New Car

A friend asked me to go test drive some BMW cars while he was getting the oil changed in his 528. I ended up driving the only car they had on the lot with a manual transmission, a 328 with no options whatsoever. I knew right away this car was not for me. granted, it was the base model, with the less-powerful engine, but I also didn’t like the seating position or the shifter. I’m too used to the full-on sports car feel!

After driving that car, the friend I went with said “Let’s go next door and look at the Porsches, I know that’s what you really wanted to get.” I was a little reluctant, because I was thinking of trying to find a private-party sale, to avoid sales tax. I knew they had a 2008 cayman S on the lot, in red, and I thought maybe we could talk them into a test drive.

They opened up the car for us, then they said they would let us take it for a drive! the Salesman drove it off the lot, to parking lot around the corner. He shut the car off, then proceeded to preach for about 15 minutes, extolling the virtues of a low center of gravity and the balance of a mid-engine car! I was already a convert.

Finally I drove it. it was like I remembered from the trip down Highway 1 in Brian’s Cayman and a stark contrast to the BMW 326. this car was low, powerful, had a beautiful growl, and the best shifter I’ve ever driven! The salesman directed me to take a right-hand turn onto the onramp, accelerating just through the turn, with no discernible body roll whatsoever. I never came close to full throttle, and in fact he had me coast most of the way up the onramp, but by the time I had finished that initial turn I was already at 80mph.

We finally came back to the lot. My grin was nearly too big to fit out the driver’s door.

He invited me in to run some numbers and my credit. He offered me a 1.9% loan, and another 80,000 miles and 3 years of full bumper-to-bumper factory warranty.

At this point I panicked. I knew I wanted to buy a cayman, but I wasn’t quite ready to buy one RIGHT NOW! I told him I needed to think about it and call him the next day.

Then he dropped the price.

uh, ok. I bought it! Then the friend who had come along talked them into giving me a “Cayman S” ballcap too.

Cayman S
Cayman S
Cayman S
Cayman S
Cayman S
Cayman S

Headlight Fixed!

The headlight is working again.

After taking off the front bumper and removing the driver’s side headlight, I had to completely disassemble the headlight itself to change out the ballast. The ballast itself was accessible via a panel on the bottom of the headlight, but the part which plugged in to the bulb wouldn’t fit between the reflector and the body of the headlight.

I needed to remove the lens off the front, which was mainly secured by silicone sealant. to loosen the sealant, I baked the headlight in the oven at 220 degrees for 8 minutes. I could start to get it loose at that point, but it required two more sessions in the oven, 2 minutes each, before I got it off fully.

Completely disassembled headlight

The reflector was held on by the adjustment screws which are used to align the headlight. I recorded the position of the bottom screw, but by the time I realized what they were for, I had already moved the top screw. I think I’ve gotten them back to close to the original position, but eventually I want to perform the full calibration procedure from the service manual.

The worn-out ballast.
working headlight
test, just before reassembling


Going down the onramp onto US60, I was getting on it … hit redline in first gear, shifted to second, continued at full throttle. Power dipped, the check engine light started flashing! I let off the throttle, and the check engine light stopped flashing. Seems to be running fine now; probably a misfire. It’s time to replace the spark plugs anyway …

Won’t Start

After leaving the Phoenix International Auto Show, the RX-8 wouldn’t start!

We went and had lunch, then bought jumper cables. When we went to hook up the jumper cables, we realized the negative battery cable was loose! I didn’t do a good job re-tightening it after trying to fix the headlight.

I returned the jumper cables. I’d like to buy a trickle charger someday.

Headlight Burned Out?

The driver’s side headlight stopped working. Oddly, for a brief time it worked sometimes but not others.

Without stopping to think, I ordered new headlight bulbs.

Once they arrived, I removed the driver’s side wheelwell and reached in to change the bulb.

reaching in through the wheelwell
I disconnected the battery before starting this.
Behind the warning panel: The plug with the NASA-looking cable is connected to the now-infamous ballast
Ballast unplugged, you can see the back of the HID bulb
Uh ... this bulb doesn't really look burned out
Bulb removed

After putting in the new bulb, the headlight still didn’t work!

I put the old headlight back in and ordered a new ballast. The service manual calls it the “Discharge headlight control module”. I think it produces the 25,000 volts needed by the High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulb.

Taking the wheelwell out is a major pain; mainly because the plastic fasteners used are easily broken. I think I broke 3 or 4 of them.

New tires, replacement wheel

Bought a wheel on ebay to replace the wheel I hit with a curb. I also ordered
some new Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 tires yesterday. The current wheel looks bad
but is still functional, so I intend to keep it, with the tire on it, as a
spare. hopefully I can get a large wheel bag to put it in and keep it in the
utility room, out of the heat, so it won’t get dry-rotted.

Hopefully the wheel will arrive before the tires!

Engine Swap

Last Thursday I was getting on the highway, accelerating gently up the onramp, w
hen I heard a loud “Pop!”. Then the car had no power and the tach started slowly
sliding lower and lower.

The battery light flashed once.

Then the check engine light came on and stayed on.

By this time I had coasted to the shoulder.

Turns out I had lost at least one apex seal in rotor #2.

Fortunately, I was at about 90,500 miles and the powertrain warranty had been extended by Mazda to 100,000 miles.

So I’m getting a Mazda-remanufactured engine installed at Berge Mazda.

Took a few pictures in the middle of the swap.

front wheels off, hood off, engine and transmission on barrels
The grisly tableau greeting me this morning, with engines and a transmission up on spikes! (or barrels anyway)

engine bay with no engine
Awful empty in there!

new clutch. orange.
spiffy new clutch I just got in August

dirty old engine, new orange clutch
old engine; accessories waiting to be moved to the new engine.

front of the dirty old engine. all belts still on, even
Front and Driver's side of the old engine.

intake and exhaust still attached to the old engine
Passenger's side of the old engine; you can see the intake tract and the exhaust.

13B Mazda
New engine! yep, it's a 13B

spark plugs
Front and Driver's side of the new engine. You can see the spark plugs sticking out the side.

Rear and passenger's side of the new engine. You can see the flywheel, the intake ports at the top of the side, and the exhaust ports along the bottom. Also, along the top you can see the oil injection ports.

Close up of the intake ports (upper row), and exhaust ports (lower row) on the new engine.

antimatter chain reaction required
Why does my transmission remind me of the doomsday machine from the old Star Trek so much?