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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I've been up to no good in the driveway and the garage and thought it was time to make a build thread as I now have something to show off. So, here's a few photos for reference of what she looked like when I first fell for my 04 6s MTX Sport Wagon. I bought her in January 2016 with only a MERE 88,221 miles on the clock (that's an average of just over 7k miles a year!?!). She was fully loaded and VERY clean. I had come from a P5 wagon with a 5 speed and was super happy to stay in the Mazda family with a stick shift, wagon styling, but adding more adult creature comforts and a LOT more room.

As she looked on the lot the day I went to see her for the first time!


Love that long top!


I loved the electroluminescent gauges. Check out that low mileage for a 12 year old car!


Even the engine compartment was clean and I doubt the lot cleaned it. This was a corner lot special.


And the Interior... it looked like it was only driven by one person with no passengers. The rear and front passenger seats were like new.


And here she is at home shortly after I bought her parked on my unfortunate parking spot at the house. They hay at least kept the mud down... a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
April 2016 - Coils, Plugs, PCV, and Valve Cover Gasket

The car had an intermittent check engine light and a stumble on hard acceleration upon purchase that the independent inspection showed to be a random misfire. I was pretty much a noob at this point and fortunately was not as scared as I should have been. I knew enough that the coils were the likely culprit and that it was important to solve quickly. It also had a pretty strong oil burning smell after being run so I figured I would likely need the valve cover gaskets at least so I bought those with a set of plug well seals as well as 6 new Delphi coils, and 6 new iridium plugs. When I was in there, I had found that at least two of the coils had been replaced already. The rest appeared to be original

I also found out I had a failing VVT seals as well, so I bought a set of seals from the @The Great NY and installed those while I had my valve covers off. I rounded out that first round of repairs with a new dealer parts counter PCV and upgraded reinforced hose.

The difference in acceleration and smoothness of the engine after the new coils and plugs was wonderful! I was so much more confident with the car. I could now move on to the more entertaining updates as the immediate concerns with the drive train were solved.

Here's the PCV hose. My original on the left which is known to collapse under vacuum and the new reinforced one on the right.


Intake plenum off...


One set of intake runners covered in prep for valve cover removal...


And the valve cover off... she's even clean on the INSIDE!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
April 2016 - Tint job!

Also around the same time as the coils I started the tint job. I say started because I had a little bit of agony trying to get it right. To summarize, I ended up having it ALL removed and redone as the first version was so dark that I felt unsafe driving the car. The shop did not account for the LTV of the factory glass when they picked the film. It's all done now with Suntek Black Carbon 35% on the front two windows and 25% on the rear section of the car. It's perfect as I really only wanted to make the glass look like all one color when viewed from the outside. I had no interest in limo tint!

For those interested to read about all the drama you can read my thread ---} HERE {---

A couple before pics...





And a couple AFTER shots. Note... for the sticklers out there, this is the first run at it. The final is not much different in appearance despite being a bit lighter so I didn't photo that.



And back home...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
April 2016 - RX8 Wheels

In looking back I did a lot of stuff in April! So I really liked the look of the RX8 wheels on the 6's I'd seen on the forum and decided I needed a set for my wagon. I hunted the used sites and my local craigslist but had terrible luck finding any. Finally, I just decided to buy a set off ebay. I paid a LOT to get them shipped, but they still had about a year or so worth of tread on them so I decided that was cheaper than having to buy wheels AND tread at the same time. So I ordered them up and waited for them to get here.

Once they arrived, I had them spin balanced and then swapped them on. I had thought about a modest lower job, but after getting the RX8s on, the wheel gap and stance looked just right. Especially with the sport package sill and bumpers.





love that flush look...




THIS is still one of my favorite pictures of the car to date. I hadn't done my full paint correction yet, but she just looked so good there in the sun.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
June 2017 - L716 mod and GROMM hands free

Around this time, Washington state decided they were going to crack down on distracted driving. I wanted a more OEM looking install than a parrot so I decided to get a GROMM kit with bluetooth hands free dongle. As it turns out, my car would need a modification on the main radio board to allow the car radio to recognize the GROMM unit.

First job was to get the radio out and disassemble it so I could find the spot the jumper needed to go...


Here's the size of the jumper that goes across the the L716 location



And now installed - lots of slow and steady breathing was required to make sure I didn't break anything in there. Stuff was REALLY tiny to work on.


After getting that sorted, I plugged in the GROMM and reinstalled the radio for a test run. In an effort to avoid holding my phone, I got a Panavise rigid mount (custom bracket made to fit the 6) and a Pro-Clip holder for my phone. I hate wires in the cabin, so I bought a flat plug and brought it out of the gap between the radio and the dash and that's connected via a long wire to the charger in the armrest socket. Super clean!



