It's been a few months since I last updated this build series and, in all honesty, the work you see below was done well over a month ago. Having dedicated some time to starting on a 2018 Civic Si build while also mapping out a plan of attack to revamp Super Street's Week to Wicked S2000, spending considerable time planning out the Eibach Meet's 15th Anniversary event and my normal day-to-day duties here in the office, well, I had to dig my way out of this hole and haven't had enough hours in the day to write this up.
As it stands right now, I've been waiting for a few months to find a paint shop to do a complete color change and make a few minor additions after the original painter decided he didn't want to take on the job. In the meantime, the block, head and everything in between were more than ready to join forces, so I headed to San Diego to get things moving again, and here's how it went...
AFHK Parts - @afhkparts
That 9-to-5 parts department worker that you occasionally encounter when you head to your local dealership for some OEM parts might be pretty good at hunting down inventory and locating what it is you're in search of but there's a pretty good chance they have nowhere near the dedication that the AFH parts staff does. A group that not only knows everything there is to know about OEM Honda parts but are also well versed in the aftermarket to boot. I worked with Ryan Doolin of AFH years ago for another project build for HT and he's been my go-to guy for various OEM bits and pieces for some of my personal project cars ever since.
Since that time, there's been a few changes at AFH, most notably the addition of enthusiast Dan Saldivar to the 7-staff crew. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the group's incredible pace and continued growth. Ryan adds, "Currently we don't have enough people - we're searching for more staff and have to bring someone else in. We just had our busiest month ever online back in March and we're still growing—shipping over 30 orders per day, 5 days a week." Available 10 to 7, Monday to Saturday, to offer product support, field questions, and set up orders, Ryan recommends customers use their freshly updated website afhkparts.com as much as possible in order to keep things moving as the calls just don't stop and a neverending flow of OEM and aftermarket Honda parts orders keep this group incredibly busy. Oh, and as kicker, all of those enthusiast parts being ordered and the required shipping duties take place on top of a fully functioning Honda parts department. Whew!
The main focus remains on OEM engine swap components and offering as many parts as possible for popular models like the '92 to '00 and 8th gen. Civic, 3rd gen. Integra, and S2000, but Ryan reminds us that the new FK8 Type R market is already demanding a number of parts and AFHK is moving quickly on that front as well.
When I mentioned this project to Ryan during his visit to Eibach Meet SoCal in 2018, an event series that AFH sponsors, by the way, he already knew exactly what parts I needed and assured me they were all in stock and ready to go. Now you can buy individual OEM parts through AFH or you can opt for one of their complete OEM parts kits, like an RRC oil pump conversion, OEM radiator hose package for K-swaps or, as was my case, their K24 "Frank Essential Package," which included:
- CRV timing cover bracket
- K24 timing guide
- K24 timing guide arm
- K20Z3 upper guide
- K24 timing chain
- TSX/RSX-S PRB tensioner 14510-PRB-A01
- K24 headgasket
- CRV K24A1 12251-PPA-004
- TSX K24A2 12251-RBB-004
- K24 timing cover (optional)
Everything I needed to prep my K24/K20 combo. No guess work, no last-minute searches for something I might have forgot to order the first time—AFH has already done the leg work and, of course, it's all original Honda OEM goodness.
If you're like me and enjoy killing yourself over multiple projects at the same time and particularly if your project of choice is a little bit older, you'd be wise to follow @afhkparts on Instagram to get a glimpse at what they're shipping, what's available, and they even give a heads up on what popular parts are soon being discontinued by Honda as fair warning.
Sportcar Motion - @sportcarmotion
After having the K24 block sleeved by the folks at L.A. Sleeve and the head thoroughly reworked by 4Piston Racing, I brought both halves to Sportcar Motion so we could get started on assembling the Frank setup. Sportcar Motion has built, swapped, and tested more K-series engines than you can possibly imagine, and they've got a stable of track cars along with a huge clientele that rely on their knowledge and experience on the regular.
Every engine builder has their own thoughts and theory on what tolerances should be adhered to for various engine build types and intended purposes. For the crew at Sportcar Motion, engine builds that will be getting a taste of boost typically fall under a tried and true set of clearances that they highly recommended be used for my build. Loi Song, owner of SCM explains, "For a K24/20 build that's going to see mild boost or is going to be a super high compression all motor set up, this is what we run in our cars."
- Pistons - compression rings .024
- Oil scrapping rings .028
- Main bearing clearance .0017
- Rod bearing clearance .0017
- Piston-to-wall clearance .0035
On the surgery table, K1 Technologies rods and JE pistons, which I highlighted a few stories ago, along with ACL race series bearings.
Prior to assembly, Sportcar Motion checks and double checks everything to insure there won't be any problems during assembly and once the engine is up and running.
The K1 Technologies rods rely on high-quality ARP hardware for longevity and torque specs are included and dependent upon your particular application.
With the crank, rods, and pistons loaded into the block, the 4Piston Racing head was up next.
Fresh dowels and the new head gasket were first...
Followed by carefully lowering the head into place.
Again, relying on tried and true ARP head studs, we mate the K24 block to the K20 head after the hardware's been prepped with the included fastener lubricant.
Each stud was then carefully set in place and hand tightened before final torque.
More grease added to the washer before the ARP bolts were added and tightened in sequence...
...followed by another pass using a torque wrench to spec.
The long-block was then turned upside down and a few rotations applied to make sure there were no issues of interference or foreign sound produced.
