BILL'S RX-7 PAGE

Hi. You're at my dedicated RX-7 page. Hope you enjoy.

 UPDATED? June 03

WARNING, THIS PAGE MAKES REFERENCE TO EXTREME LANGUAGE IN EFFORTS TO EXPRESS EXTREME ANGER AT REAL SITUATIONS. THE NAME'S WILL NOT BE CHANGED TO PROTECT ANYONE, GUILTY OR INNOCENT. JUST PUTTING MY FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO THE TEST.

 

You never forget your first. J

 

This is the only picture I can find of my first RX-7. At this point it had the Rotary Engineering performance package:

On the inside:



My RX-7 History:


Well, it all started many, many years ago, in a place far, far.... just kidding -- at least about the far away part, the long time ago part is a reluctantly stipulated fact -- damn how time flies. I got my first RX-7 in 1984. It was a used black 82GSL. I had just gotten a job at RCA after completing Electronics Tech tech school at Pennco Tech. I had been working there for about three months, while saving towards a new car. At the time, my dad had subscriptions to Motor Trend and Car and Driver. One of the issues had put two or three Honda models as top three cars of the year. So off to the Honda dealer we go.

We get there and I take a Civic S wagon out for a drive. Great car, so I said I'll take it. While sitting in the sales office filling out the paper work for the new car, my dad asks me if I'd seen the black RX-7 in the front. I said no. The salesman asks if I wanted to take it out for a drive, I said sure. I think he was just being a nice guy. That'll teach him. More on that later.

I have to kinda backtrack a little here. I was dying to really drive the car from my experience as a driver in a local auto auction. I worked there part time while I was going to tech school. Since I told the auction owners I knew how to drive stick, they had me drive all the foreign cars. You name it, Porsche, BMW, Datsun ( they hadn't changed to Nissan yet), Jag; you name it, I drove them all.

But I'll always remember to this day sitting in a red GSL 82 and driving it for the first time. Unfortunately the "driving" only consisted of basically driving across a big parking lot to the auction block -- so I never really got a chance to open em up. Yeah a few times I'd launch em out of the block, if it was clear, just enough to get a chirp into second, but mostly you'd just put around to get the next car. Anyhow, everything was right where I wanted it to be: the parking brake, the instruments, the controls, the shifter, everything. If I could custom design a car from scratch, it would end up real close to the RX-7. Mazda used to have a slogan: "It just feels right." For me it did -- and still does.

Back to the Honda dealer...

Well, the salesman and I get into the car, I'm driving, and we go around the area for a 3 or 4 mile loop. I finally get to feel it's open road potential, as well as it's handling potential. Every tic of that odometer was another tic closer to true car love.

Back at the office, we resume filling out the paper work for the Honda. I interrupted: "Umm, just curious, how much is the RX?" the dealer wanted $10,400 which was what I was paying for the Honda. After a few seconds, I said, "I'll take it." Just like that. Just before putting my signature on the paper for the Civic S. Well, you should've seen the look on the salesman's face. He said "Are you joking?" I said, "Nope, I want the car." Came in for a Honda wagon, left with a two seater sports car. The rest is history.

So that's how it all started, I've been in love with the RX-7(s) ever since. Unfortunately I don't have my old 82 anymore, it's in the big parking lot in the sky. I was involved in an accident with it on the way to my fiancée's house. Someone hit me from behind and pushed my car into the car in front of me. Although it was still drivable, at the time I needed to use the money for something else so it never got fixed. Then it sat at my parents driveway for a couple of years, where it deteriorated beyond hope. RIP my fine rotary friend, I'll never forget the fun we had. And what fun we had.

As of now, I have a Silver 83GSL, and an 84GSL-SE.

The Silver GSL I got from a garage ( non-rotary ) that said that the engine was shot. I took their word for it and went ahead and got another used engine. Eventually I took the 83's engine apart and found that it was near perfect. No excessive chrome wearing, chipping or chatter marks. Apex seals had no pits or scratches. In fact, it was in a whole lot better shape than the other used engine I put into it, that eventually blew an apex seal. I think it only had carbon lock on the apex seal(s).

If I had known then what I found out later as to how to fix the carbon lock, I could've had a great running RX for dirt cheap. Oh well, live and learn. On the good side I only paid $500 for the car, and the body and interior are in excellent shape. This is going to be my project car. I have a street ported 13B that I'm going to put in it, along with some of the other performance goodies from the old 82 listed above. It sits in my garage on jack stands waiting for the time/money to get it working. Yeah, the story of my life.

