It's been a few months since we revisited the Project K24 '92 Civic VX project car, which late last year received a complete color change inside and out by our friends at DTM Autobody. From the body shop directly to my home garage, I've been chipping away at various parts of the project whenever time permits. Having completely stripped the interior and engine bay to make the painting process easier, it's the perfect time to figure out the brake line setup.
There are dozens of directions to go when customizing a brake setup. Some opt for redirecting the factory lines, while others prefer to bend and flare new lines in order to get the exact path they need to tuck everything away nicely. A number of complete (or at least close to complete) kits are available through various groups, and relying on a brand that had done the process time and time again and tested things thoroughly was important for me. That's where Chase Bays @chasebays comes in.
Having officially kicked off the business back in 2005, owner Chase McMaster was well known for slick wiring harnesses that made engine swaps both easier and cleaner, and he eventually moved into other aspects of vehicle building, like cooling and fuel upgrades. Seeing minimal profit from the wiring side of the business, that portion of the brand was later sold so that Chase and his company could concentrate solely on high-end fluid transfer products with a goal of offering goods that not only increase performance, as proven by extensive R&D both on and off the track, but also offer improved aesthetic value for the best of both worlds. After doing a complete overhaul of the product lineup and launching a new website, Chase Bays essentially doubled in just one year, and the brand has established itself as one of the top suppliers of custom cooling, braking, and fuel-delivery solutions along with oil control, power steering, and clutch-related products.
When you visit chasebays.com, you'll find all of the parts they offer separated by chassis, which makes things easy. Scrolling through the Civic/Integra section reveals multiple brake line relocation kits available and intended for both the inside of the cabin and inside the engine bay, depending on what your goals are. For this build I really wanted to explore a boosterless system.
Doing away with the factory brake booster is a hotly debated subject, and there are a few things to consider when looking into the process. The first is that yes, the brake pedal feel will absolutely be firmer. As Chase notes, a properly set up booster delete will typically mean that from 10 to 80 percent braking is similar to your stock setup. However, that last 20 percent is going to require more leg power to equate to a booster-equipped setup. That doesn't mean you're losing braking distance; it means you'll need to muscle it without the booster there to assist. For many, this is preferred in that it offers a much more consistent braking experience and more control without locking up the brakes as compared to a stock-style booster system. Also, some of the main factors to obtaining proper brake performance with a deleted booster are using the correct master cylinder for your brake pedal ratio and the ability to adjust the rear brake bias along with performance pads to keep up with the quick clamping force you'll experience.
The system for this build starts with Chase Bays' brake booster eliminator, which features a black anodized plate that uses the same factory holes the original booster once did to pass through the firewall and bolt into position. The included brake pedal rod is of course adjustable to dial it in to your desired amount of play, and a new clevis pin secures it just like the factory.
Originally, I had planned to convert the VX clutch master cylinder to an S2000 version for a cleaner look, but Chase Bays actually offers a feed adapter line that connects right to the side of the Wilwood reservoir on the delete plate, which I think looks even better.
With the booster delete plate bolted in place, I removed the reservoir and used the supplied washer to mark the point to drill a hole for the new line fitting. I used a small drill bit to make a starter hole and then switched to my step-bit, which I marked at the 3/8-inch point to avoid drilling too large of an opening. The fit at 3/8 is very tight, but that's what you want to keep a seal, and you simply turn the fitting until it rests flat.
Threading on the nut inside the reservoir and then locking it in place after finding a proper-angled line wrench took a minute, but the overall process is very simple. The line, already fitted with quality clamps and cut to the exact length needed when it arrives, goes directly into place and looks great.
The Chase Bays "inInterior" brake line relocation kit intended for the '92-00 Civic and '94-01 Integra comes with everything you'll need in regard to running brake lines. It includes an adjustable bias valve, the actual lines with fittings already in place, and the additional fittings needed to plumb the system through the sheetmetal. There's no cutting or flaring involved, as it's all done for you, making this as simple a kit as possible. Because I was under the hood with the booster eliminator, I began the line portion of the install with a CNC bent and flared stainless steel hardline—the only hardline in the entire kit.
