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djdevon3

Djdevon3's Recognizer

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I've had my 1995 Mazda 626 since I bought it used (today they call it "pre-owned") back in 1996 practically brand new. I was the 3rd owner of the car in less than 2 years after it was produced. My dad owned it for less than a year before selling it to me as I'd reached driving age and his financial assistance in purchasing this car is something I'm forever grateful for. His next car was a Nissan Maxima. This 626 is the first and only car I've ever owned. I fell in love with it immediately. The smooth lines, the rotating A/C vents, the height of the bucket seats fit me like a glove. It was love at first sight and no amount of money in the world will ever change that.

A1A, Miami, FL at dusk looking across the inter-coastal waterway. This is by far the coolest picture of my car.

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Here's what it looked like when I took daily care of it.

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I decided to rename my car to Recognizer due to a Mazda decal I designed based on Tron's Recognizer. I have a CarDomain site that I haven't really updated since 2002. Mazda626.net is a much more appropriate place for myself and all 626 owners versus CarDomain. Not that cardomain doesn't have good things to offer it just can't compete with a site dedicated to only one model. There's a wealth of information available here that cardomain simply can't ever hope to compete with, not for the 626 anyway. With that said I'm glad to now become a dedicated member here.

Onto the restoration and hopefully the birth of the Mazda Recognizer. I'll assume you've already checked out my CarDomain site because that's really where this story begins. There was a gap of about 8 years where I didn't work on my car or update my cardomain site. I'm ready to begin restoring my car to what she once was. My car's name used to be Jez but that love affair ended when she left me for this other guy named driveway.

After sitting for so long my car started rotting out in the hot Florida sun year after year. Factory alloy rims have deep pitted veins of oxidation. My guess is they got this bad due to being hit twice a week from my sprinkler system's well water. I plan on getting them refinished to factory shine from a local powder coating shop.

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Intake boot snapped from the weight of the Ractive cone filter. I'd say the filter needs to be cleaned but after so long I'm probably going to find a replacement. The intake boot for a 93-97 626 4-Cylinder is different than it's V6 brother. The 4-Cylinder has a dual intake port. I'm assuming it's for EGR purposes but I haven't confirmed that. I know almost nothing about engines. That's something I hope being a member of this site will change.

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Bought an anodized billet aluminum oil cap from eBay. Fit perfect, looks great.

I'm taking my valve cover in on Monday to have it powder coated! I'm still having a hard time choosing between metallic gold or metallic blue. I'll probably go for the blue. I always thought powder coating was ridiculously expensive. It's not! I got a deal for $50 for the valve cover. Already bought the valve cover gasket and some sealer so I'm all set for powder coating. They're going to sandblast it for me too.

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Bought some clear side markers from ebay and they ended up being the wrong ones. Drat! They were sold as the rear markers but were actually the front markers. I already have the front markers so I sent them back.

This is the correct side marker patterns for front and rear as labeled. Please notice that the bulb lock pattern is completely different for the front and rear side markers. Sellers commonly don't get this right so make sure you specify that and feel free to use this image when emailing distributors of side markers. You can modify either of them by cutting out the old and splicing in the new. It's not ideal but possible so keep that in mind if you are in a pinch and really want all 4 side markers to be the clear style. Thankfully I ended up finding a seller that had the correct bulb patterns and now have 4 clear side markers using the stock wiring. Please remember that when using clear side markers that the rear bulbs must be red and front bulbs must be amber in order to be D.O.T./road legal. At night time you are still obeying brake and turn signal color laws but during the day they are clear and look really slick.

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In my opinion having all 4 clear sidemarkers make the 626 look really slick especially if you have a dark colored paint job (which I don't). There are members here with black cars with all 4 clear and they look really great, way better than my gold car with the clears anyway.

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Here's my dash when it was new. Now, the paint is starting to chip in places from sun damage. Florida's sun is a relentless beast. I don't have any new pics of the paint chipping. It's something I don't care to discuss, it's a sore subject for me because of the amount of work I put into doing it.