The GSL-SE has a history of it's own as well.

My sister bought the car in 94. She and I are a lot alike, as we both love the first gen cars. It was an exciting purchase for her, as well as me, as the GSL-SE was the "Holy Grail" of the first gens. Prior to that, she had an 80 that eventually rotted away in my driveway.

She had the GSL-SE for about a year when it was stolen. She heard the car being broken into and started, and went to the window in time to watch the mother F***ers drive it away. What a feeling that is. We were both seriously pissed and depressed. A few days later the car was found minus engine, transmission, differential and radiator. Thoughts of lethal vengeance raced through our heads. Die you mucking forons!

We got the car flat bedded to my garage and started looking into getting the parts we needed. We really lucked out. There was a yard that had just gotten the exact year, model and color RX. So off to the yard we go. When we got there and looked at the car, it looked like it could've been repaired. It looked like it hit a telephone pole smack in the center of the front bumper. I'm sure the insurance adjuster would, and did, write it off based on strictly on the book value of the car.

We were half tempted to buy the whole car from them -- the guy at the counter half jokingly said the same thing after we had gotten all the parts off it. For all the stuff we took off the car, it would've probably been cheaper. Oh well. Although this wasn't a U-pull-it yard, we did assist the guy pulling off the parts we needed. Some $2000+ in used GSL-SE parts later, we take everything back to my garage in a rented van.

A couple of months later we finally got everything we needed and put the car back together. I did the work, my sister helped with what she could -- she's a fledgling grease monkey. J She bought me an air compressor and air tools for in payment for doing the work. Thanks sis!

The car went down with her to South Carolina. She and I took turns driving the car when she moved down. I went just to make sure the car was OK, and be there if the car had any problems. It was it's maiden voyage. No problems. That's right, I'm da man. J

A few years later the car finally ends up here again. My sister can no longer justify keeping it to her husband. They have 9 dogs that they bring to dog shows, and they end up getting a pickup and a minivan. She has to sell the car so we worked out buying it from her. Money was/is tight but after all we've through with this car, we just couldn't let it go to some stranger.

The car is still running great. I use it every day. Not necessarily by choice, but rather because my other daily cars are in need of expensive repair. Then again, driving the car is good therapy for a stressful day at work. J

THE DAY FROM HELL...

Just in the beginning of 99, around February, the car was stolen, found, then attempted stolen again. The first time it was stolen I went outside after getting ready to go to work and noticed something was missing. The car. I blew up. After I calmed down a little, we called the police and they made a report. The cop matter of factly said that they'll probably find the car striped in Camden within the day -- I was half tempted to go driving around in Camden looking for it.

I didn't feel like staying home and brooding over the missing car so my wife and I got the kids dressed and loaded into the mini-van to take me to work. On the way to taking me to work, the water pump on the mini van blew. Yes, this was the day from hell -- I, on that day alone, depleted any and all of my negative karma. J

We finally limped the car to a gas station where we called my father-in-law, who was the closest to where we broke down, and had him come get me to get the new water pump and help put it in. Fortunately the pump was available, and relatively cheap. It wasn't a real B**** to put it in either, except for the cold weather -- a real pleasant surprise considering the day overall. After that, I was in no mood for work -- or anything else for that matter. So back home we went.

Later that same day my wife gets a call, I hear her talking on the phone and repeating that the car has been found. I think to myself whoopee the car has been found minus: engine, transmission etc.,etc... She gets off the phone and said that the car had been found and it's NOT stripped. Unbelievable! I actually went to the house where the car was parked and picked it up. In the back of my mind I was thinking of all the things I might say and do if I happen to see the MF. Good thing a cop was going to be there, not to protect me, but to protect the MFA who took the car from me. I finally met the officer there and he drove me around back to the garage where it was parked. On the way there he was telling me that they had a description of the person and that the person had been convicted of auto theft previously. I said rhetorically, "Well, there's a surprise." Yes, the ever revolving doors of justice. Just give me five minutes alone with the SOB, justice will be served. Thank you very much.

A week later, the brazen mother F***ers tried to take it again. This time I turned the fuel cutoff switch on. I forgot to turn in on the night it was first stolen. That wont happen again! In the mean time both door locks are trashed, and the ignition lock is removed. I still drive it every day, by starting it with a screwdriver. I have the parts I need to fix/replace the locks, just waiting for good weather to do it.

I'm going to also modify a baby monitor as an enhanced alarm system. Oh the things I'd do if I caught one of those MF...


