The day finally came that I could get the car on the rollers. I’m very thankful to have some fantastic friends that helped me get to this point as well as beyond. My buddy Neil let me borrow his trailer (perfect 7 size!) and Dave that owns Complete Performance has been a friend for years.
Car fits perfectly on the trailer Neil uses for his radical.
Admittedly the car wasn’t behaving when it went on the trailer. My attempt to change base fuel pressure was not perfect and resulted in a very soaked set of plugs.
Thankfully Dave has been around these issues and quickly helped diagnose the problem and a new set of plugs got us going again at 43.5psi of fuel pressure. Up next was to do some basic pulls to 4000rpm. Our goal was to check that everything worked together and we didn’t have surprises.
Like with any car that has not been tested we found a few bugs. The first was an issue in which we made 12psi of boost-twice what the watergate spring was supposed to make. Dave quickly found the push lock line I used was too close to the turbo and has melted into the heat sleeve. Effectively we had no watergate connection and the tune would have gone to the moon.
The next problem was a water leak. The one thermostat housing has a connector that was an ORB connection. Unfortunately it’s poorly machined and it spits the o ring out. As a result we had a leak. The AN wrench helped us get it tight enough and not leaking. I will be replacing this soon (and probably adding Hondabond).
The next issue is one we haven’t fully understood but after a pull when the clutch is pushed in a spark would appear. I suspect the throw out bearing is not enjoying its kissing the pressure plate at 8500rpm
Ultimately we struggled to get the Hondata ecu to add and remove fuel as expected. Additionally learning in this area will be needed. A vtec code also emerged and you could heard a noise at the vtec cut over.
All in all a good day and I’m appreciative of the help and where it got me.
The car starts SMS revs perfectly but a nagging problem is I would not see any indications on the software of a TPS signal below WOT. The problem produced odd behavior but I believed it was just how the Hondata ecu worked.
After driving and not seeing the tuning results in the data log I decided to pull the tps and flip it 180 degrees. I’m doing so I noticed the connection point was incorrect and the sensor was not making contact with the throttle shaft until 25% of the sweep happened. A small correction and things were showing TPS motion the entire way through the range. Timing is more responsive and drivability is better.
One problem remains. Under WOT I am not seeing boost over 1 psi. The watergate has a 7 psi spring in it and so something isn’t kosher. The hunt continues…
Finally got to one of the finish lines… After many pieces coming together we made some big progress.
First was the valve cover. I did not need to replace the black unit I had before but I did need to weld to -10AN bungs on the cover for routing to the catch can. I went with white because it is the easiest to see dirt/oil etc. The 2 ports route forward and empty into a tank at the front.
Body work was rather simple. I was able to get keep the sides open to vent out a lot of heat.
Long term I would probably place several pieces here to allow air to exit better. It is nice to be able to get to the jacking port so easily.
Everything under hood looks good and tucks nicely. The turbo guard is hopefully up to the job. If not we will have to get creative.
With the hood on- You can see the turbo but generally it looks fairly clean and sleek.
After much work we have a dashboard in place! By changing the engine I needed to change the gauge cluster. Unfortunately there were some large holes from the Mazda unit and so I opted to replace it with a sheet of aluminum.
Taking a marker and creating some grid lines I was able to work out spacing and placement
New cluster uses the same Trailtech Speedo and Rev Counter. We have 2 new lights for a Check Engine light and one for low oil pressure. 2 Gauges are for boost pressure and the wideband O2 sensor.
I am pretty happy with the results. If I find it to be too bright I will just wrap it with vinyl. I will say that after using the K Pro mobile app I would be happier with a tablet in the middle… That day may be coming sooner than I thought.. Their performance is good and pricing is low!
After lots of fighting with the intake manifold I decided to stop being cheap and throw money at the problem. What was the problem you say ?
Pardon the dirty alternator..
So the Skunk 2 intake manifold was never designed to be flipped for a RWD configuration. It has the modular design but the flipping is better suited to a K24 than a K20 because of the shorter deck height by 1″.
The intake manifold was a disaster from day 1! It requires that you cut the water pump housing to make it fit and then use spacers/washers to tension the alternator. After hacking up the housing I found that I was still likely to hit the alternator. The solution? I tried to buy the spacer that makes a B series throttle body work on the K series intake. I never attempted to install it and landed up selling it and the intake and ordering the Kmiata intake manifold and throttle body. It was backordered but worth the wait. I did follow the recommended guidance and bought the misalignment spacers due to the flanges not being parallel.