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Went to a junkyard and found the awesome 96/97 cup holders. Had to mod them with a dremel in order to fit but I slammed that baby in there and voila. The cup holders for the 93-95 should have been recalled in my opinion. They could have caused scalding burns (hot coffee) if you pulled too many G's in a turn. Anything tall like a fountain drink was an instant disaster. Here is the new cup holders installed and looking sweet. I love these things as much as I thought I would. If I ever have to junk my car these are coming with me and I'm gonna fiberglass them into my desk or something. Another thing to note is that my cigarette lighter panel was always broken off. Now I have a new one that came with the console and it finally looks like it always should have.

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I LOVE junkyards now. They help you instantly fix something that was broken for years.

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Wet sanded my dome light and used Meguires PlastiX. Very shiny. You can see the reflection of bushes outside the car.

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Also found out today that both of my door lights are a complete loss. I used custom blue bulbs and they melted the housing to the bulb and blackend the bulb cover. Finding 2 of these should be pretty easy with all of the junked 626's I've spotted in the area.

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Today also decided to paint my faded door guards. They were faded almost to the point of being white. It has a seriously thick factory green primer and beneath that is to my surprise aluminum (aluminum doesn't rust) steel. You could probably wet sand and polish them to a chrome shine. I had a couple of rust spots that pitted so badly it went through the paint, the primer, and into the steel. Took quite a while to wet sand that down.

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Using Rustoleum Gloss Black for the base coat. Gonna try to take out some of the orange peel by wet sanding then using a car polish on it. I don't have any clear coat so it'll have to do until I can pick some up in the future.

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This is after the 3rd coat.

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Here's a side by side comparison of final step (left) and 4th coat (right). After wet sanding + turtle wax rubbing compound the shine came through nicely. The rubbing compound is a mild final step cutter. I did all of this by hand. It's practically a factory shine. Yeah there are a few defects here and there but nothing major. Definitely nothing you'd notice on the road driving by it. I'd call this a good restoration process and this is the first time I've ever painted anything to a shine. Success!

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Closeup it's far from perfect but for my first attempt at a shiny anything I'm happy with it. Needs some touch-up around the edges. I wasn't careful enough when wet sanding near the edges.

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Got some nasty overspray that went through the doors.

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It's because my weather stripping disintegrated over the years. Here you can see the stripping only goes about halfway down the door. What a bonehead mistake. :(

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I guess it's time to get around the juice of the story. How can I restore it if it doesn't look that bad. Well, I've let it go a long way and it's going to take a lot to get it back. It's not all cosmetic I have bad intake, engine, transmission, and exhaust issues. My electrical problems have seem to go away now that I'm out driving it around more. Car still isn't happy with me for letting it sit so long and I'm feeling the effects when driving anywhere.

Bubbled tint

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rusted tail pipe

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oxidized clear coat and paint weathering away

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Some areas of paint have held up better than others

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roof takes the brunt of the florida sun. it's more like a solar powered furnace up there during the summer. you can cook eggs on your roof.

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mold growing from lack of washing and high humidity

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I am going to have it painted after I get some engine and transmission work done. I'd rather make sure she's in top shape than worry about cosmetics. I'm doing what I can with it as my knowledge with engines and transmissions is extremely limited. The door guard painting and little cosmetic things are about the extent of what I can personally do. I"m pretty good with electrical though since I'm a computer guy. I have to depend on a shop to do most of the work.

edit: I've learned a lot in the 2 years since starting this topic. I've done just about all of the work myself. If you read this topic in its entirety you will learn what I have learned, you will know what I know, I've documented everything and practically every single thing I've done all the way down to each nut and bolt.

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This is the oldest pic I have of my engine bay.

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After I painted it all manner of ungodly colors in 2002. I was not doing drugs at the time but one could reasonably assume so.

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Today. I've replaced the oil cap and found a fuse box cover in good shape from the junkyard. I'm slowly trying to remove the McDonalds playhouse color scheme and replace it with something more uniform and tasteful. That's the plan anyway we'll see how it goes.

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(images of how it looks now are revealed much later in this topic) suffice to say it looks much better now than in these images.

Even though the cheap plastic yellow looms don't match the red and blue they've actually protected the hoses and wires very well over the years. When I took the paint off the hoses were in near mint condition. So maybe painting wasn't such a bad idea even though the colors were. Same situation with using looms too. I was really surprised how well they protected the wires from fading. The stuff under the looms I used Armor All on and brought to a factory shine. Because of that I'm going to try and replace them with something a little nicer like braided stainless steel or whatever will provide a better look with the same protection they've given over the years.