REPAIR EXPERIANCE

Over the course of the summer of 99, I had the wonderful privilege of replacing a pilot bearing, an input shaft bearing, installing a master and slave clutch cylinder rebuild kit, a flywheel, a drive shaft and a rear engine oil seal. All at the same time -- more or less. When it rains, it pours. Actually, to modify the old Murphy's law: If anything can go wrong, it will -- If everything can go wrong, it will.

The pilot bearing had been on it's way for almost a year. Finally around August 99, it completely went. The first signs of the bearing going were occasional lurching when in gear and clutch disengaged. From there it got progressively worse. One time it wouldn't let me put into gear at all. I played around with the shifter till it finally went in. There after, even as the noise increased, it never did it again. Probably due to the fact that there was a piece of the bearing wedged between the tranny input shaft and the eccentric shaft. The piece probably finally broke, allowing the input shaft to spin independent of the eccentric shaft.

In the mean time this undoubtedly put excess stress in to input bearing of the transmission, although at the time I wasn't really thinking about it, or really aware of it. I guess it was wishful thinking that kept me centered exclusively on the pilot bearing. Anyhow, once the pilot bearing disintegrates, the input shaft of the transmission is free to vibrate inside the eccentric shaft, which causes stress and wear on the input bearing. There are a few other tell tale signs relating specifically to the input bearing that I noticed as the system deteriorated ; it would pop out of gear ( Mostly 4th) when I engaged the clutch and tranny also makes allot of noise in all the gears except 4th. Why the other gears and not fourth? I believe that fourth is one to one ratio, therefore there is no torque transferred to the gear assembly. Regardless, these conditions both indicate the input bearing.

All the above factors degraded till it was making a horrendous noise when trying to select any gear. It wasn't a grinding noise, rather an extremely loud vibrating noise that could be felt through the shifter, as well as be heard. Once it was in gear, the sound wasn't that bad. It was mainly when transitioning into a gear that the tranny sounded like it was gong to fly apart. It also took a good deal of force to get it to go into any gear.

That's it, up on the ramps it goes...

I get the tranny off in about an hour. Looked inside the eccentric shaft where the pilot bearing resides, and there was no bearing, no seal, nothing -- just metal dust. Ok, this should be a piece of cake; just pull out the old bearing ( What's left of it ) and order the new bearing. No dealers around me had the pilot bearing, so I had to order it. I ended up ordering it from Mazda Trix, as well as the master and slave clutch rebuild kits. All came to about $80. At this time I didn't think or know about the input bearing -- as I indicated before, I really thought at the time that the pilot bearing was the main culprit.

Since I had some time to kill while waiting for the parts to arrive, I decided to clean the tranny. It was then I noticed the input shaft had almost a .25" lateral deflection. $#|~! Well look one the bright side, at least I discovered it while the tranny was off -- better now than after I put the pilot bearing back in only to discover that there was more wrong.

Actually, prior to dropping the tranny, I did have another hint that there was some serious problem with the tranny when I drained the tranny oil. It was a pretty shimmering silver color. Like a heavy metal flake suspended in a dark paint. I still didn't equate the bearing problem with the metal in the oil.

I called around and I found a dealer that had the bearing -- $40.

I've had the case on the tranny opened on time before, back when we got the parts from the junk yard to replace the parts that were stolen. When we got the tranny from the junk yard, the shift gates we out of sync. This probably happened from the donor car's accident. I tried everything I could to re-sync the gates with the shift lever, but nothing worked. At first I was inclined to just have a shop check it out. I figured that it should be fairly cheap since the tranny in already out. Yeah right -- $300. We asked what they'd charge if it was in the car -- $300. Go figure...

What the heck, I'm adventurous -- that's how I learned to fix everything else. Phi Beta Kappa at FU, school of hard knocks. :-) Besides, if I screw it up we could just take to the shop and pay the $300. If it works, we're $300 or more ahead of the game. I remember the commercial around here a while ago, that showed a cleaning moron saying in a moronic, Gumpish tone: "I always wanted to fix a transmission."

So I pulled the rear casing off, to expose the shifting forks. Sure enough there is the 3-4 gate in the wrong position. So I pulled the gate to the proper position, and sealed it back up. Couldn't have been any easier. Damn, I thought to myself, for $300 I could do this every day, once a day would be nice. :-)

Well back to the present...

This job ain't gonna be a 1/2 hr take the case off and pop a shift gate back in place. I'm never that lucky, well almost never, and I didn't have the money to take to a shop. I guess I was lucky at least once that the only problem was a shift fork out of sync.

