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Old 09-28-2008, 12:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Best Prelude in the World

Hi Everybody!

Okay, I know the title of this post is a little ostentatious of me, but after being a member of PO for a little while and never really posting, just leaching, I've decided to give back to the PO Community by sharing the story and experiences of my Prelude so far. ALL of your comments are very welcome, criticism is too, but I think you'll find my journey to be the same as yours, or perhaps you may find yourself at a place that I once was. In any case, this should give you all ideas or goals because I love my car and I've worked very hard to get it to where it is now.

My story starts where the last car left off, in February, 2005, rougly 2 months after I finished piecing together my "masterpiece" that was a 1991 Honda Accord LX (automatic ) I was hit by a driver that couldn't stop after sliding out of an icy BP gas station and hit my car right on the passenger side front tire. The car was totaled and to this day, remains the driveway of my parents house, unable to move.


Projector Headlights were the sh*t to me back in the day!




Wire loom, attempt at a rising sun flag on the valve cover, MSD SCI custom system, gold painted metal pieces and so much more, man I thought this was sweet!




Hey, these Enkei RS-2's are still for sale. The tires are gone (Toyo Proxes ZF4 in 215/45/R17) but the wheels are absolutely immaculate. I had cross drilled rotors put on and spent over $400 POWDERCOATING the brake calipers and drums red. Later in life I would learn that the duplicolor brake caliper paint kit for $14 was just as effective. Son of a Bish!




Check out this sweet Magnaflow Muffler. I know you're jealous. And who needs a catback exhaust when I had a muffler shop make me a crimp-bend exhaust system (that's right mandrel bend lovers) out of aluminized steel (gotta love the salty ohio winters) Also, I got some sweet JDM lookalike tail lights that were just clear and red. Oddly I never was interested in Altezza's which I should be proud of




Ready for something ridiculous? It's not bad enough that I sunk hundreds of dollars for these gauges and their install (Water Temp, Oil Pressure and PYROMETER!) but the even more ridiculous thing is that on the passenger side dash board above the glovebox I have another 3 gauges to include Oil Temperature, Voltmeter and a non-functioning A/F Meter. All gauges are autometer, but their A/F Meter sucked anyway. Please people, take my word that unless you're running ridiculous setups, you don't need all these gauges haha!





The damage is done...
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Old 09-28-2008, 01:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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With a fat $4500 (psh) check in the mail for the totalled car, I began my quest online for a new car to take its place. Initially I looked for other 4th Gen. Honda Accords, because it was a car I had experience on, and since I bought the salvage title from the wrecked accord, I had alot of parts I could swap. My parents told me they would help me out a little with the money if I found something good and reliable to start out my professional career (I was being commissioned in the Army in the next 3 months) so they told me to look into other cars. My first choice was to look for a Nissan 300ZX, but I would only be able to afford the N/A version, yeah right!

Then I landed upon this beauty, from New Jersey, on Ebay. $6300 later (and 186,000 on the odometer!) she was mine. A Diamond White Pearl type SH that was completely (and I mean completely!) stock. The previous owner drove from New Jersey to Florida routinely for business so I felt safe it was a good purchase. My parents had to pick it up for me in Jersey, because I was still at school during this time, so I had to take their word on the condition it was in until I arrived at home

First inspection of the car when I came home




I don't actually know how to drive the car just yet




Giving it a once over in daylight with the parents




Lady in White


It was also my first manual transmission, so I had to grind away on my new love because it was all I could practice on (kinda tough because the clutch has always been touchy while releasing in my opinion!

The car was like nothing else considering I came from a limited driving background that included a black 1978 3/4 ton Chevy Pickup, an 80's Olds. Toronado and two 91' Accords (allllll automatic transmission). But the car was mine!

The modification bug hit me once I was in Officer Basic Course at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. With a little bit of money to play with, my first upgrade was a new set of Nology Hotwires. Followed by the Optima Yellow Top I had in my previous car. Then a K&N filter for the stock intake. I was ballin' for sure! Then the exhaust system got replaced with a used DC Sports Ceramic Header, Random Technology Cat. and a Greddy EVO 2 Exhaust. I replaced these around the time I also bought a Koyo Radiator because the stock one finally quit on me.

