Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Painting, a Necessary Evil

Safety first right?  As much as I want to survive an unfortunate incident while racing my 650+whp Mazdaspeed3…I have a bone to pick with safety.  Sometimes it’s a real pain in the A**.  

Let me explain…and hopefully help you learn from my experience. 

Mazdaspeed3 Drag Racing

Today we are talking about how to paint a roll cage, specifically one that has been custom built to fit tightly inside the cab of a GEN1 Mazdaspeed 3.  How does this relate to safety?  Well…a cage is made from raw steel in “mild” or “chromoly” materials.  Both of these metals will corrode/rust over time. Not only will this result in a very ugly cage inside your car, but it could eventually affect the structural integrity of the roll cage, and that would defeat the whole purpose of it.  

With that I decided to paint the roll cage in my Mazdaspeed 3.  I daily drive and race the car AND I live in the PNW which has lots of rain and moisture.  In fact, in the couple weeks that I did drive the car with the raw cage, I was already getting surface rust build up…gross. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

To add to the difficulty, the cage in my Mazdaspeed was custom built from scratch vs a kit so it was very tight fitting and I have extra “X-bracing” added for increased roll over protection.  This just added to the amount of surface area to paint and the number of locations with bars very close to each other.   

The roll cage/hoop in my #halfmilespeed3 is technically a 8-point cage with an added X-brace in the main hoop and between the rear strut braces.  The X-bracing is what helps with high speed roll over protection, but with a weight penalty.  Go look at any modern rally car and you’ll see X-bracing plus lots more. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Ok, time to get our hands dirty.  Here are the major items you will need to paint your cage:

  1. Paint – I used a rust-oleum paint & Primer Combo.  Make sure it works with a metal surface.  2-3 cans will be needed to complete the job and I’d suggest a high gloss enamel finish.  It will be much easier to clean.
  2. Safety Equipment – Goggles, Face Mask (a real one with a rating for fine dust), Bunny Suit (because you will get paint ALL over you), Gloves
  3. Scotch Brite Pads – You will need this so you can remove any rust build up (assuming it is minor, if you have a heavily rusting and rough cage then you will need to get far more aggressive)
  4. Cleaner and Rags – Gotta clean the cage after the scotch brite process
  5. Plastic Wrap – This is like industrial size cling wrap.  Easily found at Home Depot or other hardware shops in the painting isle.
     
  6. Blue Tape – A few rolls of the 1.5” will do. 

Step 1: Remove everything you can from the interior (which may not actually be much if you have a cage.  Take your seats out, carpet (what’s left), center console, …etc

When I had the cage installed I decided I wanted to keep the front two seats as factory as possible.  With that I have kept my carpet, center console, dash, door cards, roof upholstery…other than the door bars from the cage, you would have no idea the car has a cage when sitting in the front seats. 

Step 2: Scotch Brite Time!  Grab a pad and start giving your cage a nice rub down. You need to go over all surfaces of the cage if you want good adhesion of the paint to the metal surface.  Once done, do a quick check and I bet you find some missed spots.  Get those also…

Step 3: Clean up time! Grab some clean rags and a cleaner that does not leave any residue.  Clean all the cage surfaces to remove any dust and/or oil.  This is equally as important for good paint adhesion.   

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 4: Time to seal up the car.  My number one advice here is avoid wind if possible.  This plastic sheet loves to blow away in the wind…it can be very frustrating.  If you have a friend that can help, that would be a great idea. 

You basically want to cover all exposed surfaces inside the car and a lot of the outside of the car.  While you are spray painting, you will be creating a lot of overspray mist floating in the air.  This will settle on all surfaces inside and out.  

I completely wrapped my doors and door edges, inside and outside of the car a bit. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

I completely covered my dash and shifter assembly. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

For the roof upholstery I did not use the plastic wrap, I actually used a piece of cardboard to act like a shield.  I held the cardboard with one hand, shielding the roof while I sprayed the upper sections of the cage.  It was effective and much easier than plastic wrap for that area.  

Step 5: Time to actually paint.  First you need to get into your bunny suit, get your gloves on, your face mask and goggles.  Be proud of how ridiculous you look!

Before you start spraying, make sure you are in a well ventilated area and do not have any other cars or items in close proximity; they will get paint on them. 

Actually Painting: I would advise starting with the hard to reach arrears first.  You are essentially painting inside a jungle gym so get to the hard to reach areas first so you don’t have to worry about touching wet paint later.  I started in the center and top of the cage because I had to be in the car to do so.  Then was able to get to the more outer parts of the cage while outside of the cage.  

Applying the paint is a bit of an art.  You want to apply smooth and consistent layers.  Your hand is always moving side to side as you spray.  Don’t point and shoot or you will get runs in the paint. 

