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89 Wagovan resto mod

10715 Views 239 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Soul Engineering
It's been a while since I have been active on DSO, mainly because I moved to Hawaii as the worship pastor of a church. However that doesn't mean that I have given up on the world of Honda's, building heads, etc. I mean, I built a 91 wagon and shipped it to O'ahu so that I could enjoy my ride on island. Sad that I had to leave her there when we moved back, so I decided to build another wagon.

WARNING: many pics to come.

So I got an 89 wagovan that was an auto, fwd, 1.5 car. No title, but clean exterior and no rust. I set it back, knowing that I would need the parts for a later build. Here's the parts car:

no title, somewhat sucky interior, bad motor, good parts car.

Then I found a rusty, running car, that had a clear title. Guy was asking $1200 for it, until I found all of the rust in the rocker panels. It ran well, didn't smoke, still had the Wagovan trans (4.05 final drive), and a bone stock d15b2. I offered substantially less than that for the car and he sold it. Trailered it home and began taking it apart for resto.

Initial pics:

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More pics of the initial stage

rusty rusty rockers and doglegs

Talked to a friend that does body work and he quoted a price to replace the rockers and dog legs and leave the replaced panels in primer. Quote was for $1000 and would still need paint and the other body work done that the car needed.

I have worked with many auto body shops in the past, many of my relatives are in the industry, so I figured with a little bit of insight and some help from God, I could tackle this project. I've never really tried welding. Never replaced a weld in body panel. I will add this addendum. I have done some body repair before and minor paint work, but nothing as audacious as this.

Sawzall and cut off tool pics to come
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Repairs begin

Decided to start with one of the smaller repairs. This car only had superficial rot. The floorpans and rails were intact, so that is why I decided to attempt this. So here is the first cut:

Went to the donor car, cut out the patch that was needed and attempted to weld the panel into the car.

Tools used for this process: Snap on cordless sawzall, an Ironton electric cut off wheel (Northern tool $30), a specialized spot weld drill bit, a Black and Decker 4" angle grinder, and a Farmhand flux core welder (borrowed from my dad). MIG welder would have worked so much better, but all of this work was done outside, including the paint work, so the gas would've dissipated, but it would have prevented a lot of burn throughs. Basically I used the stitch method to attach each of these patch panels. The bottoms reuse the the spot weld holes. Stitching just means that you alternate your welds so that the metal temp stays somewhat cool. This helps prevent distortion, burn throughs, etc. Now on to more repair pics:
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Exterior repair pics

And the repair:

Other side:

Shot of the cut off tool in the floor board there

and checking fitment with the door installed:
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on to the worst rocker

As seen in the previous pictures, the passenger side rocker panel looked like swiss cheese. The more I poked at it with a screwdriver the more holes appeared. This was the largest repair that I did on the car and took a while to complete properly. Again, I just used the stitch welding method and took my time. A lot of time!

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Welding complete, now on to body work

I also must say that after welding was completed on each panel, the welds were ground down, and then paint was applied to reduce rust. If at all possible, I allowed proper time for the welds to cool, and then moved right on with body work that day or the next.

Moving on to other places on the body:

Used a Matco spot stud welder and slide hammer to work out the dings. Note: you don't always use the slide hammer to tap out the dents. Some times you use it to pull tension and tap with a body hammer around the dent so that you don't stretch the metal any worse than its already stretched. When you're done pulling the ding or dent you grind off the stud and fill with filler or spot putty if you're lucky lol. Note: I only used fiberglass for all body repairs and not body filler. I think the brand was bondoglass found at any parts store.
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Now on to sanding and priming and prepping for paint

shop full of body panels (it was 30 degrees outside, so I moved in doors)

Ended up using 3 of the donor cars doors because the originals were so dented. Also had to mix and match door molding because clips were broken, and some pieces were gone.
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Now on to choosing paint

I fought for a while over what color to paint the car. I had seen a satin black wagon on Google that was just sick looking, but I also know that black shows everything as far as body imperfections. I went so far as to buy some John Deere Blitz black to spray on her, but then thought about it some more and switched up. I knew my body work wasn't going to be perfect and I didn't want to be complaining in my mind every time I looked at the body's imperfections, but I did want satin finish.

I have always liked the blue that Toyota used on the Tacoma circa mid 2000's. They call it Speedway blue and it has pearl and metallic in it. So silly me decides that I think for the first car that I'm ever going to attempt to paint, why don't we just go with a pearl and metallic right off the gate.........and lets make it a satin finish so you can't color sand and buff out any!! You guys who know paint work will get my languish here. However, I did not have to fix much even though she was painted outside.

