I'll never forget test-driving my first newly swapped Civic years ago. No matter how effectively the preceding week of mind-racking stress of installing that '94 B18C1 GSR engine and trans into my '95 Civic DX taxes the memory, I can recall the moments as if they happened yesterday: the foreign sound of the new starter cranking the dual-cam engine to life, the increased NVH levels felt at idle, and the massive power and gearing improvements the new combination delivered over the previous D15 arrangement. I can also remember shifting into Third Gear for the first time-the moment my unadulterated bliss was traded for an emotion felt by anyone the moment they realize they're f*cked-which can only be described in one onomatopoeiatic offering: "grreeacchhhkk!"
"That's the sound of a worn synchro," he responded.
"OK . . . what can I do about it?"
"Nothing. Replace the transmission and hope it doesn't happen again."
Fortunately, times have changed.
When the same problem surfaced in Project DC2 a little while back-on the up-shift from Third to Fourth-we decided it was time to find a permanent solution. We had two options: we could replace the trans with a nicer-looking one from a junkyard and hope for the best, or we could spent a small fortune on a complete synchro and sleeve set from a Honda dealership (synchros/sleeves aren't sold individually), re-build our trans to OE specs and hope it lasts a decent amount of time before it starts grinding again. It wasn't until we caught up with Synchrotech in San Dimas, CA, that we learned of a third option: order only the components we need (at manufacturer-direct costs), and rebuild the trans ourselves or have them do it for a nominal fee. We could even upgrade our OEM brass synchros to their proprietary carbon-coated or full carbon-fiber synchros to increase performance and longevity, and still save coin in the process. Turns out our choice really wasn't one after all.
(All prices for B18C1 Y80 transmission and components)
|OEM AFTERMARKET, REBUILT:||$2,230.99|
|SYNCHROTECH, REBUILT (W/BRASS SYNCHROS):||$ 1,195.00|
|SYNCHROTECH, REBUILT (W/CARBON-COATED SYNCHROS):||$ 1,200.00|
|Transmission re-build items (for D.I.Y. install)|
|DEALERSHIP MASTER KIT:||$ 1,251.31|
|SYNCHROTECH MASTER KIT (W/BRASS SYNCHROS):||$ 750.00|
|SYNCHROTECH MASTER KIT (W/CARBON-COATED SYNCHROS):||$ 795.00|
|OEM AFTERMARKET BASIC KIT:||$ 684.99|
|SYNCHROTECH BASIC KIT (W/BRASS SYNCHROS):||$ 350.00|
|SYNCHROTECH BASIC KIT (W/CARBON-COATED SYNCHROS):||$ 395.00|
"I rev out to almost 11 grand in each gear," begins Tim Thomas, NYC-based Low Budget Racing's 9.6-second B-series Civic drag champ, "and it was just killing the stock synchros. They were failing every two or three passes." He continues, "I've gone over 20 passes on Synchrotech's carbon-fiber ones so far, and shifting at high rpm is way faster. If I blow a trans, I'll yank out the synchros and put them in the new trans-good as new!" Brian Kono, of Cypress, CA's After Hours Automotive, whose road-race EG recently won Honda Challenge's H2 class with the prototype full carbon-fiber synchros installed (and with Renan Bayar behind the wheel), concurs. "We log thousands of high-rpm, abusive shifts during each race weekend," he explains, "and the carbon synchros outperform OE in every way."