CiviK | Vol. X

At this point, the car was awaiting the day for the recovery truck to come and take it away for LA Fab to give the car a set of new pipes.

Ready for any speedbump

Bit under-exposed, but the photo just about reveals the Civik’s new rolling stock. This is the third car I’ve mounted the Buddyclub P1 SFs to now, and they clearly look good under any car’s arches. Even if the arches have a gap large enough to live inside.

Another part that took ages to arrive, this one from Works Bell’s sole distributor in the UK. Won’t name and shame, you can figure that out. Communication was shite.

Quality Japanese part, featuring both hole patterns for Nardi and Momo wheels.

Packaging filler was also nice reading material.

Battery in the car was non-OEM when I bought it. The previous owner/mechanic made a tie-down clamp out of a bit of rusty steel plate with two holes drilled through it. With a new Honda battery bought, I thought it was also worth grabbing a new OEM clamp plate.

A couple more hand-me-down parts can be seen in the Civik’s interior. Nardi 330mm Deep-Corn from the MX-5 days, and then the Seeker Heavy Shift Knob from the Civic FN1 days.

Faceless identity

Couldn’t park in my usual spot at work thanks to nature.

What?! HKS make blue ones now?! It’s as if they merged the HKS Power Filter and Greddy Trust AIRINX blue filter into one Super Mushroom. Halfords, by the way, thank me later.

I was persistent with those DIY driveshafts, too persistent. Wasted a load of pennies in the process, as I bought a new CR-V driveshaft, then two B-series CV joints, and like three EP3 complete driveshafts.

Somehow, the IAT sensor plug wire detached itself from the connector. I reckon it was heat that weakened the cabling, but I swear I had cable-tied it away from the engine. Anyway, Nigel (Luke’s dad) came to the rescue and soldered it back on because there was no way for me to get a crimp over the pin end.

Angle-grinder had to come out along with the slitting disc so that the underside of the bonnet could clear the power steering pump. To be honest, I’d rather have not done this, and opted for a FRP/CFRP vented bonnet, but I think most, if not all, aftermarket versions incorporate strengthening ribs too.

6TWO1 kinda let me down with this piece of the puzzle.

I understand that it was out of their control, but the fact that the website stated “ETA Delivery: 7-10 days” was a bit misleading, seen as though 4 weeks passed and I didn’t receive anything from them. Anyhow, very luckily, my eyes were constantly on a Spoon N1 rear muffler for sale on eBay.

It had been used, but only for fitment check. It was the same price as a new one, but also came with a silencer bung (which I’ll probably never use). Main thing was the 2-day delivery guarantee as it was already here in the UK! This meant I could get it over to LA Fab in the nick of time, as they were waiting for me to supply them with the rear section of the exhaust.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and here I am. In the hot seat of the Civik, somewhere in Leeds. Even with the rev-limit set to 5500rpm thanks to the basemap, the feeling of the car’s urgency is remarkable.

Besides the fact that the “Street” spec polyurethane engine mounts give me white finger worse than a roadworker with a jackhammer, experiencing the rawness of it all is exactly what Type-R means. Of course, I am talking solely about the engine, as the chassis needs to play catch-up.

That does NOT mean this is going to go the way of “EK9 replica”. This car won’t ever be that, in both function and form. But if I can reach my goal of attaining the perfect road-going FF sports machine, then that’s close enough.

Just to let you know, I’m not anti-B-series. I actually considered a B18-swap, due to the cost and simplicity. But I think it was driving a DC5R that swayed me over to the K-side?

Moving on, work was still to be done! Remember that Recaro recliner?

Yeah, it’s still not where it should be (in the car if you’re wondering).

I’m not gonna talk shit, but lemme just put this out there: if you’re going to use a popular, reputable, Japanese used-car-parts shop’s name to posture as a business selling JDM goods (seats particularly) on IG, then atleast know WTF you are selling to your customers.

I was one eager beaver trying to find rails to fit my DC2R seat into the Civik. Waiting months for this one person on IG to stop leading me on and come through with a pair of EK9 Recaro rails that his “mate” took out of his possession, without permission. He finally got them – sent me a photo – I said “woah, they don’t look like EK9 ones” – he assured me that they were – I trusted him because he seems legit – bought – received – turns out they were in fact DC2R rails. Big giveaway was the ‘ST7’ stamped on the side of them which I looked over as I was cleaning them up in preparation for bolting them down to the floorpan. All but one hole does not line up. Dunno about you, but I’d rather have the seat bolted down fully, not 75%.

After all that, I returned the seat to him, didn’t get my PayPal fees back, nor the shipping cost I covered. You very well might have a positive experience doing business with this particular vendor. I didn’t.

You can never do enough research, so I’d like for whoever still reading this to prepare to the nth degree in your endeavours. Or, get mugged off.

