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My Girlfriend's Miata: Part 1 - Flyin' Miata Frame Rail Reinforcement Kit

by Daniel O'Donnell

Sure, there are some advantages to having a girlfriend, but as a car guy, the negatives can get in the way of more important things. Who’d want to go on long walks on the beach when you could be looking at cars, working on cars, day dreaming about cars, reading about cars and winning online arguments about cars? Trying to carve out a few minutes to actually listen to your significant other can be a real bummer. Luckily for me, Flyin’ Miata produces a slew of cool parts that work on my girlfriend’s 1993 Miata. This allows me to “bond” with her while, more importantly, improving her car for my own driving enjoyment.

 

Behold the interior in all it's glory! When purchased, the car was a very clean example, but the seats and steering wheel had seen better days. They have since been upgraded, but more will be in store to make the Miata comfortable and quiet, while still being ready for a spirited drive or autocross.

As mentioned before, the car is a 1993 Matsuda Kabushiki-gaisha Miata. This lovely example was purchased a year ago as an on going project for a young-at-heart 31 year old. She happens to be a coach at an all girls school and her daily driver is a Subaru wagon (insert joke about questionable sexuality here). Before this beast was brought into the MotoIQ fleet, a few improvements had to be made to make the car more enjoyable to drive. A new Robbin’s top was installed along with later model M Edition leather seats that had slightly fewer rips and tears than what was originally in there. We unsafed the car a bit by removing the airbag and replacing the assembly with an NRG steering wheel with Work’s Bell hub adapter. Cobalt Billet pedals, an NRG shift knob and eBay shift boot round out the interior, because she felt that, “the interior has to match the paint!” Finally we sourced a set of used NB Bilsteins with springs and changed out the heavy chrome rims that came with the car with an unknown brand of Craigslist sourced, surprisingly lightweight 15” wheels.

The whole goal of the car is a fun and enjoyable street machine. No major sacrifices to NVH will be made in the name of performance as we fix up this modern classic. As you might have guessed from the previous paragraph, budget is a big concern and Flyin’ Miata’s Frame Rail Reinforcement kit comes highly touted as one of the best budget mods in the Miata world. Miata’s are not known for their robust chassis rigidity and after years of previous owners jacking on the frame rails and seemingly high centering the car on pointy rocks, our example had the torsional strength of overcooked spaghetti. Much like our pasta, we prefer our chassis al dente, thank you very much. Fingers crossed, Flyin’ Miata will come to this chassis’s rescue!

 

Fresh out of the box, the Flyin' Miata Frame Rail Reinforcement kit is impressive. The rails are all stainless steel construction with significant machining to reduce weight. Everything is surprisingly burly considering the low cost of entry.
All the hardware comes very well organized and is of good quality. The Stover nuts were a neat surprise to find. Stover nuts reduce the chance of hardware backing off and falling out due to vibration.

Produced from 14 gauge stainless steel, the whole kit weighs in at a tick under 13 lbs. All the necessary stainless steel hardware is included. There are 24 bolts total, 18 long, 6 short. Word to the wise, the short ones go under the brake lines (ask us how we figured that out), which run on the passenger side frame rail. The kit includes Stover nuts as well. This is great because you don’t have to worry about them backing out, but this can be bad if you have to remove the hardware after everything is cranked down. Be sure to plan accordingly and have the right hardware in the right place!

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Comments
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Monday, September 01, 2014 11:43 PM
"My girlfriend's Miata", RIGHT!!!...........
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:08 AM
Hm; wish these were allowed in a class I want to build a Miata for. I also always find it funny how polarizing the Miata is, with some car guys just flat refusing to like them. Ah well.
Mazda Phil
Mazda Phillink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:46 AM
FM Frame Rail Reinforcements are pound for pound the best bang for the buck chassis mod you can make to a Miata. Changes the whole driving feel of the car. I've wholeheartedly recommended them to every owner since I installed mine years ago (prior to their redesign, they used to be a little bit heavier) as a "zero loss" no downside upgrade.

