Custom retro electric window switches

3 12 2010

I’m quite proud of this mod.

I like the Nielex retro electric window switches and thought it’d be interesting to make something similar.

I ended up with these:


I’ve posted pics up on a few of the MX5 forums and given the interest thought it worth doing a post on how you can make these yourselves.

What you’ll need:

* 1x stainless steel plate, cut to a rectangle 66x52mm.  The radius of the corners is exactly the same as a UK penny coin.

* 2x toggle switches.  You need Double Pole, Double Throw (DPDT), ON/OFF/ON momentary switches.  I got mine from Parts Express and a friend shipped them to me in the UK but i”ve since found them here:

EDIT: just noticed these are OFF-ON-OFF which isn’t correct – you need ON-OFF-ON switches.

* 2x toggle switch hoop guards.

* 12 ring or fork crimp connectors and some lengths of 10 gauge automotive wire.

* A Mazda plastic blanking plate from a manual-window NA Eunos Roadster/MX5 or Miata, or a spare electric window plastic switch panel that you will need to cut up.

* A couple of nice nuts and bolts.


Starting off

Remove the center console.  There are two screws either side of the gearstick on the sides of the console, and a screw underneath the ashtray, and two screws in the rear cubby hole.  Unscrew the gearknob and lift up the console from the front and guide it forward over the boot release levers.

Disconnect the ashtray bulb and the existing electric window switch and remove the console – you can work on the rest of this inside in the warmth!

Take your plastic blanking plate, or your spare electric window switch panel.  I used the latter, which required the switches removing and cutting out all the excess plastic to give me a flat plate.  I used a small drill bit and some pliers to drill and snap the excess plastic, which gave me this:


I would imagine if you start off with a manual-window blanking plate this would be even easier.

I then cut a couple of cardboard templates to match the stainless steel plate, measured up the placement of the holes and then used a pin to make matching holes on the second piece of card.   One of these pieces became the template, the other had holes cut in it so I could test fit the switches and hoops to see what they looked like.


The toggles need a 12mm hole, the hoops a 3mm hole and the caphead bolts I used a 6mm hole.

I used some flat head screws and screwed the plate to a plank so it wouldn’t move, centerpunched the hole locations and then drilled – leave the stainless plate protective film in place when you do this!

Once I was happy with the result, I test fitted the components to it like this:


The two caphead bolts go through the plastic of the original bracket.  I flattened the plastic so the nuts could sit properly using a soldering iron to melt the plastic.

Once happy I took everything off and gave the plate a polish with a Dremel and some Autosol polish.


A test fit looks like this.  All looking good so far.  Now for the tricky part – the wiring!

Wiring the switches

I’m not an electrican at all, so I found this a bit of a challenge.  I found an excellent and very helpful post on by Jnshk here;

but at least on my ’94 Roadster the wiring colours didn’t match.  I worked it through and made some changes to fit my car.

I’ve posted the resulting wiring instructions here:

Once you’ve wired this up as per the instructions you’ll end up with something like this:


As I was butchering a spare electric window switch to reuse the wiring and 6 pin connector, I ended up with this plug-and-play replacement for standard – note cut plastic bracket is attached:


If you don’t have a spare window switch to play with you’ll be pleased to know that the connector on the car side has spade terminals that are exactly the same size as normal male spade connectors, so you can just attach your new switch direct to these using female spade connectors.  I recommend you do a trial plug in of your new switches now, turn on the ignition and check the windows operate correctly.  You realise you’ll lose the one-shot up/down on the driver’s side?  Good, thought so.

Assuming it works correctly, take it out of the car and we’ll attach it to the center console.

Turn your original center console over and remove the three screws that hold the OEM switches in place and remove.  Fit the new retro switches in place and secure using the same 3 screws.  The new stainless plate will be sandwiched between the bracket it’s bolted to, and the plastic center console, holding it firmly in place.



Refit the center console, and check it operates correctly.  It should look something like this:



Job done!


I’m happy to help with questions on this project – and no, currently I’m not planning on doing these to order!


New Interior Bling

17 11 2010

I’ve been suffering from magpie syndrome recently.

