Triumph Sports Cars

engine swaps and other performance upgrades, plus "factory" V8s (Stag and TR8)

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mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: March 26, 2012 09:19PM

i am rather new to this forum-been a lurker for awhile....but i am on the tail end of a swap and wondered if anyone was interested in seeing some shots of it so far. What i have done so far:
-mounted the Miata engine (1990) with fabricated mounts welded to the frame (engine and 5 speed for $400)
-ran new clutch lines
-had the driveshaft shortened and the miata portion welded on (perfect fit for $100)
-some "trimming" of the firewall for the clutch slave, the center hump for the longer tranny
-ran new 5/16th fuel lines for the EFI, mounted fuel pump and filter in trunk
-fabricated tilt mount for miata radiator to fit under hood
-fabricated a mount for the MAF, Purge Canister, and various other doo dads the miata engine needs.

I found the Miata engine about 1.5 inches too high...while i have seen ways to lower the engine-they involved lowering the steering rack which is more radical surgery than i wanted to do....and i am not a purist (obviously)

with the cheapo hood scoop it actually will look pretty good-once painted.

i must admit-with the 2 dozen trial fits of the engine and tranny-lifting it out that many times solo led to some banged up fingers-it is a tight fit...but looks great.

Still to do:
-finish the wiring-been working on it for the last 3 weeks-i got a FULL harness, but 2/3 of it isn't needed-lights, ac, radio, windows, etc....so tons of extra wires removed...truthfully the darn thing was 50 pounds and massive. alot of research on the web to find out what is truly needed and what can be bypassed. some interesting mistakes in some wiring diagrams also (Haynes-they try to cover too many years)
-mount the fuse box and relay box once finalized, wrap up all the wiring into a neat package....
-fill up with fuel, oil, and hook up the battery (scary)

i figure 2-3 weeks before a test start.....i have been doing this swap since November-so not a long time.

Oh-lots of cosmetics once it is running-fabricate a new tunnel, move the brake lever(gear shift on the mazda is farther rear), mount the ECU, etc....

comments?
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CIMG0928.JPG
CIMG0927.JPG


rficalora
Rob Ficalora
Cypress, TX
(2277 posts)

Registered:
10/24/2007 02:46PM

Main British Car:
'76 MGB w/CB front, Sebring rear, early metal dash Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: rficalora
Date: March 26, 2012 10:20PM

Looks like you've done a great job so far. Welcome aboard.


ainadude
Jeff Nicolay
Honolulu, HI
(9 posts)

Registered:
03/31/2012 11:23PM

Main British Car:
1976 Triumph Spitfire 1993 Mazda Miata (1.8 liter/5spd)

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: ainadude
Date: April 01, 2012 12:04AM

Hi Douglas ... looks like you've made a lot of progress in a short period of time. I've had my mechanic (Graham) on a similar effort since January 2011 -- yes, 15 months! (Mine's with a 1.8L/5spd from a '94.) He was doing great until 1) he took an overly complicated approach to the wiring, got stuck and had to move on to some other jobs; 2) had his house foreclosed on and had to pack everything up and move; and 3) had to take in his grown-up son who's going through a bitter divorce. He's finally back on the case and I'm hoping he'll be in a position to start the engine within the next couple of days. Wish me luck.

The upside of the project is he's done what I think is a pretty elegant installation so far. When Graham first pitched me on the idea of doing the swap after my 1.5L Triumph engine broke its crank, I told him I was on board with it if he could do the installation without messing with the hood and screwing up the location of the shifter or radically changing the interior. Looks like he's going to be able to meet that standard (for the most part).

He notched the frame and relocated one of the crossmembers to enable us to drop the engine to a point where there's no clearance problem with the hood (he says we have two fingers between the front of the valve cover and the inside of the bonnet). He did have to relocate the rack a little bit (I think he moved it forward and down a little). He also cut into the firewall (welding in commensurate stiffening to the sheet metal) and re-worked the transmission cover to match. What was really cool is he relocated the gear-selector box forward about eight inches so the shifter remains in the stock position. Frankly, I haven't seen another MX5 swap done this way and I think it makes a huge difference to the quality of the job.

