How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

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How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Bullet5 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:01 pm

Introduction:

A few weeks ago after having researched for tips and advice regarding driving this wonderful car in winter, I decided to add a few light modifications to give me a better picture of how she is running, as the majority of the trips I do during the week are short sub 5 mile commutes and I like to make sure it’s up to temp before giving it some. This meant I was on the look out for a gauge setup that would give me a much more accurate reading for the water coolant temp and give me a proper oil temp readout seen as the stock one fitted in the clocks is a pile of useless garbage and anything extra would be a bonus.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any possible damage done by the installer. This is just a basic write up to help aid the installation of any gauge configuration, however is specifically aimed at vent gauge pods with oil temp, oil pressure, water temp and voltage sensors. Before reading on ensure you have a hot drink and your favourite packet of biscuits on hand, as this is a marginally long post. :P


Part Hunting Time:


Pod and Gauge:

After a couple of hours researching I had decided on a single gauge vent pod as these are the sleekest and look as if they could almost be stock. I managed to get in contact with Block8Head on the Mazda 247 forum who custom fabricates a selection of different pod housings for a number of cars including ours, and ordered a Single RHD 60mm pod. Delivery was superb at a 5 day delivery time and the product itself is top notch, with some real thought put into it.

As for the gauge I had to find something that would give an oil temp and water temp readout within one pod. I came across the following gauge on a popular auction site, and it includes the required readouts along with a volt metre and an oil pressure gauge. Not only that but it also includes wiring, sensors and a very decent English installation guide.


Adapters:

After this I needed to find some decent adapters that would let me tap into the oil and water systems. The easiest way to source oil pressure and temp readings is to install a sandwich plate between the oil filter and the engine. These are not seen as the most accurate units as any sensor installed here will be reading the oil temp/pressure after it has passed through the radiators before it re-enters the engine. This is ok for a temperature sensor as you just offset the reading a little, however a pressure sensor will have a low reading of about 1 bar at idle and pick up to just over 4 when on the throttle which while isn't ideal, it is a much better reading than the standard gauge fitted in the clocks, and should notify you a little earlier if there is a pressure loss.

There are a selection of theses available on the net, however most are universal fitment jobbies, which means you'll need to cut the thread extender which bolts the plate down and provides you with another thread to attach the filter to, to length. For this reason I decided to opt for a Racing Beat unit dedicated to the RX8 as a few other members on here have fitted them with great success. While I was at it I decided to also purchase their water adapter which will provide a perfect temperature reading as it will be situated between the engine and the radiator.

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Fittings:

There is a great array of different sized and type of threads out there, however adapters can be purchased to fit almost any two items together. The gauge I purchased has two temperature sensors and an oil pressure sensor which all have 1/8th NPT threads. This means that the thread diameter will slowly increase along the length of the thread which gives you a tight fit. The water adapter has a 3/8ths NPT fitting and the oil sandwich has both a 1/8th and a 3/8th fitting. As such I had to purchase two 3/8 to 1/8 NPT adapters like the ones shown below.


Parts List:

Racing Beat Water Temperature Adapter
Racing Beat Oil Pressure/Temperature Adapter
60mm RHD Vent Pod from Block8Head
Depo Racing 4 in 1 60mm Smoked Gauge
Two 3/8 to 1/8 NPT adapters
A roll of PTFE Tape
Two splice clips
One small earth wire crimp
A dozen Zip ties


Installation:

This applies to the S1 RHD RX8, however I’m sure the steps would be similar for a LHD or a S2/3. I'm by no means a highly skilled mechanic, and haven't worked on a car prior to owning my 8, however this installation from start to finish took no more than 2 hours.


Feeding the Cables through:

Open the bonnet and on the right hand side about half way down the firewall you will see a cable protruding out from the wall. This is the bonnet release mechanism which connects to your internal lever under the steering wheel. This is a great place for routing your cables through into the cab as the hole is plenty big enough to get your cables (with connectors on) through and not disrupt the bonnet catch in any way.

