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. 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.