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Gunchsta HalfDork
3/21/19 7:29 a.m.

With the weather nicer lately in Minnesota I've been much more motivated to get out in the garage. Last night I dropped my wheels & tires off to be mounted and balanced, then spent some time in the garage tinkering. 

One thing that had already been bothering me was the header collector to test-pipe junction. I had previously modified the flange on the test pipe and it was ugly and inefficient. There was no gasket and it didn't have much clamping force as the ears were too far away and not properly strong. It was going to leak, and likely instantly. I'm not going to pass judgement; but we've all encountered the obnoxious Honda Civic's terrorizing the neighborhood with their too-loud exhaust antics. I'm in my 30's, I don't want to be that guy. 

So this mess got cut off 

And replaced with a V-band. My phone was dying so I just have a picture of the header collector V-banded but it's a lot nicer. Plus double flanges! 

I was also able to reposition the exhaust some and get it more centered in the bumper. The picture above was when everything was finger tight, by the time I snugged it up it had moved over about 3/4" of an inch. Now everything is tight and it sits just like it did in the above picture. 

I'm pleased I took the time to do this as the previous design was a cop-out and I knew I could do better.  

The list is getting shorter! 

Cousin_Eddie HalfDork
3/21/19 7:32 a.m.

When are you planning to have it on the road ?

chrispy HalfDork
3/21/19 8:24 a.m.

Exhaust looks good!  Looking forward to your impression of the sound.

Gunchsta HalfDork
3/21/19 8:31 a.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie :

My wishful goal earlier was to drive it by April 20th. If I made that I would be happy. 

Technically if I bought all my parts I don't think there's much reason I couldn't start it this weekend; but I've been trying to pace my spending and I just bought tires so the budget is pretty tapped for this week.


For those interested, the list of things the car still needs is like this:

Clutch hydraulics purchased, installed & bled


IACV, IAT, MAP, TPS sensors need to be purchased and installed

Radiator & associated hoses/coolant  

Air intake tube/filter

Throttle cable mounting

Wheels & tires (should be done tonight)

Oil/filter replacement

fuel rail mounted

alternator plug changed (car has a canadian harness which has an odd alternator plug, I just need to swap it out)

Alignment - once the car runs. 


And, whatever other problems I haven't accounted for. I've never had a battery in the car so there is a SMALL part of me that is frightened the whole thing will burn to the ground when 12 volts is applied to it. This is an illogical fear but it's there. 

CLOSE! We're close.

Gunchsta HalfDork
3/21/19 8:35 a.m.

In reply to chrispy :

Thanks, So far I'm super impressed with the product. The fit and quality look really great for the price. Excited to hear it too! Honda engines don't produce the best sound a lot of the time, so hopefully this is mostly just quiet.

Gunchsta HalfDork
3/25/19 7:27 a.m.

Had some highs and lows this weekend with the car. Friday I changed the oil, put in the passenger side fender liner, and topped off the trans with new Honda MTL. Well, apparently it wasn't full before because by the end of the night it had evacuated most of the fluid I poured in, if not more. This was frustrating and a bit disheartening as I hoped to be able to check 'under car items' off the list so I could focus on the engine bay and making it run. Well, as one should expect things didn't go quite to plan, BUT they weren't all bad. 

I decided to say berkeley it and put the car back down on the ground anyhow. I hadn't seen it painted sitting on actual wheels and tires out in the sunlight ever and I needed some motivation. So down the car goes despite the leaking trans. Saturday morning I pushed it out and hand washed it in the sun. It felt therapeutic and was nice to see the full picture. It was also a bit of a re-set as I was able to clean the car and sweep the garage under where it had been sitting since December. 

Here's some quick snaps of it sitting at ride height. Overall I'm happy with it, I like the way it looks and the paint looks decent from about 15' away. 

After it's bath I pushed it back in, jacked it up, and found the culprit of the trans leak.

The driver's side output shaft seal was pretty demolished. A new one should be here today and then back together. 

I'm glad it leaked now rather than later, and I'm actually glad I had to take it back apart because I had some questions on the engagement of the axle to the intermediate shaft, and I was able to take a closer look at that on the bench and verify some things. That gives me just another degree of confidence going forward. Plus I think I need to bleed the front brakes again. 


Gunchsta HalfDork
3/26/19 7:34 a.m.