But, the accident bug hit me again while I was caught up in the bliss of oversteer with the ATTS unit, and as I powerslid around a uturn, I overcorrected on the wheel and brought the car right back to the curb, so $1300 later (with a new SH wheel, axle, 2 control arms, an adjustable ball joint and tie rod end) I was back to rollin' around.


You can see the front wheel, it's bent so bad the other side of the car was off camber too
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Old 09-28-2008, 01:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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On October 24, 2005, I took the long drive from Ohio to El Paso, Texas, to report to my first duty station at Fort Bliss. The car was loaded up with 700lbs worth of household goods (ironic when you see that the Prelude Manual says it can hold no more than 700lbs and the Army only authorizes payment for 700lbs for a personal move for an unmarried 2nd Lt.) and made the journey, averaging 32mpg the whole way.

My modification journey was put on hold for a whole year due to lack of funds (starting out on life is tough!) but here are some pictures of what I was rocking for the year from Oct 05 to Oct 06...


Yes, Chrome wire loom, I believed, was just as good of a heat insulator as anything else, and I went allll out




Take a look at where I placed the "Mugen" oil catch can (it's down by the power steering reservior and drivers side headlight). There was juuuust enough space to fit it in, and I ran it from the PCV to catch can and back up to the intake manifold. But since I was in the middle of my heyday with knock-offs, I didn't know that Mugen didn't really make a catch can or else that probably would've solved the age old question of why it leaked so damn much!



Once the air conditioning was removed and I had a bought with OBX silicone radiator hoses and lost, it started to change up the engine bay for the better, little by little


I did the Rising Sun Flag myself after seeing it done on an Integra in an issue of HCI where they showcased cars in Hawaii. I really liked it as you can see, but most called it rice. I was pretty much rockin' half ricer/half racer at this point. I'd like to make a special comment on the OBX Yellow Radiator Hoses in the top picture there, but when I got them, I thought "hot damn, these look hot!" Well about a week after installing them, I was driving home from work when I started to notice car losing power. At this point, I looked at my dash and notice the coolant needle skyrocketing to "H." Bad news. I quickly floored the car (probably not a smart thing to do) and then turned it off and let it coast. I did this for 3 miles until I got to a place where I could pull into a parking lot. When I finally did pull in, I opened the hood and I could smell the faint smell of coolant. I looked around the bay but didn't see any obvioius leaks, nor did I see any when I looked at the ground under the car. I couldn't figure out why the temperature gauge had pegged. I kid you not when I say I drove the remaining 4 MILES HOME by turning the car off and on to pick up speed and putting my hazards on the whole way. It wasn't until I got home I grabbed as many towels as I could and ran down to the engine and put them over the radiator cap. I had never taken it off before when the car was even remotely hot, so I closed my eyes, looked away and winced as I opened the radiator cap... And nothing happened. I was so surprised I took all the towels off and looked into the radiator and it was bone dry! I couldn't believe it so I gave all the hoses a big once over to finally discover that the bottom of the radiator return hose line had completely popped off of the bottom of the radiator neck. It literally drained my entire system and I drove on it for 7 miles! I quickly reattached it and clamped it down again and filled up the radiator with new coolant and water. I kid you not, 3 days later I had the exact same thing happen to me again! It popped off and I was stranded again! Two Sergeants came over to my house that night and we inspected what was going on with them. Even after taking out the entire radiator and using two clamps to where the hose connected to the radiator, we were finding we could still twist and move and then just pull off the whole hose. It didn't matter how tight we tried to clamp it, the Silicone Hose didn't have any friction to help keep it on. So to this day, I rock stock rubber hoses all while wondering if those of you that have OBX or even SAMCO hoses for that matter have had this problem?

To this day, I have no idea how I didn't warp my cylinder head or crack the block... must be that legendary Honda reliability huh?

Finally, dig that "Top Fuel" intake on there! It was a rare piece back in 05' when I got it and it's one of the few pieces that's stayed the course on this car since then. In a scene of mostly AEM V2's setting a standard, this should be what ever Prelude owner inspires to have!