Do a first coat that mostly covers all the surface area, then let it tach up for about an hour or reference the instructions on the can.  Then apply another coat of paint.  Trust me you will find thin or missed spots.  

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 6: Get out of the bunny suit.  Hahaha ya this can be a process

Anyways, I pushed my car back into the garage and let the paint cure overnight before removing the plastic wrap.  I didn’t want to risk the plastic wrap touching/sticking to the fresh paint.  You may not have that luxury and if you don’t I would at least give the paint a couple hours to cure before removing the plastic. 

Other takeaways – this was an ALL DAY PROJECT.  I thought I could get it done in half a day, but with the concerns about keeping the still installed interior looking good, I was extra cautious with the plastic wrap which added time.  I also did not want to do this again later so I was extra detailed with the painting process.  Checking for missed spots and thin areas after each coat.  

However, the result was well worth the work and I have no regrets about painting the cage.  I can now drive my car without worry of the cage getting ugly or losing strength due to corrosion.  I highly recommend that you take the day or so to make this happen in your car.  

CorkSport Shift S3ctor

I hope you enjoyed this blog and thank you for following along with the @halfmilespeed3. Stay connected (instagram, blog & “Built With Barett” video series) as we share more and more about the @halfmilespeed3 build…engine, seats, roll-cage, and power!  Rolling into the Shift Sector 2021 season we will have more great content to share!

-Barett @ CS

MS3 Aux Fuel Tank

Looking to take the next step on your MS3 journey and move beyond the limits of stock fueling?

Look no further than the CorkSport Auxiliary Fuel Tank for Mazdaspeed 3. We incorporated a ton of features into an aux fuel tank that sits in front of the driver’s side front tire. By using rotomolded construction, we were able to maximize the volume and ease of use to really make a fantastic starting point for your fuel system. Be sure to read on for more info and check out the product listing for full details!

Mazdaspeed 3 Fender Mounted Auxiliary Fuel Cell

The main focus of the CS aux fuel tank is to maximize capacity without compromising usability and features. We chose rotomolded cross-link HDPE construction to do this. Manufacturing the tanks with this method removes a lot of the restriction that comes with sheet metal tanks so we could keep the tanks cheaper for you while incorporating extra features.

Adjustable mounting brackets

We were able to maximize the tank to approximately 2.6 gallons for both the GEN1 and GEN2 while retaining great fitment. We even incorporated adjustment into all of the mounting brackets to account for manufacturing and setup variances from one car to another. 

Mazdaspeed 3 Fender Mounted Auxiliary Fuel Cell

Along with fitment comes the flexibility to make the tank work best for your fuel system. We have incorporated mounting locations for both methanol pumps and a standard 044 style mounting bracket. This means you can run a basic single nozzle meth setup while on stock block, then move to a full PI setup once you build your engine, all while using the same tank.

Mazdaspeed 3 Fender Mounted Auxiliary Fuel Cell

The CorkSport MS3 aux fuel tank also incorporates a bunch of other great features:

  • An included low level sensor and warning LED that will trigger with ~0.8 gallons remaining in the tank. This gives you plenty of warning before running your aux fuel system dry.
  • A sump is molded into the bottom of the tank for the fuel pump feed. This prevents fuel starvation from fuel slosh during hard cornering.
  • A fuel return port is present for use with full port injection setups. If running methanol, this port can be easily plugged.

Warning light, anti-leak, easy refueling, and more!

  • A billet aluminum cap keeps the tank sealed. Dual O-rings are used to keep the cap in position and prevent any leaks, even if the tank is upside-down.
  • The tank fill neck was carefully sized to fit with most gas can nozzles and funnels for easy refueling.
  • An included vent tube keeps tank pressure in check.
Mazdaspeed 3 Fender Mounted Auxiliary Fuel Cell

The CS aux tank is made from rotomolded 0.19” thick HDPE. This is the same material that most racing gas cans are made from, so you know it will be safe no matter the fuel you use. Each mounting bracket is laser cut and precision formed 304 stainless steel for strength, a great look, and corrosion resistance. 

Mazdaspeed 3 Fender Mounted Auxiliary Fuel Cell

Each cap is made from black anodized billet aluminum for reliable and easy use while being stealthy in your engine bay. Finally, each tank comes with full color installation instructions and CS customer support so you can be sure you will be in a good spot for the rest of your fuel system.

Be sure to give us a call with any questions you have on the CorkSport Auxiliary Fuel Tank!

MS6/MZ6 Rear Camber Arms

CorkSport is pleased to reintroduce the the 1st Gen Mazda 6 and Mazdaspeed 6 Adjustable Rear Camber Arms to complement the return of the CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6!

