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Building a Honda Engine - Building Blocks

Basics For Building A Honda

Sep 9, 2009 SHARE

We get tons of readers writing into our Tech Support section asking which mods they should be doing to their cars in order to make them faster. Rather than answer one guy's questions on what to do, this month we're going to try to help a large segment of the scene: the Honda crowd.

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In the very early 1990's Honda engines didn't have too much aftermarket support. Tuners and enthusiasts alike made their cars fast by a lot of trial and error. Nowadays there is a great amount of aftermarket help with tuning being perfected and newer parts developed regularly. Even more, tuners aren't really having to guinea pig products on their Honda engines. The book has been written and we now know what works and what doesn't.

Mild Intake If you want a sleek stealth drop-in filter, K&N makes some of the best in the market. Most people however will go with a cone type filter mounted with a 2.5" pipe. If you want the ultimate performance, a cold-air intake routing the filter down below the engine bay will be your choice. Great choices include AEM, J's Racing and Mugen. Bang: estimated +5hp Bucks: $50+

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Exhaust The most important thing when shopping for an exhaust is the diameter of the piping. Unless you're building a monster B series, you should be looking for an exhaust with 2.5" (or 60mm) diameter piping. No, we are not talking about the exhaust tips, (those couldn't matter less). Lately, the popular choices have been A'PEXi N1, Buddy Club Spec 2, HKS Hi-Power and custom setups. A lightweight and straight-through design are also very effective. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $350+

Header Off-the-shelf mass-produced headers like DC Sports or even the JDM ITR piece are great headers. But lately, tuners have been going for custom one-off pieces. The optimum collector size (or opening at the end of the header) should be 2.5" (or 60mm) for a mildly-built B series. For serious all-motor builds popular choices include Hytech, RMF, Six Sigma Racing, SMSP and Toda Racing. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $450+

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Medium Intake Manifold If you don't have a Type R engine, a great OEM upgrade is the Type R intake manifold. You can find this at the local dealership for under $300. Blox and Skunk2 both improved on the OEM design just a bit. Edelbrock and AEBS went even further with a larger manifold for high output engines. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $250+

ECU There's one name in the Honda world that dominates in tuning: Hondata. Better than just a reflash, Hondata offers systems that you can have tuned especially to suit your build. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $200+

Camshafts Whether you're doing a naturally-aspirated or forced induction engine Jun, Toda and Skunk2 make great cams for the B series. An inexpensive upgrade to the B series is OEM Type R cams. These are inexpensive and very easy on the valvetrain. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $500+

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Pistons If you have stock cylinder walls, you can use inexpensive cast OEM pistons from the dealership. The Integra Type R (P73-A0/00) and Civic Type R (PCT) pistons work great for a high compression B16A. And either of those two pistons or even the B16A pistons (P30/PR3) works great in a B18B/C. Now if you you're building an NA 2.0L, RS Machine has some inexpensive cast 84mm high comp pistons as an alternative to more expensive forged units. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $200+

B Series Wild Head Work A growing trend in head work is CNC porting. For a more accurate and consistent job companies like RLZ Engineering use CNC machines programmed to port heads. Afterwards, ports will be cleaned up and quality checked by hand. Bang: estimated +15hp Bucks: $1000+

Cylinder Block When stock cylinder sleeves aren't strong or wide enough, simply replace them. A rather hardcore upgrade but a necessity when going extreme. Popular sleeves include, Benson, Dart, Darton, Golden Eagle and RS Machine. Bang: N/A Bucks: $1000+

Individual Throttle-Bodies There are several brands out there and they're all very different from each other. Depending on what you're using your motor for, your requirements can vary. Runner length, throttle diameter, throttle placement and injector placement all play a role in performance. Available kits for the B series include EFI, Fuji Racing, Kinsler, Hayward Performance, Jenvey, OER, SS Work's, Toda Racing and TWM. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $1500+