I truthfully don't know why I chose to paint the brake calipers blue especially when the car still rocked red "H" centercaps on the wheels and a red and black pinstripe (OEM). It all happened around the same time I removed the entire air conditioning system using a ratchet set and hacksaw during on glorious June Weekend Day in 2006. Also, dig the EBC dimpled and slotted rotors, I rocked OEM pads on those bad boys with limited success haha.

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Old 09-28-2008, 01:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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As you've picked up by now, I am in the Army, and my unit I was with, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was deployed in October of 2006 to Mosul, Iraq. This meant the car was put on hold for other things...







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Old 09-28-2008, 02:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Actually, life in Iraq isn't go go go all day every day, you do have downtime. So in my downtime, I decided to start doing some research on what everyone was doing to their cars. That's when i found the beauty of the online forum. I admit, I was only checking out Absoluteprelude.com, but then I noticed that other Forums had much more and different things to offer. I also was coming into a little bit of money being deployed and tax free and all... I decided my car was worth it and began to coordinate through my parents the things I wanted done with it. Ebay was a great friend to me and still is, so I was able to source everything I needed. I came home in July 2007 for my 2 weeks of leave to finally inspect how my car had fared while I had been gone. I was very happy with it, but I call this period "end of phase 1" meaning the proverbial cherry had popped and I was now in deep enough to see that the only way out of this hole was to spend more money, do more research and get more modifications done to the car. The more I saw on forums, the more I wanted to do!



My baby getting done literally 3 days before I came home. But as long as I got to drive it!



Oh yeah, this is a photo within the first couple minutes of getting out of the car from the airport to finally see and touch my car in person!



At this point, the car's exterior sported an OEM front lip, WW rear lip, carbon fiber Invader Hood (painted in the pattern you see) and a roof that was painted glossy black for an extra JDM touch. It was also de-badged but a red "H" was put on the rear. For flair in the front, I had sourced a Honeycomb grill from a 99-01 Prelude that already had the ATTS emblem on it. Also note the pinstripe has been removed to show a more smooth, clean outside appearance.



Enkei RSV bronze rims fitted with BFGoodrich TA/KDW tires (215/40/R17) were put on all 4 corners, but the stock suspension remained.

The interior was also getting some nicer goodies as well. A set of Recaro Speed Seats were ordered (with the sliding mounts already installed) as well as a Momo Millenium Steering Wheel. New OEM floormats added a nice touch and I even won a very steep bidding war to get my hands on the OEM red stitched leather shift knob.







The stock sound system was going as well, so I upgraded to a POS Kenwood and some Alpine Type S Rear Speakers.
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Old 09-28-2008, 02:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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After going back to Iraq and leaving the Prelude behind once again, I immersed myself totally into the ideas of what to do next. I thought I would take a break until maybe after I redeployed from Iraq to do anything more, but at the beginning of October, 2007, I came across a fairly well built cylinder head on Ebay. It was from a 99' type SH and was mildly ported and polished, had Supertech Stainless Steel Valves, bronze valve guides and brand new camshafts, seals and OEM springs. I bought it because I knew that my Prelude liked to go through the oil and I figured it was either blowby with the piston rings or some kind of leak in my valvetrain. Either way, a quart every other fuel fillup was getting too much, although I never saw blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. I later learned this was probably on the edge of normal consumption for an H22A4, but I bought it anyway.

The seller of the cylinder head had contacted me and it turned out he lived one town over from my parents and was selling his fully prepped Golden Eagle Block as well. It had been sleeved with ductile Iron Sleeves, decked, stuffed with Arias 9.2:1 CR Pistons, Golden Eagle Big Bolt Rods, balanced and blueprinted on the crank, and all new seals and bearings had been put in. He said for $4400 both the block and head could be mine (he ran out of money after that to actually put a turbo on). Oh yeah, and a new set of ARP head studs and H23 Manual Tensioner was also thrown in to sweeten the deal.

This was the point of no return...

So $4400 of paypal transaction later, the whole setup was mine. With an estimated time of redeployment from to the States to be before Christmas, 2007, I knew I had to make big things happen if I wanted this to be in my car before I came home.