The manifold had the water passage built in which was a nice change and something I didn’t need to buy another part. Generally the fitment is good, the IAC did need a new part (from ebay) but that fitted nicely. All in all it was something I should have done from the beginning.
It took a while but I snuck a half day into working on the car with my dad. While I thought it was 3 hours of work it actually took 6.
First thing was to pull the k20a3 and remove the transmission and adapter plate.
Up next was moving those parts to the K20z3 and bolting them all back together.
From there we worked out what needed to be changed and we we removed and replaced a tube in the chassis. We also removed the old motor mounting plate and cut a new piece. After 5-10 minutes of welding we started to position the engine.
After measuring and cutting several tubes we had the left side mounted. Next we leveled the engine to 0.6 degrees and started on the driver side. They came out quite well
The final step was to check hood clearance. I didn’t expect it to fit but was nicely surprised. 3 mm to spare!
There week be some challenges with the steering and alternator but those are for a different day!
From the moment I bought the engine it has fought me every step of the way. It seems the “Honda mechanic” that I bought it from was either a fantastic liar or had a love affair with red locktite.
I first realized it when I broke a 3/8″ extension trying to remove a flywheel bolt. I then brought out the impact wrench and it did absolutely nothing. A trip to the Chinese took store and coming home with an impact wrench that can make 800ft lbs of torque. The results? Nothing! Didn’t move it at all! Even tried heating the bolt to break the locktite but nothing changed.
Thankfully I have an amazing coworker that has the 1200lb version of the torque wrench. First thing it did was split the 12 point socket into 2. A trip to the orange store and $4 later I had a new 12 point 17mm socket. Given the first one slightly damaged the bolt head I decided to face off the new socket so it would have more grip and less of the rounded approach that makes sockets easier to get on to the bolt.
Unfortunately the bolt head on 2 of them bolts was too damaged. What happens next? Out came the welder! It took 3 attempts with the mig welder but adding a 3/4″ bolt did the trick finally. Most likely the heat of welding broke down any remaining locktite.
Up next I will put the engine back on the engine stand and verify the bottom end is good. And then we can start adding parts. The collection of “go fast parts” is growing!
I’ve been watching the internet for an I-vtec motor and seem to find every idiot in town. Eventually I found someone that had a K20Z3 engine with medium miles. It was a good option and should fit well. At 7 am I pulled it out of my truck and drained the oil. All in all it looks like it’s up to the task!
I don’t have an intake manifold. If anyone has one that would fit please let me know. I’m going to try a standard Honda one first before going the skunk2 route.
In an interesting twist it looks like we may be considering a Honda engine. After looking for small footprint and low heat options the Honda K series engines came to the top. After reading about using it with an S2000 transmission it appeared to have legs.
Hours of research highlighted that the S2000 transmission wasn’t a great choice for big power I somehow landed on a website- kmiata.com. These guys make adapter plates that allow the Honda motor to bolt to a Miata transmission. If I had not sold mine previously I might have had the swap up and running a while ago.
Given the option of a BMW Getrag 260 gearbox I decided to try find one. That was no way task! Luckily eBay helped and I found one about 20 miles away. After a good cleaning it looks pretty good! It will be a while before we understand its condition but it appears to have 5 forward gears and 1 reverse.
After that I managed to get a K20a3 motor to use as a mock up and potentially to use until I find a k20a2. The motor fits quite well and I’m optimistic it will work. Here is a picture of it just dropped into place and held by a 2×4
After having the engine and the transmission I needed to buy the adapter plate to marry them together. After the Ecotec problem I decided to stay as basic as possible until its weld ready. I bought just the plate and bolts and 3 days later they arrived.
I pulled the motor out and gave it a good degreasing and the blew it off with compressed air. Then out came the adapter plate.
The quality is impeccable and my hopes of being able to “spend my way” to completion is still alive!
One small hiccup is that the a3 engine has a different head (the inferior one..) and so it had a fitment problem. Nothing a grinder couldn’t fix.
Time was running out and I had to go shower but that wouldn’t happen before bolting the two together with a minimal amount of bolts. Until next time this is my view when going to work:
Hoping to have the next update and some good news in about a week’s time!