Well, the axle seal didn't show up at the parts store yesterday, but I did manage to tinker with the car for a brief moment. I changed the plug on my wiring harness to match the alternator (USDM plug on a Canadian harness), hooked up some other sensors, added some grounds, and painted a couple brackets. It felt good to check the alternator wiring off the list, which is getting ever shorter! 

wheelsmithy SuperDork
3/26/19 4:27 p.m.


Gunchsta HalfDork
4/1/19 9:44 a.m.

So unfortunately Wheelsmithy your Vevo reference is entirely lost on me... But thanks?!


Anyhow, progress again! Went to the local U-pull yard this weekend with my Dad and scored an OEM grille and the rest of the remaining door trim I needed, along with some misc. hardware, clips, nuts & bolts. Here's the grille in it's rightful place

I also got the updated heater controls my car apparently has so it was a pretty great day at the yard. In further learning/exploring of the car I've certainly learned a lot more about the subtle differences between a 1997 Civic and a 1999 Civic. Mechanically they're very very similar, but a lot of aesthetics are changed just slightly; a detail I had never noticed before owning one. So that has been a fun learning experience. 

As it stands presently my car has a 1999 front clip (hood/fenders/lights/bumper) and the body itself is 1997. For some reason the heater controls and entire HVAC box have been swapped to the later 1999 style, but the radio harness appears to still be 1997. Playing with somebody else's Honda is an adventure. 

Furthermore, This car has led 3 lives at minimum: The way it rolled off the showroom floor, the presumably more tuner way it was before I got it, and the slightly more OEM way it is now in my possession. I've found a few hints at it's modified past by way of holes in the body for some kind of body kit & wing, as well as these clever little LED bulbs I will be swapping out for OEM; I discovered this this weekend when I put a battery in the car and now have lights and sounds!! 

I think one of these was burnt out, but the other one was in the turn signal position and emitted a blue light behind the amber turn signal lens. Not for me. A set of parts store stockers will be installed tonight. 

And here's a picture with the garage closed up and the lights on, because, well this is the first time I've seen the car with lights on! 

So, we are now closer than ever to it doing full on car things, which has me very excited. 

Playing around Sunday afternoon after putting the battery in showed me a few things, the first being that it didn't crank. That was frustrating but I let it go and focused on the positives. Windows worked, although they were slow. Sunroof works but slow. Fuel pump cycles with key on. Cute Honda key-in-ignition buzzer works (phew!). Lights all seem to work although some bulbs are bad. Back up lights work. License plate lights work. Windshield wipers work. Horn relays click though there is no horn in the car. Inside trunk courtesy light works! 

Back to the no-crank issue. Some googling told me the clutch switch can go bad on these cars; I jumpered the plug and same issue. Finally I stumbled upon an article talking about improving grounds. Always check your grounds! I was missing a ground strap from the chassis to the transmission, so I added that one. And I also had just painted the whole engine bay so the grounds I did have weren't making good contact through all the paint. So I added the transmission ground, cleaned up the paint on the others, and presto, she cranks! 


As I'm sitting here typing this up at work I'm also thinking to myself, perhaps the slow window operation was another symptom of the bad ground situation. I'll have to check that at home tonight. 

Time to spend more money!! :) 

Run_Away Dork
4/1/19 10:21 p.m.



What's the to-do list look like now?

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/2/19 7:47 a.m.

In reply to Run_Away :

Thanks! Getting really close. 

Last night I installed the clutch slave and bled the clutch, so that is now a functioning piece of the car (pending further drivability testing). This was criminally easy; I am still suspect about the process of strictly gravity bleeding the slave but it seemed to work mint. 

The Known-To-Do List is as follows: 

Install IACV, primary 02, and IAT sensors. Potentially change plug/wiring on IACV. 

Figure out how to plumb coolant lines to TB and IACV

Figure out how to set the throttle position sensor

Hook up throttle cable & modify bracket

Install air intake & filter

Flush heater core and connect associated hoses

Install radiator & wire cooling fan

Crank engine to build oil pressure

Put gas in tank

Make vroom vroom noises! (hopefully)

Theoretically then it will be drivable, which once I drive it a tiny bit I would like to take it back apart, change the timing belt & water pump, change spark plugs, and align it. 

I'm getting real excited! 

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/4/19 7:21 a.m.

Made some hood pin lanyards out of some leftover vinyl coated cable from work, now they stay with the car when I take them off! You can also see some failures on the bumper cover. A large chip out of the paint and some black overspray. I'm not good at having nice things :( 

I ordered everything I think I need left to drive the car, save for radiator hoses which I plan to pick up locally because I'm not sure which ones I need. My wallet is hurting, though I feel like I've done a better job pacing myself with the spending on this project - I've tried to only get parts I can use immediately and not order more parts until I have the previously purchased ones installed. Now we're close to the finish line and springtime cowabunga has set in. I want to drive the car! 

