CiviK | Vol. VII

Upon my return to the garage after the week off ill, I was welcomed by a Civic covered in dust and dandelion seeds. Was satisfying to dust it off with the Titan vac blower, but at the same time, kinda anti-climactic revealing all that peeling clearcoat on the roof.

Picked up where I left off with the suspension parts. In the end, all was well and bolted up to the car once all the hardware was rounded up.

Finally, the weekend I’d been constantly telling Hamza about, came around. When I say we “dropped” the engine in, that term is used very loosely. To be honest, it’s rarely going to be plain sailing when it comes to engine & gearbox installation, regardless of what car it is. With this swap in particular, the simplest method seems to be sliding the engine & gearbox from underneath the chassis, with the aid of a creeper/skateboard. The strut towers encroached in on the space where the K20 assembly needed to get past in order to meet the engine mount brackets, rendering the hoist pretty much useless at this point.

Also, extract your studs (if they’re still in the engine block and gearbox casing) BEFORE attempting to situate the engine assembly via it’s mounts. It would have been much easier for me to do that when it wasn’t in the bay, in retrospect. Luckily I somehow managed to pull the stud out with the good old two-nut technique and plenty of WD-40. I’d recommend buying a proper stud extractor you can snap onto the end of a ratchet.

It was a bit of a battle getting the K20 moved into it’s new home, but after all the swear-word dictionary had been used up, it was progress made and felt rewarding. Whilst red valve covers look great in bays of red cars, I’m not one to be predictable, so keep tuned in for phase two next year when I will be addressing the aesthetics.

The major jobs give a real sense of achievement, whereas, the minor “buttoning-up” of projects drag the entire ordeal out, making the “end” [it never ends, I know] seem like light-years away.

I had to file these shifter cable retaining clips from Hybrid Racing. I reckon they’re made to fit their own shifter assembly, because when installing them on my DC5-R part, they refused to hook into the grooves of the shifter cables.

One-man clutch bleeding in operation.

With the cables establishing the link between my left hand and the gearbox, I could now get a feel for how the gears engaged. Low and behold, the knob would collide with the dash whenever going for 1st, 3rd, and 5th.

Circuit Hero, a brand over in America make this two-piece kit made out of billet aluminium. Again, mix-and-matching aftermarket companies’ parts, and I was forced to whip out the angle grinder. The outer diameter of the shifter cable end from Hybrid Racing was fouling the bottom of the slot in one of the short shifter adaptors. Bit of an annoyance, but aluminium isn’t too bad to chip away at (with the correct type of grinding disc, of which I did not have, but managed anyhow).

While the shifter now slips into every gear without fisting the heater controls, the selection isn’t as smooth, requiring a bit more effort. I mean, banging gears is sick, but mis-shifting is not. I have since removed the side-to-side adaptor, as I don’t really need that left/right movement to be shorter in distance. Downshifting – 3rd to 2nd gear especially – is not as natural as I’d like, so I’m going to consider aftermarket options down the line, maybe Acuity Instruments’.

You might want to invest in some fine-thread taps. I had to clean up a few holes in the cast aluminium block and gearbox casing that I’d accidentally stripped. This engine-to-gearbox bolt right at the bottom was a faff, not made easier by the lack of a ratcheting tap wrench adaptor.

Life-liquids. I could already hear the bark of that first fire-up.

The ex-owner of the K-engine kindly threw in a new, unused Spoon Sports Magnetic Sump Plug and a Mahle oil filter.

Little did I know at this point, there was a brick wall I’d run in to. One that I built *facepalm*…

CiviK | Vol. VI

More than a couple weeks passed by, according to the timestamps attached to these photos. I suppose I was waiting for parts/payslip to come in. I doubt I did anything noteworthy with the car, hence why I’ve no photos from that period. I will have swapped in the Walbro 255l/h in-tank fuel pump during this time, which was straight-forward enough.

Here’s that idle-air-control-valve (IACV) I spoke of previously. Mine didn’t seem too clogged up, but I sprayed it with a load of PlusGas release-agent and some WD40, just to be on the safe side.

