Omitting the Antilock Braking System was the next item on my simplification master plan. Do more with less (and increase reliability by virtue). To date, I have removed the windshield wipers and motor, power steering, air conditioning, air pump, and now the ABS. The single turbo conversion, of course, accounts for a slew of other simplifications. I wouldn’t have this car any other way. If it was easily feasible, I’d probably convert the power windows to manual roll-ups… and I’m only being semi-facetious here.
I know removing the ABS can raise controversy, but after doing my diligence, I concluded that it was worthy of the axe. First, early 90’s era ABS technology cannot compare to the accuracy offered by units of contemporary times. The technology has come a long ways, and the older counterparts leave much to be desired. Advances in the field such as computer driven traction and stability control are becoming the norm nowadays, whereas ABS was just starting to be commonplace when the FD was released. Given what an ABS must do to perform effectively, its inherent sophistication did not compliment well with the more crude and mechanical units of the 90’s. Notably, people who track their RX-7’s have complained of the ABS interfering.
As far as I’m concerned, I doubt the ABS is capable enough to be the saving grace and difference in an emergency situation. I would rather rely on my own braking ability and discretion. Plus, having 255 tires all-around with the increased stopping force of the BBK should certainly tip the favor.
In general, 90’s (Japanese) sports cars offer a very tappable platform for tuning and modifying. Additionally, they were also relatively raw and spartan, placing emphasis on the driver and not computers and gizmos. These characteristics explain why I’m so acclimated towards the RX-7, and I feel that the spirit of focus and refinement should be leveraged to its fullest extent.
Continuing on, here is the stock ABS pump, which dominates the back corner of the engine bay.
A savvy member on RX7Club put together and resold an ABS Delete Kit, which consists of XRP -3 SS Brake Lines, various fittings and adapter, and a SSBC Proportioning Valve. After yanking out the ABS pump and all of its associated brake hardlines, I routed in the new lines and fittings. Definitely cleans up the engine bay! I wrapped the line that crossed the engine bay in gold reflective tape.
The Delete Kit was a great bundle overall, but there were a few areas I was not satisfied with. For instance, there were 2 lines that had sharp bends in them.
I also wasn’t comfortable with the aluminum fittings that were included. On top of durability concerns in a high pressure environment like a brake system, electrolytic corrosion can take place when dissimilar metals are used together. I ended up rebuying the aluminum fittings in stainless steel from XRP (that Tee fitting in SS was almost $50 alone!). I also ordered a pair of new brake lines that had a 90* crimp, to help optimize the bends.
Here’s the new setup with 90* hose ends, even if it meant having to bleed the brakes all over again.
The proportioning valve leads to the rear brakes and allows for bias adjustments. This should help to tune and balance out the front BBK. I still need to get a bracket fabricated to hold the proportioning valve in place.
In the background, I was busy accumulating parts and performing the necessary tasks for a brake system overhaul. In actuality, I had everything I needed and was ready to start on the work for quite some time now. Instead, and to be perfectly frank, I was content with letting the parts sit on my shelves while I enjoyed the downtime. As you may be aware from looking back a few posts, I haven’t been the most active lately.
In fact, I don’t think I even drove the car in all this time – aside from the occasional warm-ups. I pushed all car related matters and thoughts outside my cognition and perception, and let me tell you, it felt great… The single turbo project over the Winter was an intense affair and its comedown left me in a state of weariness. Tackling car projects with a high level of scrutiny truly requires immense motivation and dedication. It will test the stamina of anyone.
Alas, I found an impetus to end my “vacation” and carry on. Before diving into the actual installation, I need to start with a preface on the big brake kit. The RX-7’s brake system is generally very good and capable. However, this fact still doesn’t exclude it from being upgraded. My overall agenda with my car is to raise its standards holistically, while still operating within in the scope of Mazda’s original concept. As an analogy, I’m pursuing my goals in the same vein as Porsche did with their GTx RS cars.
With that said, I narrowed my decision for a big brake kit upgrade to the Brembo GT. Buying this kit new is prohibitively expensive, but I was lucky in being able to find a low-mileage set of calipers and rotor hats. To finish the puzzle and take care of the friction discs, I bought a pair of cross-drilled StopTech AeroRotors. The choice on going with cross-drilled over slotted was simply due to ballerness. It’s safe to assume that I will not be road racing this car in the near future, so the functional benefits of slotted versus cross-drilled are extraneous for me. In the similar mentality, I chose to go with StopTech Street pads all around for their balance of performance and low dust.
In order to mount the StopTech AeroRotors to the Brembo hats, there was a catch. The 2 companies use a different method to “float” their rotors and also use different hardware. Brembo accomplishes this by having a small, raised step that circumferences the backside of the hat. StopTech, on the other hand, accomplishes the task through the hardware and does not need the raised lip. So I brought the hats down to a local machine shop and paid the owner on the side to carefully lathe it off.
Here’s a look at the stock front brakes.
Aside from the new Brembo brakes being obviously bigger in diameter, they are wider and have curved vanes.
Cleaned, torqued down, and installed.