Out with the old... (225,000 miles old to be exact)




So back to the forums I went...
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Phase 2 Begins

So the obvious path that anyone would take having a car that looked great on the outside and had the air conditioning removed to free up more space near the radiator is to go Turbo right? Well not me...

I went with the Jackson Racing Supercharger.

Now you may laugh, you may hate, you may not appreciate, but I have some very good reasons I did not go with a turbocharger. As I perused the forums online, I read more and more about people's experiences with turbochargers. Basically, those that had them, a majority of them were having problems with it, whether it was traction control, tuning problems, parts failing or the length of time it took to work on it, the turbo route seemed less and less appealing. Also, people that had a turbo that functioned correctly always seemed hungry for more. They were never happy that their numbers weren't high enough or that their lag was too long or that reliability was now very poor. If those that have turbo's were salesmen, they would've done an excellent job going out of business. But then again, the modification obsession is a game we all play but have to lose a couple of times and I understand that.

So the supercharger route came into being, and I liked what I saw. I'm not saying the JRSC is the best kit out there or best engineered or best power producer, but when I see make a plus and minus list of turbochargers, both columns seem equally as filled. With the supercharger, the checkmarks seem to stradle the line in every single category. The positives aren't particularly strong and the negatives aren't particularly bad. But the part that became ingrained into my mind was that I wanted reliability, power came second and simplicity came third.

Plus the rarity and originality was also a plus when it was all said and done. The challenge of extracting power out of a device that was only known to make so much power became like a quest for a holy grail for me.

I figured I already had the means to one-up everybody in the supercharger scene, I had a fully built block. If reliability in a car means having components that are more beefed up than they need to be for a certain power level, I had that hands down. I already got 225,000 miles out of my previous stock engine, why not get 200,000 more?

Thus, the supercharger was ordered.
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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With the supercharger ordered, it was now time to assemble my parts list. This was actually a fun part that I enjoyed because it was like a treasure hunt, and I had all the tools to do it.

First I had plenty of money in the bank, and I also had nightly access to internet to research and buy parts. The majority of parts came from Ebay, but those that I could not find, I sourced with other online sites.

Each "system" on the car needed to be supported, so the following products I purchased for the car:

Engine:

Greddy Timing Belt and Balance Shaft Belts
H23 Manual Tensioner
OEM Head Gasket, OEM Exhasut Manifold Gasket, OEM Rear Oil Seal
98-02 Honda Accord Crankshaft Pulley

Cooling

Custom ATTS Cooler (for a 4x4 truck actually)
Custom Oil Cooler/Filter Relocation setup
Koyo Radiator w/ 1.3 bar Radiator Cap
Dual 12" Flex-A-Lite Fans

Transmission

ACT Organic Street Clutch (highest HP rating for organic clutch)
Inline4.com stainles steel clutch line

Air/Fuel/Spark
Top Fuel Air Intake w/ K&N Filter
Nology Spark Plugs
NGK Iridium Plugs (1 step colder)
MSD clear red cap and rotor
AEM Fuel Pressure Regulator
AEM Fuel Rail
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
Autometer Fuel Pressure Gauge
RC Engineering 550cc injectors
Inline4.com injector harness kit
P28 w/ Hondata S300 and harness (from Xenocron.com)


Now you may be wondering why you don't see a lightened flywheel. After more research I did, I found that there was some conclusive statements that show that streetability goes down with a lightened flywheel, although HP can increase a little bit. To this end, it was recommended that if you were doing an N/A setup, that a lightened flywheel was a good thing, but for FI, the HP increase would make up for the fact that you would be still spinning the heavier OEM flywheel. As for the clutch, I didn't go with a fancy six puck or anything, i went for an organic street clutch because once again, I wanted streetability. Besides, I figured with the HP target of roughly 270 in mind, that organic still could hold it and not have to worry about shattering expensive composite clutches or having chatter. This has worked well so far, but I'm open to try something bigger in the future.