The only downside so far is the rear "hump" of tranny cover has had to be tweaked a bit to accomodate the back half of the shifter box, but there's still enough clearance for the brake lever to remain in the stock position. Obviously we'll have to do some tweaking of the tranny carpet piece when we get to that point but everything else should fit, including the structurally critical center support piece that links the dash to the frame.

Meanwhile, it looks like you've taken the same route we have with respect to the radiator. My set up is similar (using both Miata fans) and Graham has fabricated some cool-looking tubing to run from the intake to the MAF over the top of the radiator to end in a K/N-style air filter to catch cooler air in front of the radiator. Oh, and we're using the same higher-amp Bosch alternator I had been running with the original engine, and he ground off the lettering on the valve cover, sanded it smooth and threw on some crinkle-black paint. To the untrained eye, the installation should look pretty stock.

Graham also says he's going to adapt the Miata inertia switch to the fuel pump (from a 2.3L Mercedes) so we have automatic fuel cutoff in the event of an accident. If he can stay focused on the project, I think it's going to be a damn cool car once he has it back on the road!

Anyway, ask away if you want any specifics. I'll be following your efforts and may reach out to you if you're able to get your engine running properly before my guy does!! Best of luck on your project -- I think the Miata engine in a Spit is a great combo!


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 01, 2012 08:22PM

Hey Jeff,
A kindred soul! It sounds like you are getting very close to first fire up! Post some pics when you get a chance-i would love to see how Graham took care of some of the challenges i bypassed-like i said, lowering/moving the steering rack was a bit too much engineering/welding for me.
As for the gear shift-i was concerned about the rear postion-but i am tall-about 6"2 and have the seats all the way back and reclined...so i always felt the stock triumph shift location was a bit too far forward. i am comfortable with the rear location-but as noted have to move the brake lever...i like how Joe Curry did it in his mod-same location but moved over to the side...

Good progress on the wiring this weekend-wired the fuel pump, mounted it and the filter, wired the ignition switch and tach...and "shortened" alot of the long runs of wire. i am finally getting to the point where the wiring harness is almost under control. Oh-i also cut a circular hole in the firewall for the ECU cables....will mount that next weekend. i have decided both the relay box and fuse box will go in the old battery location(i am fabricating a cover for it. the Batt is relocated to the trunk like the miata has it.

Like you-i know i will have to do some fabrication for the tranny tunnel and hump....that will be one of the last items.

One item you might be able to help me with...the 2 switchs ON the tranny....none of the manuals are really clear on which is which and how they should be wired.....

i'll post some new pics next weekend after the wiring is done...i am sooooo close...lol.

I like your idea of the fuel cutoff...i may ping you for specifics.


ainadude
Jeff Nicolay
Honolulu, HI
(9 posts)

Registered:
03/31/2012 11:23PM

Main British Car:
1976 Triumph Spitfire 1993 Mazda Miata (1.8 liter/5spd)

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: ainadude
Date: April 02, 2012 12:02AM

Kindred soul indeed! Although it sounds like you have a broader base of abilities than I do -- there's no way I'd be willing to tackle (or be capable of tackling) this swap on my own.

Didn't hear from Graham this weekend, which of course means he didn't get the car started. I don't get to physically check on his progress very often -- long story, but he and my car are up in Vegas; I live not far from Palm Springs, Calif.

I know what you mean about the shift position. I'm a good deal shorter than you -- I'm a little under 5'9" and I've always thought the Spit's interior was tailor made for somebody like me. Regardless of shifter position, it's going to be nice to be able to aggressively downshift -- the synchos in my old O/D were always playing catch-up so I could never drive the car very hard.