Now that I knew it worked, it was time to install the mic overhead and find a good spot for the GROMM box. I pulled the GROMM mic wire up the A pillar and brought it out at the overhead console.



It's not super OEM at the moment, but I've found a factory gray mic that I plan to wire in at a later date. That'll show up at some point.


And here it is all put back together. I'm now legal in WA state with my Android Auto with phone in a mount and stereo bluetooth connection. Not too bad for a 2004 machine!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
July 2017 - BIG SUSPENSION reset and a new set of shoes

So I had noticed my "new to me" tires I inherited with the RX8s were starting to show some significant wear.


I did say significant right?!?


I also had heard how the suspension bushings have a tendency to wear out and lose their locating ability. Since I knew I was going to need new tires in a year or so from buying the RX8s, and I suspected the suspension parts were original to the car and nearing 100k miles, I didn't do an alignment at the time I swapped on my used RX8s. The tires above confirmed my suspicions, so I set about replacing ALL the connection points for the front axle. I also installed new wheel bearings at all four corners, new shocks at all four corners and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. It was a lot of bits and pieces and I was pretty much under the gun to get it all back together so I have very few photos of the project.

The steering knuckle all the way out so I could take it to the shop for pressing on a new bearing and hub


Here's the new front shock installed. It looks like I still have the old control arms still in at this point. Thus, I still had to drop the sub frame a bit so I could get the bolts out and remove the rear lower control arm bolt. Fun times!


This is the tool I ended up using to get the ball joints from the front and rear lower control arms from the knuckle. It required a little bit of widening with a grinding tool to make it work, but it was CERTAINLY cheaper than the factory tool.



After I got it all done and back together, I booked a spot at the local Discount Tire to have a set of Continental Extreme Contact DWS tires in 225/45 R-18's installed. I then dropped it at the alignment shop right after getting that done and had it aligned. The difference was notable! I had never driven on performance tires and this was the first time I had driven the car with all the bushings intact and a fresh alignment. Not a very glamours job, but man, my daily driving experience was worth every busted knuckle.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
September 2017 - Full Paint Correction

I decided that I should try my hand at a full paint correction. I had done a mild buff out and wax of my 03 Mazda P5 before I sold it, but felt I wanted that on my new car as well as the one someone else had the pleasure of using these days. I used Griot's Garage BOSS system starting with their clay bar to get the grit out of the paint. I then used their stepped polishes to get the swirl and minor scratches out. It was A MUCH BIGGER job than I had imagined before starting... did I tell you HOW BIG a job it was? I don't know that I'd ever do it again, but it sure does look nice now.

The level of detail is hard to catch in a photo, but here's what I could manage to see. This was what most of the car looked like. In the scheme of a dark colored car, it did not show that much. However, getting it out was another story.





Here's what it looked like after I got done with the polish of that same spot




Somewhat by accident I found out it worked on the plastic tail lights too. Before...




And after... This was the quickest and most drastic change when doing the paint correction. I was impressed!



After I got it all done (which took nearly two weeks of occasional nights and weekends and finally an afternoon at my folks to finish it up in their garage), I could really tell the difference. The metallic fleck in the paint showed up really shiny and the reflection was pretty darn amazing.






I was pretty lucky (in September) to have a few dry days with sun to enjoy my work and capture the results before we went into the 9 months of rain we have around here. I know it's not as bad as you snow guys, but it's all relative right?

 

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It's about time you made this!

Super clean so far and great work. Keep it up!

Also, those tires you 'inherited' with the rims look like slicks haha.
 

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Nice job! A lot of work but when you're done the level of satisfaction makes it more than worth it. That and knowing it's done right and in top shape. Looks like the car is on its way to 200K.

After doing a full paint correction it makes it easier to understand why some of these shops charge what they do. A lot of work. I can only imagine how much you've saved doing all this work yourself.

Congrats and enjoy the heck out of your new ride. Sure looks great.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's about time you made this!

Super clean so far and great work. Keep it up!

Also, those tires you 'inherited' with the rims look like slicks haha.
Yeah.. they didn't have a lot of tread when I bought them and they were out right dangerous when I replaced them. I also think they were some sort of summer tire: not many sipes on there.

Thanks @Byakuya This is just the back story. I'm working up to the juicy stuff thats already done. If you've followed my posts closely, you've seen it but it got buried quickly and no one said anything. I'm excited to share it but wanted to get it all together first.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks @idrive . I had absolutely NO idea how much work it was going to take. I knew the process but that was it. Since completing it, I've been super cautious about washing it and switched to the two bucket method now. I even bought some dedicated microfiber mitts and towels. I already need to do a quick cleaner wax/seal as there are some small swirls that have appeared and the water isn't beading up as much anymore.