The Honda Accord Crankshaft Pulley was a great idea that I stole because a person who already had a supercharger said that it increased boost to 9psi (6psi on stock system). I had my doubts, but it certainly did! *side note, don't order the 94-97 Accord Pulley because it's too deep and only a 4 rib belt whereas the whole H22A4 system is a 5 rib.


The oil system is going to be a thread of its own, so stay tuned.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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With all the parts ready for assembly, I now had to find a mechanic who was competent enough (Ohio's not that well known after all...) and if you'll remember, I was still in Iraq at this time. My dad found a guy on Craigslist who goes by the name "Honda Bob". Honda Bob operates out of an aircraft hangar at Elyria Airport and my dad made a trip up to check out if it was legit. I later made phone calls to him to also get a warm-fuzzy feeling that he was the right guy. After all, with close to $10,000 in parts at stake, we would all want our cars to be handled with kid gloves. The date was set for the end of November to be delivered, which would leave him with enough time to assemble everything. Honda Bob claimed he only needed a week to get it going, but I gave him 2.


Honda Bob in action



Well that week never came because my dad rear-ended my car 2 weeks before it was to be delivered to Honda Bob. it destroyed the bumper and trunk when he put the truck in drive not reverse and pulled into it. After apologies were made and accepted, it was quickly rushed to the body shop to get a new Rear Bumper and a new trunk. Now seemed like a good time to do an upgrade, so we searched around for a carbon fiber trunk. When we found one for a steal online ($200, but the top looked like 15 cats had a party with their claws on the top of it), we bought it. I told him my intentions were to paint most of it, in the theme of how Sport Compact Car painted the CF trunk of their Project SRT-4 (do a search on Yahoo to see it). It ended up turning out beautiful and I get alot of disbelief when I tell people it's a CF trunk. They thought I just painted a black strip between the tail lights. Look for yourself:



Now with the deadline past, the vehicle was quickly rushed to Honda Bob by December 8 (the next day I would leave Iraq).
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Codename "White Diamond Disaster"

Did you read the title of this post? Be sure you do, it's a clue about what lies ahead in these next posts.

So fast forward a couple of weeks... It is now December 19, 2007. I get off the plane in Ohio with the feeling you get of waking up on Christmas Morning. I desperately want to go see my car, because I've been hearing that although the engine is out and the new one is prepped to go in, it hasn't been done. Obviously I want to make a personal visit to Honda Bob to see if I can help. My deadline is set though, I tell him I'd like the car before Christmas so I can enjoy it as my "Christmas Present." I am on 30 days of leave and must report back to Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas on January 19 (keep in mind it's a 2 day drive minimum).

I arrive at the shop which has no heat and it is December, so that means that yes, there is snow and ice on the ground. This is what I find:


"Feed Me"



Engine Dangling, and that's my dad in the background



Here is the interior, at least the Hondata S300 is wired up


The next couple of days I pay 2 or 3 visits to Honda Bob, an hour trip each way is required to do this. But he seems to be moving slowly but on the 23rd, the engine is installed, the laptop is hooked up to the Hondata and the key is finally turned...

It turns over immediately. The gurgly rumble of the engine shows that it's not purring like a kitten yet, and the thick black exhaust make opening the door to the bay a necessity, even though I believe that the door always should've been open because the shop was colder than the air outside... But the cylinder head is making a clicking noise and the oil pressure is showing next to nothing. Not good.

We turn the car off. Oil is leaking where the AN fitting running from the oil filter relocation kit connects to the oil cooler

Just a sample picture of where I mounted it


Okay, no problem, we'll take care of one problem at a time. First the oil. We loosen and retighten the fitting and start it back up.

More oil comes out, oil pressure is still virtually nil.

We scratch our heads. The clicking valvetrain is also pretty annoying too.

It was late at night at this point, so after I realized we weren't going to get around to tuning, and with Christmas Eve and Day the following two days, the car was going to have to wait.

When I came back to the shop on the 27th, we decided to try to attack the clicking valve train. It kinda sounded like the noise a sewing machine makes when the needle hits the base and breaks, only over and over and over. Honda Bob hypothesized it was the lost motion assembly being out of spec, and went about placing washers that were .004 thick underneath all 8 lost motion assemblies. It shimmed them up and all rocker arms were level with each other and we bolted everything back up.