In order to fit properly on most K24 blocks, the K20 oil pump's upper webbing needs to be trimmed a bit to fit flush with the block casting. AFH provided a brand-new OEM pump and we lined it up in place and used a marker to sketch out the material that needed to be removed. A bandsaw was used to carefully make multiple small cuts into the housing.
Those slotted pieces were then plucked free with pliers before sanding the surface down to a smooth finish. There're many different ways to do this but for Sportcar, this is simple and only took about 10 minutes total to complete as they've gone through the process well over a hundred times.
My 4Piston Racing K20 head didn't have any cams or cam caps previously so I relied on Loi to help source a set of used TSX cams, and after some internet hunting I found an incredibly clean, complete cam cap set pulled from a wrecked 8th gen Si for a great price.
The OEM timing chain guides and tensioner were added, and the chain properly adjusted before all of the hardware was double checked.
With the windage tray torqued into place, the engine was flipped back over and again a few revolutions applied to check for any issues. This time there was in fact an issue of clearance. The bottom edge of the K1 rods were contacting the inside of the tray so we pulled it back off and noted the marks before gently tapping out the contact areas to free up a little breathing room. With the windage tray reinstalled and torqued down, the engine was once again rotated multiple times and the issue was resolved.
The frequent checks certainly paid off in this case as dropping the engine in and getting the car up and running is the only way we would have known there was a clearance issue and it would have been a headache to chase it down once inside the bay. Here, the engine sits complete with its timing chain cover in the middle of being bolted on and almost ready for the oil pan and valve cover.
Having sourced a used oil pan from the Honda guru himself, Brian Gillespie, Loi recommended adding Sportcar Motion's signature baffle plate to avoid starvation issues under hard cornering. It's a simple addition that's always in stock at Sportcar and adds some security to your set up.
Hybrid Racing - @hybridracing
Up to this point I didn't have a valve cover but fortunately, Sportcar always has a few sitting around the shop. We added a set of AN fittings in order to vent the set up later, and after giving it a thorough wash and dry, we capped off the engine build. I'll eventually get the cover sent off to powercoating but in the meantime I added a few Hybrid Racing components to give me an idea of how this will all look. Hybrid Racing is supplying a number of swap parts for this build including their ultra-simple K-swap fuel solution, very slick adjustable shifter kit and more. Hybrid's been knee-deep in all things "K" since the engine became a sensation in the Honda enthusiast world and their parts can be found literally everywhere. Every continent, in street, race and show cars, the brand name has reached household status and they literally make everything you could possibly need to make K-swapping easier and cleaner overall - these guys are constantly coming up with new products.
You've definitely seen Hybrid's awesome slim oil cap that uses a hinged "flap" that swings up to offer a solid grip for removal and replacement and folds down very flat to give you some additional cap-to-hood distance.
Honestly, even if you don't need the additional clearance, this is by far the coolest oil cap we've ever come across and it fits just about every Honda engine from D- to J-series and it's available in grey, if you prefer.
Hybrid also sent over their clever Slimloc K-series dipstick that sits entirely flush with the valve cover and its 2-piece design locks into place when the handle is pushed down. I wish these were available a few years back, when my 8th gen's K24 always, and I mean always popped the dipstick out of position. Lock it down and its rock solid with that smooth, flush look that offers a little extra hood clearance as well. These are also available in grey to match the oil cap.
Their aluminum laser-cut Formula coil pack cover takes some inspiration from F1 engines and offers a precise fit, includes stainless steel hardware and uses a smooth, semi-gloss black powdercoat finish. It ties everything together and when this gets going and I add in Hybrid's fuel rail and lines that they sent along with the adjustable fuel pressure regulator, it's all going to flow nicely.
Innovative Mounts - @innovativemounts
To mount the new engine in place, Innovative Mounts stepped up to offer their K-series conversion kit. Though I've never worked with Innovative in the past, I've known of the brand and their products for well over a decade. They offer performance engine mount replacement and swap options for a huge variety of vehicles. Their mounts are CAD/CAM designed, stress analyzed and include a lifetime warranty. More recently, I've seen some of their products put to use by Sportcar Motion for customers wanting K20 x Toyota MR-S conversions.
I gave them a quick rundown of what I have planned, and the group suggested their steel cage, aluminum mount kit with 85A bushings. The black finish combined with a red bushing looks perfect together and before this chassis heads off to paint, I wanted to fit them into place after removing the stock heart and pretty much everything else in the bay.
In order to make room for the new mounts, I had to chop off the factory passenger side mount. A simple process, I drilled out the factory spot welds one-by-one and carefully used an air chisel to release the OEM mount.
I then used a grinder to smooth out some of the leftover spot weld edges and clean things up a little bit.
The Innovative bracket fits snugly over the rail and features two sets of holes to choose from based on what axles you'll be using: OEM or aftermarket/race versions.
Once lined up, two new holes are drilled up top to allow the supplied hardware to feed from the top and thread right into the factory holes on the bottom of the rail, capped off by another nut supplied in the kit.
Mocked up with the Innovative billet mount in place
The rear and driver side mounts also include new hardware and bolt directly into place without requiring any modification.
The Civic finally has an appointment at a local paint shop and should be on its way via flatbed to get dropped off as you're reading this *fingers crossed*. They'll be taking on the task of transforming this two-tone, rather loud color into something a little subtler, and most importantly, a single color. With any luck I'll have it back in my possession in just a few months to continue progressing. Stay tuned...