CiviK | Vol. IX

Now that milestone has been achieved, hearing the engine run for the first time was not only music to my eardrums, but also a bit of weight off my shoulders. Now it was just a waiting game, as I had booked the car in with LA Fab a few months in advance to put the icing on the cake.

Honda’s final K20A-powered FF machine

In the meantime, I paid a visit to a geezer in East London who was selling one single black Recaro SR3 originally fitted to a DC2R.

Dad came along for whatever reason. Think he got bored shitless with no-travelling during lockdown, so he tagged along for the 7-hour round trip.

Initially I wanted a pair of Recaro SR4 seats found in the DC5R, because K20A obvs. But, something about the shape of the harness slots don’t jive with me.

Paid only £250 for this used recliner. I know, bargain! I was happy, so was my wallet. Only one hitch, I had no seat rails in order to install it in place of the base-spec cloth seat.

Coolant temp sensor came included with the wiring harness I bought, and it was already chopped. Crimped it to the conversion harness wiring, easy enough, insulation tape is temporary!

I just wanted to get the car in a state that meant all it needed was the exhaust and radiator-piping fabricating & fitting. Hence, the shoddy wiring jobs. I plan on making the wiring look not-so-cowboy during next winter.

Another thing I learnt is the “easy route” can sound all fine and dandy – especially when it’s something nearly everyone who plays around with Honda recommends – but in reality it’s never that simple.

Driveshafts. You’ll hear a bunch of people across forums, YouTube, Facebook groups, tell you that B-series outer CV-joints work when coupled with OEM EP3/DC5 shafts. This, I found to be false facts.

Just do yourself a favour, and buy K-swap driveshafts off the shelf from somewhere like Hasport or Insane Shafts.

Popped over to LA Fab to put my deposit down for all the required fabrication.

He was working on a K24 turbo set-up for the red NC MX-5 you see in the back which was pretty nifty, but this Exocet was stealing my attention somehow.

Woohoo, it’s on all four wheels. Except, the damn DIY driveshafts I put together after following the advice of the majority kept popping out, driving at like 20mph max.! I don’t know whether it was down to the fact I had the D-series hubs and not B-series hubs. All I know is, the driver’s side was too short and didn’t like staying inside the outer CV.

Iced out with the JDM bling.

If anyone wants this J’s Racing pressure cap, I’ll sell it to you. Pissed off that it didn’t fit both the Koyorad nor the OEM radiator, so if you happen to have a J’s Racing radiator (which is highly unlikely since they are expensive as fuck, it’s retarded), buy this cap 😀

Mocking the radiator up – as you can see it sat far too high due to the AC condenser bottom brackets. These were destined to get lopped off to make room for the original radiator lower brackets which match up to the Koyorad bottom bosses.

If you did like me and tried to use as many OEM Honda bits as possible, then you might want to know that the OEM EP3R brake booster hose has its check-valve integrated into the rubber (see the bulge?). That white plastic piece is only a joiner.

This bracket/pipe assembly is also off an EP3R, and doubles up as the hardline for the brake booster vacuum, as well as the throttle cable holder

I can’t remember what I used where for the heater hoses, but a combination of OEM EK D-series hoses, control valve and EP3R hoses were what I fitted, and they route perfectly fine. I resisted the silicone, just because of the stupid price of them, and then after seeing that K-Tuned‘s don’t fit right on the diameter of the port on the engine block!

Both heater hoses fitted with loadsa room for the EX-Mani!

The next one will be the last stretch, where Civik is finally out the garage and on the open touge [read: Yorkshire Moors]…

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…

CiviK | Vol. I

What I intend on presenting to you throughout these posts titled ‘CiviK’, is a no-bullshit, straight up “build” thread. Personally, I don’t see what I’m doing to the EJ9 something that could be classified as a build. It’s a project though, but, semantics.

Feel free to use this as a reference if you are planning on doing something very similar. There’s more than a few K-Swapped Civics in the UK, but those that have documented their work are few and far between. This is a pity, but I suppose Brits just keep their shit to themselves, whereas the Yanks – who have been chucking K-series engines into everything since the engine was introduced in 2001 – scream and shout about their K-swapped projects. And for that, I am thankful, because there’s a great deal of information available from guys over the pond.