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Just got back from dropping off my valve cover and strut bar. Got some pics of their examples.

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They put the bare aluminum in there as a contrast. The flat black is the 1-step process powder coating. The rest are 2-step chrome and overlay finishes.

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There are varying examples of thickness, powder styles, and color. Some of the techniques and finishes I couldn't make out the difference. Apparently all of these finishes are different in some way.

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The white powder coat is pretty nice and is much thicker than the other products.

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They are going to call me when they finish the chrome coat so I can take go in and take some pics for everyone here. I'd like to detail the process for my build/restore article. They won't allow me in the shop for the actual process which is understandable.

I'm getting the valve cover in translucent blue which is a 2 step process. First they have to chrome it and then overlay the blue powder coat. In my case I guess it's a 3 step process because they are going to sandblast it first. They are going to try and leave the chrome on the DOHC and Mazda lettering but couldn't make any promises. He said worst case scenario I could sand off the powder coating on the lettering down to the chrome finish and polish it. Since I recently have wet sanding experience I was agreeable to that notion if it was too much effort for them.

Also took in my aluminum strut bar. Going to have it coated to match the engine. The strut bar is mostly for show. I don't have much faith that it does anything. It's not rigid enough. I'd like to find a rigid replacement. What's the point of having a strut bar with hinges? None I say, it's a stupid knock-off product but it does actually serve as a great place to rest your hands when working in the engine bay. That's about it.

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I've seen 626's with rigid bars before and always wanted one. I haven't seen much better handling with this one. If you say the bar I have is good then I'll accept that. I'm keeping it on either way if nothing else than for looks. I've read that if I want more rigidity in cornering I should look into replacing the sway bar instead. How difficult is a sway bar to replace and are there any you can recommend?

What Snail said is right, the bar keeps the towers from moving towards each other. I didn't even think about the possibility they could move up and down, but it makes sense. This Skyline looks pretty crazy, and it still has a strut tower bar with hinges, so I guess if it's good enough for a ridiculous turbo set up, it's probably pretty decent. The rest of the pictures I looked at had solid bars.

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If you want a solid bar, this is a company that makes them. I dunno if his design plans ever went anywhere, but there used to be a simpler one that he made, it was just one bar. One of my buddies had one on his P5 (btw, they don't fit our car, I tried, lol)

http://www.mx6.com/forums/gallery/179872-king-6s-fabrications-super-strut-bar.html

http://www.king6fab.com/

Like Xeno said about the RSB, if you go too big, it's going to be tail happy if you let off the gas while going around a corner. Imagine this scenario, you're flying up an on ramp because it's fun as heck, and you have to slow down because grandma is driving her RAV4 at 20 mph, so you let off the gas, the back swings out (unexpectedly, or expectedly, depending on your experience) and you might end up in the ditch. Not to scare you, it's just a matter of getting the right size bar. IIRC the one I got is 17mm, and something in the 17-18mm range should be pretty neutral handling. Some people have gone as large as 21, and it's pretty tale-happy from what they report. One of my other buddies has a 19mm on his P5 (I have way too many friends with proteges) and he said it's no problem to bust out the back on city roads. Now, he's trying to do it, can control it, etc, but he also got a ticket for it. I'm guessing that the P5 chassis is similar to ours, but not identical (in terms of how it reacts to the different sizes of sway bars.).

I haven't heard of anyone changing the front sway bar, mainly because it's already pretty big in relation to the rear. If you get a larger one for the front, you'll need a much larger one for the back to even it out again. Bigger in the front = understeer. Bigger in the back = oversteer. In our case, it = more neutral since the front is already big (or so they say).

Hope this helps and wasn't too much rambling. Your paint job on the door parts looks friggin awesome!

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Thanks guys that helps a lot. Got some pics today of cleaning the hood bar painted with red engine enamel. Visited AutoZone and picked up some rustoleum Aircraft Remover.

Works pretty well because I don't see any aircraft around here. :P That is such an over used joke when talking about this stuff though, cheesy but fun joke.

This stuff is industrial strength wickedness. Started working almost immediately. Took about 5 minutes to absorb and remove all the red.