The fitment compatibility with the front wheels was something I eagerly anticipated in testing. Luckily, the BBK was a perfect fit with the 17″ RegaMasters, and really fill up the space inside.
With the fronts taken care of, I also wanted to refresh the rears to be thorough. I bought new lines, pads, rotors, and even remanufactured calipers. The last time ended up being a horrible decision. This is a classic example of doing too much, when you should just keep it simple. My original calipers were in great shape and needed no attention, yet I felt impelled to replace them, which is why reman calipers seemed like a good idea – since a professional company rebuilds and cleans them for you. Long story short, one of the calipers came with a piston that had pitting all over from past rust. Although this may have been functional and leak-free, I refused to install it on my car.
I lied about the story’s brevity, allow me to expand. I called RockAuto.com (I was referred to them by another RX7Club member without realizing it was some hodgepodge discount place) where I purchased these reman calipers from and requested a replacement or a refund. The customer service representative obliged, but noted that I would need to pay the shipping for a replacement. I didn’t feel like this was entirely fair because there was blatant product quality control and conformity issues. I was about to agree to their terms when it was suggested that a “manager” may be able to provide a better solution. After getting transferred to this so-called manager, he single-mindedly to deny my request altogether and dictates that no replacement will be granted. I of course questioned his state of mind and he proceeds to brag about his past “lead technician” credentials. So now I’m stuck with these calipers because this guru mechanic (probably only pumped gas for people) turned big boss manager of a call-center wanted to play tyrant.
DO NOT BUY FROM ROCKAUTO… unless you want to receive garbage parts and then receive false promises.
Needless to say, I opted to reuse my original rear calipers. I did have to put in grunt work to clean them up, strip the old paint, and then repaint them red to match the fronts.
I know red brake calipers may seem cliche, but at the end of the day, they look damn good. Red on Black strikes an interesting contrast. On a related note, Black, Red, and White are colors that grab attention when used in combination (refer to Nazi flag…).
I never seem to have much fortune when it comes to bleeding brakes, in one way or another, it always turns into an excruciating experience. During the first day, I ran out of a liter of ATE SuperBlue fluid. The next morning, a Sunday, I had to track down a store that was open and also carried ATE. I went over a couple cities to a Monument Car Parts store and was luckily able to buy it off their shelves (I’ve never even heard of Monument Car Parts prior to this). Then I proceeded to bleed the brakes for 3 HOURS because I was adamant on getting EVERY little bubble out and made 3 rounds around the car. Why did it take 3 hours? Because TWICE I made the mistake of letting the reservoir run out of fluid, thus sucking in air and forcing me to repeat the process anew. I guess it’s difficult to control everything when you’re so focused on seeing little bubbles come out… pump after pump. It also didn’t help that the Brembo calipers had 2 bleed valves each.
Best of all, I’ll have to rebleed the brakes AGAIN in the near future. I also deleted my ABS and wasn’t happy with a few bends in the new lines, so they will need replacing. I will save this topic for a post of its own, later.
I feel that this is a bit anti-climatic… but the RX-7 rolled over 25,000 miles a couple of weeks ago. That means during my ownership, I only drove it a mere 500 miles. Most of these miles were dedicated to driving to and fro the body shop and various other shops. The car has spent more of its time with me on jackstands than on the road. I’ll waive any further commentary on this matter…
Updates have been lacking recently on the website because in all honesty, I opted to take a break. With the single turbo conversion finally completed and the car running beautifully… what’s the next move?
From the very beginning when the idea to buy another RX-7 popped into my mind almost exactly a year ago, I acknowledged what I would be getting myself into. I was equipped with enough experience, having gone through multiple projects and builds in the past, to know that this would be a similar process. Just on an even grander scale. I knew that this RX-7 would be my most ambitious undertaking to date, and had to accept all the sacrifices that followed. I think the underlying reason why I would even willingly desire such a lofty goal stems from a determination to push. It was this same determination that ultimately saw me through the project and up to this point today.
The amount of work I invested into this car was compressed into a relatively short time span of less than a year. This meant that throughout its duration, I would have to constantly think about the car or work on it. There was no such thing as a break, and there certainly wasn’t time to do much else on top of my day job and school work. Life wasn’t easy, but I was cognizant of the challenge I subjected myself to. I looked at the situation as if I was tackling a very large and intricate puzzle.
In addition to the labor and time involved, the near psychotic levels of money spending made the whole endeavor monumentally exhausting. Not only did I have to buy a low-mileage RX-7 to start, it didn’t even end up accounting for half of the equation. I remember maxing out my credit card repeatedly over the course of the previous Winter. At the minimum, I received 4-5 packages in the mail on a weekly basis for months whilst undergoing the single turbo work.
So what’s next for me is to take a step back and enjoy some fresh air – away from all the oil-filled chemicals in the garage, away from the long nights of toiling work, and away from the financially burdening habit of buying parts. My vision for the car is finally realized to an extent that I can be satisfied with. I have conquered a seemingly insurmountable task, to prove that it can be done with tact and perseverance. I know there’s only enough will and strength in me to have one go-around at this. So now it’s time to reap the benefits and move on…
My plan is to actually focus on returning to a normal life, a life that isn’t consumed by a single thought. I’ve been quite busy lately keeping active lifestyle because my first motivation is to try and reinstate the years I know I lost from working on all these projects over the years. The amount of stress endured definitely accumulates to a significant toll.