Don't have any pics of the notches Graham made in the frame or the relocated crossmember between the suspension uprights. But I'm including some that show the engine placement and radiator installation, along with a shot of the car in better days.

Early in the progress Graham and I discussed relocating the battery to the trunk. After some thought I decided I didn't want to upset the existing weight distribution as I had the stance right where I wanted it. That being said, I may rethink it as I do like the thought of having a heavy battery in the right rear corner to help balance things out (my other car is an older BMW with that setup). Speaking of the trunk, several years ago I got rid of the spare and ground off the mounting post to create a smooth floor, then had the entire area carpeted. It's much more useable now (if I remember correctly, anyway!).

We'll be installing the ECU on the outboard side of the passenger footwell. The relays will be fitted in a separate box under the hood close to the battery. I think the plan is to fit the fuel pump, filter and inertia switch in the in the trunk.

Offhand I can't offer any advice on the tranny switches but I'll try to remember to ask Graham the next time I talk to him. Meanwhile, if you can get your engine running, please let me know. I'll be asking if I can get your number so Graham can give you a call. :-) Thing is, he did get it running last summer but there was a weird off-idle hesitation he could never figure out, which prompted him to pretty much start from scratch on a lot of systems: wiring, fuel delivery, etc. Then all manner of @#$%& came down in his personal life and the entire process pretty much ground to a halt until just recently.

OK, as promised, here are some pics ...
Mrs. Peel 01.jpg
New dash 2 (small).jpg
IMG_4092.jpg
IMG_4093.jpg



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2012 02:11PM by ainadude.


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 09, 2012 08:06AM

Success this weekend! i got it running-after some simple troubleshooting......once i validated just about EVERY connection one more time-i hooked up the battery-and was pleased to see nothing immediately started frying. Did a quick turnover of the engine-no problems, starter kicked strongly, again, nothing frying. Radio, lights, gauges all working (headlights no but i know what i need to do there).

After kicking it over several times-it became evident no fuel was flowing....quick check of voltage at the fuel pump confirmed-no power to it. checking at the relay-3 out of 4 connections good-....but the ground was NOT! simple fix, ran it to a bulkhead ground i have made. In testing the voltage at the fuel pump...the thing started after about 3 seconds unexpectedly....i was TOTALLY not expecting it to start that easily......

Loads of smoke from the exhaust/manifold as it burned off grease/cleaner and other crud....once that burned off-clearly have an exhaust leak to take care of.....timing is WAY off.....but it RUNS! My list of To Do items is slowly getting whittled down....this was a biggie.

Tested the charging system-definitely putting out good voltage....

Next steps: Headlights, wire in the reverse switch and stop light switch(to the ECU), fix the leak, check for vacume leaks, Tune it up.....


74ls1tr6
Calvin Grannis
Elk Grove,CA
(1071 posts)

Registered:
11/10/2007 10:05AM

Main British Car:
74 TR6 / 71 MGB GT TR6/Ls1 71 MGB GT/Ls1

authors avatar
Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: 74ls1tr6
Date: April 09, 2012 10:40AM

Congrats Douglas!

Always a great feeling, with a first start up. I have been watching these posts, because I have a 73 Spitfire and may go with this swap.



DiDueColpi
Fred Key
West coast - Canada
(1162 posts)

Registered:
05/14/2010 03:06AM

Main British Car:
What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?

authors avatar
Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: DiDueColpi
Date: April 09, 2012 12:16PM

Way to go Douglas!

Not much that feels better than that first start up is there.

Cheers
Fred


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 09, 2012 01:45PM

Thanks for the encouragement.....this forum is what convinced me that i could do this-lots of great advice and reviews of different options. i am adding a few photos so you can see some of the wiring challenges i had...as well as my choice on location of the fuel pump...for now.
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mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 16, 2012 09:14AM

A bit of progress this weekend....not as much as i had hoped:
-mounted the battery box in the trunk
-mounted the relay box and the fuse box in the old battery location (i plan on building a lid for it)
-finally got the speedo cable hooked onto the transmission-it was MORE than a tight fit...had to notch the floor pan, and trim a small amount off the cable.