Last week, a Joyfast short shifter knob arrived from the excellent Tetsuya Garage in Japan, and immediately prior to that I’d got a great Mike Satur alloy handbrake cover that I’d fitted.  In a fit of optimism, I’d tried polishing a Momo Race wheel to match – these are a grey brushed finish as standard.  It polished up OK but didn’t look quite *right*.  I liked the polished horn ring a lot, but somehow both of them polished looked a bit much.

After a week of driving around I decided it’d be worth painting the wheel black.  Out came the masking tape and Plastikote can, and half an hour later it looks like this:



I’m really pleased with the result.

Retro console switches

17 10 2010

Fitted some retro console switches last night, to replace the standard buttons for hazard and headlamp popup.


These were part of a group buy on MX5Nutz – Dave-M made up about 60 of these sets and was selling them for an entirely-reasonable £25 or so.  I modified mine by replacing the top toggle with one that has a red LED on the end.  I’ve connected this up so that it lights up when the hazards are turned on.

A very easy, plug and play mod.  I’m very happy with it, although suspect it may lead inevitably to a full on retro interior on the Roadster.

Next I just need to find a way to do the same to the electric window switches.

Reminder: check your oil

7 10 2010

I’ve had a noisy power-steering belt for a few weeks, which is getting sorted when I next have a free weekend.

Over the last week I’d noticed it getting a little noiser.  Almost like an HLA noise.

Well, turns out it was the HLAs – I dipped the car and the oil was at the very bottom of the scale.  Oops.  She’d had an oil change a couple of months ago, and the fresh clean oil was quite hard to see on the dipstick.  Turns out my car uses a little oil – after asking around, this isn’t uncommon on the 1.8.  I’d not checked the oil level for about 5 weeks, when I’d added some Wynne’s HLA treatment to top it up.

A stupid mistake, but easily rectified by about half a litre of semi-synth.  Result? Nice, quiet engine and the HLA tick on startup has also gone.

Check your oil!

Fitting a front lip spoiler

7 10 2010

I’ve been after a front OEM-style lip spoiler for the Roadster for a while.  I think they improve the look of the front of the car, and they’re also meant to add a bit of front-end stability at speed.

The original OEM Mazda spoilers are horrifically expensive, so I’ve been on the lookout on the Bay for a cheaper alternative.

I found a new fibreglass one last week, being sold by a guy a couple of miles away.  It came primed, ready for paint for £50.

I decided I wanted it matt black.  I’ve painted a few plastic parts before and by far the best product I’ve used is this stuff:


It’s almost magic – coverage is great, it gives a really even finish with no drips, and is very quick to use.  Half an hour in the garden and it was painted up and looking like it’d come out of a Mazda factory – the matt Plastikote gives a real OEM finish.  Don’t put it on too thickly as it may crack as the spoiler flexes.  Wipe the spoiler down with panel wipe, and give it a fairly light coat, concentrating on the inside of the brake vent ducts.  Give it ten minutes to go tacky and repeat.  A couple of passes like this and it’ll look perfect.  Hang up to dry overnight.


The fibreglass spoilers aren’t as flexible as the Mazda originals, so whilst they will bend a little, you have to be careful fitting them.

I used the Mazdamender Method.

You’ll need a couple of blocks, two clamps, some stainless steel 6mm bolts, nuts and washers, and a couple of short stainless self-tappers.

First, locate the metal rods behind the front bumper on each side.  These bolt on to the edge of the front bumper to hold it in place.  There’s a single 10mm nut on each one on the underside, with the top nut being a captive one welded to the rod.  I sprayed liberally with Plusgas and gently snapped the heads off both with a socket.  Argh.  These nuts are exposed to a lot of road dirt and on mine the nut, bolt and captive socket had all rusted into a solid mass.

I unbolted the other end of the rod and removed it from the car, and using a Dremel and several diamond cutting wheels remove the captive nut completely.  After a bit of an argument with a pair of pliers, I was left with a metal rod with a bolt hole in the end.  Out with the plastikote again to cover the bare metal, and then bolt back onto car.  You might be lucky and get the original bolt out, but if not this method allows you to refit it with a stainless nut and bolt instead.


The picture above shows the lip spoiler when finally fitted – do not screw in the self-tapper on each end of the spoiler just yet!

