Installing the subframe proved more difficult than removing it. The first step was bolting in the steering rack. That was made difficult by damaged threads in the subframe. Using a tap we cleaned them out.
Next we had to get it into the car. First you should install the rear engine mount. More on that later as we didn’t do that first. Everything in the suspension in held in tension so installing the stubframe is a difficult processes of doing everything in the right order and the correct application of a hammer and pry bar. Next you have to get the steering rack hooked up to the column. This should probably be the second step after doing the engine mount but we did it after the subframe was bolted into the suspension. If you do it the hard way like us you have to unbolt the column from the dash to get enough play to get the joints to go together. After we did that we discovered that we’d need to install the rear engine mount. After removing the heater core valve and fuel filter and using the 1/4″ socket with a flex joint we were finally able to attach the rear engine mount. I wonder now if the right way to do this is to bolt everything to the subframe (engine included) and then jack that up and into the car. That might be the way this is all assembled in the factory.
Since we had the motor out we looked carefully at the subframe and realized why we were not able to get a good alignment on the front right wheel. At some point the car was crashed hard enough to crack up the subframe and it had plates welded on it to repair it. Ryan went to the local junk yard and pulled one impressing those around him with his skill. The steering rack is contained within the subframe and to remove it you have to disconnect it from the column. At the junk yard ryan used the weight of the motor to disconnect it and then separate the steering rack from the subframe. To do this last part is made difficult because the rack has to be partially dissembled to remove it from the subframe. After getting it back to the shop we cleaned it up and removed the broken one from the shop. Next time we will put it back in the car.
In the hunt for a replacement motor I learned about old Honda motors. The wikipedia page on Honda D series engines is where I started. Keeping in mind that we want this to be both low cost and durable to compete in an 24 hour race we set out to find a motor. The motor that was in the car was a DOHC CZ 1.6L motor which came in JDM Civics and CRXs. This motor provides a small power bump of 10hp over the equivalent motor sold in the US, the D16A6. The first place I looked was on car-part.com and craigslist and what I found is that there weren’t many motors locally we could get and they were all very high mileage. This means that we would probably have to rebuild the block and break in the motor. Wanting something quicker we asked friends who race old Hondas and were told to contact hmotorsonline. Looking at their website we found a direct replacement with low miles (~55k miles). Here is the link for the motor we ordered: https://www.hmotorsonline.com/shop/d-series/zc-88-92-civic-dohc-long-block/. After shipping (including delivery on a truck with lift gate) the cost of the motor was $1235. We hope to get the motor in the car in the next couple weeks.
Our plan is to have fun doing some endurance racing with our civic at our local track, High Plains Raceway. With the hope of an inexpensive rebuild we tore down the motor to discover almost everything had been damaged. Our theory as to what happened is this. On the pistons we found no clips holding the wrist pins in and stamps showing that the pistons themselves were aftermarket. The wrist pins seem to be seized to the pistons and moving the connecting rods on them is difficult. Because whoever build this motor didn’t install the clips for the wrist pins they moved around in the slot and caused extra heat and friction causing them to warp. This caused the connecting rods to overheat and the bearings to melt. Some of the metal from the bearings clogged up the oil pickup causing engine to be oil starved and the oil and coolant overheated. All of this means that the motor is not rebuild-able as we would need a short block or a full rotating assembly.
The Rally.Build shop acquired a racecar with a long history of both rally and endurance racing this summer. It is a 1990 Civic hatch with a Rally America logbook and WRL tech stickers. The previous owner was ready to move on after the motor overheated during a race and happily traded the car for parts for his new build. Optimistically we assumed the head-gasket had just gone and caused the overheating. Slowly over the course of many beers and snide honda-bro “vtec yo” jokes a new head-gasket was installed. Unfortunately when it was back together it became obvious something much worse was wrong with the motor. Starting it up there was a loud knock. For a while the shop tried to sell the car to someone looking for a cheep racecar but with no serious offers we decided to fix it for endurance racing. The plan is for the WRL 24hr race at High Plains raceway later this year.
The first step was to pull the motor. On an old honda this is fairly straightforward. There is plenty of room to work and the transmission comes out with the motor. The most difficult parts were things that were installed after the fact. On the speed cable from the transmission we found a terratrip speed sensor spliced in. Disconnecting the speed sensor from the transmission became so difficult we eventually just pulled the whole stem out of the cable. Now that the motor is out the next step is to disassemble it and see what is wrong.