Honestly, I don't know where I should start. Maybe a little bit of background first!
I have been messing with honda's for years, almost 15 to be exact (since I got my license). Many of the honda's I have owned and help friends repair in my youngeryears were the starting point of knowing what line of work I wanted to be in.
I love cars (anything with an engine really), more specifically diagnosing really difficult drivability issues with them. Getting stuck on a problem really pushed me to learn more about things I was unfamiliar with. Through my diagnostic experiences as a vehicle technician, I have learned an incredible amount of internal combustion engine theory and operation including all of the additional systems that support their overall operation and the mechanics at work which ultimately couple the engine output to usable work at the wheels (the full circle if you will).
UNFORTUNATELY, like most people can probably attest, I'm not made of money, I don't have lots of money, I can't spend lots of money all the time (unless I want my wife and son to starve and have no home), I really had to think hard 5 times before spending $50 bucks without jeopardizing something of a higher importance, but that honestly never stopped me from continuing to pursue learning about so many really cool tips and tricks related to Honda's on the countless number of member driven community forums out there (the last year and a bit have been right here!).
I've tuned honda's, built engines/transmissions for honda's, done stupid/cool things with honda's, and most of the time it has always been with someone else's money. All I have ever been truly able to spend on things was time, and I took full advantage of a learning opportunity when it presented itself on someone else's dime.
I am at a stage in my life where money management is still a HUGE part of my responsibility for my overall family goals (as I am still not made from it), but over the past two years things have started to get, dare I say it, slightly "easier" (knock on wood) for me to have like an extra hundred bucks or so every month to put towards my hobbies and things I like to do.
Like most people here, working on their cars is therapeutic and stress relieving. Often times it can turn into downright addiction! I think I'm in the stress relieving group, as I spend time and money on my projects but it's not the end of the world if I have to not touch them for weeks/months at a time.
So without more boring self introductions, I wanted to share an ongoing project that started in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and ended up in North Carolina.
Here she is, the d-series honda platform that has continued to be my hobby that started 2 years ago: the 1999 Honda Civic SI (Canadian, EX in USA) with a low mileage D16Y8 installed by the owner who wanted to get it back on the road eventually (original engine blew up). He lost interest but had money to buy newer toys to pass the time. This car sat in the back of a truck shop for almost 2 years, and the owners of the place were threatening the owner to tow it away if he didn't move it. So I bought it for $200 bucks from him because the engine ran and it was at least worth that by itself, and had it towed to my house.
I'll put up some more pictures, just cause they're cool! It really was a great trip, so much to soak in in such a short period of time. Honestly, if I go back again (I definitely will) I feel I will be so much more prepared now that I got that first trip out of the way.
It was literally brain overload every single day, just looking at everything and trying to understand the differences in ways of life and how all it all worked together.
Everyone was very very nice and helpful, and most everyone in a customer service type setting spoke pretty good English within Tokyo. Outside of Tokyo, or any large metro area, English is scarce during interactions but everyone still does their best to help!
From a western-type perspective, initially you will find that most folks just seem just "off" or "distant" in terms of visual contact, body language, etc. and this is a common occurrence. It is NOT because the Japanese are being rude AT ALL, it is part of the culture and most folks are trying to be polite by keeping to themselves and not trying to bother you or anyone else. You know the saying "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all"? Well this is adhered to and tweaked in Japan to also include "If I feel I have nothing positive or helpful to add, I won't even draw attention to myself."
There is also a small underlying intimidation factor of foreigner interactions to many Japanese. Everyone in Japan is always trying their hardest to keep everyone else going, but because you are "THE" foreigner during your time there, there is this feeling/tension that maybe they won't be able to help you as well as they could because of cultural/language differences so most try to avoid interaction out of politeness not rudeness (unless you sit next you a sweet old lady on the bullet train who is at the age where she just doesn't care about that and she will NOT STOP TALKING EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE NO IDEA IN LARGE PART WHAT SHE IS SAYING lol, she was a sweetheart though).