By replacing the stock camber arms with the CorkSport Adjustable Camber Arms, you can adjust your suspension to accommodate for lowering springs or coilovers and fine tune your Mazda 6 or Mazdaspeed 6 to the appropriate camber setting needed to balance uneven tire wear and improve cornering performance.

Mazda 6 and Mazdaspeed 6 Adjustable Rear Camber Arms

Our design offers +OEM to – 4.5 degrees of adjustability along with cross camber adjustment allowing drivers the ability to align their suspension to match their enthusiastic driving style on and off the track.

Unlike other adjustable camber arm options on the market, our unique design includes spherical bearings that replace the soft rubber bushings on the OEM camber arms, providing a true attachment to the suspension of the vehicle for improved handling and road feel.

Mazda 6 and Mazdaspeed 6 Adjustable Rear Camber Arms

The ease of adjustability on the vehicle and the unique nature of the spherical bearings will provide you with improved cornering control that can’t be matched by any other options on the market today.

The CorkSport Adjustable Rear Camber Arms are also available for all Mazdaspeed 3 and Mazda 3 vehicles and back for Mazdaspeed 6 and 2004-2008 Mazda 6 vehicles. They come as a set for just $199.00.

Mazda 6 and Mazdaspeed 6 Adjustable Rear Camber Arms

The CorkSport Advantage:

  • Superior Design: Spherical bearings replace the soft rubber bushings used in OEM and other aftermarket camber arms. This will truly attach the camber arm to the suspension of the vehicle for more control and added road feel
  • Made from reinforced high strength extruded bent steel tubing: Stronger less brittle and more durable than aluminum
  • Fine Tuned Adjustability: +OEM to – 4.5 degrees of camber adjustment and cross camber adjustability for fine tuning of your suspension
  • Full Adjustment: Can be adjusted on-car with a wrench while still installed in the vehicle
  • Sold as a Set: We know you need two so we simplified the math for you by selling them as a set
Mazda 6 and Mazdaspeed 6 Adjustable Rear Camber Arms

For more information about the CorkSport Adjustable Rear Camber Arms, check the listing here!

MS6/MZ6 Front Camber Arms

We are happy to announce the return of the CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and GEN1 Mazda 6 to complement the return of the CorkSport Adjustable Rear Camber Arms. Back and better than ever, the CS control arms provide improved handling and easier wheel fitment through front camber adjustability. An impressive 4.5 degree adjustment range ensures you are able to get the camber you want. Whether you are dialing in your handling for the track, correcting your added camber from lowering, or even just adding in more camber for that new wheel and tire setup, the CS adjustable control arms are a good fit for your build.

CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and Mazda 6

The focus of the CorkSport Adjustable Control Arms is an easy modification of the OEM camber setting. You only need to jack up your car to easily access the four bolts on top of the control arm. Once loosened you can adjust as needed before tightening everything back up and lowering your car, without even removing a wheel! It’s a great setup for correcting camber from pothole damage or lowering, optimizing your alignment for the track, or adding negative camber to get the stance you want to fit that new wide wheel setup.

Modify your Camber setting without needing to remove your wheel!

At CorkSport lowering spring height (1.5” lower than OEM), our local race alignment shop measured an adjustment range of approximately +0.5° to -4.0°. During the measurements they even complimented how easy the CS arms are to adjust! If you’re lower than CS spring height, you are able to go even more negative due to the natural camber gain of the MS6 double wishbone front suspension. While if you are higher than CS springs, you won’t be able to go as negative.

CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and Mazda 6

Truly an easy bolt-in installation with no strange handling geometry changes

Because the CorkSport upper control arms replace the entire OEM upper control arms, we knew that fitment was vital to ensure correct handling characteristics, and an easy installation. These arms were designed directly from the OEM control arms so they are truly an easy bolt-in installation with no strange handling geometry changes. With the added camber adjustment, we also verified clearance throughout the suspension travel and at all camber settings to prevent any strange noises or damage to your vehicle.

CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and Mazda 6

Long lasting strength for your Mazdaspeed6

We have put the CS adjustable front camber arms through extensive real-world testing to ensure long lasting strength for your car. We have been testing an early production unit on a MS6 for around 6 months at the time of writing. This car has been used in everything from daily driving, to aggressive driving in the twisties, to even hauling heavy loads around. Throughout all of this, the car has been setup with -3° of camber with a 255/40-18 summer tire on a 9.5” wide wheel.  We have seen consistent performance out of the CS control arms with no issues whatsoever, so you can be sure they can take whatever you can throw at them!

CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and Mazda 6

Each set of CorkSport Adjustable Control Arms is made from A513 steel for long lasting strength and durability. The camber adjustment box on the arms are gusseted for added strength and rigidity. The arms are then finished off with a black powdercoated finish for long lasting corrosion protection and a great look. Each kit also comes with brand new ball joints, castle nuts, and cotter pins to keep everything operating correctly. Plus, we upgraded the rubber bushings where the arms mount to the chassis to spherical bearings. This change ensures good consistent handling feel and reduces slop that can result from old worn out rubber.

