Project Civic EF Racecar: Part 2 – First track shakedown

Project Civic EF Racecar: Part 2 – First Track Shakedown

by Clint Boisdeau

In Part 1 of MotoIQ Project Civic EF Racecar, we familiarized you guys with the car's state when it was first purchased and how that purchase came about.  In part 2 you get to see how the EF starts to come together in preparation for its first track shakedown and how it ultimately performed.  Was it slow? Was it fast? Do we even like the car?  All these questions and more will be answered.

The first few things to do consisted of changing certain parts of the car that I knew from experience would need to be upgraded or different,  handle repair work that was expected from the initial purchase, and other repair work that wasn't expected.  The added bonus was the steep learning curve for myself in regards to wrenching on a 90’s FWD Honda.  But luckily for me, since such platforms are widely popular, there is an abundance of documented data on how to work on nearly every part of these cars.  With the helpf of trusty friends in the local Honda race community I was able to handle most of the mechanical obstacles that were placed in front of me.

Before I purchased the car, the original owner brought to my attention that at his last event the transmission developed a 3rdgear grind on upshifts which I also noticed on the test drive.  So as to not cause further damage to an expensive gear box, I decided to pull the transmission to have everything inspected and the grind repaired.  I had experience with transverse front wheel drive trans removals from my former Ford Focus time attack car, but this was my first attempt with a Honda B-series power train.  Thankfully just a Google search away I was able to find several how-to articles on such a task.  Just a few hours and creative usage of a couple hydraulic jacks later and I had the transmission out of the car despite the somewhat tight engine bay of the EF chassis.  During the removal of the trans, I also noticed the steering rack boots were nearly completely deteriorated and in several pieces.  Despite this not being a terribly difficult fix, it's always time consuming and messy.  But being as the car is an older and more common platform then most of the past cars I've owned and modified, replacement boots were readily available and cheap.  

In addition to getting the transmission sorted and reliable,  there were a few things about the suspension tune that I felt should be a bit different.  The Neuspeed 22mm solid front sway bar seemed very stiff both on paper and from the fact that the previous owner had the huge ASR race rear sway bar set on the 3rd stiffest adjustment point. This setting was most likely required to balance out the handling dynamic with the rigid front bar.  From my past experience I prefer a softer front bar for FWD cars especially on bumpy SoCal road courses as to keep the nose more compliant.  At the time though I did not have a stock front sway bar to replace the aftermarket one,  so my back up plan was to run no front sway bar, and switch the Swift 10kg front and 12kg rear springs around.  The stiffer 12kg front spring would help to compensate for the lack of a sway bar, and the ASR adjustable rear sway bar looked to have enough adjustment points to keep the rear rotating correctly despite the softer 10kg spring in the back.  In theory the chassis balance should be fine with such settings and make the front suspension more independent which would help the OE Helical style LSD to function more consistently.  Future plans are to run a OS Giken clutch type LSD which will eliminate the disadvantages from running the factory Type R helical differential.

 

This was for the most part how the EF has been since I brought it home from Arizona.  Going over everything head to toe changing settings as I saw fit or repairing parts that needed attention before seeing track duty.
My first front wheel drive Honda transmission removal, not as difficult as I thought it would be.  Even though the work area in the engine bay is rather small for the B18C which was intended for larger DC2 Integra.  I was able to sneak the trans past the frame rail with clever use of jacks and loosened engine mounts.

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