If you can break the ice with something common between you and them (language is an extremely easy to use ice breaker), you can almost see a huge sigh of relief come across everyone's face. I would definitely recommend at least studying survival Japanese for a few weeks before going. For me, knowing how to read or interpret just about anything I came across made the stay much more comfortable. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if I couldn't read and know as much kanji as I do, it would still be fun but all the signage being able to be decoded was a big sigh of relief in many places. I can only imagine from someone who has never studied the language before what all the signage would look like through their eyes lol (very intimidating I would suspect).
In the beginning from the moment I got off the plane, I was intimidated and nervous to speak as I was still taking in everything. But, reality is that you still need to eat at some point so interaction is necessary. I got much more comfortable around day 3 at breaking the ice using my Japanese.
Japan was a great experience, I hope the next time I go I can really dig in much deeper in the surroundings and build better ties with the people I meet!
The countryside was beautiful, and looked much like small town places you would find across the US. Nothing was really green, because at the time of year (late April) in Hokkaido the snow was almost finished melting (there were snow banks everywhere):
(I still don't know what this business sign was trying to portray lol)
Yes, they have Denny's in Japan! I tossed aside the "special" foreigners menu that had English translations for everything, and looked into their regular menu and there were so many more choices! I had beef with rice and egg, with miso soup. It was freaking bomb!
Main gates to Tokyo University:
A Toyota Rent-A-Car location. See the tall black tower in the background? That is the storage area for the rental cars! Instead of having a parking lot, this thing is a lift system that stores the cars vertically and the operator can call down a car at any time:
I said in the last post I scrapped the 99-00 canadian coupe, keeping the D16Y8 and a bunch of other good parts off the shell.
After getting back from Japan, I headed over to my buddy's house to pick up the hatchbacks and other goodies I bought from him.
$1200 got me two 92-95 EG roller shells, one an SI with 4 wheel disc brakes and the other a DX. Both were in decent condition in terms of the bodies (no rust) but they had been sitting for almost 3 years exposed to the elements. The SI was also unfortunately primer grey and you could obviously see that the mirrors were white, the hood was green, the body was black, both bumpers used to be red, the fenders were an unknown mix of black/orange/red, needless to say this was going to be fun. I HATE body work.
I only had room at my house for 1 car, so my buddy let me keep one of the shells at his house until later so I brought the SI home:
One of the first things I did when I got the car home was strip the interior. I wanted to start from shell and work my way up. This meant removing harnesses, dashboard, everything against the firewall, subframe, suspension, etc. everything had to go!
It is my process when I get something weathered like this to take it all apart and see what I have, clean and lube everything along the way and reinstall what I could salvage.
I went ahead and began to remove the sound deadening material to inspect for any additional rust, as well as to just remove the sound deadening material. The best way I have found to remove this material is dry ice and rubbing alcohol.
I went to a local industrial gas supplier and bought 40 pounds of pellet dry ice for about $25, then I went to walmart and bought a $10 dollar cooler to keep it in (it was the hottest days of summer while I was doing this) as well as 4 quart bottles of 91% isopropyl alcohol.
Take a sturdy bucket and put about 5-10 pounds of dry ice into the bucket. Pour in a quart bottle of the alcohol. Use a garden trowel and chop up the dry ice pellets into small pieces. The dry ice will gel the alcohol, creating a really wet cold slurry that actually pours like a thick liquid when mixed together.
This slurry allows a constant contact of really cold solution to coat the entire surface of the sound deadening tar material. Grab a shovelful and plop it on a spot of tar material. Within seconds, you will begin to hear it crack and pop. Leave it in place for about 2-3 minutes, then take a hammer and smack it. It will break apart into large chunks. Scrape it away with a pry bar, and continue to move the dry ice slurry around to a different area of sound deadening material.
Continue until all tar material has been removed. DO NOT smoke or use anything flammable while you are doing this! Wear a respirator if you have one, or just use common sense and keep the air moving through the cabin.
Doing it this way, you can strip all of the sound deadening material in the car in about 45 minutes with very minimal effort. Because you are using dry ice and alcohol, all of your mess will evaporate entirely by the next day. Use a shop vac to vacuum up all of the tiny pieces and mess left over once it has all evaporated.