Big brake upgrade found on eBay! Made up of EK B-series upright & hub, EP3R front calipers, and Mini Cooper S R53 298mm discs.

A gift [perhaps] in disguise was me not being able to take the car to the dyno, thanks to another week of being sick: I had the tuning day booked in advance as EFI Parts tends to be quite busy, but a couple days before, I came down with a nasty cold/cough/flu.

That put the brakes on the project, again. Losing my deposit, I tried to re-schedule with EFI Parts but communication wasn’t great, so I ended up following a recommendation made by the guy who sold me the K-Tuned shifter plate, and contacted JCal aka Jesse Halford.

Date and time slot booked, me and Hamza make the trek down to East London, home to Torque Developments International.

We’ve all heard the name associated with impressively serious builds in mags and online, so you know that they’d only let trusted individuals take charge of their in-house hub dyno.

This is the day I’d been waiting for since getting the car back from LA FAB. About time the car cleared it’s throat.

I didn’t care much about the power and torque figures, because it’s not like I had done anything to the engine internally, so I just expected/hoped for a smooth running K20A…

And that its exactly what I got, thanks to Jesse. Top guy, any question I had he’d answer, but also, anything he was unsure of (not much to be honest) he was open and honest about. If you want more power out of your Honda, this man is the one you go to. If you’re not sure, check his batshit-crazy K25 EK9!

Also, if you were wondering: 213WHP, 150WTQ.

Well needed scrub-up.

A word that will haunt me for life.

I’ll continue the saga at a later date, perhaps when I’ve done anything noteworthy and substantial to the car. High on the priorities are ergonomiks. Feel is everything in a car like this, so I’ll make sure to address these as soon as.

I hope you enjoyed reading, share the blog if you found it useful in any way. Katch you on the next one.

Special Thanks: Hamza for the support, Dav Plaha of EHM Parts for supplying most of the parts for the absolute best prices, Nick for selling me a solid K20, Rus Taylor of Hond-R, Andy of Integrastella, Luke and Nigel B., Jesse Halford of JCal, “The Captain“, Luke of LA Fab, Honda Addicts, Jason Katman of FFSquad, and the rest of the real ones who I might have missed.

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. VIII

So where were we? Oh, yeah, engine now where it should be, I wasted no time in tying up all the loose ends before turning that key for the first time.

Engine oil was drained prior to purchase, so I replaced the sump plug for that fresh new Spoon Sports magnetic plug. I checked the gearbox for any residual oil by removing the lower square-drive drain plug, only to find that too required fluid, so I proceeded to fill it up until MTF began to dribble out the upper fill hole.

Of course I was eager, as anyone like me would be. This car hasn’t been with me for long, but this vision entered my consciousness way before I even realistically considered the idea. It’s always been one of those objectives I’ve had in my mind. A recipe that you know you’ll eventually try out, but only once the ingredients are ripe and ready.

Three cars: the EK Civic with a K20, an RPS13 Sileighty with an RB, and my non plus ultra being an FD RX-7 with a 20B (nat-asp). These are and will probably be forever my bucket list cars. In today’s market, the chances of the latter two – especially the RX-7 – may not come to fruition for a few reasons, the main one of course being financial cost.

The Civik is, without a doubt, my idea of the perfect roadcar. Paired with one of the greatest four-cylinder engines known to man, I had tunnel-vision once the next step involved cranking it to life!

Alas, the universe had other plans. Or should I say, my dumbass-self overlooked something, but we’ll get into that later.

I went ahead and used leftover grounding cables to connect the engine and gearbox to the chassis. The last couple of photos of the gearbox ground cable is from Halfords, and would not recommend using such a long wire. Nothing’s gone wrong so far, and I seem to be getting adequate voltage supply to all the electrics, but I am yet to sort this out.

Haha. I’ll mention this later…

So, fuel lines plumbed up, OEM engine wiring harness plugged in, and a fresh Honda battery hooked up, we were ready to crank it over and hear it… do f*ck all but prime the fuel pump. I’ll spare you the agony, but for a good 2 weeks, I was going around the bend asking anyone and everyone why my engine wouldn’t fire up. I thought it was a bad starter motor/alternator/electrical ground issue, then I thought it was charge wiring harness related, then I thought maybe a blown fuse.

Moral of the story guys, plug in the car’s immobiliser, located on the backside of the plastic trim panel that sits below the steering column. All that was causing the classic “no-crank-no-start” symptom, was my daftidity. My excuse was, “why would I need to connect the immobiliser up if the ECU is the JDM immobiliser-less type?”. Turns out the chassis wiring must see a signal from the immobiliser, in order to then forward that signal on to the ignition via the ECU. Or some shit like that…

See ya next time!

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. 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…