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Hop inside under the dash and find the other end of the bonnet cable. Trace it back to the firewall and pull the rubber grommet towards the rear of the car this should dislodge it a little from the hole, giving you the gap you need to route your cables through.

Image

Now push the cables through from the engine bay to the inside and leave about a 5 feet of cable left inside the engine bay for the oil pressure and oil temp sensors, and about 3 feet for the water temp sensor.


Pod Fitment:

Now it’s time to pull the cabin apart, so grab your plastic trim remover (or a slim flat blade screw driver and wrap the tip with a few layers of electrical tape to prevent scratches). While pushing the vent back towards the windscreen and up at the same time, slide the tool under the front lip of the vent and lever it upwards while pulling the vent up with your other hand. It should pop off fairly easy at this point. In the picture below I also removed the lower vent just to have a look inside in case I would damage any thing when melting the hole through from above, but there is plenty of clearance, so you don't need to remove yours. If however you do want to, then just open the flaps get your fingers down the side and give it a pull (it's not easy to remove and can be rather painful so I would suggest leaving it alone).

Image

Fetch your pod housing and get an idea of where the wires will have to come through the air duct. It's advisable to mark the area with a felt tip pen or some chalk. Make sure the hole is going to be big enough to fit your largest connector through with space to spare for any other cables (4 in total in this case).

Now grab yourself a soldering iron and get the tip warmed up nicely then turn off the iron as to not late the flame burn any of your cars trim and press it against the bottom of your vent duct to create a hole for the cables to route through. Do it a bit at a time as to not melt surfaces in the surrounding area and to ensure you’re not drifting too much. Let it cool and test the size of the hole with your largest connector. As stated above, make sure it’s not going to be a tight fit.

Once this has been done fetch some spare cable or wire and thread it through the hole from the top down to your cables in the foot well below. Route the cables up over the pedals and out of harms way then tape them to the dangling wire and pull them through one at a time.


Powering the Pod:

Before we go any further and rush under the bonnet cutting hoses and removing oil filters we need to power up the gauge to ensure it functions correctly. For the gauge I used I required a earth point, a switch-able 12V supply and a side light supply for the ‘night mode’ function.

Some members have take power sources from items such as the ignition barrel and radio, however I found the cigarette lighter the perfect place as it is easy to access, has decent length of slack spare cable and does not require a radio removal (big bonus if you've never taken one out before). The +12V can be taken from the cigarette lighter wiring as this is only powered when the key is turned to ACC or beyond. The side light supply can be run to one of the two bulbs that illuminate either the cig lighter or the cig tray. The earth wire can be bolted down to the chassis under the left hand nut. With the wires spliced in the unit should now power up and will allow you to test the rest of your wiring from here on out.

To access the required wires, you will need to remove the gear knob (rotate anticlockwise to loosen), then open the cig lighter cover. Next get a small flat bladed screw driver (or trim removal tool) under the rear most left hand side of the plastic cover that runs around the shifter (pictured below), and lift upwards. Once the back left hand corner pops up do the same to the right back and then proceed to lift it along the length of the panel. This should now lift off completely and if your car has heated seats you will also need to unplug these two switches.

Image

After this you need to get a Philips screw driver and undo the two screws that hold the cigarette lighter compartment in place (pictured below). Once these have been remove grab hold of the unit and pull it rearward and up. The unit will pop out and you now have access to all the power feeds you need.

Image

In the picture below I am using the yellow wire for the 12V supplies (to the red and white wires that run to the gauge), the red wire which feeds the ash tray light is now also powering my "night mode" through the yellow wire, and a earth is taken from the left hand bolt you can see in the pictures. The large white cable that you can see in the picture is some 6 core alarm wire that I used to extend the power supply cables that came with the gauge.

Image

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Fitting the Water Temp Sensor:

Luckily when Mazda layed out the hoses and cables under the bonnet they had plenty of space to work with and they made use of it by giving everything some breathing room. This means that the adapters will be relitavley easy to fit when compared to the majority of cars around today.