Back on topic. I went to the local paint store and had the guy there mix up some Speedway blue pearl metallic paint in satin. This is single stage paint, and the base was an industrial type enamel. The guy promised just as sturdy as Blitz black and other industrial type satin enamels.
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On to paint day

So I kept watching the weather looking for a good break in the cold so I could get a day that the high would be higher than 65. 70 is the usual cut off point for most painters if they have to work outside, but I used a turbine paint system that heats and dries the air before the paint is sprayed. Again borrowed the paint machine from my dad. It is a Showtime 90 turbine paint sprayer and can be purchased for about $600 and comes with a nice gun. The beauty of this system is that like I said before it dries and filters the air before it gets to the gun, so there is no need for a water separator, you don't have to worry about air pressure or CFM like you do with a regular paint gun. Also, you only have to mix paint and air ratio to optimize the spray pattern, whereas with a standard gun you must regulator air pressure, and fine tune the gun to get the proper spray pattern. This system was literally fool proof. I only had two runs pop up. The first was a kink in the hose, so it sent too much paint and not enough air, the second run was caused by two bugs mating in my paint. I allowed both to dry a bit, and then I wet sanded them out. Total coats of paint was 4. The paint went down great, sprayed well, covered well, etc. Overspray with this system is almost negated. I had very minimal clean up to do afterwords and I did not have to wear a full respirator. Again I did use a paint type mask, but no charcoal filters etc were needed, because its enamel and the overspray is so minimal.

Pics of paint going down and then unmasked. Painted in the side yard on a Wednesday. Ambient temp was 74 and bugs were in love with my paint, especially a praying mantis. Sadly, he didn't make it after he walked in my paint for the third time.........

creative hanging of parts....

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And here's the completed work

Again this is a satin finish so you can't wet sand or buff it. Pretty much, what you spray is what you get. There is no clear here, only single stage enamel.

Wheels are 15" DRAG's, lowered on some coil overs I found in the salvage yard from a 97 Civic coupe. I chose those because of the extra weight of those cars vs the weight of the wagovan.

some pics of how the paint laid down


drivers quarter that I had the long crease dent in (used the slide pull to fix)
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miscellaneous repair

So probably a lot of you guys with EF/ED/EE cars have had the door safety detent break on your car. Happens usually on the drivers door and you're left with a whole and a door that opens up too wide.

while I had the car down, I decided to weld up the detent arm and add a plate to stiffen the area, so that it would not break again. Here I have the plate that I came up with. The holes are so I can spot weld it as well as stitch weld around the edge. The dash is too close on the inner side, so no welds could be laid there.

The plate:

its double thick, that is why you see some weld on it already. Perhaps overkill, but I did not want to have to revisit this repair.

Plate in place

and welded up

after grinding and paint, it doesn't look horrible, and doesn't flex like they normally do
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Now on to the interior

So I thought about seats. All of mine were horrible and so i sourced a set of Del Sol seats and also a set of 1g Prelude seats. After measure and checking I decided to go with the Prelude seats. Wagovan seats are a bit of an anomaly. The outer track is quite a bit taller than the inner side. This meant that I would have to reuse the outer track as the Prelude seat tracks were both the same height. The width of the tracks was close, so I used the inner front bolt hole as the primary locating bolt. The outer track unbolts on both seats, so I simple had to bore a hole in the wago track and then easily bolted it onto the Prelude seat bottom. Now the next issue is that the Wago track now makes the with of the tracks about an inch and a half too wide. To solve this problem I used pieces from the Prelude outer seat track that was to be discarded to make some adapter plates. It had a stud welded into it, so I cut them out and bored a hole for the bolt to go through and then used a nut on the stud. (see in pics)

Seat bottoms:


stock wagovan:

cut out the pieces to make adapter brackets:

seat adapters in position. Only needed on the outer track. You will notice the gold colored nut and then you use the bolt on the inner original bolt hole.

And finished product. Seats installed and they sit like a dream. Drivers seat has manual bolster and lumbar controls ftw! And they adjust like they are supposed to.
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Almost forgot the parts car

And for the Parts car carcass.......this is what is left:

Took me about a month of nights and Saturdays. A few late night Friday nights, and then 2 days off during the week to paint it and put it back together. Saved over $1500 in repairs and paint shops costs. The paint itself cost under $100. All in all, I have about $200 in paint, sandpaper, fiberglass, primer, etc. Noteworthy: Don't use Duplicolor filler primer. It is a pain to sand, basically just rolled up. Rustoleum spray bomb primer was much better. The Turbine system didn't like primer quite as much as paint, so that's why I used spray cans for primer.