Ok, this is the big leagues now. I get the rear transmission case removed, no problem. Now to remove the shaft assy. This is where things become hairy. First you need to remove the front plate that has the tube extending from it where the throw-out bearing slides. Once that plate is removed, you can see the input and carrier bearings.

The input bearing is retained with a metal ring that resides in a slot on the bearings outer circumference. I thought: cool, just remove the retaining ring and pry the bearing out. Uh, uh, not that easy. I got the retaining ring off without too much trouble, but I couldn't get the bearing out, at least not without really prying hard. Because your fighting the friction on both the input shaft and the transmission housing. I was too concerned that if I pried too hard, I'd screw up the bearing opening, which is made of aluminum -- something you don't want to mess with. Nope, time for plan B.

Well, I call around to a few dealers and finally get a mechanic who gave me some advice. He said that you need to hammer the input shaft from the front. This will cause the shaft to slide to the back till it's free of the bearing. He failed to mention that the carrier shaft needs to be hammered as well. They are held firmly in place relative to each other on the other side. So I had to loosen the carrier plate in the inside and then I proceeded to bang the input shaft and carrier shafts out. Tapping one, then the other.

So now I have the carrier assy with both shafts attached. Well, this is a good time to seriously clean the gear carrier assy. So I filled a 10 gallon bucket with kerosene and soaked, brushed and blew it dry with my air compressor. I figured for the amount of metal flake that came out in the gear oil, this was the least I should do.

With the shaft finally removed, it was a simple matter of tapping on the input bearing from behind to remove it. About 5 moderate taps later the old input bearing is in my hand. Time for the new bearing. But before I go there, I decide to clean the old bearing to see how bad the damage was. In the process of cleaning it, the internal balls completely fell out of the races. This is a beefy ~2" diameter bearing -- this is some serious trashing.

Well, in the process of taking off the transmission front plate, the gasket tore. Do I leave it, put some gasket sealer on it or get a new one. Well the gasket maintains a tight spacing for the bearing so putting sealant on it, or even just using sealant alone, isn't a good option. Leaving it would make it prone to possible leaking, I don't want to have to drop the tranny again for something as simple as a stupid gasket. So time to make another folly of calls to the all the Mazda dealers in a 50 mile radius. Finally found a dealer that had one, and was relatively close to where I work. $8.

Ok, new gasket, new bearing and new tranny fluid. Time to wrap this project up. If you infer a sense of urgency for this project, it's because this is my everyday ride -- as I stated above. During the two week stretch of the car being down, I had to use the family ride, which meant the wife couldn't do anything till I got home. The whole situation was a real pain in the @$$. Oh, one more thing: one day we get a citation warning in the mail concerning several cars ( the RX-7 included) that need to be removed in one month unless they're registered and insured and properly inspected. I guess the RX-7 on ramps and jack stands towards the front of the driveway was a bit too visible. I didn't have a choice. I had two other cars in the driveway, and my 83 is in the garage on stands.

What the F###! This is the last thing I need. I'm not sure if one of the neighbors complained, or if Pennsauken's finest decided that since crime had been eliminated ( Read extreme sarcasm here, please refer to the stolen car episode*S* above for the actual local crime problem. ) it was time to find job justification by busting my balls about three cars that I've been waiting for the time/money to get fixed. Hey, wanna give me a break on my property taxes and insurance and registration rates so I can afford to have better maintained cars? No, I didn't think so. FU! OK, I better quit here before I start typing keywords that may trigger investigations and/or unwanted attention from agencies that might consider my angry rhetoric a threat.

Ok, enough of the rant, back the project.

So now I'm under the gun in more ways than one to get my 7 running. But I have everything I need to lets get it done -- or so I thought...

Well I get the tranny assembled without any problems. Actually it's a real pain in the @$$ to get the shift finger to go between the forks as you assemble the rear case. I had to finally loosen the shaft so it would slide while I maneuvered the rear casing into position. I think if I ever have to go inside the tranny, I'm going to put it into 5th so the fork is up enough to allow the finger to easily get positioned while maneuvering the casing. It's kind of a turning motion to position the casing. Your lining up three things at the same time: the finger/fork interface, the oil supply tube that runs splashed oil to the rear oil bearing, and the indexing pins. Actually I hope I never have to touch the tranny again. Anyone feel like placing bets?