With the EG Civic subframe bolted up to thy chassis, I went and slapped the rear torsion mount on. I chose to go the genuine route, so these are actually made by Hasport and not somewhere in East Asia or wherever. Polyurethane bushings are classed by the manufacturer themselves as “Street” but now that the car is on the road, I can now tell you how “not-Street” they feel.

After about a thousand miles or so, the dashboard rattling has settled down, but my glovebox and its contents dance about at idle, and the entire dash does and will bounce if I come off the clutch too quickly. Be warned, polyurethane is not used by OEMs for good reason: NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). So when Hasport market their softest mounts as “Street”, don’t mistake that for OEM-like.

I plan on modifying them using rubber inserts, starting with the torsion mount that supports the rear of the engine/gearbox via the subframe, as that is the one of three mounts that transmits vibration into the cabin the most.

Steering rack off of a DC2-R simultaneously mounted to the subframe with the universal joint sent through into the footwell.

ST7 is the part number associated with Integra DC2 Type R and maybe perhaps the JDM SiR also. either way, that’s a dead giveaway as to the original habitat of a component, so make sure you check for that in case some sly seller tries to do you dirty and sells you standard EG Civic parts (or maybe they’re uninformed).

Oh yeah, if you look closely, you’ll see on the right side of the image, that there’s a rubber bushing missing between the D-bracket and the steering rack I spoke of previously.

Pictured is the gearbox with its mount bolted on, along with the shifter cable stay bracket I gave a nice tickle with Hamza’s angle grinder. Don’t know about you lot, but I like the look of flap-disc marked steel.

Another “bollocks” moment. Before you write me off for ranting again, hear me out. Another part of Hybrid Racing’s “swap kits” was the power steering kit. The stainless braided lines and fluid cooler all checked out fine and dandy, exactly what you’d expect for the price. BUT, the bloody reservoir they include is 1000% a cheap, replica part of the original Honda part. Now, this was a problem, why? Because the return hose they provide couldn’t slide over the port on the reservoir. I tried everything, but the shit was incorrectly sized. I can’t remember the measurement off the top of my head, but it didn’t match the port size on the OEM reservoir, so yeah, excellent replication there by China/Taiwan or whomever the fock!

You’re probably thinking, “oh just use the OEM reservoir you moaning twat!” The thing is, the orientation of the ports were inconveniently positioned on the OEM part, hence why Hybrid Racing include one with ports positioned in a way where you can run hoses adjacently into and out of the tank.

Long story short: off eBay (again) I purchased a silicone reducer and an aluminium straight joiner, just to complete the plumbing for the power steering “kit”.

Silicone reducer fits OK

Around this time in early May, I was feeling under the weather. I put it down to co-worker getting jabbed “for protection against” covid, and then passing something on after he suffered the post-injection side effects. Anyhow, one of the last jobs I cracked on with was the front suspension assembly, before I was down-and-out for a week in bed.

Issues I was having could have been due to the powdercoating on the suspension parts that weren’t allowing me to line up some of the bolt holes. Namely, the compliance bushing bolts. T’was a bit of a bitch filing the powdercoating off of the seating faces on the suspension arms, especially when you feel like death.

Also, I wished I had asked for all the original EG Civic hardware to bolt the subframe & lower arms up with. Some EK Civic bolts are too long when screwed into the chassis, so I remember having to buy some flanged bolts of eBay. It’s always the little details that slow you down. Preparation is invaluable; I have learnt the hard way.

I’m gonna close it here, as this was the last photo I took before I came down with a nasty throat infection. Be back soon…

CiviK | Vol. V

As you can imagine, I was keen to get the engine and ‘box into the bay of the EJ9.

A lot of these photos show how much deeper the Milano Red paint is compared to the exterior panels which are faded to heck!

With this being the first engine I have pulled from a car with only two pedals, I was having a proper headscratch, wondering why the engine crane kept getting pulled back towards the car whenever we tried to swing the entire assembly forward in order to lift it all out of the bay…

Turns out I forgot all about the shift linkage cable, connecting the shifter to the transmission. We found it easier to unbolt it from the shifter end, and dragging the entire cable out with the engine and gearbox.