It didn't work, and the oil still was leaking, despite the desperate attempt by me to change out, and then JB weld the one oil leak that continually occured at the oil cooler.

Bob proceeded to pull the block again and when he unbolted the oil pan to inspect what was wrong with it, he noticed some metal shavings. It turned out to be from the balance shafts grinding due to lack of oil pressure.





The block now had to be cleaned and rebuilt as well as a brand new set of ACL rod and crankshaft bearings being ordered at my expense and overnighted. I was running out of time, but Bob promised a miracle that he could get it put back together in time. (oh yeah and I also had to get a diamond hone for the cylinder walls to increase that expense). I didn't have to reorder the one balance shaft that was destroyed though, because bob had an F23 he pulled out of a 98-02 Accord and used that (it works!)

To cut out much of the bullsh*t, I'll fast forward to roughly January 14. Out of time and stressed out, my dad and I had been doing an emergency overhaul on my sister's old 1989 Honda Accord DX (carbeurated, haha). It needed a new head gasket, alternator and 3 different ball joints. Ever seen the movie Apollo 13? This was our lifeboat Aquarius, because the Oddysey (my prelude) seemed dead in the water. (the space jab is appropriate because everytime we installed the engine into the engine bay we'd say "the eagle has landed" *golden eagle, get it?*)

Then a phone call came from Honda Bob... "So this is what torque feels like" I could hear a canister muffler drone in the background and I asked "What are you talking about?" Apparently, when Bob unplugged the fancy oil cooler system I had spent so much money and time on, and just put in the factory filter in the factory location (a non-permanent, but necessary attempt), the oil pressure showed normal. Sucess!

At this point, I was going to miss my return time to Fort Bliss, but with a forgiving Commander, I was granted an additional 3 days of leave to wrap it all up. We had our work cut out for us though... Take out the engine, install just the oil filter relocation kit, put it all back in, and tune it.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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No criticism. Just a good read.
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The Tuning Session.

Date: January 20
Time: 7pm
First Formation at Fort Bliss: January 24 @0600 in the morning
Approximate Drive time to Fort Bliss with nothing going wrong: 22 hours straight.

I am sitting on pins and needles all day. Bob has yet to call to say the engine is fully installed. With each phone call I give, I know it's stalling him, but I need to know which car to saddle up, my pride and joy or the 89' Rustbucket. Bob finally says "I should have it ready to turn over in an hour. Boom, we're gone. We arrive to the garage just in time to help bob. It does take another hour to finish it up and reinstall the hood, put the ECU under the carpet and take it off the jacks, but we get it done. Bob then needs to start the car and get it to idle. This again, takes time. But when he finds the magic formula, we're off. Not literally, there's much sputtering, much finagleing and much cursing. The car will lurch around and die or it'll get a burst of almost uncontrolable speed. We're lucky because it's not icey on the roads, but the rain is coming in light. We begin doing laps around the countryside which is about a 5 mile square box back to the road his shop is on. We do this 3 times, each time doing 3rd gear pulls in pitch black visibility. The car seems to be getting stronger as we try for an ideal A/F ratio, but it seems pretty clear that the neighbors are calling the cops because by time we make lap 3, the muffler scream becomes a telltale sign. After being tailed twice by two cops, we decide to go on the highway. We again map out a nice course and because it's midnight, the highway is nice and deserted. We make pull after pull. The car is strong, the boost is strong (9psi instantly!) and I'm getting a grin on my face.

But then the rain really picks up. My dad calls and says "stop going so fast, I can hear you from the shop!" (almost a mile away actually). We get tailed once again by Highway Patrol and come back to the shop.

We still have to make one more trip though, we need a tune in the streets in stop and go traffic. There's no way I can drive this thing at full throttle all the time after all.

So we begin driving through the streets of Elyria, which are packed with more cops than civilians (not kidding). We are tailed numerous times, it's a miracle we didn't get pulled over, absolutely.

I also have to stop and get gas. I put half 89 octane in the tank and half 93 octane, I'm trying to prepare for the 91 octane max. in El Paso after all.