Start by fetching your temp sensor and apply two or three layers of PTFE tape in the correction orientation (so when you screw these sensor into the adapter it will not try to remove itself). Repeat the procedure on any thread size reducer you may be using). Then finally fit the adapter and the sensor together (with the reducer if required). The sensor will not screw all the way down into the adapter due to the NPT fittings, so don't be tempted to force it in (the same goes for all the NPT fitments).

As for the hose you will want to cut into it a couple of inches away from the end where it meets the metal pipe that runs around the back of the engine bay. The cut should be either just on or close to the 90 degree bend the hose takes as it plummets into the depths of the engine bay. Remember when making the cut to ensure that you'll have enough hose left attached to the metal pipe, that your new adapter will not end up touching it once fitted.

The cut can either be made with a sharp serrated kitchen knife or a junior hacksaw. Again be wary of the hoses around it as you don't want to accidentally damage one in the cutting process. Providing the vehicle is on a level surface there should be very little coolant in the hose, however as a precaution place some paper towels around the area (again same applies for the oil filter as by the time the engine is cool enough for you to being this process, the majority of the oil should have drained back into the engine).

Push on the two Jubilee clips (you may want to tighten the lower one a little just to prevent it sliding down the hose while you fit the adapter), slide the adapter into place (with the sensor already attached) and tighten the clips. Connect the sensor up to your gauge and ensure you get a reading.

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Fitting the Oil Sensors:

It is advised that once an oil filter is removed it should not be reused, so if you plan on doing an oil change it is suggested that you do this at the same time. If you have recently done one then I don't really see a problem as the seal will not be damaged providing it was not overtightened when fitted.

Again place some rags or paper towel around the bottom of the filter as a little will escape, and remove the oil filter. If you plan on reusing your filter check the seal condition and if it hasn't been nipped or dried out, cover it with a clean rag and place it somewhere safe. Clean the oil seal surface on the engine to remove any debris and excess oil.

As with the previous adapter you will want to fit the sensors and any reducers prior to fitting the sandwich plate in the engine. Fetch the seal that came with your sandwich plate and, smear a little bit of fresh oil onto it then proceed to lower it into the engine. Place the thread extender on top of the sandwich plate and tighten it slowly, ensuring that the seal doesn't get pinched and that your sensors are aligned suitably like so:

Image

Once tightened down, smear another bit of fresh oil over your oil filters gasket and fit that. Connect the sensors to your wiring and again check the gauge readings to ensure they are working correctly.

Now all that is left is to tidy up your wiring and if you plan on driving the vehicle in downpours, apply some sealant to the area where the cables come through the firewall, just for peace of mind. Remove any rags and start the engine, keep an eye on both adapters for leaks for a few minutes, then take it for a short run and do a final check.

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All the best,
Bullet5. :wink:
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Skyclad » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:27 pm

Excellent writeup !

I also did this mod recently - used exactly the same setup and gauge/pod as you did except I took my power etc from the passenger side fuse box using fuse taps. I can also recommend the Depo 4in1 gauge - really nice if you don't want multiple gauges.
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by ChocolateTeapot » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:36 pm

Great stuff, if only I didn't break everything!
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Bullet5 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:09 pm

Thanks guys,

And I completely agree with you on that skyclad, it's a decent little gauge that gives you all the basic information you need with a smart looking gauge face. :)

Kind Regards,
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by WildMan10 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:22 pm

I advise people not to use Scotchlocks. They are unreliable and I know of one RX8 owner who had a fire inside his 2 yr old car that was attributed to Scotchlocks. The inside was burnt out and his insurance company refused to pay as because he hadn't declared his modification (charging point for phone). To pile on further injury, the insurance company's assessor annotated the car as a Cat C, the owner couldn't get the Cat C taken off even though there'd been no pay out, and he couldn't get any replacement seats (one of the special editions). He eventually sold the car for less than £6,000 when the standard book value was over £9,000.