Ok, tranny back together, time to put the new pilot bearing in. I call my dad to have him come down and help me put the tranny in -- I figured by the time he gets there I'll have the new pilot bearing in and I'll be ready to put the tranny in. NOT!

When I mentioned the pilot bearing previously I said that it was completely reduced to metal dust. Well that wasn't quite the case.( There's a pun there ) There's a metal enCASEment that surrounds the actual bearing -- I realized this when I really looked at the new bearing for the first time since I got it. In the course of trying to install the new pilot bearing I realized the old bearing casing is still there, except it's flattened to the point where there was absolutely nothing I can use to grab or pry it out with. F###. Dremel time.

I figured I could grind the case out fairly quickly. NOT!

It must be some very hard metal because I spent literally hours grinding the POS and there was still more. Then I became nervous that I'd start over grinding a screw up the eccentric shaft. Don't even want to go there. That's a complete engine rebuild. No time, no money -- had to find a safer way to remove the bearing. In the mean time since this project isn't going to be done today, dad goes back home. Sorry dad. Actually he hangs out with the kids.

The only thing that will make a perfect hole is a reamer. So I carefully measure the eccentric internal diameter and the bearing external diameter, and it looks like 19mm is the number. I was hoping that there was a 19mm reamer at our machine shop at work. Not even close.

So I call a few machine shop supply places and I can get a 19mm 3/4 shank for $30. Lets do it. Next day the reamer arrives, but there's a big problem: how do I turn a round 3/4 inch shank? I have a drill capable of 1/2, but nothing I have will hold 3/4. Think, think, think... Hmm, maybe if I grind flat spots on the shaft, maybe even in a hex pattern I can get either a wrench or a socket on it.

So I go to the local hardware store and I find a nut that has a just a little over a 3/4 inch internal tread diameter, enough to slide over the shank. No, I'm no going to glue a nut to the shank. Instead what I did was build up the shank diameter with tape to the point where I could thread the nut on the tape and it would stay there without moving. After a few wrapping and unwrapping cycles of the tape on the shank, I get a diameter buildup that holds the nut nicely. I then carefully grind 6 flats on the end of the shank using the hex nut as an angular positioning reference. 1/2 hour later I have I nice hex end ground onto the shank. A 9/16 socket fits tightly. Perfect, now I can apply plenty of torque to the reamer. No, I didn't see it on McGuiver. :-)

The only down side to free handing the reamer is that it will be very hard to maintain a perfect centering of the tool inside the eccentric while rotating. But then again, I really didn't have any choice -- time to place your bets, and let it ride. So I start out nice and slow, trying to let the tool center itself in the cavity. For the most part it did quite well. I finally, through several attempts, got through the casing. My hands and arms would get tired trying to hold the reamer and socket in perfect position, while at the same time pushing as hard as I could to force the reamer deeper and cut the remaining bearing casing. So it took several rest periods to complete the cutting.

Now for the real test.

In the mean time, lets call dad again, cause it's going to be a matter of and hour and I'll definitely be ready to put the tranny back in... NOT!

I get the new bearing and proceed to install it into the eccentric. It goes in easily, too easily. Damn, it looks like despite my best efforts that I slightly enlarged the hole. Not enough to trash the eccentric, but it's not the tight fit you normally have. The hole distortion is worse where the pilot bearing seal goes, so I had to secure the seal in place with JB weld epoxy. Time for a little prayer. Oh please, great god of adhesion, please hold this seal -- I'll offer any sacrifice you deem appropriate: First child? All the children? The wife? All the above? :-)

Dad gets there. But the epoxy recommends a complete cure time of 6+hr. I'm not about to rush it and risk the chance that the seal will shift and cause a leak. I put my clutch aligning tool into the eccentric to hold the seal in perfect position while the epoxy cures. After that, I position a hair dryer so that it blows hot air on the seal to expedite the curing of the epoxy. Thanks for coming dad, you can go back home now. He hangs out with the kids again.

Ok, epoxy cured, we're definitely ready to wrap this up. Time to call dad and see if he can come down and help me put the transmission -- again. While he's on his way down, I'll have plenty of time to re-install the clutch, so as soon as dada gets here all we'll have to do is re-install the tranny ... NOT!

I start to tighten the pressure plate bolts and just as I'm about to put the finishing torque on the bolts, one strips. S###! Then another strips. Double S###!! Actually I expelled a perfuse plethora of vulgar expletives -- colorful metaphors, as Spock would say. You get the picture.