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Turbo If you want a complete turbo kit, check out companies like Drag, Full Race, GReddy, PeakBoost and Rev Hard. Most tuners these days are piecing together their own kit using custom-made manifolds and specific turbos allowing for larger gains. Custom manifolds suppliers include AFI, Full Race, LoveFab and PeakBoost. Turbo manufacturers include Garrett and Turbonetics. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $3000+

Supercharger So you don't like turbo lag but love boost. This is your solution. Complete supercharger kits are available from Jackson Racing and Vortech. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $3000+

Mild Intake We'd recommend skipping the drop-in filter here and jumping to a pipe with a cone filter on it or better yet, a cold-air induction. The D series intake system chokes this motor quite a bit. You'll need to open it up to be able to have a competitive D15 or D16. Bang: estimated +5hp Bucks: $50+

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Exhaust For a NA motor, the D series engine should be mated up with nothing smaller than a 2.25" diameter exhaust piping. We'd even suggest a 2.5" (or 60mm) exhaust in case you plan to do any future upgrades. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $350+

Header Stay away from the generic cheap stuff you see on auction sites. They don't fit well, don't last long and don't perform well either. We're not sure why so many D15 and D16 owners swing that way. DC Sports makes a great off-the-shelf header for D owners. But if you've got the money and want a serious header, Bisimoto, Hytech, LoveFab and SMSP offer some of the best units for the D series. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $350+

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D Series Medium Throttle-Body A cheap and simple upgrade can be had by swapping out the 56mm throttle-body with a B series 60mm throttle-body. Just make sure to port-match the manifold if necessary. The D, B, F and H throttle-bodies are interchangeable, so if ever necessary you can even fit 74mm aftermarket pieces. Bang: estimated +5hp Bucks: $150+

Intake Manifold Blox, Edelbrock and Skunk2 all make intake manifolds that deliver more air. But if you're on a budget, the D16Y8 ('96-00 Civic EX VTEC) intake manifold is your answer. With its short runners and fat plenum, this is essentially like putting on a Type R intake manifold on a B series, but still not nearly as good as aftermarket units. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $300+

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Camshaft and Valvetrain Some of the more popular companies that offer camshafts, valves, valve springs and retainers for the D series include; Bisimoto, Comp Cams, Crane Cams, Exospeed, Skunk2 and Zex. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $300+

ECU If you're not OBD-1, changing to OBD-1 will allow you to use popular systems like Hondata. All you would need is an ECU jumper, an OBD-1 ECU and possibly a OBD-1 distributor. There just aren't as many tuning devices for the non-OBD and OBD-2 D engines. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $400+

Wild Pistons Forged pistons are the way to go for forced induction. But if you're building a NA motor and have a D16Y8 head, you could buy factory P29 pistons (from a '88-89 Integra D16A1) for a huge jump in compression. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $350+

Rods Similar to the piston section, forged units will give you the best performance and insurance. But if you're looking for a cheap upgrade, Integra LS B18B rods are much thicker and stronger than the factory D engine counterparts. Used LS rods can be had for cheap but do require a bit of machining to work. Bang: N/A Bucks: $400+

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Turbo Just like the B series section complete turbo kits can be had from Drag, Full Race, GReddy, PeakBoost and Rev Hard to name a few. Custom manifolds suppliers include AFI, Full Race, LoveFab and PeakBoost. One very popular cheap solution for a turbo manifold is to run the factory '88-91 CRX HF exhaust manifold with an adapter to bolt on small turbos. BMC Race is one of the companies that offers the adapters if you cannot fab one up yourself. Bang: estimated +80hp Bucks: $2500+

Supercharger All supercharger kits for the D series have been discontinued (Endyn, Jackson Racing and HKS). You will have to look for these kits used or build a custom setup. Bang: estimated +80hp Bucks: N/A