I offered up the spoiler under the bumper, raised up on a couple of blocks of wood.  On each end, about six inches in from the edge, you’ll see a mounting flange that allows you to bolt each side to the metal rod – line this up with the rod and the existing hole in the bumper, and bolt it in very loosely.  Do the same on the other side.

Now the spoiler is very roughly in place, I took a couple of spring clamps and used them to hold the lip spoiler in the correct place.  Ensure that the edges of the lip spoiler where they curve up fit correctly as these will look conspicuous if they aren’t aligned.

With a copy part in fibreglass, you’ll probably have to squeeze and move it around a little to get the best fit.

Once done, get under the front of the car and using a 6mm drill make the mounting holes in the original bumper by drilling through the new spoiler’s mount points.  Pass a stainless bolt through each one, put a washer on the rear and very loosely bolt it up.  Repeat around the front of the car.


When you’ve got all bolts in place, you can start gently tightening them up – I found that there was a bit of an art to this to get them all lined up correctly.  Be careful not to flex the fibreglass too much, and use the two bolts attached to the metal rod as your initial reference point.  Tighten these up gradually, checking the alignment as you go, and then tighten the inboard screws in sequence.

When these are in and the spoiler is mounted to the bumper correctly, there are a couple of tabs on the brake vent ducts that need to be screwed into the existing undertray.  I used short stainless self-tappers to attach these as below.


Finally, take a couple of stainless self-tappers and screw in the edges of each side to the car bumper.  I found a small pilot hole helped me get this flush (see second picture above).

Job done.  Sit back and admire.


Took me approximately 30 minutes to do this from start to finish and I’m really pleased with the result.

As well as looking better, it turns out that it does actually stabilise the car at speed – mine feels a lot less light on the front wheels at motorway speeds.


UPDATE:  well, it’s been nearly a week and already I’ve put a small crack in it.  Aaargh.  Nothing to do with my new coilovers and lower ride height, honest.

New Boots

21 09 2010

Short post to celebrate new wheels.

TSW Hockenheims, 15″, finished in anthracite, shod in Rainsport 2 boots.  Bought from a nice gentleman with the lowest Polo G40 I’ve ever seen.

Also have some Mazdaspeed center cap badges on order via eBay to finish them off.


Next week: coilovers, offset JDM-style front numberplate.  Oh yes.

Fitting the IL Motorsports style bar

2 09 2010

Stylebars and Braces

I’ve been using a lovely K.G. Works Type III chassis brace for the last few months.  It’s a very nice polished stainless oversize replacement for the standard 1.8 NA chassis brace, complete with harness loops.  I did flirt with a Steelworks style bar and perspex windblocker combination for a few weeks, whilst testing out a prototype model.

Most style bars don’t have any rigidity and don’t offer any bracing – on the Mk1 MX-5 this is noticeable.  My car’s fitted with a lower front and rear brace, which stiffen things up, but even so the rear chassis brace that mounts across inside the cabin behind the seats makes a big difference to how the car feels.  When I removed the KG bar and fitted the first style bar you could feel an increase in the car’s flex.  You can feel this yourself by placing a finger on the top of the shutline on the door whilst driving – the flex is noticeable.

I still fancied the TT-style hoops though – so what options did I have?

I’ve been lusting after the IL Motorsports style bar for some time – in the UK these are sold by MX5parts.  Unlike most style bars, these have a continous bar running along the bottom, which should add some of the rigidity of the chassis brace.

One came up used on the MX5Nutz forum, and I snapped it up.  I striped it to match my Roadster – I’m not quite sure this works, yet!


Unlike my KG Works bar, which mounts to the chassis brace points fitted to late model 1.8 NA MX-5s and Roadsters, this bar mounts to the seatbelt mounting bolts, and then bolts to the side of the seatbelt tower.  They’ve a good reputation for build quality, but a bad reputation for fitting instructions.  As these involve drilling a couple of holes in your car, you don’t want to get it wrong.  Anyway, I took notes from the previous owner and thought I’d document it for the benefit of anyone else with one of these.  Fitting only took 40 minutes or so, and I did it in the dark…

Fitting the I.L. Motorsports Stylebar

First things first: lower the hood, and remove the seatbelts by unclipping the plastic cover on the top of the mount, and then unbolting the 17mm nut on the top of the mounting nut.  This is pretty tight.  Once you’ve done this, the large threaded bolt that attaches the seatbelt pulls out.


