shell of the handle, and the handle itself. Remember to remove the almost invisible plastic washers that fit between handle and shell. The two main metal parts are separated by banging the pin out using a centerpunch or a pointed screwdriver.

Removing the locks

First off, remove the door card.
This is an easy job: two crosshead screws on the door handle (top one covered with plastic blanking plate), one screw on the lock side of the doorcard under plastic cover. Remove the screw in the cup of the doorhandle, and slide out the plastic cup from under the handle. All you need to do then is pop off the clips at the bottom and sides – the doorcard lifts up and off. Oh, if you have door-mounted tweeters, you’ll want to undo the connector for this, too.

Now you’ve got access to the inside of the door.
You should see a plastic sheet covering the inside to prevent water getting in the car – you’ll need to either peel this back near the lock, or slit with a sharp knife, then re-tape later. The black sticky mastic gluing it on is very sticky indeed – suggest folding the plastic back on itself to limit the amount you get stuck to you.

If you look up at the handle mechanism, you should notice that there are two 10mm nuts holding it to the door skin, both of which are accessible through matching holes in the metal of the door. First, there are also two long metal rods which allow the key and handle to operate the releases in the door. Removing these is easy once you know how: and a royal PITA if you don’t. One quick phone call to Mazdamender and 30 seconds later these were unclipped.

There are two places they need to unclip – the big white nylon connector in the middle of the door first. If you look carefully at the white connector, it has a plastic clip on the hinge side of the door that you can pop open with a long flatblade screwdriver. Once this clip’s out, the metal rod will pull out of the connector and move freely. Make a note of the position of the rod within the connector first so you can refit in the same place later.

Next, you need to pop off the plastic clip for the long rod that runs from the handle down to the base of the door. To do this, reach up towards the lock with your hand, and follow it up to where it joins the lock mechanism at the top of the door. On the end of the rod, joining it to the handle, you’ll feel a 90 degree bend attached with a small plastic clip. This clip just flicks sideways with your thumb, allowing you to remove the rod completely.

You can now undo the two bolts holding the door handle to the car with a 10mm socket and lift out the door handle from the outside of the car.

Protip: remember that black mastic we peeled off the door earlier? Get a tiny blob of that – peel it off your shirt! – and stick it in the socket before you use it. When the nut comes off, it won’t vanish into the depths of the door this way.
Whilst you’re at it, now is also a good time to check the drain holes in the bottom of the doorskin are clear.

When you’ve got the lock out, you need to transfer the barrel from old lock to the new, powdercoated handle. This is pretty easy to do – everything unclips, and the lock mechanism barrel will just slide out. Take your new powdercoated handle and as Haynes say, “refit is the reverse of removal”. Job done.
Deck plates
OK, so you’ve got dechromed doorhandles. Now, the rear deck plates stand out a bit. These come off very easily by simply unscrewing the two big screws on each one and lifting off. Remove the rubber from the rear and put it to one side before powdercoating.

These look just great.
We tinted the side indicators and sidemarkers last month using tint spray.
All we have left to do is the chrome ring on the base of the electric aerial, and maybe the stainless sill kickplates.

Disclaimer: any work you do to your car is your own responsibility. I’m not accepting liability for anything as a result of this guide – this is for your information only, whilst being as accurate as possible!

Luggage? In an MX-5?

19 06 2010

Well, kind of.  I’m off to the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month with the Roadster, and I’m camping for a few days. The boot’s going to be full of a tent and beer, which leaves the glovebox for changes of clothes. Hmm.
I was walking home through Aldi in the Manchester Arndale Center on the way home on Friday when I noticed they were selling some sort of cross between a wheeled suitcase and a sports bag. By coincidence it’s exactly the same size as the rear deck on the Roadster, and fits in with roof up or down.
Roadster bag
roadster bag

Perfect for a weekend’s camping stuff. It’s even got wheels on one end and a pop-out handle, and the straps are in just the right place to snap a carabiner on and clip to my harness loops.

£11.99 – result!

Dark Club 15-Jun 40 mile route to the Cat & Fiddle

16 06 2010

Testing out Google “My Tracks” on Android to log interesting drives.  This is a 40 mile round trip Jon and I did last night as the sun went down.  It’s awesome.  Starts in Macclesfield, works up to Cat & Fiddle, comes back down through Wildboar Clough and loops back through Gawsworth through Nether Alderley and back up to Macc.

The road down from Wildboar Clough is amazing.  Goes from rolling countryside views over Cheshire, to tight dark tunnels under trees.  Great driving road.  Saw two vintage Minis with full rally lamps chasing each other here, as well as a Delta HF Integrale.

View from the top:

Lots of altitude involved…