Days getting brighter…

…car getting lighter.

The car has seen very little use, so what corrosion there is, is minimal. This spot on the driver’s side chassis leg is probably the worst of it under the bonnet. I applied some Bilt Hamber Deox rust inhibitor gel, which did work to some degree, but to be certain, I’d like to get a wire wheel on it.

Random photos I took here and there. For reference more than anything, but also to show the lack of rust!

Could have gone the route of a lot of others (including Kristian Wong “@studytuned” and his EK pictured below) by getting rid of the core support in the centre and fitting a full-size radiator. I opted to leave as much of the original metal intact, just because it’s solid and not exactly dangling by a rusty seam.

Image courtesy of koyoradracing.com

Moving into the cabin of the vehicle, I made do with the parts I’d already collected and were ready to install. Being the first drill bit I was putting to the car, I made sure to measure twice and all that.

The EK exhaust tunnel is a inch or so too narrow for you to simply bolt down a shifter assembly, due to the width of the bolt holes. This means buying a shifter adaptor plate, from one of the K-swap parts outlets; I went for a used K-Tuned item. I also obtained a used Integra DC5-R shifter box, because they’re cheap and from what I remember when driving a DC5-R, they allow for precise and slick shifts.

One thing to note, try mount the shifter as far rearward as possible. I chose to retain my centre console surrounding the handbrake, which meant grinding away some metal off that bracket you see held down with two bolts.

It should be obvious, that plastic trim surrounding your gear shifter will need trimming to clear the DC5-R / CRV shifter assembly. I even lopped some of the shifter assembly’s plastic casing in order for the trim to go back on.

Initial fitting – the shift lever was a hair’s width from the dash-centre console. This nearly made me scrap the idea, but luckily, Circuit Hero in the USofA make a couple bits that reduce the shift throw distance. A two-piece kit that basically alters the lever ratio for both the mechanisms for shifting up/down and left/right.

10/10 would not recommend that Fuel Line Kit Hybrid Racing sell. The push-on fitting for the braided (sheathing) rubber hose slid off when I tried it over the hardline pipe. I tried to get it back over onto rubber hose, but the damn sheathing frayed. I chucked it, and ordered some plain, fuel-rated rubber hose off eBay instead.

By the way no slander is intended, these are simply my raw, uncut experiences, so that you are aware of the quality some of these aftermarket parts. More moaning to come, haha!

I’ll end it on that note for now. Here’s the car front bumper-less. In a bit…

CiviK | Vol. IV

Getting the K20 lump situated into an EK/EJ Civic can be done a multitude of ways. Over the years, tuners and hobbyists alike have developed methods for FWD, RWD, or 4WD configurations. So however you like your K-Swap, highly likely someone has ‘been there, done that’.

As for me, the original FF configuration made most sense, practically. Off-the-shelf components and kits produced by Hasport, Hybrid Racing, K-Tuned, Innovative Mounts etc, are tried and tested, so yeah I went the “easy” route.

As you may or may not know, EK subframes force you to mount K-series engines toward the front of the car, which is troublesome for bonnet and radiator clearance. Luckily, Honda parts are interchangable, meaning that using an EG Civic (5th gen) or DC Integra (3rd gen) front subframe with the two-piece lower suspension arms and forks allows for rearward engine mounting, with still plenty of room for the exhaust manifold and other ancillaries that are mounted on/adjacent to the firewall.

To be honest, I’ll admit I went over the top taking photos of the subframe and steering rack. I’ll post them anyway, might help you, might not, whatever.

By the way, those last couple images up there, that’s the bracket that retains the passenger-side of the steering rack. A rubber bushing is supposed to have come with it, but I had to go back to the seller and retrieve that.

Power steering was a must, so I chose to go with the DC2 Integra Type R rack. According to forumbois, DC2R steering ratio is quicker than the EK9’s rack. It’s also a lot more common of a part to find in the UK. To identify a DC2 Type R steering rack – or any DC2R-specific part – look for part number label or casting marks that read ‘ST7’.

