Rotten Apple Meets...

"I think I may have KILLED my Miata (poisoning)"

RA: When this topic came up on the Miata Forum a couple of months back, a number of Forum Members read it and some were skeptical that anything like this could really happen. Some demanded pictures but once posted, still did not feel this could happen without the aid of a ball-peen hammer -- it had to be a hoax! But as the reader count went up and more information became available, it soon became a hands down Rotten Apple candidate. At one point, after it was cross-linked to several other internet sites, the Miata Forum was almost brought to a standstill from all the hits it received. So here, once again is what may be the Rotten Apple of the Year ... Wes Tewksbury's "I think I may have KILLED my Miata (poisoning)."

RA: So Wes, let's start at the b-b-ginning. (smile)

Wes: It seems I fed it BB's, you know like the ones you shoot from a bb gun.

RA: You mean like the Red Ryder model my "older brother" had as a kid...a real BB gun like by Daisy or someone?

piston1.jpg (40548 bytes)Wes: That would be the one, I actually have a few, but itís my bb pistol thatís really responsible. I just did a very thorough and careful (1990 model) timing belt 60K service (has 181K on it). I carefully laid each engine part on my workbench as I took it off. Some how a rubber bb loader full of BB's fell into the intake hoses and hid there.

RA: This is where most of us just shook our heads in disbelief, Wes. You didn't see that the hose had something in it on reassembly?

piston2.jpg (40455 bytes)Wes: No, and I really thought I checked carefully, too! I even shook the hoses to be sure. I reassembled everything and drove for four uneventful days. Then it happened, the throttle got stuck on. RPM's went up close to 8000 when I turned off the key. As I coasted to a stop I heard thuds from the engine, and after I stopped, the engine would no longer turn over.

RA: You were probably wondering about that timing belt job about then -- wondering about that "non-interference" motor everyone always talks about. The one that won't turn over and whose last utterance was, "thud?"

piston3.jpg (43359 bytes)Wes: Yes but I'm a pretty good mechanic and I knew I'd done a good job. Once home, after a tow, I removed the intake hoses and found the bb loader stuck on the throttle plate and about 60 bb's missing as well as the rubber end cap.

RA: (Note to self How many total BB's are in a BB loader?)

Wes: I don't remember crying out at that point but I may have. I went right into the disassembly stage and found one spark plug broken and all four with small dents in them. Once the head was off I could see the pistons were heavily impaled with BB's and so was the head. Many were pressed into the pistons and the head as well. The only good news is the block looked ok, but with 183K, I didnít think it was worth repairing.

RA: Come on Wes, admit that somewhere in those steps your mouth dropped open, and some strange sounds in a tongue only a demon would recognize came pouring out! Or, at least admit to finishing off that case of Coors?

Wes: Well, let's just say I didn't put the BB Loader back on the shelf over the work bench and let it go at that!

RA: So what's next, Wes? Will you try and save the motor, get a new one? Better yet, will you have at least one of the pistons mounted as a trophy? You really should, you know?

piston4.jpg (48576 bytes)Wes: After sever hours of just staring at what was once a good running motor I came to the conclusion I should get a replacement motor. I didnít have the funds for a new one, so I thought Iíd look for a used one. Another problem was the trip I planed to go on in just a few days, and the Miata was the car I planed to drive! The next day I found a local supplier of used Japanese motors had one available with around 30K on it for $850, they required a core (no piston trophy for me). Scrambling for money I was able to sell some of my home stereo equipment (my other hobby) and purchased the motor. I spent the next few nights (all night) installing the motor and replacing logical items like seals, belts, clutch, thermostat, etc. The day before I was to leave it was all done and running better then it ever had since Iíd owned it. I drove it quite a bit that day to make sure everything was solid and found only one leaky radiator hose that was fixed with a new hose clamp. It made the 10 hour drive without any problems and was a real pleasure to drive. The new clutch also made a big difference. I estimate my cost for bb incident to be around $1450 plus a good amount of work.

RA: So there it is all you Rotten Apple reader fans! Congratulations to Wes for his submission, his willingness to share his agony, and especially, congratulations on a repair well done!

Congratulations to Wes for sharing his Rotten Apple story with us. We are pleased to send him a gift certificates from The Knobmeister as a special thank you for sharing!

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