The exhaust leak is coming from the manifold - i ordered a new gasket and removed the manifold and downpipe in prep....i am not going to try tuning until this is resolved.....so some of the rest is on hold...i should have the new gaskets in several days... a few smashed fingers getting the manifold out....c'est la vie.

will take some pics next weekend....


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 18, 2012 10:56AM

Team,
i wanted to get some opinions from the team-i am putting a "temporary" exhaust pipe in place for the time being-to get the beast up running and back on the road....i am using a 6 foot length of the flex tubing you can get at any auto parts store. it does allow me to route it under the car-but since the manifold is on the opposite side of the engine from the stock triumph-room is limited and the routing is not ideal.

What are your collective thoughts on running it outside the driver's side rocker panel like a custom rod? i have seen a few done that way(mainly with monster V-8's)...and am open to the concept. several items concern me:
1. mount points on the rocker....doesn't seem like that would be strong enough
2. heat shielding
3. muffler-i do not want a loud beast-i want this stock quiet. any "inline" mufflers that would work with a hot rod setup like this?

Am i crazy? (quite possible-but thinking of the options is fun!)

d


ainadude
Jeff Nicolay
Honolulu, HI
(9 posts)

Registered:
03/31/2012 11:23PM

Main British Car:
1976 Triumph Spitfire 1993 Mazda Miata (1.8 liter/5spd)

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: ainadude
Date: April 20, 2012 10:02AM

Hi Doug ... congrats! Here's hoping I'm not too far behind you ... :-)


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: April 20, 2012 12:02PM

I'm not a fan of the flex tubing as it has no basic strength of it's own and will require a lot more support from the body and chassis. You can mount in along side the rocker, but make your mounts attach under the car to the floor pan and extend out to support the exhaust from the bottom. And head shields are definitely a must. Not only to prevent burns to your own legs, but also to protect passers buy before the exhaust cools down, especially children. A car with an external exhaust is not one that you can just park and walk away from for that reason, especially if it's a custom or modified car that will attract curiousity. I used to have a street rod with zoomies and more than once I had to fend off children who wanted to run up and touch the headers.
Scan007, November 10, 2006.jpg


ainadude
Jeff Nicolay
Honolulu, HI
(9 posts)

Registered:
03/31/2012 11:23PM

Main British Car:
1976 Triumph Spitfire 1993 Mazda Miata (1.8 liter/5spd)

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: ainadude
Date: April 21, 2012 08:41PM

I'm with Bill on the flex tubing idea -- fraught with peril no matter how you go about it and very much out of character for a Spitfire. I'll be talking to my mechanic Graham tomorrow about how he's routed the exhaust from the wrong side to mate with my old four-outlet Monza unit. Will let you know (he's pretty crafty!).

Meanwhile, a shout-out to Bill: I grew up in the KC area (Kansas side -- Overland Park). Graduated from UMKC and worked in radio for a while before moving west. Was back to visit family for Thanksgiving 2010 after more than 25 years away -- the city looks great (enjoyed the Power & Light District and that new concert hall looks very cool!).


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: April 25, 2012 07:44AM

Thanks for the advice....i'll go with the temporary solution under the car, and hold off on the side mount exhaust (probably a "winter" project) for now. i got the manifold gaskets-so this weekend will be sorting out the exhaust....



mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: May 06, 2012 07:53PM

Good progress this weekend:
-no more exhaust leak and am happy with the routing of the pipe
-fixed a leaky clutch fitting (had to redo a bubble flare on one end and a standard double flare on the other end to adapt)
-fixed leaky thermostat housing..when i took the cover off-there was NO gasket....luckily the local store had one.

