Soul Fokus Civik Saga ( 1996 EJ9 K-Swap )


Joined
Jun 8, 2022
Messages
39
Car(s)
1996 Honda Civic (EJ9), 2009 Mazda 2 Sport (DE5FS)
It begins. . .

December 2020. Call it a Christmas prezzie to myself, I pulled the trigger and went to collect an engine that originally resided in a DC5 Integra Type R that had approx. 110,000kms on it before the owner decided to break it for parts.

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For £1650, I bought a semi-complete K20A. 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 reckoned it was going to be a healthy one.

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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.

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First piece of garage furniture purchased was that grey metal bench from Halfords, because working on the floor (especially a wet one thanks to leaking roof) is not preferred.

Not photographed is the hydraulic power steering pump, which I wanted to retain since the car would be used regularly on the road. The bearing within the pump was knackered, but it wasn't that big of a deal to disassemble and replace.
 

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Gearing up . . .

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I didn't want to have to faff about changing gaskets/seals on small components once the engine was dropped into the car. Particularly stuff like this VTEC solenoid at the back of the engine. The old rubber seal was rock hard, so it was probably overdue a replacement. That photo is after cleaning. When I used a pick to scrape the old seal of, it flew off into the ether.

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Don’t be me and rip half of the camshaft angle sensor plastic body off when lifting the engine using – as you can see – proper professional expert lifting tackle :nono:

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EK4's were priced at around £5000+ during this time (early 2021) which was just over my budget, so I got hold of a gauge cluster knowing that I'd need it to replace the 8000rpm tacho in my EJ9 once I'd found it.

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I’ve never seen the streets get snow ploughed around where I live. These ought to replace the grit lorries, then all our Jap motors won’t flake away as quick as they do.

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Y2M3 gearbox from Integrastella's stash getting spruced up by my good friend Hamza. Would be nice to have both the engine block and gearbox casing vapour/bead blasted, but this would do for now.

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OEM throttle body gave me a bit of grief. The two torx bolts holding the TPS sensor in were corroded to the max. I ended up having to drill and extract one of the bolts out, but the other one snapped its head clean off. I had to send it off for spark eroding. New gaskets for the throttle body and TPS bought from Honda.

I also removed the “intake air control valve” (a.k.a. IACV) and gave it a proper spraying with PlusGas to lubricate and release any debris, so that the valve would rotate and not become stuck. Then I hit it with a load of WD40. I’ve heard these valves can be troublesome and start to stick over time.

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Cleaned the input shaft of the gearbox with steel wool, as well as the release/throw-out bearing. When spun, the bearing didn’t sound worn, so I applied a load of lithium grease between the inner race and the O.D. of the shaft, then re-used the old bearing. I plan on getting the gearbox rebuilt, at which point a new clutch & flywheel will go in too.

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New clutch slave cylinder from Honda because I didn’t have one, and also because OEM is king. I’ve had an aftermarket one **** itself on that NB MX-5 I used to have, so lesson was learnt.
 

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Built a bench then bought a car . . .

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K20 photobombing

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 something bigger. Also, good for fixing my bench vice onto this one thanks to the beefy 1-inch plywood top.

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En route to Nottingham to collect the vehicle we passed this S2000 with some daft-size wheels on it. Funnily enough I'd encountered this car at a meet in Wakefield a couple years back. Prior to buying the Civic, I toyed with the idea of K-swapping an S2000 rolling shell, but I've always wanted an EK hatch. Plus, S2000 are like 100+kg.


That first drive got me buzzed, bear in mind the car was only a 1.4i auto. 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.

Car is home sweet home. Solid chassis, only rust to be found was at the front of the sills, other than that it was very clean. Bodywork repairs will have to wait, as the plan is for a complete colour change (upto door jambs; glass out of course; engine bay too).

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Spiders got evicted.

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Wasted no time and got to work removing the exhaust before doing anything else.

 
Swap prep . . .

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Here's the EG Civic / DC2 Integra front subframe I'd be putting in place of the EK's so that the K20 sits low for hood clearance and slightly closer to the firewall for a bit more space for the radiator etc.

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DC2 Integra Type R power steering rack also to go in.

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I know the whole point of forum build threads is to show off all the shiny parts, but I forgot to take photos of the blasted and powdercoated subframe and lower arms. Mainly due to the powdercoaters spraying everything in gloss black when I asked for matte (to imitate the E-coating from factory). Here's a shot of the vintage Snap-On toolchest my brother resprayed anyway :dance:

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It'd be nice to have a complete Snap-On set of ratchets and spanners etc., but I'm happy with this driver set for now.

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A naked D14 ready to be pulled out of the bay.

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When I say 'ready', I mean we were, but I don't think the engine wanted to leave it's habitat.

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We struggled for about 20 minutes with the hoist, but the engine and gearbox refused to come away from the car. Turns out the shift linkage from the AT gear selector was still connected to the box. Doh!