Make sure you retain the plastic clips on the seatbelt flange!  Once you’ve removed this bolt underneath you’ll find a series of metal collars that the nut threads through.  There are three of these on each side: two shorter ones, and single longer one.  There’s also a metal washer underneath.  Remove these and place on one side.

You’ll be using a combination of these to get the bar to fit.

Remove the 10mm tonneau stud bolt on each side of the seatbelt tower, and try a test fit of the style bar.  This model sits on top of the seatbelt tower.  Underneath the top mount holes of the flat mounting plates for the stylebar, you’ll see a void which you’re going to fill with some of the metal collars removed earlier.

On my car, I found the best fit was achieved by taking the two shorter collars, and placing them in the hole with the flange ends top and bottom, to spread the force out best when the plate was bolted down – see picture below.  Placing these two beneath the plate, without using the washer, gave me the most solid fit.  Remember, you want the plate bolted and clamped to the metal collar, not just compressing the plastic top of the seatbelt tower.


Place the longer collar on top of the stylebar plate, and bolt the seatbelt back in place.  You’ll be removing it again shortly, but bolt this down pretty tightly, making sure that the vertical mounting plates of the stylebar sit nice and flat, and the bar itself is nice and vertical.


When you’ve done this, you’ll see there are two holes on the vertical plates of the stylebar, which for some odd reason do not line up with the existing windblocker holes the car comes with from the factory.  Out with the marker pen and the drill, then.


The vertical hoops of the bar can be rotated to adjust the angle, hence the slotted hole above.  Get it lined up looking correct, and mark the hole.

Remove the stylebar from the car, and get ready to do the drilling.

Use a 7mm drillbit and carefully make the hole.  You’ll probably find the drillbit races as it cuts through the metalwork – just be careful of your soft-top!  I drilled a 3mm pilot hole and followed it up with the larger bit.

Refit the stylebar and loosely bolt it up.  Take the hex bolts that the stylebar came with, and thread through the holes on the vertical plate – these should line up nicely.  Use a washer on each side and bolt up loosely.


I found if you lift the hood a few inches you can get a socket on the back of it, keeping the nut captive whilst you bolt it tight from inside the car.  As I was doing this in the dark, a headtorch came in very handy at this point.

The stylebar should be looking pretty good at this point.  You can now start tightening the bolts.  I’d suggest starting with the vertical plate bolts, then doing the seatbelt mount bolts.  The latter should be very tight.


Properly dark, now.  Time to pack up for the evening.

So what’s it like?

I drove the car to work this morning.  First impressions – I’m 6’1″ and I have my seat pushed nearly all the way back.  The headrest touches the top of the hoop and it’s a fairly tight fit, but it is comfortable and more importantly it doesn’t squeak! The harness rings on my KG Works bar used to rub on the vinyl seatback and make mouse noises – this doesn’t.  So, the big question is – does it brace the car, or is it purely cosmetic?

There’s a few potholes and roundabouts on the way and it was immediately apparent that this does stiffen the car.  it feels tighter than the standard chassis brace, which is more than I could have expected.  So it would seem that bolting down to the seatbelt mounts and the side of the towers does work.  Looks good? Check.  Makes the car feel stiffer? Check.  Bonus!

No problems with raising and lowering roof, and the perspex window fits neatly underneath it without any issues when unzipped.


I’m really pleased with the result.

Notes – On rollbars and stylebars

There’s a big difference between a rollbar and a stylebar.  The former is a safety device, and will be not only bolted to the seatbelt tower area, but will also have some lateral fixings which bolt to spreader plates that are fixed to solid bits of the car.  The latter look nice but provide no protection in the event of an accident.  IL Motorsports do refer to this product as a rollbar in their fitting guides, but it’s not – it’s a solid stylebar.  It does provide lateral bracing, which seems slightly better than the standard chassis brace fitted to late model 1.8 cars, but no more than that.  If you want something that will protect you in the event of a roll on a trackday, then checkout a Hard Dog or TR Lane’s stuff.