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#1
larsonracing

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Hello all, I am planning on caging my 2000 this winter and had a few questions. I am faced with a decision to buy a DIY Kit and have it professionally installed or have a custom cage built. Miatacage.com and Advanced Autosports both carry DIY pre-bent tubing and partially assembled kits. Many companies that build custom cages don't have pricing on websites, so I was wondering where the best places preferably on the east coast. Is it possible to get a cage that exceeds NASA and SCCA rules?

 

If you have any advice on cage installation or shopping around, feel free to throw it below. Sorry if there is already a thread for this, didn't see much.



#2
BNaumann

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Hello all, I am planning on caging my 2000 this winter and had a few questions. I am faced with a decision to buy a DIY Kit and have it professionally installed or have a custom cage built. Miatacage.com and Advanced Autosports both carry DIY pre-bent tubing and partially assembled kits. Many companies that build custom cages don't have pricing on websites, so I was wondering where the best places preferably on the east coast. Is it possible to get a cage that exceeds NASA and SCCA rules?

If you have any advice on cage installation or shopping around, feel free to throw it below. Sorry if there is already a thread for this, didn't see much.


It is easy to get a cage that MEETS both SCCA and NASA rules. Be careful with "exceeds" as there are limits to how much of the car you can tie into.

Since you didn't mention installation yourself as an option, you need to ask your installer if they want to do a kit or custom. Recommend a road race or better yet Miata-specific prep shop - drag race builders or other fabricators may not understand the ruleset.

#3
Steve Scheifler

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There are a couple potentially significant design differences so the first step really should be to look at a few existing cars, preferably in person, and better define your requirements. Even if you are not tall or wide and don't plan to use a full containment seat, building for those will make you car essier to sell later. The main thing to consider for that is whether the main hoop comes down to the floor or attached to the rear shelf, and how the upper and mid door bars tie into it.

Bending tubes for bigger cars doesn't require much precision but these need to fit tight to the roof and B-pillar around the driver. If you pay someone competent but not experienced with these cars by the hour to figure it out you may not save any money or get as nice of a fit. Even if you hand them a kit they need to fully understand the rules and how picky you intend to be about optimal fit before they start.

My strongest recommendation is to not gamble on a purely custom cage by an SM rookie to save a few hundred bucks, and if money isn't the main issue then for sure start with one of the kits and tweak to your liking.
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#4
Diller

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I have two caged cars in my shop right now. One cage from Advanced and I just installed the latest Miatacage.com kit in a new 99 build I am doing. I have to say that I am blown away by how well the Miatacage is designed. I had access to a bender just in case but didn't use it at all. Once the car was prepped it was just measure, notch, and weld. I did add the Drago floor drop and highly recommend that even for shorter drivers. Makes fitting the cage much easier to any seat you want. I also added some extra bars to my preference.

 

I think the Advanced kit leaves more headroom but I like how the Miatacage kit A-Pillar bars go behind the dash better. The forward laser cut mounts on the Miatacage are also very nice. The floor drop gives all the extra head room you need. We also did use the bender a little bit on the Advanced kit but that may have been a preference thing by the owner to get a bar to fit slightly different.

 

Edit: If you are going to get a shop to do the cage work, you can save a ton of money by prepping the chassis before you send it to the shop. There is a huge amount of time in getting the chassis prepped from a full street car. The shop should let you know if they prefer to build one from scratch or use a kit. 

 

Miatacage.com kit after first round of paint:

 

 

IMG 6975
IMG 6976

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#5
davew

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I am biased on which kit to buy. This info is generic. Make sure the person/shop who builds the cage is familiar with SCCA/NASA rules. I have seen several really expensive cages that would not pass tech, due to improper design. Circle track guys do things one way. Drag racers another way. And neither may be legal for road racing. Preferably they will be familiar with building cages for very small cars. Every 1/4" counts in these cars. Every 1* of bend counts. If/when you go to sell the car, having a known cage in the car is plus that may exceed the initial expense

 

Doing the cage right the first time may be a little more expensive. Doing it wrong the first time is really expensive.

 

dave


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#6
Johnny D

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You're going to fit you and your seat in after it's just tacked, I hope.

 

I don't know how big you are but here some things...

 

http://mazdaracers.c...otch-out-panel/

http://mazdaracers.c...oor-drop-panel/

 

J~


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#7
Steve Scheifler

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You're going to fit you and your seat in after it's just tacked, I hope.
...
J~


Have the seat in and out as the bars are being notched and fitted.
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#8
Johnny D

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Check out the rules on the passenger side too.

