|Project Kyoko| Not fixed…just less broken.

What happens when you have two valve covers? TJ tries to pretend that you have V8 swapped in...

What happens when you have two valve covers?
TJ tries to pretend that you have V8 swapped in…

Just a quick snap of TJ and I playing around with Project K today. The Miata hasn’t been running very smoothly lately. So once again, I have a list of parts to replace longer than my arm. New header, which has cracked again, a few next belts and other odds and ends.

It’ll make for another good post when I get around to fixing all of it. (That’s what I keep telling myself…) Or I will have gotten fed up and just got into another project. ;)

Anyway, stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated with something meaty next time.

|Project Kyoko| – “Got 99 problems, but a VLSD ain’t one.”

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New turnsignals and a ‘new’ VLSD have been the latest updates on Project Kyoko.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a project log update on Project Kyoko. The reason was that she had been off the road for a while with a busted VLSD. The car had an unbearable gear whine that was just terrible. So I spent much of the holiday season messing around with Project MR2, and researching where I could find a suitable 1.6 replacement.

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|Project Kyoko| Just some updates and stickers.


It always seems like I’m working on Kyoko every weekend, rather than racing, but at least I remember to take pictures for the blog each time. Not too bad for a Blackberry camera.

This weekend, we were trying to chase down a leak in the clutch lines that’s causing the clutch to go soft now and again. We found the leak, but no shop in the area has the clutch line in stock, so I’ll have to go hunt one down. TJ did replace the clutch slave cylinder while we were in there.

We also got a chance to reinstall my headers, which tried to free themselves from the car last week. It’s nice to have that deeper sound back, and the powerband has moved back to being more mid-range.

Oh yeah, and we’ve got some stickers available now for the blog. We’re giving out the first set for free. If you’re interested, just email me at relaxeddriver(at) gmail, and we’ll see if we can get people some.

|Project Kyoko| -Manifold Error!

Ever since I’ve started to own Project Kyoko, I’ve learned that no weekend will ever go according to plan. The plan had been this weekend to hook up with Peter and go down to Shelton, where there was a possibility of driving his Locost kit car at an autocross. Peter has also picked up a “new” NA8C, and I had planned to swap cars with him in order to bring that down south to the autocross. I was super looking forward to it.

I say plan, because like I mentioned earlier, nothing ever goes according to plan with Project Kyoko.

On my way down to Peter’s, Kyoko’s humming exhaust started to turn into a dull buzzing. It sounded alot like an exhaust leak, so I decided that when I had a chance at the end of the weekend, I would jack up the car and check. However, after a few minutes the buzzing turned into the loudest roaring sound I had ever heard.

It sounded like it was running right off the header! Fortunately, I happened to be by my local indoor kart track and was able to pull into their garage in order to check to see what the problem was.

Well, goddamnit…

It was running right off the header, and only the header. Turns out that my 4-1 Racing Beat headers had failed right at the weld underneath the collector. The subframe had caught the downpipe when it literally fell from the car. Apparently, my car loves weight reduction so much that it just spits parts off the car!

Well, this was just great… So now I was stuck down south, with a car that is too loud to drive ANYWHERE.

Fortunately, I have some other friends who own Miata and, after taking Alex’s car out to Bonny Lake, I was able to source a stock exhaust manifold. However, by the time that I got back it was too late to start working on the car!

Luckily Savannah, who has taken photos for the blog before (like these and these) , lived nearby and she was able to put me up for the night. Honestly, after the afternoon I had been having,  it was the most comfortable couch that I had ever crashed on. She completely saved me from sleeping in my car.

This morning, Cameron and I were back at the kart track and started to work on Kyoko. We were able to pull out the broken Racing Beat header. The break was clean at the weld, so we could determine that it was nothing that I had done. It was just crappy build quality on the design on the header.  Cameron is thinking about trying to weld it back together.

In the meantime, we were able to fit the stock manifold back on. Kyoko now doesn’t sound like a demonic Harley-Davidson, but she doesn’t have the same peppy revving sounds that she did before.

A better shot of the broken header. Racing Beat is supposed to be good stuff, right?

Le sigh. After one weekend of no breakages, normal service has been resumed.

|Project Kyoko| This. Is. Autocross!

Lately, I’ve just been super busy with work and other drama to do a proper project log update. However, I wasn’t going to let a silly thing like real life get in the way of doing some racing!

I was able to pick up a Go-Pro camera for a super good deal, which was perfect as I had an autocross planned for the upcoming weekend.

Is that weird? Taking pictures of a camera, with a camera…

So this weekend was a pretty busy one for Project Kyoko. I spent the entire day before preparing the car, and I had my friend John planning to co-drive.
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|Project Kyoko| A 200,000 miles service done on complete accident…

Ok, ok. So I’m super sorry for the blurry pictures, but I am terrible at taking pictures. And also my digital camera was made before the turn of the century… I really need a better camera.

However, let the log commence!

So it’s been FOREVER, since I’ve written a project log update for Kyoko. However, that doesn’t mean that no work has been done on the car. For a while, I was having a micro-drama with seemingly constantly having to replacing parts on Kyoko. However, I suddenly had an epiphany which made all of the drama seem mute.