The change in pace lately has been great, but I know one thing is for certain… albeit I’m at the end of one “hobby,” I’ll have to pick something else up to fill the gap. Otherwise, I’ll end up feeling bored and dull. Definitely no more cars though, I’ve been down that road for far too long now.
I picked up a fire extinguisher bracket with a quick release from Sake Bomb Garage. This version mounts in the rear trunk, which I liked. I didn’t want to have a fire extinguisher sitting too visibly in the cabin since this is not a full-on race car.
Keeping a fire extinguisher on hand is a good precautionary measure – you can never be too safe. In total, it adds an extra 3lbs to the car but can be the saving grace that prevents a total loss. No one ever buys a fire extinguisher expecting anything to happen, but the smart ones will buy one anyway.
I specifically bought an Amerex Halon fire extinguisher. Halon is a clean agent gas that chemically disrupts combustion and leaves no residue. The agenda is to maximize salvageability so once the fire is stopped, further damage won’t be incurred with residue everywhere.
The bracket utilizes the driver-side rear trim panel’s studs.
Here is what the assembly looks like all-together.
Keen eyes may notice that the fire extinguisher was installed pre-RX-7 badge… I’ve just been delayed in making this post.
Here is the most recent picture of the engine bay. I’m quite proud of what has been achieved under the hood, so excuse me for showing it off a little.
I wrapped the intercooler piping in gold tape as an added measure to help with the charge temperatures. It is especially important to try and maintain the cold-side piping close to ambient. After my driving reviews, the Defined Autoworks V-Mount is performing phenomenally well: both Intake and Engine temperatures are very consistent and low, a vast and quantifiable improvement over stock.
It’s a major relief to have the long months of labor behind me. I can finally slow things down and dedicate newly allotted time to actually driving. As astonishing as it sounds, I’ve only put about 200 miles on the RX-7 since I bought it last summer. The car has spent its life in between those miles sitting on jackstands in my garage, either being torn apart or being rebuilt.
Last weekend, with the water pump replaced and the coolant leak resolved, I went out for a spin and brought my camera with me.
Although I had the rear bumper debadged except for the main emblem, I added back the RX-7 logo in an updated, “Efini” form. These are stick-on and go on the right, passenger side of the bumper. As if this wasn’t cool enough, I wanted the more obscure, red lettering version.
The Mazda part number for this is F100-51-711B. Even down to an emblem, everything needs to be as authentic and quality as possible. While expensive, I was at least able to find one available.
There is another portion to this emblem that has a rectangular Efini badge underneath, but I decided to omit it.
Deciding to step up to the Revolution/AutoStaff “Radiator Outlet Tank” cost almost 3 weeks of downtime. I had to order this part from RHDJapan in the midst of the water pump service. Unfortunately, this was the last piece of the puzzle and I wasn’t able to finish everything up until the part was in hand.
After waiting 2 weeks with no shipping update from RHDJapan (they first have to receive the part from the manufacturer), I opted to pull some strings just to ensure I could get the car operational again. I have little patience when it comes to these types of things, which probably alludes to how I powered through the single turbo conversion in a few months. It really bugs me to leave a job unfinished.
So I settled for second best, as it was better than nothing at all. A member on the RX7Club forums actually made a small run of a similar product, inspired by the original. These were sold out before I could grab one, but I chased another avenue and it turned out a buddy of mine bought one and never installed it. I explained my situation and he was generously willing to pass it on to me. As I said before, the community is an imperative resource.
Of course, the very next day after all this happens, I get an email from RHDJapan noting that my order was shipped. Miraculously, according to the tracking number, the Revolution part was already in San Francisco and waiting for customs. It actually shipped 2 days prior, but I got the tracking number too late… talk about complicating things.
Revolution made the outlet tank with a zero pressure, screw on cap. Meaning, it was simply a fancier replacement of the stock thermostat housing and, like stock, a separate Air Separator Tank (AST) was required. I wanted to integrate the AST directly, so I had the screw on filler chopped off and a new billet, radiator filler welded in its place (thanks FFTEC, again). This would allow me to run a pressurized 13psi cap, effectively obviating the need for a separate AST.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a side by side of the Revolution tank (left) versus the locally made copy (right).
The scalloped section on the bottom allowed for perfect clearance with the idler pulley.
The difference in quality is easily recognizable. Yes, the Revolution part is prohibitively expensive and a hassle, but you truly get a well-made product. The entire flange is billet and even the outlet for the radiator hose is billet.
I also took the opportunity to refresh the thermostat with a new OEM replacement. It seems as though Mazda changed the design and build of the thermostats. The later versions are simpler and the jiggle pin is moved inward near the center opening.
Left: Old; Right: New
Finally, here is the Revolution tank installed with a 90* 1/8″ NPT to 1/4″ barb for the overflow nipple.
I think it adds a nice touch to the engine bay! A vast improvement over the ungainly stock counterpart.