The plan is to maintain this car and keep it a long time. There just aren't many choices for wagons out there, and this one is just so damn sexy!
 

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Photos of your car look great! You are lucky that the headlights are still in great shape. I look forward to your updates!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I've been wanting a pop up screen in my dash ala the mazdaspeed 6 for some time now, and had bought a Nexus 7 and a number of the other bits and pieces. However, the integration of the tablet was just proving to be way more work than the value I wanted. Plus I wanted a super factory look. Just recently, I found a piece of software called OpenAuto Pro which runs on a Raspberry Pi and has a great factory head unit interface. I decided to ditch the tablet and go for this set up instead.


As part of my factory integration, I wanted an physical input device other than touch screen. The pop up display is just a bit far away for touch screen to be very helpful. Thus, I went with the factory mazdaspeed 6 nav remote to make that happen. I've just finished the code and run a prototype mock up. Eventually, the microcontroller will be down in the nav cradle and the remote will mostly live in the console, but here it is in action (video below). At the time of making this video, I hadn't fixed the timing and thus the control was a bit jittery. A 100ms delay in the program after receiving a command fixed that and now it is buttery smooth. I still want to add some code so that I can make one button do two things with short press being thing one, and long press being thing two. I still need to learn how to do that though. Hope you enjoy the video!




here's a link to the software that I'm using on the RPi
https://bluewavestudio.io/index.php/our-products/2-openauto-pro
 

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I've been wanting a pop up screen in my dash ala the mazdaspeed 6 for some time now, and had bought a Nexus 7 and a number of the other bits and pieces. However, the integration of the tablet was just proving to be way more work than the value I wanted. Plus I wanted a super factory look. Just recently, I found a piece of software called OpenAuto Pro which runs on a Raspberry Pi and has a great factory head unit interface. I decided to ditch the tablet and go for this set up instead.


As part of my factory integration, I wanted an physical input device other than touch screen. The pop up display is just a bit far away for touch screen to be very helpful. Thus, I went with the factory mazdaspeed 6 nav remote to make that happen. I've just finished the code and run a prototype mock up. Eventually, the microcontroller will be down in the nav cradle and the remote will mostly live in the console, but here it is in action (video below). At the time of making this video, I hadn't fixed the timing and thus the control was a bit jittery. A 100ms delay in the program after receiving a command fixed that and now it is buttery smooth. I still want to add some code so that I can make one button do two things with short press being thing one, and long press being thing two. I still need to learn how to do that though. Hope you enjoy the video!

here's a link to the software that I'm using on the RPi
https://bluewavestudio.io/index.php/our-products/2-openauto-pro
Dude that is a really cool set up you are going to have! If I didn't already have a Double dIN Nav unit, I would definitely be wanting this!! Can't wait until you get in your wagon!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Dude that is a really cool set up you are going to have! If I didn't already have a Double dIN Nav unit, I would definitely be wanting this!! Can't wait until you get in your wagon!
Thanks man @hurddawg . I'm really excited to see it in action. I've got quite a few hurdles to solve before I can put it in the car but this was a big one and a very exciting one too.
 

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This is really cool, you literally are building your own infotainment system! (Correct me if I’m wrong there)
I’m exited to see it in action in the car, I know you said that’s still a ways off but it’s still exiting to think about that part!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Someone get this man a "Demigod" badge. Top notch work. Top notch.
Thanks Doc. Very kind words.

This is really cool, you literally are building your own infotainment system! (Correct me if I’m wrong there)
I’m exited to see it in action in the car, I know you said that’s still a ways off but it’s still exiting to think about that part!
You are correct @bluedevil6 it is pretty close to building my own infotainment system. It has been a long time in the making with hours of "imagineering". I look forward to the day I can see the nav hood power open and the display light up. It will be pretty slick!
 

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Impressive! I think that'll be a nice, slick alternative to trying to get an Android tablet working, plus this allows a little more DIY fun!

I don't know the rest of your setup, is this going to be plugging into the stock HU or do you have an after market unit you'll be connecting to?


...adding another item to my (already long) to-possibly-do-on-the-car-list...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
@Kalalicious thanks. The tablet was just a rather wonky install the further I got into it. I'm a factory look type of guy. So, I've kept my factory stereo and have set up the audio in to work via my Grom Audio. Thus, this will mostly work like an aux source on a factory stereo from today. My main goal is a factory feeling Android Auto install

I'm considering another option to add a second bluetooth that takes over the speakers that will be there for the hands free only (parrot), but that's going to be AFTER this implementation if ever.
 
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