Ok, what are my choices here. There is now way in hell that I'd even consider letting 4 out of 6 bolts hold the pressure plate in -- that would be asking for serious trouble. I can get some helicoil thread inserts, but I'd have to drill out two extra holes and insert coils opposite of the bolts that initially needed them to preserve perfect weight balance. But what if the inserts don't work, or come loose. Na, skip that idea. Another fly wheel. Thank god that the 12A and the GSL-SE flywheels are interchangeable. I have three flywheels from my old 12a's.

In the mean time I have to remove the flywheel on the GSL-SE. Time to look for my trusty flywheel nut removing tool. It's a torque multiplying wrench that has a hex cut-out that will fit the flywheel nut, and a pinion gear with a hex nut attached to it that rides in the teeth of the flywheel. I paid $85 for it almost ten years ago. Worth every penny. The torque multiplication factor is approximately 12.5 to 1. Mazda recommends 300fp of torque on the nut. So with a 20" breaker wrench, you can easily remove and/or tighten the nut to spec. Only the nut that is, not the flywheel itself. That's another tool.

If you ever plan to get into removing the flywheel yourself, buy this tool! It is one of the few material things in this life that you will really love, other than you RX-7, or your air tools. You'll want to take it with you everywhere you go, show it off to your friends, even sleep with it under your pillow. And every night you must pray to it this little prayer based on the rifle prayer from "Full Metal Jacket":


RIFLE PRAYER

This is my rifle.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend.
It is my life. I must master it,
as I must master my life.

Without me my rifle is useless.
Without my rifle, I am useless.
I must fire my rifle true.
I must shoot straighter than my enemy who
is trying to kill me.
I must shoot him before he shoots me.
I will.

Before God I swear this creed.
My rifle and myself are defenders of my country.
We are the masters of our enemy.
We are the saviors of my life.
So be it ... until there is no enemy

...
but peace. Amen.

TORQUE TOOL PRAYER

This is my torque tool.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My torque tool is my best friend.
It is my life. I must master it,
as I must master my life.

Without me, my torque tool is useless.
Without my torque tool, I am useless.
I must torque my torque tool true.
I must torque more precisely than any hack mechanic who
is trying to out torque me.
I must torque him before he torque's me.
I will.

Before God I swear this creed.
My torque tool and myself are defenders of my rotary engine.
We are the masters of our enemies, Porsche, Nissan, Toyota...
We are the saviors of the noble rotary engine faith and brotherhood.
So be it ... until there are no loose flywheel nuts

...
but perfectly speced torque. Amen.
I love you torque tool. :-)

As my luck would run, I couldn't find the @#%##@ tool. Finally after a few hours my wife finds it under some junk in the garage. In the mean time I figured this would be a good time to replace the master and slave clutch cylinder parts. So dad and I spent the better part of the day getting that done.

I remove the flywheel nut, and proceed to remove the flywheel with a custom tool an old next door neighbor of mine welded up for me. Otherwise it's bang, bang, bang till the flywheel loosens. Yet another tool worthy of reverent homage.

I'm in a big rush now to get this project done once and for all. So I hunt out the best 12a flywheel I have and brush the rust off the clutch surface. Remember the word rust, it will come back to haunt me.

Alright, time to mount the 12a flywheel. I went to the auto store and bought 6 new bolts of the same size ( To preserve weight balance ). Actually I should have only used hardened bolts. But it was a Sunday, and I didn't have time to order hardened bolts. It's all in the hands of the god of shear resistance.

Flywheel is on, time to mount the tranny -- finally!

The tranny goes on without too much trouble. Next the drive shaft. Well, wouldn't you know the drive shaft has a squeaky u-joint. Thank god again for my personal rx-7 junk yard. Grab another drive shaft and bolt it up. I quit for the night, it's late, I'm tired as hell, and I have to get up early for work.

The next day I finish up putting the starter and other minor stuff back together. I had the wife do the interior work. I Replaced the tranny fluid, even changed the motor oil while I was down there. We're finally ready for the moment of truth.

I still haven't replaced the missing ignition lock, so I pull out my red handled screwdriver and give it the turn and pray twist. Sitting there for the few weeks has let enough fuel drip from the injectors to flood it to the point where it wouldn't start. This is not an uncommon characteristic of these engines. Fortunately this is where the fuel cutoff switch fulfils a secondary and almost as import function as the primary function: by switching the fuel pump off and engaging the starter, the combustion chamber will dry out rather quickly -- on the order 10-15 seconds. At that point it will start to catch and at that precise point, I switch the pumps on and all is well.