Designed to come downward, straight off the front end of the master cylinder, the line gently bends toward the firewall, hangs a right, and heads upward before its last bend into the firewall.
You'll need to find a spot to drill through the firewall, and on the fifth gen, there's a rounded indention with a nice, flat surface area that won't cause any sort of strain on the preformed line.
I double-checked the backside of the firewall to make sure there wasn't anything in the way and that the area around the intended fitting install would be clutter-free, well away from any moving components. I then started with a small pilot hole and worked my way to a size that would accommodate the AN fitting's threaded body.
The rest of the lines are -3AN stainless steel-braided and Teflon PTFE-lined with a black PVC coating, and the quality is apparent from the moment you pick them up. For those lines, the supplied AN fitting is fed through the firewall and attached to a multipoint adapter that will link to three directions: one going to each of the front brakes and a line that will lead toward the rear of the car, where it will eventually split into two individual lines for each of the rear brakes.
I found it was easier to fully install the 90-degree fitting placed on the top of the assembly and the line closest to the firewall before tightening down the pass-through adapter. The reason being, once in place, it was tough to get an AN wrench to fit in the tight space. Pre-tightening the harder-to-reach fittings and then moving them into place made things much easier.
On the driver's side brake line, you want to make sure you're routing it out of the way of the brake and clutch pedal to avoid any sort of contact. With the '92 to '95 EH chassis, there's a recessed area of the firewall that's basically an oval with a circle just above it, separated by a small amount of metal. Using a large step-bit, I was able to drill through that patch of metal and leave a pathway large enough to add the 90-degree AN fitting and still leave ample space to hold it in place during assembly. That circle lines up with a flat surface on the inside of the wheelwell.
After drilling through the firewall, the supplied wheelwell brake line fits into place using the AN fitting on one end and an OEM-style fitting on the other. I opted to add Chase Bays' fenderwell brake lines that lead to the calipers, which are composed of the same exact materials used on the relocation kit lines, meaning excellent quality and the fit is spot on. (Note: C-clip was set into place for mock-up, as I had new OEM clips on order; I suggest you grab new ones, as well, if you're adding new lines.)
The passenger line is snaked across the lower power of the firewall, away from any moving parts, and its 90-degree fitting passes through the firewall just like the driver's side, except there is far more space on this side with no pedals to contend with.
Another note: When pushing the fitting through the firewall and removing it a few times during installation, I like to tape off both ends to avoid any debris from making its way inside and finding a home.
The line leading to the rear section is interrupted somewhere around the shift lever area in order to feed the adjustable bias valve. This is to be mounted in place and provides easy access to the driver in order to dial in their ideal brake feel.
The exit line leads to a two-way line diverter to send fittings to both rear brakes. If you have interior, much of the line will be hidden by the rear seats. If you're opting to delete your interior, like I have, the lines are visible but due to their correct lengths and nice fittings, they don't look at all cluttered or messy.
Like the front end, I measured and made sure the hole I was drilling would be uninterrupted and I wouldn't be running into anything unexpected.
Also, I measured the Chase Bays wheelwell line to make sure my new bulkhead wouldn't force the line to sit unnaturally. The rear kit lines have a unique bend to accommodate the shape of the wheelwell.
With the holes drilled and the fittings completely tightened, I added the rear fenderwell brake lines to complete the install. The only thing I have left in terms of braking is to add a few more P-clips to the rear to keep the lines inside secure, as well as permanently mounting the bias valve, which I'm delaying until I install front seats and can mark the best position from the driver's side.
In regard to the entire kit, it's incredibly easy to install and didn't cause any concerns throughout the process. The lines, fittings, and the fit and finish are incredibly well thought out, and I couldn't find a single part of the kit that could be improved upon. It's obvious Chase Bays did its homework when it designed this.