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Had to do about 5 passes and used a plastic scraper to get it off. You do NOT want to touch this stuff with your bare hands. It melted the tops of the plastic flower pots my bar was sitting on. Oddly enough it didn't easily go through the factory paint. It took enough of the factory stuff off that I had to do the whole thing. Took about an hour with 5 minute spray/scrape intervals. Stuff works amazing fast. The wind changed directions on me after the 4th spray and I got some mist on my arm. I washed it off fast but it started to burn like the worst case of sunburn you've ever had. Went away after a while. Here's a helpful tip: wear a respirator and long sleeves.

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For some reason it wouldn't get the factory paint off this portion. They must have put 20 coats on it. Sanded most of it to a nice shine except the top.

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Wish I'd done this before I took my stuff in to get powder coated. They would have just sandblasted it off then chromed it. I'll call them tomorrow and see if they've done my pieces yet. Hopefully it's not too late.

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Aircraft stripper is not good for your health, from what I've heard. Also never use chlorinated brake cleaner around a heat source or flame. It's something like as small a concentration as 3 ppm in the air will kill you instantly, it's insanely deadly. If you never read articles, this is the one you have to read.

http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm

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I was outside and spraying downwind. The wind changed suddenly. This is by far the most dangerous stuff I thought I've ever used until I read that article. That's some scary stuff. Guess you just never know about industrial strength chemicals.

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Called Expert Finishes today and asked if they'd done the chrome yet. They said no but they have done the sandblasting. Asked if it was too late to add another piece and he said no problem. They had my cover and bar already sandblasted and laying out on the front counter when I walked in. I forgot my camera. Sandblasting looked a tad bit better than what I hand sanded last week. Told the guy it would have taken me a week to get it looking like that. He laughed and agreed. Glad I took it in.

You can see the timing belt cover (part of the valve cover) that I sanded by hand last week. Looks pretty good. They did a little better job with the sandblasting (not pictured).

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Parts look good and ready for the next step which is chrome finish. Since I have 3 pieces in there now it's gonna be an even $100. I'm fine with the price as long as the end result looks professional. Chrome will probably happen Thursday and translucent powder coating on Friday.

Can't wait till Friday.

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Told the guy it would have taken me a week to get it looking like that.

Lol tell me about it.. I sanded mine by hand.. It looks better than it did, but it's still no match for sandblasting. Especially since I didn't even remove it, lol.

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Lol, thanks, Lee. About the wires, I think they're tucked the other direction, now. As in they go to the right after they come off the disty. I don't think it caused any problems, but my last set of wires started cracking, probably from the heat. It's not as bad as some of the v8's where they're almost directly touching the headers.

There isn't flooding in my area, so I'm not too concerned about the CAI location atm. It's got that little plastic shield that keeps water from spraying up on it from the wheel, but if I went to ford a river, obviously it would suck up a lot. If I ever put in a ZE I'll definitely consider a water by-pass valve thing.

Haha, Devon, yeah, it's a 4cyl. The KL's sound muuuuch nicer. Over time you'll be able to hear the difference more. If I ever end up doing what I'd like to do to my 626, it'll end up sounding something like this...

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Ah ok. I've never had that problem but every car has a personality. If that's what you gotta do then that's what you gotta do.

Holy crap. I'm impressed that it didn't blow up. That engine is not going to last very long. I wouldn't even attempt it until I had a backup engine sitting in the garage. If that's what you want your car to sound like go for it.

To me your car sounds perfect just the way it is. You'd like to get your car to sound like that and I want mine to sound like yours. Always reaching for new heights I suppose. More power to ya.

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Lol that guy is building a KL to rev to 10k rpms, and he's going to drive it on the street. I talked to him a bit and he gave me a parts list that would put me at about 200 whp N/A. He said with that setup he pulled a '99 or '00 Mustang GT pretty well.

Well, you're in luck, because I can tell you exactly what I did to get my car to sound like that.

Ebay v6 CAI

Ebay "racing" header, the 4-2-1 version

Stock cat converter

Generic resonator, I dunno, maybe 6-10" if I had to guess, really not sure, never measured it (this is a must have, it sounds like ass without it, totally raspy and nasty, it's bad lol)

2.25" custom bent piping after the cat (it was 120$ for parts and labor)

Magnaflow universal oval 5x7 muffler, I think it's part number 12225

That's it!

These are the vids I watched that finally swayed me to go with the Magnaflow

The P5's have the same engine as our car, just a newer version. Even though this one has a Magnaflow, mine doesn't have that "hollow growl" I dunno how else to describe it. I think it's caused when you have one of those huge melon launcher tips.