I drilled strategically placed holes in the lowest points in the floor boards for water to drain out of, and I hosed the entire interior of the car down and scrubbed the shit out of it with a car wash brush and car wash soap.
My neighbors were looking at me like I was fucking crazy washing the inside of my car haha.
I was curious if my ready-made fuel cell bracket for the 99-00 coupe would fit in the spare tire well of the hatch, so I test fit it:
THEN I found out after thoroughly reading the governing rules for the racing class I was going to participate in, they did not allow these SFI certified fuel cells to be mounted in the car without a custom built stainless steel firewall OR I needed to buy an FIA certified cell (those are f****** 1000+ dollars!).
Needless to say I decided I was going to stick with the stock fuel tank for this class lol as the stock tanks were fully allowed.
After it was washed, my first task was treating and prepping that spare tire well. I went to harbor freight and bought an angle grinder and a bunch of wire wheel attachments, cutting and grinding discs for it and an extension cord. I stopped off at walmart and bought some Rustoleum metal bonding primer, some flat black paint and about 5 cans of Rustoleum "bed liner".
The fact that it took me longer to treat, prep and paint the spare tire well than it did removing the sound deadening material with dry ice is further validation why I hate painting and body work. I don't have the patience to wait for paint to dry lol.
In either case, I felt I was successful in prepping the interior and coating it with bed liner:
After I got the interior somewhat the way I wanted it, I went to town doing the same scrubbing of the engine bay and under the front fenders. THAT completely depleted my supply of elbow grease, and I was spent. There was so much freaking grease to remove it wasn't even the slightest bit funny.
I wrapped up the day of scrubbing down the engine bay with some actual fun, I test mounted and fit the intercooler to the front bumper support to see how much trimming I would need to do to the bumper:
After all that, I wanted to further have some fun and see what my engine might look like with the turbo mounted to it on the engine stand. I threw the dirty D16Y8 long block on the stand and put both manifolds on it to see:
The next day, I started to remove the original fuel tank for inspection. Using a homemade A-Frame that my buddy built, I hoisted the rear of the car into the air for easier removal of the tank and better room to run in case of finding a black widow nest lol (3 years of sitting, you never know what you might find on top of a gas tank!):
No black widows, but tons of other spiders. I sprayed the whole damn car down with bug killer when it was in the air. This has kept the car free of bugs since!
Looking inside the old tank, shit... I was definitely going to need a new one:
It's ok, a new one was only like $75 bucks! (way cheaper than an FIA approved fuel cell!)
After removing the fuel tank and marking down on my parts list that I was going to need a new one, I decided it was finally time.... to tear down the D16Y8 engine and the D16Y7 transmission!
I had been waiting a while to do this, mainly because I was really busy before this point but I wanted at least an uninterrupted 4 hours to focus, teardown and inspect everything I could to document anything serious right away:
The D16Y7 transmission in all of its 35mm diff bearing glory. I was looking around for a rebuild set for this transmission, and I'm really glad that Synchrotech offered a really nice carbon synchro set for this trans as well as the 35mm ID diff bearing M-Factory LSD! I honestly didn't know an LSD was offered for this transmission until I started looking.
I decided to mark both the carbon kit and the LSD down on my "to-buy" list, as something to seriously consider.
My ghetto parts washer, conveniently filled with high quality 3 year old gas tank parts washing fluid
Got the head, block, crank, oil pan, oil pump, crankshaft main bearing caps/brace and transmission housings cleaned and dried, ready for delivery to the machine shop.
I had the machine shop hot tank everything, spec the crankshaft, cylinders, valve job and just overall replace anything they thought needed to be replaced.
Keep in mind, this engine was rather new as it came from the 99-00 coupe. The previous owner put in an engine that the engine seller said had less than 60,000KM on it.
The machine shop said the valve guide clearance was good, valve faces and seats were not pitted, cylinder out of round and taper was good, and magnaflux did not reveal any cracks or major defects.
Overall, they honed the cylinders, did a valve job (lapped valve faces and seats), installed new valve stem seals, milled the head and block head gasket surface flat, shaving them as little as possible to bring them back flat. This left the cylinder bore in STD tolerance with a good hone, and the head back clean and to stock spec.