Hoping to make Vroom Vroom noises very soon!

Professor_Brap Dork
4/4/19 8:51 a.m.

This is coming along nicely, looks awesome! 

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/4/19 8:58 a.m.

In reply to Professor_Brap :

Thank you! It's getting there.

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/8/19 9:31 a.m.

Hondas are interesting cars. Telling someone you're working on one usually results in some kind of snarky comment about 'ricers' or 'fart cans' etcetera. In that way they're a bit unappreciated. Yet following Honda pages on social media shows them having an increasingly legitimate presence in drag racing, as well as stock examples garnering some value & collectability on the various auction sites. Furthermore, they continue (at least locally) to be stolen at an alarming rate, despite being fairly inexpensive. It's an odd assortment of values, and it feels weird to both have people insult the project and be terrified it will be stolen the moment it's drivable. 

Anyways, still progressing forwards on mine. I went to the junkyard on Saturday morning (that makes 3 weeks in a row) and returned, that's right, returned a CD player I got last weekend for store credit. Being able to return select parts to the U-pull yard is excellent. I was able to score the lower radiator cushions I needed, as well as a throttle cable bracket and some plugs/clips I thought I could use. My China-Canada-Japanese Yonaka radiator & fan showed up on Friday, and it looks great. Dual core, aluminum, with a nice fan & shroud. With the lower cushions I got at the junkyard I was able to set it in place. Oh and I also grabbed a fan wiring connector from a car at the yard because someone had cut mine off. 

Junkyard scavenging has been good not only for little piddly stuff this car just didn't have, but for knowledge of what wiring goes where, etc. I was able to see that the fan harness in my car had been cut instead of unplugged through looking at other similar models in the yard. A nice detail about the radiator & fan I bought - it would appear that they used the same color wiring for the fan as the original harness had, so it was just a matter of matching things up. Time will tell on this but I have a pretty high degree of confidence that's the case. 

Another item I picked up at the yard was a horn- I had previously grabbed one but it was a 1 wire style, and apparently mine is a 2 wire. I'm not sure the differences but I found a 2 wire unit, bolted it up and plugged it in, and it makes all kinds of great beepy noises now. This is one of those little details that would have bothered me to not have, though I would have gladly driven the car without. I'm happy it has a horn. 

Here's a throttle cable bracket I grabbed from an Integra, turned upside down and bent backwards, and it seems to work perfect. I need to have a second person help me assure I have WOT but it seems close. I would have grabbed my wife but I finished this at like 10:45 last night and she was already in bed. This particular task was done in the PJ's on a trip out to the curb with the garbage can. Gotta love that late night random inspiration. 

That about sums up this weekends escapades - Here's the to do list presently. It's quite short, now I'm actually starting to get nervous! 

Professor_Brap Dork
4/8/19 9:33 a.m.

Thats a short list, you should be able to knock that out in no time. 

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/8/19 9:44 a.m.

In reply to Professor_Brap :

I'm thinking MAYBE drive it this weekend (if it doesn't snow the 8" it is supposed to). The list is laughably short - that's probably like 45 minutes of work ha ha ha. I'm being pretty slow/patient because I'm honestly nervous. 

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/9/19 7:56 a.m.

It runs! My wife is also awesome - she came out with a champagne toast when she heard it start up! I'm a very fortunate guy. 

But before I fired it, this sweet little OEM radio block-off plate and antenna plug showed up. Very JDM. Much wow. I love them, and may choose to install a CD player later on down the road, but for now the interior is complete and doesn't have a gaping hole in the dash. I am actually really excited about this piece because I didn't even know it existed until a few days ago. 

And here's the plug for the roof where the antenna was

My eventual plan is to wire up a 2 or 4 channel mini-amp like I had in the C10 and just run an auxiliary cord through that for my phone. That way I can keep the clean look of no stero but still have tunes. 

Here's my 'clean' way to flush the heater core. I didn't suspect it needed it, but I didn't want to contaminate the engine with old gunk right away. Everything flowed nicely and flushed clean. The bucket caught all the excess from going on the ground or all over the engine bay. 

