02

"My Girlfriend's" Miata: Part 2 - Blackbird Fabworx GT3 Roll Bar

by Daniel O'Donnell

I’ll start off with a little bit of background for those that don’t know me. I occasionally drive the Professional Awesome Evo, and in 2013, the first version of the car was wrecked at Road Atlanta. Wise decision or not, I still had a loan on the Evo and there was a significant balance still remaining at the time of the accident. The monthly payment was nothing to scoff at and therefore, I like to consider those years I spent paying off that loan as my time in the "Valley of the Poor." It left me a changed man. I went in a naive money waster, I came out a tightwad.

 

My local bank was kind enough to give me a loan on a 2001 Mitsubishi Evo VII, a car they were not able to value due to the minor detail that it wasn't technically legal to drive in the US. What did I do with their kindness and trust? I promptly took advantage of their leniency, turned the car into a racecar and then totaled it. They still don't know what happened, but it's paid off and the car was crushed into a little cube at the junkyard.

For those familiar with the "Valley of the Poor," I won't need to remind them that it doesn't involve owning a sports car. My daily driver, and only car, was and still is, a 2000 Honda Insight. My day job was and still is, working for sales commissions in a dying industry. Because of this, decent paychecks were and still are, never to be relied upon. If the Professional Awesome Evo ever goes to the track, it’s a very costly endeavor for the team, so it rarely goes unless absolutely necessary for testing or an event. This leaves me in a situation where I get very little track time to practice before being thrown behind the wheel of a car that I know without a doubt would crush a McLaren P1.

Something had to change. I needed a car to track and this is where the girlfriend and her Miata came into play. Love can make you do very dumb things, but in my case, it opened up a door for me to be very pragmatic. Buying another car, while feasible, threatened my shoestring budget. Switching jobs for more pay, but losing my complete freedom and enough vacation to do Professional Awesome things was out of the question. Modifying an already owned car, that someone else paid the insurance on, hell, that sounded downright reasonable. Thanks honey!

Now the car's priorities haven’t changed. The car must absolutely have as few compromises as possible in keeping with its first goal in life, being a fun street car. With that in mind, I put a plan in place to make the needed changes to make the car trackable. First on that list, keep myself alive in case of an accident where up becomes down. How would I do that? I called up Blackbird Fabworx and got a GT3 roll bar on its way!

 

Moti Almagor is an enginerd of all trades and Blackbird Fabworx is the fruit of his labor. If you need help with aero, complete safety systems, suspension work, intake and exhaust systems and of course, beautiful, beautiful cage work, Blackbird Fabworx is who you need to call.

Blackbird Fabworx is owned by Moti Almagor, a fine gentleman that has a borderline obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to Mazda Miatas. He’s been working on Miatas for the past 17 years, turning that passion into a business when he started Blackbird Fabworx in 2011. More than just Miatas now, Moti spends his days coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas and making them a reality. Recently he has designed and constructed a full aero kit for an Ariel Atom and also made one of the most complex cages you’ll ever see in a Corvette. Moti hasn’t forgotten his Miata roots though, Blackbird’s NB race Miata “Creampuff” looks like a cross between a Chaparral and Tomahawk cruise missile!

 

The GT3 NB roll bar in all its glory. Beautifully powder coated and ready to go into my girlfriend's NA Miata. Why a NB roll bar for a NA? The better to work with glass rear windows my dear.
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Comments
acowden86
acowden86link
Thursday, December 03, 2015 5:25 AM
I don't know about currently manufactured (and not to take away from Moti's great work), but Hard Dog makes(d) at full SCCA legal bar under the Hardcore label. Bigger tubing diameter (1.75" diam x .120") and straight rear support legs.
cartechs
cartechslink
Thursday, December 03, 2015 8:21 AM
Good article Dan. However that color combo is horrific. Your GF should have objected (loudly) to a teal roll bar in a red car with a tan interior.....
Protodad
Protodadlink
Thursday, December 03, 2015 9:13 AM
Nah, color combo is cool. Just enough of a horribly contrasting color to make it interesting.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, December 03, 2015 11:57 AM
Not even the children's playground dared to use that color combo, though it is close... ;-p
Mr Brightside
Mr Brightsidelink
Thursday, December 03, 2015 5:02 PM
These roll bars scare the crap out of me for a street car. My concern is that if the bar is too far forward your head may hit the bar hard in a relatively small accident that jostles you around some. I suppose placement is all Important with these. It is hard to tell from the pictures if this would be a concern or not in this case. I can understand these saving your life on a track when wearing a helmet, but I can also see these being deadly when you are not wearing a helmet.
Supercharged111
Supercharged111link
Friday, December 04, 2015 6:34 AM
I thought that shelf was not a strong part of the car to be attaching a rollbar to.
blackdbl0si
blackdbl0silink
Friday, December 04, 2015 7:08 AM
Hard Dog has been doing it for years and it seems to hold up in roll overs. I have been kicking around an HDHC for my NA, but I think I need to spend my cash with Moti.
andre333
andre333link
Monday, December 07, 2015 6:55 AM
Another rollbar that makes using the stock belts sketchy at best. They don't retract well and can easily get bound up...
Heavy duty looking bar though, car needs to be dipped/painted to work with that color though.
wannaberacer
wannaberacerlink
Thursday, December 10, 2015 3:18 PM
I don't get how Blackbird Fabworx got so much cred in this scene. I've seen these rollbars and cages in person and I'm not impressed with the weld quality. As a degreed engineer, this kind of stuff is what I base my existence on...KNOWING THE SCIENCE behind this kind of stuff. The welds on BBFW products look cold and inconsistent. One patch of welds is good, another patch of welds are cold and lumpy leading me to believe that it might not have proper fusion. A good welder is extremely consistent on the bead sizing, shape, and HAZ. Locally, the welder that I have personally seen that is consistent and beautiful is Zerek Fabrication. The welds on those Zerek bars have their shit together. You can see a super consistent heat zone, there is proper fusion of the materials, bead size and shape is consistent, weld speed is consistent...
iRoush
iRoushlink
Friday, December 11, 2015 10:16 AM
Oh look wannaberacer is showing us what he learned about welding from a Google search lmao. If you've never seen one of his cages up close or how he welds them.... you cannot pass judgement on blackbird's products. I've seen how they hold up, they're SCCA legal, and top notch build quality. Sorry that's not good enough for who I assume is Ray Charles with a welder in his hand.
Phil
Phillink
Friday, December 11, 2015 10:25 AM
@wannaberacer pics of these supposed bad welds? pics of these zerek fabrication "consistent and beautiful" welds? the proof is in the pudding.
Moti@BlackbirdFabworx
Moti@BlackbirdFabworxlink
Friday, December 11, 2015 11:33 AM
It's business as usual for the $hit show of interwebz weld inspectors, which somehow ***always*** seem to include a link to the same competitor's shop.
Coincidence? Honest advice?
None of the above, don't think so.