Ok, engine running I listen real closely for any grinding or any other peculiar noises. Silence! I put my ear to the shifter... silence again! Now for the clutch: Clutch in ... silence! Clutch out ... silence! One last test before the road test: In gear, clutch in ... silence! I then shift through the gears with the clutch still disengaged ... smoooth as butter! I breath a big sigh of relief.

Get out and remove the jack stands, all the while my body is now racing with a queasy mix of panicky and nervous apprehension, anticipation and adrenaline. All kinds of anxious thoughts are racing through my head. I started asking myself questions like: Did I tighten all the bolts? Did I tighten the flywheel nut correctly, did I remember the right torque multiplication of the flywheel tool: 12.5 or was it 5.12? Did I divide the torque wrench setting correctly from the torque spec: 300/12.5 = 24, or was it 42? Did I forget to connect any wires? Did I remember to fill the tranny? Did I leave any tools that will fall between the flywheel and engine, trashing the engine and flywheel with a loud and violent bang, sending high velocity shrapnel though the fire wall and into my legs and body? Then I started asking deeper questions: Will I be on the nightly news?: Diver found in an unexplained fiery crash... Is this the last time I'll see my family? The last time I'll ever ride in an RX-7? Is this the end of all I know and love? Then I get to the biggest question of all: Do I have any beer left? :-)

Stands removed, I put it into reverse and roll off the ramps, remove the ramps and start out of the driveway. Ever so cautiously. I listening intently for noises. So far everything is good. I open the hood and look inside to see if there is anything leaking or loose. Duck under the car a repeat above. All looks good. This is it.

Going down my street everything sounds great. 1st, second and third. In fact it's so quiet, and I was used to the transmission noise, that it sounded like a totally different car. Now, do I just loop around the block, or do I go for broke and open it up on the highway near the house. What the heck, highway it is.

Now for the next big test. Remember that it would pop out of gear in fourth just as I was releasing the clutch? Well, when I get to the minor highway that leads to the big highway where I do all my road tests, I shift it into fourth and remove my hand from the shifter, let the clutch out. Yahoo! It stayed in gear. At about this time the anxiety mix is abating, and I'm starting to feel good now.

A mile or so later I get to the highway. It's clear. Time to open it up. 3rd redline, 4th redline, and 5th till I start to run out of highway. Perfect. Tranny is as silent as new. Another big sigh of relief. No fiery crash, I'll be home to see the wife and kids again, I can drive the car to work tomorrow, and, most importantly: I can get more beer!!!!

I get the car home and shut it off. Time to do a post visual check. Open the hood, all looks good. Look under the car, no leaks, all looks good. That's a wrap. Mission accomplished -- time for a beer!

A couple of days go by, I drive it from work and back. It's about a 40-50 mile round trip. About the third day I start smelling motor oil. What the F###. I pop the hood, I smell the oil But I can't see anything leaking like the oil filter. Look under the car and the whole F###in transmission and under carriage is covered with oil. I mean it's dripping wet.

Now I have I nice knot in my stomach.

I double check the oil, hoping it was tranny oil instead of engine oil. Not that there was any real doubt. You know tranny oil when you smell it -- there's no mistaking it for anything else. Nope, this is definitely motor oil.

Possibilities: Maybe a crack in the block, although if that were the case I'd certainly would've heard something. Maybe it's leaking down from the oil filter where I couldn't see it from above. Nope, dry as a bone. Ok, all you motor heads out there reading this, all together now: "OIL SEAL".

MF oil seal. Guess what? Time to pull the tranny again!!!!

I get the tranny off in about a half hour, remove the pressure plate and clutch, remove the flywheel. It's allot easier to remove this time since it's only been tightened for a few days. Actually, before I removed the flywheel, I took my air compressor and sealed off the oil filler tube and forced air into the vapor tube. This pushed the seal out nicely. From there I could pry it out easily with a screw driver.

Looking at the seal, I see that the working surface of the seal is extremely worn. What the hell caused this. I start looking at the fly wheel. Remember I said to remember the word rust as it would come back to haunt me? Well, here it is, I didn't notice, or think to notice that the oil seal rides on the flywheel surface. Of course being under the gun certainly is a valid excuse for missing the problem.

Now to find an oil seal.

A few phone calls later, I find a dealer that has the seal -- $7.