And this vid of Shyndashu's 626, even though he has the KL, I still used it for a reference clip. I don't remember if I was aware of the sound difference between the FS and the KL at that point.

Sorry for all the vids, this is another of my favorites, lol. This is a KLZE, the Japanese version, more power, etc. I just love the raw shrill sound

http://www.streetfire.net/video/klze-mx6-0140-mph-at-airport_113491.htm

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Thanks Prince I'll be looking into the specs for some future upgrades. I really love the look of the white Tokico strut assembly but with my large alloy rims they won't be visible anyway. I love seeing 626's get dyno'd. It's so much fun. Maybe I should get mine dyno'd. Hopefully this is as bad as my car will ever be (cross my fingers) so it might be fun to see it's low end. Anyone wanna take bets. I'm gonna say 95hp since my exhaust system seems to be breathing excessively. Haven't been under there but pretty sure I've got a leak somewhere.

Need help moving a line here. Any way possible for you guys to come up with a creative solution or even some part #'s that I can get real quick at AutoZone? The valve cover and everything should be done by tomorrow and I know that AC Line is gonna scratch the finish when I put it back on. Need help.

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Need some more play with the line. Probably need to add about 3 or 4 inches to that line.

I can remove the paint myself if I'm careful but that line is going to be a big issue. I made the graphic for myself for my own uses but it came in handy for everyone to see too.

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The white tokicos aren't visible even with the 6 wheels on mine. Most of the assembly is up above the tire, so unless you shined a light in there, it's not visible. My front passenger one isn't looking so good since the CV boot tore and threw grease all over it, also... They did start to rust a bit, but the performance of them has not been compromised. I doubt you'd experience that in your climate, though.

That's an interesting idea to divert the line. I always thought it looked dumb going right over the top. It doesn't do that in the v6, maybe you should check out which part numbers are used on that setup. That's just a wild guess, though.

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I'm not sure if I have a tranny cooler or not. Like I said I have yet to be able to get under the car. I just added it to my print-out list of things for the mechanic to check next week. It's a long list. sad.gif

So you know what today is? It's FRIDAY! That means I got the powder coating done! I'll take a page from Leev's book and say you might want to grab some lotion and a beach towel because the parts look auto-erotic, almost orgasmic.

Say hello to Ed Ascanio of Expert Finishes in Fort Pierce, FL. Figured I give him some publicity if that's not against the rules. If it is then my apologies.

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Ohhh shiny. They couldn't get the PCV gasket out so they sprayed on top of it. They also left the rubber valve cover gasket in on the reverse (not shown) with no ill effect. No warping of gaskets or anything. The only concern is the clear coat is seriously thick so some of the screws might have a hard time getting tight... and I"m going to have to ram the PCV valve into it. Ed suggested using the right sized drill bit.

I'll get a picture up of the reverse soon. The sand they use for sandblasting is super fine. Almost like a powder. There's a thin coating of it everywhere on the inside, in the oil, plug, PCV, and vacuum ports. Plan is to hose it down and then take some degreaser to it. That stuff is so fine that I know it will cause havoc on the engine. It's like little round pieces of powder. Like sandpaper. Anyone have a better idea to make sure every little piece of fine sand is removed?

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Had 3 pieces done. Valve cover, strut bar, and hood bar.

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Haven't put the valve cover on because I haven't cleaned the sandblasting off the inside of the cover. I'm making plans to divert the refrigerant line first. I don't want to take any chances so it's going to be a little while until it's been immaculately cleaned.

My engine says "No pictures please. I'm naked."

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This should show everyone the amount of dedication I'm prepared to put into getting my car back into shape and hopefully into the best shape of it's life.

It's a pretty long video but I had to cut a 4 hour process down into 15 minutes. Probably could have cut out a lot of the chatter but it's best to leave that in just to detail my thoughts on the whole process, what could be done better, and mistakes I made along the way.

OK I know what you're going to say by the end of this. Idiot should have worn gloves. Yes, for the majority of the work I should have but in order to get the fine details I needed bare fingers. Tips of my fingers have been sanded off and bled a bit. They feel and look like raw hot dogs with little red spots where I went through the layers of skin. It hurts to type.

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