F Series (F20C/F22C) Mild Intake Intakes for this engine generally range from aluminum piping, to very expensive carbon chambers. The favorite for most S2000 owners would most likely be the J's Racing intake. There are several other brands that also offer an intake ranging from all different prices (AEM, ASM, K&N, Mugen and Password JDM). Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $250+

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Exhaust Depending on what you're looking for in an exhaust (power, look, weight, noise level) the optimum piece can differ. Amuse and J's Racing both make an exhaust with absolute performance in mind, but the noise level and price is not for everyone. Companies like ASM and Mugen offer units that are quieter but also weigh more. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $700+

Header Not everyone can be Elliott Moran and afford to cover his S2000 in J's Racing parts. Although the J's Racing header is one of the best out there, you can't rule out the ASM, Amuse, Hytech, Toda or so many other units. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $800+

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Medium Drivetrain Changing out the final gear of the drivetrain is probably more popular on the F20C/F22C than on any other engine in the Honda tuner world. Not having an incredible amount of torque from the engine, the factory 4.10 gear just doesn't cut it. Aftermarket kit options are 4.44, 4.57, 4.62 and 4.77. And yes it is true, Kia and Mazda units will fit and are much cheaper than aftermarket brands. Bang: n/a Bucks: $300+

ECU Tried and true is AEM's EMS unit that so many have used. And after a very long wait, Hondata has finally put together K-Pro to work with the F20C/F22C. Bang: estimated +15hp Bucks: $1400+

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Wild Individual Throttle-Bodies For the utmost NA performance, ITB kits are available from Fuji Racing, Hayward Performance, Jenvey, Toda Racing, Tracy Sports and TWM. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $2000+

Turbo Turbo kits are very popular with S2000 tuners, both complete kits and custom fabricated units. There are simply too many good brands to list them all here. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $4000+

Supercharger Three names come to mind if you want to add a supercharger; CT Engineering (Comptech), KraftWerks and Vortech. All units are very impressive. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $6000+

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Mild Intake Results have shown that intakes with a 3" diameter pipe work best on a mild K20 engine. You can simply build your own intake using a large velocity stack from companies like Circuit Hero or Prototype Racing and mate them to a K&N cone filter. Bang: estimated +7hp Bucks: $50+

Header Some of the good yet less expensive K-series headers include DC Sports, HASport and K-Tuned. But if you want the absolute gain with no regard to price, than you should look into Hytech, R Crew Racing, Six Sigma Racing and SMSP. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $400+

Medium Intake Manifold The Accord Euro R and '06+ Civic Si gets a manifold (called 'RBC') that flows much better than the factory K series manifold, another great OEM upgrade. For people that want a bit more air and a simpler install, there's units from Skunk2 and Xcessive. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $250+

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ECU Hondata's K-Pro programmable ECU is one up the best upgrades you can do to a K engine. Even on stock engines, people are reporting significant gains. Bang: estimated +15hp Bucks: $1000+

Camshafts There's quite a bit more of a selection of cams these days and your choice will depend on the engine size, purpose and goal. Popular choices include Blueprint Manufacturing, Brian Crower, Drag Cartel, IPS, R Crew Racing and Skunk2. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $600+

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K Series Wild Individual Throttle-Bodies Available kits for the K series include Clockwise Motion, Kinsler, Hayward Performance, Jenvey, Toda Racing and TWM. Clockwise Motion's kit is an interesting roller design, which is compact in design for cars with little hood clearance. Bang: estimated +10hp Bucks: $2000+

Turbo If you want a complete turbo kit, check out companies like Full Race, GReddy, HKS, PeakBoost and Rev Hard. Piecing together a kit might not save you money, but it will allow you to pick out your own parts, such as a custom manifold not offered in a kit. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $3500+

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Supercharger Depending on what chassis and which K series engine you have, these companies offer supercharger kits for various K-series applications; CT Engineering (Comptech), Jackson Racing and KraftWerks. Bang: estimated +100hp Bucks: $3000+

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