Project Miata Finally Makes Some Progress

Miata crank bolt being removedText and photography by Bryce Womeldurf

Since I had a little bit of time on Sunday and I wasn’t coughing too badly, I decided to get back to work on the Miata. Plus I like to drive around during the Superb Owl because no one is on the road and my wife had jury duty the next day, so getting it running would be a good thing. I first had to make a trip to Home Depot for a 4′ piece of pipe (for a cheater bar), and then again, for a corded drill and a center punch. Because screw you, cordless drill, you’re never charged when I need you! I put the Rennenmetal tool on the crank boss, gave the cheater bar some force, and all too easily got the crank bolt out at last! 

Miata crank bolt finally removed

Comparing old and new crank bolts.

On the right is the 20 year old original crank bolt that a previous owner appears to have slathered with red Loctite, which is unnecessary on a big nose crank equipped car, like this later NA. On the left is the brand new Mazda crank bolt ready to go in.

From everything I’m seeing while pulling larger bolts out of this car, I’m kind of glad I freaked out when the head gasket blew and took it to the shop a couple of years ago. The mechanics at Pepboys probably broke all of these red Loctited bolts loose for me as it looks like one of the previous owners went crazy with the stuff. Found it on the timing cogs previously and now on the crank bolt. I only put blue Loctite on the new bolts.

Broken pulley bolt finally free from the pulley boss.

By chance, I recently found that I had a set of extractors in the garage that I had forgotten about, so I was going to pull the broken 6mm bolt out of the front. In a strange bit of luck, the punch didn’t land dead center on the broken front, so I tried to drill slowly, and then decided to try to pull it from the back. Well, that’s where the luck comes in. While I was drilling from the back, it just pushed it out. I had considered trying that before but had forgotten about it thinking “it’ll never work.” It just kind of worked out on it’s own. This was a huge relief since that boss (seen above) is about a hundred dollar part new. I didn’t even nick a thread!

Miata timing key.

From the looks of things, the dreaded crank keyway is in perfect shape. I jiggled the key a little and could have removed it, but since the timing belt had been changed in 2013, I left it in place.

Where the engine sits as of now.

To finish it off, I then got the new crank bolt in and torqued to spec and put the crank pulley back on (timing key stayed put). I got as far as putting the water pump pulley back on along with the belts and then I had to call it quits, because I’d need to be up early the next day to rent a car. But at least I’m now probably 1-2 hours worth of work away from having a drivable car again, so it should be back on the road this weekend. I’m not touching the hoses yet, because I just want to drive it again first. It’s been 3 months now. Time to put the top down and get it moving again. Hoses will be done soon though. Stay tuned!


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