I get the new seal the next day, cause the dealer is near where I work. I Get home and start sanding the flywheel collar with micro fine diamond grit sand paper I got from work. Eventually the rust is removed and the micro fine sand paper brings the metal to a mirror finish. I even take the old seal and slide it over the collar while inserting the sand paper so that rotating the seal will move the sand paper nice and evenly around the flywheel collar. I push the new seal in, install the flywheel and clutch. Time to call dad -- yet again.

This time he say's that he is busy. I'll leave it to you the reader to draw your own conclusions from that. So I call my brother, who is typically very hard to get a hold of. He comes over and we get the tranny installed.

Is this it? Is there anything else that could possibly go wrong? Did I forget anything else?

As of 10/00, all is well. No leaks, no noise. Just the rotary hmmm.

CONCLUSION:

I'm not sure exactly what motivated me to write about this project in such detail and verbosity. Perhaps it's comedy/tragedy element. Perhaps I wanted to write this down so if this ever happens again I'll be able to remember all the little ideas and tricks that will make this type of project go much easier. Perhaps I need to share my feelings with complete strangers in an attempt to realize my complete inner self. Then again, it could just be the beer. :-)

One last thing: to all you people out there who ask what kind of blithering moron would go through so much hassle for one car. All I can say is: if you have to ask, you'll never know. It's a labor of love. I'd do it all again in a heart beat.

Just don't mistake that last sentence as a wish. :-)

...

Ok, it's been what, two+ years? Of course it's time for some new repair adventures. In mid July 01 I start smelling raw gasoline. Usually it's from when some gas station hack ( Presently in NJ we don't have self serve -- at least not yet. Personally I have ambivalent feelings on the self serve concept, but that's for another forum ) doesn't put the cap on tightly and when I take a corner, it spills out and runs down the side of the car.

Not this time. I check the cap, it's on tight, I don't smell any excessive fumes from the cap area. Ok, where to start. I figure I'd start from the back and work my way up. Look under the fuel tank, nothing it's completely dry. Follow the fuel lines to the pump and fuel filter, nothing again, dry as a bone. Ok, time to get under the hood. Look under the hood where all the fuel lines go and still I can't find any signs leaking fuel. What the F***.

I keep on driving it for a couple more weeks. It seems some days I don't smell anything at all then there are other days where I sure it's smelling stronger than before. I keep rechecking the cap, the lines and still I can't locate where it's coming from.

One day when it was getting noticeably strong, I checked under the hood while the car is running. I start sniffing around. It's hard to tell exactly where smells are coming from while the engine is running because the fan is moving air all over the place. Nonetheless, it's definitely under the hood somewhere. Finally! I see gas dripping from the fuel supply rail, right around the fuel pressure regulator. It was a very slight drip, not enough to create a puddle of fuel, but just enough to evaporate in the engine compartment and it's fumes migrate into the air vents where I finally detect it inside the car.

Ok, now we have the where, but what about the what?

My first thoughts were that the regulator had loosened or the compression seals for the regulator where leaking -- both are really a long shot, but that's where I decided to start. So I get my 23mm wrench out and take the regulator off to inspect the seals. The seals look fine, so I figured I'd tighten the regulator back on with a little extra torque. Not the kind of "all I can torque", just a little over the torque that I used to loosen it in the first place.

The attempt at tightening the regulator proved to be in vein. In fact it started leaking a little worse than before. Time to visit the junk yard.

Before calling all the local junk yards, I figure I might look on the web to see if this problem is common. Sure enough after finding a couple of RX-7 sights, there's an exact description of my problem. No way to repair the regulator, it must be replaced. I do find one other informative piece of inforamation about the regulator that will come in real handy, it's compatable with the second generation RX-7. Cool!

Now I spend the better part of a morning calling around to find a yard with a with a second gen, I didn't even bother to try and find a 1st gen SE. Finally located a yard with a 2nd gen that has the complete engine. So I head on over and $40 later I have a good regulator. Another 1/2hour later and we're up and running!

Being inquisitive by nature, a little disection is in order. Maybe there's a chance that I can rebuild it -- better, faster, stronger... we have the technology! ... Well the problem is with the diaphrams. They're basically a thin woven material -- kinda like a woofer speaker suspension -- with a black rubber coating. The rubber coating is what had broken down. I see two ways to go: 1, re-apply some sort of rubber coating, maybe even something silicone based (silicone is pretty much inpervious to most evey chemical -- including gas) or, 2, a metal diaphram. Option two would require some molds to form some flex corregations. Doable, but not really worth the effort, at least not as long as I can just locate another 2nd gen without too much difficulty.

Please email comments and corrections to:
Billrx7