The 4 in 1 gauge looks a great idea. Unfortunately, I saw it only after buying my oil pressure and temperature gauges and a twin pod.

I'll be doing a separate write-up for my R3 oil pressure and temperature gauges because the method is different to that for the S1. This is because the R3 has a re-positioned oil filter that has insufficient room for a sandwich plate; instead, my oil pressure sensor is replacing a blind plug on the engine oil piping intended for maintenance oil pressure checks and I'm converting one the oil cooler inlet banjo bolt to take the oil temperature sensor.
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by RickyG512 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:03 pm

is there an alternative to scotch blocks?
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by tractorboy » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:59 pm

Solder and heat shrink.

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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Bullet5 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:22 pm

Solder would work however it's not advised to solder in a motor vehicle due to the vibrations damaging/degrading the quality of the join.

The best would be crimp connectors, and if you're taking any feeds from outside the cabin make sure they're waterproof variants such as those used on motorcycles. :thumright:

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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by DanBass » Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:43 pm

I tend to use crimp connectors and heat shrink in the car too, although its more through laziness and a current inability to find my soldering iron...
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by tractorboy » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:56 pm

Vibrations in a car degrading solder joints?! That's a new one!!!

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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by zippyonline » Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:54 pm

Here's a good post on soldering in a car..

(Been watching a bit too much mightycarmods recently!) I might see if I can find the precise bit of vid where they explain why turbo Yoda tells us all not to solder (especially in engine bays!)
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:24 pm

Chaps, in the process of fitting guages and need a little help please on the wiring. Ref the heated seat wiring and I don’t have a multi meter to check, which wires are what? Specifically the 12v and the one for night mode when the lights are activated

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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:41 pm

Think, the cig lighter is a better option I think. Again not having a meter is a pain. Would any knowledgeable person, be able to shed light on what colour is what on the loom? Need ( obviously:) ) acc 12v , earth and the illumination power.

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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by 13Black » Sat Aug 04, 2018 7:34 pm

Cigarette lighter should be:
Yellow: 12V +ve
Black (Red tracer): earth

Then whichever is the most colourful other wire on the cigarette lighter loom will be for the bulb in the socket, so your illumination signal.
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 7:38 pm

Thankyou Nick :thumright:
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:25 pm

One more quick q :) any pointers if a couple of the guages are reading max, straight after first starting the car? The pic is after about 10 mins running and only the oil temp gauge reads correct.
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by 13Black » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:32 pm

Maybe not a very good earth on the sensor. Where/how have you installed them? Pics?
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:37 pm

I’ve ran both cables from each sensor into the cabin and connected them that way. Looks messy, but want to sure all is working ok, before it’s all secured up
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:45 pm

Hmmm think Ive worked it out, the water temp gauge is going up and down when revved lol. Looks like got the two guage feeds mixed up.
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:49 pm

Idle results :thumright:
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by 13Black » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:22 pm

Easily done :D
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by ChrisHolmes » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:11 pm

Scartlead wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:49 pm
Idle results :thumright:
What is your idle rpm out of curiosity and what is the oil pressure at a steady 3000rpm when the oil is at 100'C?
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:28 pm

Will check later Chris :thumright:
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Mpv2k3 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:32 pm

Really need to sort some gauges out for the R3. And work out what exactly to buy for set up as the sandwich plate won't fit, so from what I read, it's a banjo bolt jobbie. It's beyond me #-o

Thinking of oil pressure, oil temp and water temp gauges.


Also, how sturdy are the vent 3pod holders? :?:
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Scartlead
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Re: How to fit a Vent Pod and Oil/Water Sensors

Post by Scartlead » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:19 pm

ChrisHolmes wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:11 pm
Scartlead wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:49 pm
Idle results :thumright:
What is your idle rpm out of curiosity and what is the oil pressure at a steady 3000rpm when the oil is at 100'C?
Hi Chris, out for a run there, couldnt manage 100c on oil , as probably not going quick enough lol, but the pic is at 3000rpm. :thumleft:
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