Start Up 

I flushed the heater core, set the TPS, plugged in the IAT and blocked off the intake manifold IAT, and suddenly thought to myself, I could start this. I don't have an air intake nor do I have radiator hoses, but I could start it. I was feeling pretty excited & nervous so I grabbed my gas can and walked up to the gas station to give myself some time to think & calm down. At the gas station there was a white civic coupe very very similar to mine, which I took as a sign from the Honda gods that it was time to fire the car. I got gas and walked back, and found a penny on the ground. Confidence is high, may the odds be ever in your favor, etc. I filled the car with gas, set a drain under the water outlets on the block and decided to crank it and build some oil pressure. Dummy light stayed illuminated but I wasn't sure if the starter would build enough oil pressure to set that off anyhow. For good measure I cranked it another 10-15 seconds and decided to plug in the ECU and get fuel to the rail. Primed the pump a handful of times, cranked it maybe twice and Vroom! it ran. Didn't run great at first but it ran. I shut it down and decided to check for leaks. Well, it's a good thing I did because it was pouring fuel out by the rail and at the filter on the firewall. I bought a nice stainless AN line to go from the filter to the rail with banjo fittings for the stock components... Of which I never checked for tightness. I checked the banjo fittings themselves, but never the fitting that went to the line. Stupid me. Luckily nothing bad happened other than a small mess and I was able to tighten those lines easily and start it again. Nothing seemed to leak (there's no coolant mind you so that could still pose an issue) and it ran much smoother getting actual constant fuel pressure. Woo!! 

I'm amazed at how many different cars gave components to this one to work, and that it all seems to just play nicely. Nothing is especially out of the ordinary or custom, so it should all work, but the fact that it seemingly just does work is impressive to me. Engine from Japan, car from god knows where, transmission from an acura, wiring harness from Canada. It feels good to have it all communicating. 


Now to get some hoses and a filter and drive it! I'm excited as heck. 

AngryCorvair MegaDork
4/9/19 8:02 a.m.

In reply to Gunchsta :

berkeley.   yes.   !!!!!

10001110101 New Reader
4/9/19 8:04 a.m.

Vroom noises accomplished! Excellent!

chrispy HalfDork
4/9/19 9:48 a.m.

That's awesome!

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/9/19 10:35 a.m.

Thanks! I am very excited.

The local parts store just called and my radiator hoses are in so hopefully some test drive action is in order tonight if the hoses are right. Oh and if my eBay cold air intake shows up; it is a Honda after all. 

wheelsmithy SuperDork
4/9/19 7:47 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta :

It was an image from ROCKIT, as that's what you are doing.

Carry on, Please.


HyperspaceTurd New Reader
4/9/19 8:22 p.m.

WOW, congratulations!!!

Awesome work. I'm jealous of the euphoria that must only come with vindication after a fat helping of blood, sweat and tears.

Inspiring. You and cousin eddy make hondas look easy, and of course, nothing is easy ;)

Nice work again!! Enjoy that car!!

There goes my miata plan! J/K

Gunchsta HalfDork
4/10/19 7:27 a.m.

Thanks for the kind words guys, yesterday another milestone was accomplished. 

First tank of gas! 

Followed by some cruising around. 

And here's the mostly finished picture of the engine bay. I'm going to move the filter from the "inner fenderwell suck up all the water you can" position to "engine bay hot air sucking" mode before I drive it again. Right now it sits down by the front wheel and though it's protected by a fender liner it is far too close to the ground for my comfort. 

But it runs, drives, starts and stops! It has heat, power steering, and a whole slew of other features cars have. The brakes are awful, they need to be bled again, and it needs an alignment. But otherwise it seems to function quite well, starts nicely, sounds good. The idle is high which I'm going to scan the check engine light before I monkey with anything to see what might be causing that. Charging system appears to work, cooling fan works. Heck most everything functions. 

I'm very pleased. In particular I'm proud of myself for being patient enough to have a lot of the systems functioning before I got it on the road. I've done other project cars before and it seems like I always sacrifice some level of basic functionality in favor of getting it on the road faster. This one (granted it's about 25 years newer than most of my previous projects) has lights, emergency flashers, an emergency brake, license plate lights, back up lights, a horn, heat, etc. Lots of mundane things that I am pleased to have working.

Random observations:

With the solid motor mounts and high idle it's a bit buzzy at stoplights - I think once the idle is down it will be much more palatable. 

It feels quick and I love the transmission/clutch/flywheel. The light flywheel makes it real snappy and the trans has pretty close ratios so it's a blast around town. 

It has a check engine light I need to scan. 

The Continental tires are real sticky. Like pick up rocks on the road sticky. I both hate and love this. 

It feels like a little racecar in a good way. It's going to be a fun summer. smiley

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