CorkSport Adjustable Front Upper Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and Mazda 6

That about sums up the CorkSport Adjustable Control Arms for Mazdaspeed 6 and GEN1 Mazda 6! Be sure to check out the product listing for more images, as well as our product video to see these arms in action. If you have any questions, shoot us an email or give us a call, we’re always happy to help!

Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

The time has come to reveal our Speed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank design!

Years ago there was an option to run Port Injection or Methanol Injection without the requirement of a smelly and messy tank in your cabin.  Sadly that option disappeared and left the community with a need for another purpose-built and designed option for high power Mazdaspeed 3s.

That’s right! There is soon to be another fender mounting fuel cell for the 2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 and it’s packed with more capacity, durability, and functionality.  

We approached this project with a clean slate and set a goal to maximize capacity, work with both GEN1 & GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3s, and provide the functionality needed for both methanol and E85 port injection auxiliary fueling.  

This was no easy task; we encountered many challenges that forced us to look to different methods and innovations to succeed.  However, through those challenges we developed a tank like no other available for the Mazdaspeed community.  

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

The greatest challenge we faced was the manufacturing method.  We originally approached the design with the intent to use cut, formed and welded sheet metal as the material, but this quickly proved to create many unwanted issues.  Cost, design flexibility, capacity, durability are just a few of the issue we faced with sheet metal.  With that we looked to other processes…what about a gas can?  Those are plastic and have very irregular shapes…

From there we identified that rotomolding was the ideal path to pursue.  It helped us maximize capacity, incorporate the features needed, reduced cost, and increased durability/reliability of the tank. 

Speaking of durability first…

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Yup…we parked a truck on the tank and it took it like a champ.  As you can see there is a small amount of deformation, but that’s it!  After that we wacked the tank with a 3 pound sledge hammer on the front face (much like if you hit an object on the road) and again it took it like a champ!

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Upon closer inspection we did not find any cracks forming due to the truck test or the impacts of the sledge hammer.  After letting the tank sit for a bit we found that the tank actually formed back to its original shape before the testing.  

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

So what makes the CorkSport Auxiliary Fuel Tank strong and durable?  Two things:

  1. The material used is Cross-Link HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) which is a very durable and resilient material by itself.  Add in the cross-link reinforcement in a 0.190” wall thickness and you now have a material that can handle a large amount of impact force and yielding (bending) without failing.  
  2. The manufacturing process is the other key aspect here.  Unlike welding, there are no seams or welded joints that can fail.  In the rotomolding process, the HDPE is poured into a mold that is heated to the plastic molten temperature.  This powder melts and creates one continuous structure with an average wall thickness of 0.190”.  Even the brass threaded inserts are embedded into the plastic with no seam or seal to leak.  
Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Speaking of those threaded inserts, those are really neat.   When the mold is assembled, there brass threaded inserts are fixture inside the mold in set locations.  These give us the flexibility to have integrated mounting points for the brackets that mount to the vehicle AND for both methanol pumps and the standard 044 style fuel pump bracket.  

Now let’s look at a cutaway of the Computer Aided Drafting Model of the tank so we can see a couple other key design features.  BTW these would not have been possible (or atleast not cost effective) with sheet metal. 

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Probably the most critical and useful features of the fuel cell is the integrated sump for the pump feed.  This is the little area under the blue line.  This “low” zone is called the sump and the point is to create a lower spot for the pump to be fed fuel.  This reduces the chance of fuel starvation during braking and cornering as well as allows you to get the full capacity of the tank to your pump. 

Next you can see a “chamber” on the left side.  This actually sits under the frame rail a bit which allowed us to increase the capacity to ~2.6 gallons but it also serves another purpose.  If you are running a port injection auxiliary fuel kit then you most likely have a fuel return from the regulator; this is where that return line connects.   The low ceiling in this chamber helps reduce aeration of the fuel due to the return line flow.  This green line also sits just below the low level sensor so you’ll know when you are getting close to this threshold.  

Mazdaspeed 3 Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Alright let’s wrap this up.  Designed specifically for the 2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3, you can utilize the tank for methanol or ethanol fuels and you can switch from either or if you change your setup.  Durable and chemical resistant material used can take beating and once installed the tank and black filler cap basically disappears from view.  

We are stoked to bring a new and innovative option to the Mazdapseed Community very soon.  

  • Barett @ CorkSport

P.S. – that stainless bracket in the last image is my splitter mounting system for my 2009 Mazdaspeed 3.  Check out @halfmilespeed3 for more details!