With the upper intake manifold free, I took the opportunity to strip it back down to bare aluminum. It was previously painted black, which I didn’t particularly favor. It seemed to have cheapened the look of the engine. I’m not going for a show-quality engine bay, I am strictly chasing function. I’m not going to bother with polishing or adding bling. I just want to maintain a stock-ish, silver colored look.
I used Aircraft Paint Stripper to take off the paint, but it worked wonderfully. It took about 3 applications to finish. The black paint may have even been powder coat, so I’m surprised at how efficient the paint stripper chemicals are – the paint could literally be wiped off after.
Next, it was time to tackle the block-off plates. This part really highlights the degree of simplification that can be done to the engine. On the UIM, I blocked off the Double Throttle, Accelerated Warm-Up System, and the Accelerated Warm-Up System Tube.
On the Lower Intake Manifold, the Air Control Valve…
…Air Control Valve Tube, Split Air Pipe, and Exhaust Gas Recirculation were blocked off – as well as the Rear Turbo Oil Line at the bottom of the block.
These components were originally attached via studs, which all had to be unthreaded via the double-nut method to be replaced with screws. The gasket for the Split Air Pipe was strangely bonded to the LIM, and had to be painstakingly scraped off given its awkward location. Eventually, several passes with a Dremel got it all cleaned up. To seal the block off plates, I used Permatex’s “the Right Stuff”, which is superior to the regular RTV gasket-makers you normally buy at auto supply stores.
After obviating so much, the amount of simplicity achieved offers a more refined platform, in my opinion. All the emissions, sequential, and driver-aid related shenanigans Mazda crammed in were nothing more than increased fail-points and unnecessary complexity.
With the block off plates done, I decided to throw on the new spark plugs. I will be using NGK BUR9EQP’s all around, in both the trailing and leading positions. I am also going to replace the spark plug wires with Magnacore 10mm race wires. In the picture below, you can see the girth difference between the Magnacores (bottom) and stock (top).
Finally, I removed both the primary and secondary fuel rails plus injectors. Now I can start planning my new fuel system and what fittings I’ll need to plumb it.
To round out the end of the year, I definitely put in work. In order to get to where I am now with the project, I dedicated a few hours every single day during the past week and a half. My garage is littered with boxes full of parts I’ve removed from the car. I am basically done with taking stuff off, I can now start on putting everything back together, anew.
I may not be able to continue chugging along at the current pace, because my Winter break is over and the hectic of normal life is about to resume. Nonetheless, I will plug away at the car whenever granted with the chance. 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year!