NASCAR bars you can gut the door and remove the glass, I'm not sure if you don't.

 

J~


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#9
dstevens

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Either of those kits are good.  I put the cage in my 90 and while I'd done others prior the Miata was a bit trickier due to the size of the car.  If I were doing it now I'd likely get the Advanced kit if no other reason because I've got a few things from them and they've been great.  The materials for mine were under $500 including tubing and consumables (blades, abrasives, gas, wire) but the time sink was pretty substantial.  And I used $10k plus worth of tools.  You could spend $5k on a custom cage depending on the fab shop, design, material, etc.

 

See who does sports car fab in your area and get some quotes from them.  There are other motorsport shops that can so the install you may need to talk/walk them through it.  They likely aren't going to be any less expensive than someone that specializes in sports cars.  In terms of fab level it's relatively easy to install for someone experienced regardless of whatever motorsport discipline they normally work.  I wouldn't have a non sports car shop design a cage but it's not difficult to install a kit.   The resale value of an Advanced or East Street caged car is going to be better than if you found someone outside of club sports car racing to do it.  



#10
J. Pressman

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I am going through this now with my new build.  Decided on a MiataCage.com kit, and will be having a local fab shop do the install.  The fab shop specializes in Subaru stuff, but were open to doing the Miata and I've been impressed with the cage examples i've seen from them.  We agreed on a flat rate of $2k OTD for the install, and he is going to TIG the entire cage aside for the base plate areas will be MIG.

 

The other local shops in the area, which there are not many of, were either too pricey, quoting $5,500+ for a custom job or could only show me one example of a miata, and I didn't care for their in-house design.

 

I drop the car off to be caged on 9/13.


2007 ARRC Champion - SSM

 


#11
38bfast

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We put a lot into seating position first. So our first step is to fit / mount the seat. Then we fit the cage to the seat / driver. With a off the shelf cage kit it can limit you on choice of seat and or seating position.  As said above we are looking for every 1/4 of a inch. A custom cage done by a proper SM shop will give you more options than a off the self kit. When we look at used cars for a customer it the first thing we look at. Because if the cage is sub standard its more expensive to cut out the old one and put in a new one. I have seen many cages that either by design or quality are just down right dangerous. We have 4 cars coming in next month that are cut out and start over jobs. I know that the cages that we build have a lot of engineering behind them to provide as much room, safety and chassis stiffens as possible without adding a lot of weight to the car. But all that comes at a price higher than a off the shelf kit. 

 

That all being said if I had to choose a off the shelf kit I would go with the Miatacage kit. 

 

Just another 2 cents. 


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#12
J. Pressman

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Very good points.  The first thing I purchased after deciding to build a new car was my seat, a Sparco Circuit, and the second thing I purchased was the seat mount.  Both will be in the car when it is dropped off for the cage work. 


2007 ARRC Champion - SSM

 


#13
dstevens

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I am going through this now with my new build.  Decided on a MiataCage.com kit, and will be having a local fab shop do the install.  The fab shop specializes in Subaru stuff, but were open to doing the Miata and I've been impressed with the cage examples i've seen from them.  We agreed on a flat rate of $2k OTD for the install, and he is going to TIG the entire cage aside for the base plate areas will be MIG.

 

The other local shops in the area, which there are not many of, were either too pricey, quoting $5,500+ for a custom job or could only show me one example of a miata, and I didn't care for their in-house design.

 

I drop the car off to be caged on 9/13.

 

That's a good price for a TIG job on a kit, about what it would be around here for a MIG kit install.  For this app for mild steel you don't need the control afforded in the TIG process but if you have big lens/cups, a stubby cap and can get a good stick out the TIG torch is able to get into some tighter places where a MIG gun may have issues.  I ended up doing that on some of the joints in the Miata cage.  When you start using 4130 is when you pretty much need to use TIG.   The point is for mild steel DOM there is no appreciable structural difference between the two welding processes so for this don't get too caught up on which process is used.  For relatively low carbon steel the mechanical benefits of TIG are going to be minimal, if any.

 

In addition to fitting around the seat I have the steering at least mocked up to get the full effect of being in the car.  I went through a couple of door bar revisions so I felt good in the car and not slamming my elbow in the bar.