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Project Kyoko- A weekend full of adventure!

Well, if you want to call replacing a water pump an adventure. TJ and John K spent all Sunday helping me replace my water pump, thermostat, timing belt and radiator hoses.

Honestly, it was probably one of the more straight-forward repairs that we’ve done on Kyoko. I was smart enough to bring extra cash, so that we could pick up tools as we needed. Plus, TJ’s mom ordering pizza made working through the hours easier. Hopefully, my car karma will start to change so that I can start doing some autocrosses and track days soon…(fingers crossed)

Meanwhile, I installed a new Momo Corsa steering wheel, and painted my valve cover. (Priorities, right? ;)) I’m not sure if I like the flat-bottom wheel design yet, but I do love the new steering postion. It brings the wheel closer to me, and gives me more spaces for my knees and legs. I’m going to have to give it some time…

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Bonus! – My girlfriend picked up a new car! She bought herself a white SW20 (NA) MR2 on Saturday. She hasn’t named it yet, but I got a chance to take it for a quick test drive once she brought it home. The 2.2 liter has more torque than the Miata does, but it does not have powersteering, so it’s a bit heavy.

Still, it’s pretty exciting to have the engine start up behind you. She’s talking about raising the car just a bit, so that she has better ground clearance. (The previous owner decided that hellalow was better than hellasafe.)

The most important thing is that 1) it runs, and 2) Lisa really likes it. So that’ll be an exciting mini-project coming up soon.

Project Kyoko- Autocross thrills and spills…

So this weekend, I’ve experienced the most expensive autocross runs I’ve ever had. I had decided to head down the 70+ mile drive to Bremerton Motorsports Park to race at the BSCC event there. I had spent the few days before doing upkeep on Kyoko, and picking up some used Toyo R888 tires that I could race on.

I’ve had some wonky (ie: crappy) Miata luck when it comes to going the track, lately. But when you love something you can never keep away, so I decided once I gave the car a once over that I would go and run the morning session away. My plan had been to ‘hedge my bets’; in case Kyoko had problems by dual-driving Mike’s GTI in the afternoon, so I could get some racing done. I felt like I had been a good enough person that my car would actually run an entire event, problem free.

Kyoko had some other ideas…

My first run went fine, as I was taking it pretty easy, just to make sure that all my wheels stayed on etc. It was decently quick for a shakedown run (63.xxx), so I decided that on my next run that I would start to up my pace. (Just jump straight to: 36 seconds, because I’m too lazy to edit the video.)

As I went into the slalom, I noticed a strong familiar (i.e.: frustratingly detectable) scent of coolant, so out of reflex I lifted off the throttle, which then spun the car. I love how no one notices my clean runs.

Pulling back into the grid, the smell worsened. I leaned under the car and saw that Kyoko was just vomiting coolant on the ground. At this point of my Miata-fatedom, I just decided that ‘it figures’, and pulled my car off to the side of the pit area. After opening the hood, I saw the source of my woes.

You can see where a hole blew out the back of the radiator, and was just streaming coolant onto the ground. It was probably just old and ready to go. (So that’s nice… Not really.) I scrambled to get my phone, and started to call up as many parts areas that I could get the number for. I had three things on my side.

  1.  There was a parts store that had a spare radiator. (Lucky)
  2. Steven and his girlfriend Tracy were also at the track, and were able to give me a ride to pick it up. (OMG, one thousand thank yous, as they totally saved me!) (Lucky x 2)
  3. I’m at the racetrack, so people have tools everywhere. Totally better than having a failure on the freeway. (Lucky x 3)

Steven and I were able to get the new radiator into the car in under an hour, but by the time that we were finished the afternoon run group was deeply underway. (There are times where I wish that autocross just had open run entry…)

So what did I get out of this weekend? 1.5 autocross runs, and a new radiator ($200 in total). Am I having fun yet? ;)

Project Kyoko: And then there were three…

Quick update: So tires and wheels have been the name of the game for the last few weeks. I was able to find a great deal on Toyo R888s that I wasn’t able to pass up. All it required me to do was to drive down to Chase Race in Duvall, pay for them and pick them up. Doug was super awesome, and already had the tires mounted and ready to go when I arrived.


While Doug was mounting the new tires to Kyoko, I took some time to look around his new shop. You can see the Civic racecar being worked on in the corner. (Sorry for the blurry cameraphone shots)


Afterwards, I drove back up with my now ‘third’ set of spare wheels and headed home to complete another project. I’m debating on whether I’m going to have these wheels painted too, or leave them alone. Although now I have a room that’s full of random wheel/tire combinations, I am really excited to actually have some nice rubber for autocrossing.


Speaking of painted wheels, though! Blue! I finally had a chance to test fit the ones that I had painted last night. I’m still not sure if I like them, but I’m trying them out for the weekend to see if I’m feeling them or not. I do really think that the blue really does pop, and these will make good trackday mule wheels. (So I guess it really doesn’t matter how they look.) Plus they were pretty much free, so I shouldn’t really complain.