Features: What Does It Take?
I was wondering how you choose the cars that you feature in your magazine? Thanks for your time.
Jonathan Hendren / Wilkesboro, N. C.
Besides having to be a Honda-made car, the most important element we look for is that it's well rounded. Whether the car's built for the track, the street, or just for hard parking in someone's garage, we look for projects that don't just touch on lots of horsepower and big, shiny wheels, but suspension, brakes, and exterior and interior modifications. It's all about the complete package. You might have a 600hp K20A underhood but if you're rolling on steelies and stock seats, there's not much we can do for you. Also, for those who always ask, no we don't only feature JDM-themed cars but, like it or not, it's the JDM guys who execute this whole idea of well roundedness so properly.
I Hate Civics
How's it going? I first want to say that I've been a subscriber for over a year and I love the magazine. Just one thing though: Enough Civics! I know Honda produces a compact car called the Civic but does there have to be one in every issue? I don't remember subscribing to Civic Tuning. Don't get me wrong, I love the magazine and I love Civics but what about the other Hondas? I've yet to see a Prelude, Accord, TSX, TL Type S, CL Type S, and I've only seen one Del Sol. I just love anything Honda, so I'm only asking for some more unique builds. I'm sure there are plenty over there on the West Coast.Anthony Apa
Read our response to the question before yours and then come back here. Finished? OK, you know that whole well-rounded thing we were talking about? Civic owners tend to get this done really well. That could be the reason why you see a lot of their cars in Honda Tuning or maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe it's because most Honda enthusiasts own Civics instead of Accords, Preludes, and Del Sols. The truth is, there is no such abundance of these cars or TLs, CLs, or TSXs for that matter on the West Coast. If there were, you better believe we'd be featuring them.
OBD-0 GSR: How To Do It
Hey Honda Tuning, I just have a couple of questions and I thought I'd drop you guys a line. Anyway, my car is a '90 Integra GS with a '90 JDM B16A with a PR3 ECU. My motor is OK, a lot better than the stock B18A1, which you guys already know, but I was looking into replacing it with the OBD-I, JDM B18C for a little more power but keep it OBD-0. I've read that you can backdate the sensors and distributor and still use the PR3 ECU. So here is the question: If I backdate and use the PR3 ECU, wouldn't the B18C run like the B16A since that motor and ECU came from Honda of Japan? What would I have to do to keep it OBD-0 and run like a B18C? Any help would really be appreciated.
P.S. Is there any way I could get posted in Exhaust Notes?
James Garnett / Manassas, Va.
Backdating the distributor and sensors and going with the PR3 ECU isn't really a bad way to go. The older ECU will have a slightly different VTEC engagement point but as far as controlling the injectors and ignition timing, the PR3 ECU is quite similar to the newer, OBD-I P72 computer. The biggest difference you'll notice though is the PR3's inability to control the GSR engine's secondary intake butterflies. As you probably know, the B18C's two-stage manifold keeps the secondary throttle plates closed below 5,800 rpm for better low-end responsiveness and opens them up at higher engine speeds for more top-end power. The PR3 ECU will simply keep them open all the time, which isn't entirely bad. Take the B18C Type R engine for example, these 1.8L engines are similar to the GSR's B18C and feature a more conventional single-stage intake manifold and make more power than the GSR in the process. Keep in mind that the ECU's job is to interpret sensor data and, in turn, supply the right amount of fuel and ignition spark at just the right time. The fact that your engine is 0.2 liters larger than what the ECU was originally programmed for really won't make a whole lot of difference.
Auto vs. Manual
Hi Guys. First, I want to say that I love your magazine. It has a mix of fun builds and great knowledge, but I have one question: I have a '95 Honda Accord, daily driver, and I want to do an H22A swap in it with maybe a max horsepower rating of 500. I currently have an automatic and I am debating on whether I should use it, install a Prelude automatic, or just switch to a five-speed manual transmission. Could you please give me some advice as to what the best, most reliable, and possibly easiest route would be? I thank you in advance for your answers and again, great magazine!Alberto Castro / Santa Fe, New Mex.
If you're looking for a combination of reliability and ease, then you've got to do a manual trans conversion. Both the Accord and Prelude OEM torque converters will start slipping on you long before you hit that 500hp mark, and upgrade options are few and far between for either of them. Converting the '94-'97 Accord to five-speed status is relatively easy but you will need quite a few parts, most of which you can score from any '90-'97 Accord. Of course, you'll need a transmission, clutch, and flywheel. We recommend scoring an H22A gearbox because the gearing is a bit more favorable than the Accord or other Prelude transmissions. Be sure that, along with your flywheel, you get yourself the appropriate flywheel bolts; the ones that hold your torque converter's flexplate on look similar but are a bit too short. You'll also need a clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder along with the appropriate hydraulic lines and pedal assembly. You'll find that you might need to reinforce the master cylinder when you mount it against the firewall because the automatic Accord firewall will flex when you step on the clutch pedal. Don't forget the starter, shifter assembly, left-side axle and intermediate shaft, and the transmission mount and bracket assembly that needs to be welded and bolted to the right-side framerail. Oh yeah, there is a bit of welding involved. Don't even think about trying to use your automatic one; it might look like it'll work but with everything bolted in place your engine will sit at a really silly angle. We suggest picking up your H22A swap first. Many of the conversion parts you'll need might be included with your swap.