Stick with FM for your other suspension mods, you won't be disapointed. If you want to keep the stock ride height, their sway bars and a shock upgrade will really wake up the chassis, that and following FM's recomended "Street" alignment (most pedestrian Miatas alignment specs do a serious disservice to the Mazda chassis.)
andre333
andre333link
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 7:13 AM
A real rollbar and boss frog arms help quite a bit too.
jeffball610
jeffball610link
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 7:26 AM
Would it be advisable to put a dab of silicone or other sealant under those bolt heads in wet climates?
vintagerust
vintagerustlink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 7:56 AM
My GarageStar fender braces made a pretty noticeable difference on my NB, reducing cowl shake, and improving handling in the front end.

I think the shock tower brace is supposed to help with cowl shake a little, as well, but I don't run one.

A little sound deadener in strategic places will probably help with the noise a bit. Your gf will probably appreciate that. lol
rawkus
rawkuslink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 11:13 AM
jeffball610, silicone can make it difficult to remove the nut if needed. Perhaps foam or rubber washers would yield better results. Something like these. http://www.grainger.com/category/sealing-and-cushioning-washers/washers/fasteners/ecatalog/N-8ol
LowFlyin'
LowFlyin'link
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:09 PM
Can these be welded in?

Also, "We unsafed the car a bit by removing the airbag..." With it being an airbag from '93, I'd rather go without than with. I'd consider that part "resafing" the car.
Adrian Avgerinos
Adrian Avgerinoslink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:53 PM
Actually, Jeff, I think silicone sealant might be a very good idea. In the aerospace industry it's somewhat common to perform a "wet install" of bolted stainless steel joints to prevent galling between the fastener and nut. And then after install, the exposed threads are sometimes covered with a silicone type sealant.

About 10 years ago I drilled through the floor of my Celica to install the mounts for the battery. I used silicone sealant on the threads, the washers, and around the holes during installation. After torquing, I wiped off the excess silicone, and haven't had an issue since.

Also, I'm fairly certain the tensile strength of silicone sealant is lower than typical thread locking compound so removal (if/when required) shouldn't be a problem.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 1:55 PM
^Sweet!

Regarding welding. I am no fabricator, but I do believe you can weld stainless and mild steel, but you have to be careful about corrosion at the weld points and you have to use the right filler rod.
Fabrik8
Fabrik8link
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 3:41 PM
Foam or rubber washers are a bad idea for something like this. You're installing a chassis stiffening brace with a nut and bolt, but then putting a compliant washer right in the middle of things (the undercoating has a degree of compliance, but the surface area contacting the brace is so large that there won't be sufficient displacement to create problems).
Be careful what type of silicone you use; if the fasteners are stainless it shouldn't be a problem, but some types of silicone can potentially cause corrosion with other types of steel.

I would recommend some nice simple seam sealer over the top of the bolt heads and washer after installation, just like the factory uses for... er.. sealing seams. Don't get the flowable or self-leveling types, they will not remain where you want them for something like this. Hit up an auto body supply shop and they can get you a tube of something that will be perfect.
Samuel
Samuellink
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 5:15 PM
Would a cross bar between the two rails reinforcement be a good idea? It would probably not be aerodynamic, but it would further stiffen the frame.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Friday, September 05, 2014 8:53 AM
@ Fabrik8: Stuff like this:

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/proflex-rv-flexible-sealant-bright-white/20442

Is super easy to find and has been working reasonably for RVs since forever. Replace every couple of years to ensure water tightness.

OR

Get a roll of this and never ever worry about it again:

http://www.eternabond.com/EternaSeam-p/eternaseam.htm

Unfortunately, it'll be a major undertaking to remove the braces, but why would you do that?
econobox
econoboxlink
Monday, September 08, 2014 4:40 AM
Nice upgrade!
@Samuel
Flyin' Miata also sells a brace that ties both sides together.
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