Once all this done-fired it up...i let it warm up fully and set the timing....no issues and seems to idle ok at 800-900.

felt brave and drove it around the block.....tranny shifts REALLY NICE....have to get used the the clutch.. a bit different than the triumphs old one.

it is still not running well-i have some issue i still need to find-either a vacumn leak or idle switch/MAF issue. will work on that next weekend...but-i felt a burst of power on one of the straight stretchs....EGADS....i never felt that before in the Spit....amazing-once i sort out this leak/miss/choppiness this is going to be one fast beast!

So close.....lol...oh-and i also mounted the scoop and primed it.


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: June 04, 2012 03:10PM

ok..i finally had some time this weekend to do some troubleshooting...i figured i would eliminate a few obvious ones first:
- compression...all good, averaged about 170 per cylinder (better than expected)
- throttle position sensor, removed, tested, reset, good (cleaned the throttle body at the same time-though it was pretty clean already.
- timing, rechecked (at about 14 BTDC)
- bypassed the AFM with the diag module..no change
-checked all vacumn lines for cracks, pcv valve, and rechecked my plug on the AC vacumn line (not used at this point)

- fuel pressure....manual says it should be 35lbs pressure at idle...IMAGINE my surprise when the gauge pegged at 100lbs at idle.....no matter what. I had run new steel lines, new rubber lines in between, new filter...so not the lines. So-either the pressure regulator is shot (most likely)...or the return feed into the tank (only the actual connection on the tank-the lines are new)...not likely.
with that much pressure i am surprised there were no leaks on my lines.....

New regulator on order, due to arrive tomorrow. i should know by the weekend. fingers crossed-but no matter what-this problem had to be addressed.


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: June 11, 2012 11:11AM

Success! Replacing the pressure regulator solved the stumble/choking/stalling problems! pressure now right on the money at about 38lbs at idle.

So i took it out on a quick test drive on a back road that has nice, quiet straight...and WOW...i had it up to 90 in 4th gear before i realized it...not enough space to get into 5th...the engine revs so much faster than the triumph one....and gives a real kick in the pants above 3k....

i spent sunday solving some leftover Lucas wiring gremlins...ended up rewiring all the front end lights....but now everything works as it should...
i started putting everything back together and the trans tunnel fabrication....i figure a week or 2 to get it all back together...list of items:
-mount the ECU in a permanent location
-trans tunnel(need to modify for the slave cylinder)
-exhaust wrap-it is hot
-gearshift/brake lever panel (i plan on doing wood trim)
-carpet and passenger seat-put back
-cover for the fuse/relays that are now in the battery box
-finish priming the bonnet(this may not happen for a few weeks)

not alot left to do!....oh-and schedule a DOT inspection...


mildo04
doug milligan

(33 posts)

Registered:
07/26/2010 08:17AM

Main British Car:
1978 Triumph Spitfire Mazda 1.6 liter

Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: mildo04
Date: July 04, 2012 06:35PM

Today i finally had some time to do some work on the project...i FINALLY solved the stumble/hesitation/stalling issue at 2k rpm.....it turned out to be dirty connections on the air flow meter......i can't believe it made that much difference! the beast is a dream to drive now.

so today-i focused on finishing the tranny tunnel area.....pics uploaded...i don't think this is the permanent look-but i am pretty pleased with the outcome. The triumph badge was a perfect fit where the gearshift used to be. note that now the gearshift is about 8 inches to the rear..which forced me to move the brake as far back as possible, shorten the cable, etc....since i am tall and the seat is all the way back(miata seats btw), they are all in a comfortable location for me.

need to do some cosmetic work on the bonnet this weekend-then the inspection next week...everything seems to work at this point....lets hope the Lucas Gods keep smiling.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2012 06:38PM by mildo04.


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: Miata 1.6 into a 78 Spitfire
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: July 05, 2012 10:02AM

That really looks good Doug. Very nice work. I know that you will enjoy the car very much with the new power.
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