Luckily, you will find some toplads on the scene who not only do the homework, but are kind enough to share the knowledge they’ve acquired with others. Honorable mentions go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-YJWXFHiFEqLKtY40L5UWg (Captain’s Vlog), https://www.ek9.org/index.php?threads/jacks-py-k20-ek9-now-going-k20-k24.44021/ (Jack24), and Rus @ Hond-R.

By the way, all following images were taken using a below-average Huawei P10 camera. Don’t expect the usual hi-res, low-ISO imagery. This is just like the forum days in the mid 2000s.

Anyway, let’s rewind back a bit, to December 2020. Call it a Christmas prezzie to myself, I pulled the trigger and went to collect an engine. Yes, before buying a car, because logic is for losers.

For £1650, I bought a semi-complete K20A out of a DC5 Type R that was being split by its owner, due to an excessively corroded shell IIRC. I was aware that this naturally high-revving engine had seen some track time, but the owner of the car seemed to be straight up and didn’t give off any shady vibes as if to hide something was askew with the engine. Upon collection he dropped the oil whilst I was there, no metallic debris plopped out so I reckon its a healthy one.

The MVP in this saga is my bro+ Hamza. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have a space to work and store all my shit. Oh, and the Demio for not letting me down travelling up and down the motorway allowing me to tick off parts on the shopping list.

Autofocus on my phone camera sucks arse. But here is the MPV of MPVs; Toyota Alphard courtesy of the Japanese Domestic Market. I think this was taken on the way to/from collecting the engine. You can see the faint blurriness that was in fact a Phoenix Yellow E46 M3. I admit BMW > Honda when it comes to that colour. Moving on…

This engine came with a PRC inlet manifold, which is stock DC5 spec. I gave it a good old clean with WD40 and wire wool. Those weird streaks going across the inlet runners are where the plastic inlet cover chafes on the manifold, I think. Also original are the OEM fuel rail and injectors that came off of an EP3 Civic Type R.

Refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_K_engine#K20A to familiarise yourself with the various engines and inlet configuration under the K-series family tree.

Pretty sure the engine came with the starter motor too, so I give it a good scrubbing. Word of advice: use K20A hardware, especially with the starter motor and alternator. K20Z engines are common as muck here, but there are subtle but key differences between both engines variants, so make sure to try and stick with obtaining parts from like engines.

The photo on the right shows the area where the hydraulic power steering pump lives. DC5 Type R were fitted with hydraulic, belt-driven pumps. EP3 Type R came equipped with electric power steering which lacks in feedback from what I have heard and read, meaning a lot people with K-swaps using the EP3 K20A2 engine simply utilise a manual steering rack. I prefer the combination of drivability, and weightedness & feel of hydraulic power-steering, so this is another justification I make to myself for shelling out the extra premium for the JDM hotness.

The power steering pump did come with the engine, but the ball bearing was knackered, so I opened it up and replaced it with a new NTN bearing. The old bearing had a part number on it, which I used to cross-reference for dimensions, so that even though the new bearing wasn’t OEM, it still fit like a glove. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos, but it is easy peasy, just remember to take note of what part goes where in case you do the same.

I’m gonna close this part here. From these last couple of photos, you can tell conditions of the initial setting weren’t ideal. Leaky roof kept me well anxious prior to getting hold of a car, but thankfully Hamza let me move into a dry space that’s much more roomy too. Quick Halfords bench purchase came in handy but we went one better, as you’ll soon see.

I’m probably doing an injustice calling this something akin to a “build” thread, but I hope you can take something away from this series.

Advice when buying an engine: if it looks fucked and its been sat out of its original habitat for a while, stay clear, unless of course the seller is reputable and can vouch for the condition of it. Also try and get an engine as complete as, if it comes with the gearbox and wiring loom, you’re onto a winner. NOTE – JDM engines came fitted with LSD, whereas the UKDM/European Type R got left with an open diff. Although, not a problem if you plan on swapping the differential for an aftermarket limited-slip.