Having the brake portion of the build wrapped up meant I could focus my attention on another part of the build—namely the radiator. For years, as custom bays have become cleaner and less "busy," various groups have produced tucked radiators to help free up some space under the hood by tacking it under the upper radiator support. However, unlike the majority of other tucked radiator applications on the market, Chase Bays takes advantage of all of the real estate in the car's front opening. So much so that Civic EH owners are required to cut some of the surrounding core support in order to fit the 11-inch radiator.
Most don't like the idea of cutting into their car, and I'm the same way, but what you have to keep in mind is that the area you're trimming isn't in plain sight and is relatively easy to do, and most important, it's worth it. The result of your hard work is a true cooling upgrade with a radiator that carries more fluid capacity, uninterrupted airflow, and a dual-pass design that can be flipped for B- or K-series applications (as well as other swaps).
The rear of the unit features integrated mounting tabs for a 10- and 8-inch fan to be secured. You're certainly used to seeing fan shrouds covering the back of the radiator, but with thorough testing, Chase Bays found that even at low speeds a fan shroud often restricts flow, and the negatives outweigh the positives.
Being a universal application, this radiator can really be installed farther forward or backward, depending on your needs. I chose to mount it right in the center of the support, but no matter which direction you go, you'll need to trim the upper/side core support points both front and rear. I didn't have anything worthy of cutting into metal, so I picked up a 4.5-inch angle grinder from Harbor Freight along with a metal cutting disc from my local hardware store—both of which were more than sufficient for this job. If you're tackling the work yourself, take some precautions, as metal bits and plenty of sparks are going to be flying everywhere. I recommend thick gloves, long sleeves, proper face and head protection, and a mask, and be sure to remove anything potentially flammable from your work area. The upper corners of the core support didn't put up much of a fight, as the metal is relatively thin and I cut away the area inside the bay first then hopped to the front of the car to finish trimming from the outside. It's a good idea to mark the length needed to fit the top of the radiator beforehand in order to avoid cutting more than you need to.
On the bottom support, a pinch weld is essentially double the thickness of the upper portion and requires a bit more time to cut all the way through and across the length of the radiator. Right in the middle of the opening is a thin support bar that also has to be cut out for clearance. After cutting the necessary pieces and test fitting the radiator to make sure it sat evenly, I went back over all of the edges with a flap disk to smooth them out.
The integrated side tabs allow you to find the right spot on your vehicle to permanently mount the unit. With the radiator positioned, I drilled a hole on each side large enough to fit a set of Downstar Inc. @downstar Allen head bolts through and finished them off with their red beauty washers.
The dual fans are mounted in the same fashion, using Downstar hardware, and the process of fitting and mounting the radiator is complete. Total install time will depend on the tools you're using and how comfy you are with cutting through metal. For me, it was about three hours from start to finish, taking some time here and there to grab photos and to sand down all of the edges. It's not a difficult process by any means, but again, I highly recommend using proper safety any time you're using an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel.
When it comes to plumbing the radiator, Chase Bays definitely has options available. The 20AN opening on the inlet and outlet can be fitted with Chase Bays' OE-style fitting for traditional hoses and clamps, or you can go with a threaded fitting in order to use braided lines and AN fittings. I chose AN style, and the fittings step down to 16AN.
Once the radiator's been tucked away neatly under the support, you'll need a new fill point that sits higher than the radiator to properly bleed the system and avoid unwanted bubbles. The Chase Bays raised inline fill neck solves that problem, offers the same OEM- or AN-style fittings, and looks damn good doing it with a black anodized finished and matching cap.
Based on the number of options available to end users on the Chase Bays website, it's apparent the company made a major leap toward accommodating as many build types as possible to give its customer base plenty of options. And based on the quality and fitment of its components, it's obvious Chase Bays put the time into making sure there were no corners cut along the way. With the boosterless setup and brake lines now in and the neatly tucked radiator joining the Innovative mounts, the Civic VX engine bay is finally coming together.