Tom Jones

Removing Miata Donor Parts 3 of 9, Sawed Out The Core Support

I decided now is a good time to shift focus to the exterior. What I want to do is salvage the wiring harness from the crash damaged area. The portion of the wiring harness that feeds the front combination lights (turn signal & running lights), headlights, side marker lights, horn, headlamp motors, air bag module and cooling fans are rather engulfed in mangled metal on the passenger side. A big hammer and pry bars were the tools of choice and after about 3 hours time I was able to extract the harness from this crushed area.  I was lucky and did not have to cut any of the harness and except for some minor chaffing to harness near the right side marker I was able to save the harness and keep it intact and undamaged. Next step and prerequisite to engine and transmission removal is to remove the radiator and AC condenser core. For this step please consult your Miata enthusiast work shop manual. But in my case standard procedure will not work per the book as the radiator and condenser as well as the core support are rather a single unit, pushed into each other due to the accident damage.  One reason I needed to remove the harness first was I realized that I would need to saw out the core support as this would be the only way I will be able to remove the radiator and I wanted the harness out of the way of my planned saw cuts. I used an inexpensive $35.00 Harbor freight electric Body shop saw to cut through the core support. Notice I marked out in black marker(see pic)

Core support marked for surgery

my planned cuts to remove the core support. I used about 5 blades to complete the job and feel I rather abused the tool but it got the job done and worked great. And now I have easy access to the radiator removal and an idea.

cut out support allows easy access to remove rad and AC condensor

Now would be a good time for some commentary regarding crash damage and donor car selection. One should consider the where and extends of damage and how this may add time or complicate the disassembly. In my case the crash damage added approximately 5 additional hours, but  from this point on I will no longer need any additional time dealing with twisted metal. My salvage donor car was advertised by Co-Part as start and drives. Which means it starts with the key and will engage gear and move. The car was able to drive itself onto the trailer and that is about it. I am suggesting more caution should be used to purchase cars with front end collision damage, after all,the engine is the most expensive and valuable component we will be purchasing. My donor car seems to be in good condition prior to the accident and so far so good but do feel a bit lucky the engine was not damaged in the crash.

Now what’s next.  I will be reading chapter 3 on the how to remove engine and transmission as a unit in the Miata MX-5 enthusiast manual, which for now on  I will just say “the manual” when referring to this book, but I am currently not planning to follow the manual to the letter but will use as a guide as to what needs to be disconnected. I am considering leaving the engine and transmission bolted to the Power Plant Frame(PPF), and unbolt the front and rear sub-frames from the body and then lift the body off the car and then roll the engine still attached to front sub frame suspension unit with  transmission and rear sub frame differential suspension unit. In other words a Miata body less roller. Others have done this before. The manual discusses this option but decided they could not see any benefit as compared to the procedure they outline in the manual, but the manual is not considering additional harvest of parts, or starting with a salvaged car and the eventual scrapping of the body. But by doing so I will have even easier access to remove the harness from the body shell and complete unobstructed access to the brakes and power train components we need. I had ruled this out as my shop ceiling is standard height and did not want to find out I could not lift the car high enough to clear the engine and transmission. But what has now inspired me to give this method a try is by sawing out the core support for removal of the radiator I can now see how I no longer have to lift the car body over the core support but actually can roll the “engine chassis unit ” through where the support was.See first pic. That and this car is a rather rust free example and I am counting on the sub frame bolts to cooperate. If not I can always follow the manual and remove the engine and transmission in the standard format. Stay tuned to see if this is good idea or a dumb one.

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