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Mounted a K-Tuned shifter adapter plate atop the exhaust tunnel for the DC5 Integra Type R shifter box to sit on. Could have done with being positioned more rearward, as engaging 1st, 3rd, and 5th gear had me punching the dash centre console. This was later remedied using Circuit Hero Short Shifter adapter, which was kinda naff, as I had to fettle it away with a die grinder for it to fit the DC5 shifter.

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Hybrid Racing's fuel line kit is a waste of time. The braided rubber line fitting detached from the braided lining as I tried fitting it over the hardline. I ended up using standard rubber fuel line for the return hose.

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Proper progress to come
 
Finally [but not the finale] . . .



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Subframe bolted to underside of the chassis, along with the steering rack. Bare billet mounts by Hasport, with their "Street" poly bushes.

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Cleaned up the shifter cable bracket with a flap disc on an angle grinder. I liked the surface finish texture it produced tbh, so I didn't bothered painting. Plus, fresh painted bits on a weathered gearbox would look wrong.

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Another arse-about with a Hybrid Racing product. Their power steering kit is great, except the reservoir they supply is a Chinese knock-off of a Honda part. This was a problem, because the return hole wouldn't fit over the outlet on the reservoir, meaning I had to piece together an adaptor using a silicone reducer and a straight bit of pipe. Would be nice if stuff was bolt-on like they say it is.

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I ended up shearing a subframe/compliance bush bolt. I put it down to a combination of frustration and the fact that the powdercoating was so thicck, it didn't allow for the holes to line up. I filed off the powdercoat from the machined faces on the lower arms, and everything came together OK.

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Wasn't the easiest task cramming the K20 into the bay from underneath without the aid of a ramp. We managed to situate the engine and gearbox into the car as one unit by sliding it on a creeper with the car jacked up as high as we could. Using the hoist to lift the powertrain up to align the mounts with their respective brackets, we could then bolt everything up and torque it all down.

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With fuel plumbed in (I never photographed it but a Walbro 255lph pump was fitted to the tank), power steering connected up, throttle cable hooked up, the car had become a manual once I fitted shifter cables and clutch lines.

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Here's a shot of the Circuit Hero short shifter items. Once I'd got them to fit the shifter, they did their job. The component that shortens the gate made shifting awkward and quite stiff, so I discarded that.

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Oils, filter, and a NOS Spoon Sports sump plug on deck.
 
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 that's more than enjoyable at a track too!

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When it came to starting the bloody thing, I ran into roadblock after roadblock, no thanks to me overthinking everything.

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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. For a good 2 weeks, I was going around the bend and back 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.

With my head in my hands behind the wheel of a non-starter K-swap, I spot a connector dangling from behind the ignition barrel. Turns out, this has to be plugged into the immobiliser (which it obviously wasn't, because that was removed along with the trim panel below the steering wheel). I dismissed this before, because my ECU is a PRD from a JDM EP3 Civic Type R, which doesn't use an immobiliser.

Anyway, the noise it made on fire-up was all the more satisfying!

 
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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.

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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-homemade next winter.

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Just do yourself a favour, and buy K-swap driveshafts off the shelf from somewhere like Hasport or Insane Shafts. I didn't have any luck with using a mish-mash of K-series driveshafts and B-series CV joints. Every combination I tried resulted in the passenger's side shaft detaching from the outer CV.

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

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Iced out with the JDM bling.

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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!

I chose to keep the heater matrix as opposed to throwing it out to route the shifter cables through the firewall into the cabin. If I lived in a country where it never drops below 20degC, then yeah I suppose I would ditch the heater, just so shifter cables aren't visible under the carpet in the passenger's side footwell.
 
" WhAt's iT KiCkiN OuT, BrOoOouh? "

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So the Civik is the third car to have these exact Buddyclubs fitted to them.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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This used-but-kinda-new Spoon N1 came in from Jordan Foster after I got let down by 6TWO1 not being able to deliver a new one in time for my fabricator.

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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.


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Paid UPGARAGEUK (not affiliated with Up Garage of Japan) to send me an EK9's seat rails, he sent me DC2 items which only fit to the floorpan using 3 out of 4 bolts.

In the end, Jamie McCormick sorted me out with a pair of EK9 rails, so I'm not rolling about as I send the car through corners.

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

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Jesse Halford and his laptop removed the basemap and it's 5500rpm limiter, and cracked open all the bone-stock K20A's potential.

The drive back home from the dyno was a fun one; high revs are intoxicating.

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A well needed scrub-up.

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To be continued . . .
 

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Done well getting that DC5 motor for 1600 , all the hard work has certainly payed off that’s a beauty of an EJ9
 
I wouldnt use the word beauty to describe the state it's currently in, believe me. thanks nonetheless :)
 
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