 

As a pricing comparison when I did stock car cages it was $200-300 for the basic HREW kit and a guy that would weld that together for you for $500-800 in his garage though most guys welded their own.  The truck I'm building now will use 3 times the linear feet of tubing on the Miata or stock cars and in a larger size.  Min wall .120 in 1.25, 1.75 and 2.00.   It's basically caging an entire truck chassis and cab.  To get a limited class Ranger caged/suspension at a pro shop you are looking at around $10k, closer to $20k for 4130 with the house design, more if you want to trick it out.  And we are in the Charlotte/Indianapolis of desert racing in the I-15 corridor from here down into Baja.  Getting a kit put in a sports car for $2k plus kit is about what I'd expect.



#14
RacerX

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Come up to Summit Point this weekend.  The Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS) is holding a double race and there will be plenty of SM and SSM, as-well-as STL and other class miata's for you to look over their cages.  Also there will be at least 3 shops represented there including Windsor Customs that can build the cage for you.

 

Stop by SSM#61 and say Hi.

 

Rich



#15
Dave D.

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I have the equipment to weld a cage in either way (MIG and TIG), but find myself most always using TIG, as I hate the smell of burning hair and getting pinhole burns on my arms!!! It's quieter and cleaner with no splatter. It just takes almost twice as long to do a cage but it is worth it to me.


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#16
Jim Drago

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I have the equipment to weld a cage in either way (MIG and TIG), but find myself most always using TIG, as I hate the smell of burning hair and getting pinhole burns on my arms!!! It's quieter and cleaner with no splatter. It just takes almost twice as long to do a cage but it is worth it to me.

me too :)


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#17
Jim Drago

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Miatacage also offers a cage kit that lands on the deck. we have one here and it installed very easily and worked great.  I don't think he advertises it yet as he is finalizing the perches, but this one was a breeze and worked well

Jim


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#18
lillyweld

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Okay, I am going to weigh in on this one. First, I have best equipment and certifications from the American Welding Society. I can weld as well or better than anyone on this forum. (I can't drive worth a $hit, but that's for a different thread.) I have my own welding business, BUT I had a professional car builder do mine for a couple of reasons. The first reason was cost. That's right, with all my resources, I could get get the interior of the car stripped, the roll cage welded in, the dash replaced (cleanly) and the interior painted for $1,500 more than I could do it myself. The second reason was expertise. The guys like Dave Wheeler (Advanced Autosports), Jim Drago (East Street Racing) and  - I am sure - the other shops are always changing the way they do things; they are always improving. So my cage is not from a kit that has been on the market for ten years. My cage was put in by someone who has been perfecting his design over many years of racing. In fact, I would not be surprised if he has improved his design since mine was installed.


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#19
dstevens

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Cage building isn't rocket surgery though it does take some experience/expertise.    You guys are proving my point in that many get caught up in what welding process to use.   Of the design, fabrication and welding steps in cage/chassis construction the welding skills are the same as would be portable for any other type of welding.   A guy that can lay down a proper bead on a handrail using the same process on a cage isn't going to have an issue.   If your design and fab aren't good it doesn't matter how good a welder one might be.  For example if your joint fit or tube coping skills aren't up to snuff it doesn't matter how good a welder or even designer one might be.  Unless you are at the top levels of racing these cages aren't being engineered but rather designed based on experience and techniques/tips handed down over the years.  I'd bet dollars to donuts few if any SM cages from anywhere are engineered and have FEA or like tests simulated.  In the big picture an SM cage is pretty entry level stuff for someone that knows what they are doing.  Though some of the shops have promoted a mystique around cage building it's not as elaborate as some make it out to be.

 

 

 

 

I have the equipment to weld a cage in either way (MIG and TIG), but find myself most always using TIG, as I hate the smell of burning hair and getting pinhole burns on my arms!!! It's quieter and cleaner with no splatter. It just takes almost twice as long to do a cage but it is worth it to me.

 

 

 

me too :)

 

Are you guys using your foot pedals or a hand controller?  The gymnastics of using the pedal out of position (which is pretty much most of the job) is something I've been trying to eliminate.  I tired a couple of hand controls at Fabtech, the CK and the Lincoln and wasn't really in love with either one.



#20
Jim Drago

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Are you guys using your foot pedals or a hand controller?  The gymnastics of using the pedal out of position (which is pretty much most of the job) is something I've been trying to eliminate.  I tired a couple of hand controls at Fabtech, the CK and the Lincoln and wasn't really in love with either one.

I don't do the welding personally.. but my guy uses the Miller hand control and seemingly likes it just fine. I imagine a foot controller would be very tough on a cage


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