The Blackbird Fabworx roll bars are MIG welded by a certified aerospace welder. The welds on our bars and cages have passed tech inspection with just about every race organizer in the US, from SCCA, NASA, FormulaDrift, Pike's Peak hill climb and more.
Further more, they have been involuntarily tested by racers in real world scenarios.

We got our cred despite the pathetic attempts to defame Blackbird Fabworx (which have been going on for some time) because we concentrate our energy on continuous innovation and making quality products and let them do the talk for us.
wannaberacer
wannaberacerlink
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 3:16 PM
@iRoush - you clearly aren't smart enough to read. Since I've already stated that I have seen these in person. Interesting how you just jumped straight to defending the BBFW cages.

@Phil - you can check zerek's website for examples of his welds. For direct comparison though, you can't compare his welds to BBFW since its a different process. My point was that if you are paying a premium...you might as well get the better weld. So to satisfy your argument and submit proof, here are links of pics of what good MIG welds are compared to BBFW.

Good welds from various sources:
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/attachments/general-4x4-discussion/1038785-mig-welding-roll-cage-tubing-videos-image.jpg

http://i55.tinypic.com/108hcgn.jpg

http://www.profabricationtechniques.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/stack_o_dimes_mig_weld.jpg

BBFW Welds: (image search hasn't shown any bare welds without paint)

http://www.miataturbo.net/attachments/race-prep-75/26660d1318979921-blackbird-fabworx-12-point-custom-ness-rearx4.jpg

http://i640.photobucket.com/albums/uu128/97mmiata/barb.jpg

http://www.fatcatmotorsports.com/igallery/graphics/Senna_BFWd.jpg

Now for shits and giggles: Zerek Fab...although these are TIG. So its NOT a direct comparison. This is just because you asked for it.

http://i838.photobucket.com/albums/zz303/zerekf1/8ECC3C59-20F0-48AC-89E3-45FE592AC6A9-748-0000005D88A54857_zps017c7474.jpg

The proof is in the pudding you say? There's your pudding, buddy ;)

@moti
Its too bad you're so arrogant about your work, and the fact that you seem to be intimidated by the fact that there are others out there that can out weld you locally. The reason why I brought up Zerek is simply because both of you guys are local to Socal. So don't get all butthurt when that shop gets brought up and compared to you. You just assume that I'm on Zerek's nuts or something just because I brought up his shop. I have no affiliation with him or you. Just the simple fact that I was looking for a roll bar for my miata.
When I was looking for a Roll bar for my NA Miata, I looked into your stuff and Zerek very heavily. I will say that you have much better designs and that Zerek is lagging behind in terms of design. But, your weld quality is inconsistent. I've seen good welds, decent welds, and whatever welds all from BBFW and I didn't want to pay a premium and get the one with whatever welds.
You should probably get your head out of your ass and listen to the few people that actually know what they are talking about. I don't care what you were welding for, the welds shown speak for themselves. Also, I've never said that your welds will fail. Will they hold in a crash? sure...why not....but if I had a choice, I'd choose a better weld.
Martin Gonzales
Martin Gonzaleslink
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 9:04 PM
Moti@BlackbirdFabworx
Moti@BlackbirdFabworxlink
Tuesday, March 01, 2016 3:28 PM
And here lies the problem.
Looking at the links you posted to what you consider a nice MIG weld shows that what you seem to value as a "good weld" AKA stack of dimes, is in fact crap.
It's a series of tack welds laid down in a nice even gap, looks pretty but by NO MEANS a good weld.
You are indeed that "certified interwebz weld inspector" I was talking about.
Please save the readers from your completely invalid opinion about what is a good weld and what isn't.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Tuesday, March 01, 2016 5:40 PM
Didn't look at all the welds, but trigger welding is a technique that can hide a lot of sin with pretty looking welds. See motoiq garage fab for more:

http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/ID/3107/MotoIQ-Garage-Fabrication--Introduction-to-Fab.aspx

Specifically:

http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/ID/3107/PageID/6368/MotoIQ-Garage-Fabrication--Introduction-to-Fab.aspx

It may work fine, but it's hard to tell if the weld is trustworthy or not with this method, and I recommend against it. The profabtechniques link looks like trigger welding. Those dimes should have a spot where the weld puddle transitioned to the next spot.
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