Building For Boost
I swapped an H22A into my '90 Civic hatch. It runs great and pulls well but I'm looking into a turbo soon. What I'm wondering is what I should do to prepare for boost. I have heard good things about Mahle pistons, the ones where you don't have to sleeve the block but you still get rid of the weak ring land problem. I'm looking to boost about 15 psi. Any advice would be great.Brian Gluck / Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, Canada
Telling us that you'll be boosting 15 psi doesn't help us much at all. If you'll be bolting on a junkyard Mitsubishi TD04, then you won't need to do much. If you're planning on something from the Garrett GT42 family, then you've got more to worry about than ring lands. The power differences and amounts of stress that different sized turbos exhibit on an engine can be drastically different. Let's talk horsepower instead and let's say you're shooting for the 300 mark, since you didn't mention that. You could get away with not sleeving the block here and simply stick in a set of Mahle pistons along with some forged connecting rods. Provided that you address your fuel management situation this could last you a very long time. The Mahle pistons are really a smart idea if you don't plan on sleeving your block. Since the expansion rates between the H22A's FRM-lined cylinders and more conventional forged pistons are so different, piston-to-wall gaps need to be excessively large just for the engine to be able to run. Mahle pistons feature expansion rates similar to the FRM liners, which is why they'll work best for you and is probably why you mentioned them in the first place.
Sohc To Dohc
Dear Honda Tuning, I have a '91 Civic Si hatchback with the stock D16A6 motor, Weapon R intake, and a cat-back exhaust. I've been looking at many different engine swaps but cannot decide. The typical B16A isn't too exciting for me due to its "standard swap" nature and mass use. I am thinking about an LS-VTEC swap, but can't decide on the best and right setup for my daily driver. Also, an H22A was in my mind due to my love for '92-'96 Preludes, but I've only heard of a few H22As ever in old-school hatches. My last option is the K20A. I've read Honda Tuning's articles on these swaps in CRXs and know my car is basically the same. Whatever the best bang for the buck is will go into play with my setup as well. Any suggestions?Caleb Beeghly / Kansas City, Mo.
If you're only interested in the bang for your buck then you've pretty much got to go with the K-series. For horsepower per dollar there is no better choice, but why would you only want to consider the bang for the buck? There are other considerations, like vehicle compatibility, ease of installation, upgrade options, and emissions and legality factors. Take the B-series for example. The B16A was offered in your same chassis in the Japanese market, which means it's compatible and installation is simple. The same thing goes for the LS-VTEC or B20-VTEC engines, which bolt right in (provided you have the right mounts), have a ton of affordable aftermarket support, and are fairly easy to make smog legal, no matter where you live. H- and K-series engines require a bit more skill to install but are still relatively simple considering you'll be swapping an engine from a donor car that's potentially 20 years older than the recipient. Nowadays, there are plenty of aftermarket options for both the H and the K but there are slight premiums when it comes to the cost of upgrading either. If emissions compliance is a concern to you, keep in mind that, generally speaking, the newer the engine is, the more challenging it will be to comply with what the authorities are asking for. In short, there's a reason the B-series remains the most popular choice when it comes to the '88-'91 Civic chassis.
Why I'm Wrong
Hey HT, longtime reader, first-time writer. Well, in your June '08 mag a guy from New York wrote in and asked if parts from the S2000 would fit into the K-series motor. Well, you guys basically said no. So then I was like, "That isn't right," so I looked back in your February/March '08 mag and there it was: the best race car in the H1 class, the Hasport sedan, and that K-series has S2000 pistons.Corey Cleckner / Hampton, Va.
Actually, we're right. Allow us to point out your wrongness. S2000 pistons are about as compatible with the K-series as something out of a Focus or a Cavalier. The pin heights are different, the pin diameters aren't the same, the bores are larger, and the two engines use entirely different piston alloys and cylinder linings, which means their expansion rates are, you guessed it, different. The lengths Bernardo Martinez's (the Hasport "sedan driver" you're referring to) engine builder went through to make the S2000 pistons work in the K engine simply aren't cost effective for the typical K-series enthusiast, what with the availability of off-the-shelf forged pistons and all. Bernardo used the S2000 pistons since Honda Challenge rules prohibit aftermarket alternatives and the S2000 ones offered him the larger bore size and compression he was looking for-never mind the fact that he could have bought three or four sets of aftermarket forged pistons for the price it costs to make the F-series ones work. Oh, and those different expansion rates we just mentioned, Bernardo's piston-to-wall clearances are significantly larger than any typical Honda engine in order to take into account the S2000 pistons' higher expansion rates, and the fact that the K-series cylinder liners don't expand along with them. The results? More smoke during warm-up than most any average enthusiast would care to put up with on the street, which is why we'll say it again: There are no S2000 engine components compatible with the K-series. Got it?
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