Next updates will be to the engine/trans. I have decided what the plan is, now I've just got to execute. Thought about turbo D, turbo ZC, F2D or H2D, but then I read through Hiprofiles plateless F2B thread and I'm hooked. I've built an F2d EF before using the EVO plate and it required a lot of butchery to the block and chassis. So much so that I was afraid of oil leaks and I hated the angle that the motor sat at. Clearance issues on every corner! I did like using the D trans, and it pulled like a freight train, but after seeing the angles of Hiprofiles build, I'm in for solving the clearance issues alone, and B series trans are fairly common with relatively good ratios available.

Updates to come. Let me know what you think guys.
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I am familiar with the Brough kit, but honestly I would build my own before buying their kit. I know it comes with instructions, etc., but thats a lot for 2 brackets and some bolts. I'll be staying cable clutch and not converting to hydro most likely, so I won't need the other stuff.

Now this isn't to say that I am not willing to pay someone for their time. I know that time is money. That's how I got paid doing head work for so many years. Explore the theory, test it out, then make a reasonably repeatable process. I know hand fab isn't quick, but once the theory is proven, it becomes easier to repeat.

Thank you both for the good words. I'm not exactly a noob to auto body work. I have painted patches and small panels, done interior work for old cars, etc. So some of this wasn't new to me, however the welding aspect was, and that was a great learning process. As was working with the turbine paint sprayer. That was a pleasant surprise!

Thanks again
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More updates coming

So over the winter, I went through a few different ideas/phases with the Wagovan, but decided at a few peoples behest to go with a DOHC ZC in the wagon. Some might say its archaic, its under powered, blah blah blah. It is none of the above. With just a bit of head work, camshafts from Rocket Motorsports (along with their valve springs), a rebuilt bottom end, well designed header, and a bit of intake work these engines still put down great power/torque numbers for a 1.6L engine that is a direct bolt in. Not to mention if you add a turbo :)

Also, if you aren't familiar with the head design on a DOHC ZC, you should do some research on port sizing. It might change how you view volumetric efficiency, port velocity versus port volume, etc. Many moons ago, I learned from TOO why Honda sized ZC ports the way that they did. Yes, there is a lot of core shift, and yes in stock form they do have a lot of rough edges, but with just a bit of work, they can turn to magic.

I'll have lots of pics to come of the rebuild process and a few pics of the headwork. I've done head work for some of you on this site before and plan to include some of the insights that every DIY head porter should know.

Also, this car will be headed to the dyno for tuning and to show what power differences can be made by adding proper camshafts that are matched with the rest of the build. I have no specific power goals. My only goal is to show the performance increase that Rocket Motorsports (or other reputable cam grinders) cams can offer on a moderately priced ZC build.

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A bit of an update

Engine was replaced with a built DOHC ZC. Here's the build list:

CSS prepped DOHC ZC block
Wiseco 75.5 mm pistons
Crower I beam rods
Ported head with Rocket valve springs, stock cams (for now)
Pfab log manifold
GT28rs turbo, kinugawa adjustable wastegate, Synapse BOV, 3" downpipe

Trans has a metal plate LSD and ZC 3-4 and a 4.25 final drive

Engine dissassembled (got one of the last JDM imports available at least this year)

Crower Rods:

Wiseco 75.5mm pistons. Come it at 9.2:1 compression after head and deck work.

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more pics

So I sent it off to Jeff at CNC Werx to have the CSS process done. He is a class act and the money spent was well worth it.

CSS Block:

Block assembled:

Notches for the rods:
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more pics

Engine finally assembled:

Decided on an Action Clutch setup from WD-R aka Whoopee Doo Racing. Thanks Chris/Aquafina

And here it is installed in the car:
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Radiator setup

I'll find pictures of this, but hopefully you can see in the pics that I did a "radiator tuck" using a Scrirocco radiator. Literally one of the best things I've done with the car. No ghetto lean and it fits under the stock radiator support/hood latch area. Works great too!
Suspension upgrade

So, for some odd reason, I forgot to post this video of the suspension upgrades that I've done. The video's are pre-turbo setup. They are with the N/A DOHC ZC.

Suspension upgrades:

Hardrace front lower control arms
Hardrace rear lower control arms
Innovative Traction bar
Innovative Motor Mounts (all 4 80a)
Hardrace rear trailing arm bushings (one of the best mods)
Adjustable caster and camber links in the rear
Hardrace inner and outer tie rod ends on a manual wagon steering rack
Only a rear strut brace. Front won't fit any more, looking for a Neuspeed bar to go up front.

Also, Hawk racing brake pads
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