Aaaaand off the bits went to be shotblasted and then powdercoated in satin black for that OEM-fresh quality. Plot twist: the powdercoaters chose to go full gloss and fucked what I said. Main thing is, the parts weren’t leaving crumbs of rust everytime I handle them.

Again, no pics were taken of anything once I got them back. Maybe I was too pissed off with the powdercoaters cocking up, that I didn’t bother. Don’t worry, you’ll catch a glimpse of them fitted to the car soon enough.

In other news, here’s something that I DID want in gloss black.

The brother eventually got around to painting my vintage Snap-On top chest. It wasn’t in bad condition for its age, but I got it for a good price so I thought I may aswell give it a refresh. It’s that old, when cleaning/prepping prior to paint, I found a letter from British Gas dated during the 1940s/50s, typewritten and the lot!

Seen as though I had no car to put the engine and gearbox into for 3 months, Me and Hamza got to work on engine removal.

To be continued…

CIVIK | Vol. III

February of 2021 was a chilly one. We experienced winter season in full effect spending most of our days and nights cleaning out the garage space and setting up an area fit to work in.

One of the first things Hamza said to me when I went around to his check his garage facility out was “I’ll make ya a bench”. And he kept to his word, as you can see. It was a team effort though, I’m not letting him get all the credit!

Measuring 3 metres wide, about 1 metres deep, and about a metre-and-half high, this is our garage-made wooden workbench. That grey one from Halfords you saw in a previous post did alright, but I needed as much worktop surface as possible, because it’s about time I stopped working off the floor. Also, I’d now be able to fix my bench vice onto this one thanks to the beefy 1-inch plywood top.

You might be thinking “why haven’t you mentioned a word about this said ‘Civic’ yet”. Well, throughout those 4~months since buying the K20A, I was obsessively checking everywhere for the right base to build upon. I even remember being in supermarkets rummaging through magazines like Practical Classics, with no luck in their Classifieds pages.

Alas, the lengthy wait for the car to come up was soon to come to an end. You know how it is. You get fed up of seeing absolute piles for sale online, making you think that you’re never gonna find the “one”…

At work one day, busy trawling through Piston Heads, Auto Trader, Gumtree on my phone for that 90’s 3-door hatchback to be there and waiting at the right price, in the right condition.

Then I thought, “ya know what? Sod it, I’m gonna get an S2000 instead!”

Sike! Although, I was considering K-swapping one of these instead, I stuck to my guns, and probably saved some pennies doing so.

What actually happened was not too far off being a miracle. Out of nowhere, eBay had a listing for a 1996 EJ9 Civic, in “Milano Red” [read: Pink]. I thought it was a joke, because the auction was upto around only £1500 IIRC, and the mileage was 13XXX. Yes, that thirteen-thousand, not one-hundred-and-thirty-thousand. Needless to say, I hounded the seller’s inbox, he sent me over loads of photos and a detailed walkaround video not too long after.

That Saturday was THE day. My brother, Mana, drove us down to rural Nottinghamshire that morning.

That first drive got me buzzed, bear in mind the car was only a 1.4i with an automatic gearbox. For an old Honda, it feels damn-near perfect. Gauging the balance of the chassis was second-nature. Even with the suspension as is, on it’s 25-year-old shocks, springs, and bushings, the car was enjoyable to drive in that slow-car-fast kinda way. Oh, but those 13″ antique tyres were definitely the limiting factor, as you’d imagine.

Once the car was home, we discovered plenty evidence of how long this car had been parked up. The telltale sign was when we switched the cabin blower on for the first time, only to be then attacked by bits of leaves and plant debris.

I couldn’t just park it up and leave it alone, so once it was manoeuvred into the garage, I got to doing the important stuff. Rear muffler off, sound ON. D-series engine don’t sound bad at all for a single-cam motor.

I’ll talk a bit more about the car and my decision behind getting this Civic in particular, in future posts…