We finally stick a fork in it at 4am and call it done. The drive home is now dangerously icey and takes us a good hour and a half.

I park the rocketship in the driveway and get 4 hours of sleep before I have to start packing it to head back to El Paso

It is now January 21st, 4:00pm
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Old 09-28-2008, 06:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks man, I appreciate the comments. I have to take a break for a few hours. It's my birthday today and I'm going out with some friends to eat.

The saga will continue later tonight!
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Woooooooo that was a great read. Can't wait to get the rest, sounds like quite the adventure!
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The Road to El Paso

The city of El Paso kind of conjurs up images of the Wild West in your mind doesn't it? Well that's kind of like the scenery that goes by as you travel to that lonesome spot in Texas... Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, you ain't got nothin' on this... when you travel in between those cities I listed above, at least you don't feel like a breakdown could be your last. El Paso is different.

For one, the real city you're in is Juarez, Mexico, at least across the Rio Grande (see: creek) and barbed wire.


This is El Paso at night... just kidding, 2/3 of this picture is actually showing the city of Juarez, which has over twice as many people as El Paso, but very pretty picture nonetheless





At 4pm give or take, the car is saddled up, ready to go. Not as much stuff is packed inside of it as the first move down there, but I'm definetly ready to get a move on. My route takes me through Columbus Ohio, through Dayton Ohio, through Indianopolis, through Tera Hotte (which I spend the night in, *spelling?*), through St Louis, through Branson (the senior citizens version of Las Vegas!) through two different Springfields I believe..., through Tulsa, through Oklahoma City, through Amarillo and if I chose to, through Albuquerque NM (although this second time I didn't) and finally to El Paso. It's roughly 2000 miles give or take according to my trust AAA trip-tick.

Before the journey started, I was reminded by Honda Bob that I needed to get an oil change due to the "refreshing" he gave to the entire motor after the bearings decided to give up. I'm running Castrol GTX, ugh, I hate conventional motor oil, but it's the only kind I can find consistently in the 20-50w weight. That's right, due to the oversized bearings (really it's how the motor was blueprinted), I need to run this oil to keep my oil pressure up. It's interesting because I gave Bob a whole case of Royal Purple 5-30w (my favorite!) to use in my car before the build, I ended up giving it to my sister and her Prelude to use instead.

I guess the town's name is Tera Hotte (pronounced Ter-ah Hoe-t I think) is where I pulled off for rest my first night. Although it's on the border of Indiana and that's not too far from my starting point, I get a good nights sleep, so far I kept it very conservative in my car, probably not hitting boost except a couple of times. By the way, my car is now getting 250 miles to the tank (roughly 13 gallons each fillup). Do the math, that's absolutely terrible for a Prelude. I get an oil change early next morning from a Goodyear shop before setting off. Did I mention that my car will not idle if it's not warmed up to at least 170 degrees water temperature? Oh yeah, this is a problem that still hasn't gone away, it simple stalls. At each stop, I have to use a mixture of put it in neutral, rev it up to 5000 or so RPM, hit the brake as it slowly winds down and repeat until I come to a full stop, that is, before it's at operating temperature.

And the mechanics have a fun time trying to get my car in and out of the shop during the oil change, they can't figure out why it keep stalling (I alread gave them a heads up).

But alas, I'm on my way. Day 2 shows me the car keeps going strong, I'm losing oil though at an alarming pace, like a half quart every 250 miles. I can look under the car and tell it's obviously coming from the engine because the wind underneath the car has blown the oil over the entire underside of the car all the way to the rear brakelines I see it has covered. Great.

But I can't stop to get it fixed, I have a couple quarts of the Castrol with me and if I run out, I'll get some more.

By the way, did I mention that there's a spot in Oklahoma where the entire stretch of highway has nothing but 90 octane at the highest? I read somewhere that places like podunk Utah and such have only 86 to choose from, but that's just riduculous. I thought my car was going to blow up, they didn't even have octane booster!

I drove my car like a miser until I found a place with octane booster and I didn't let up until my first fill up with 91 octane.

By time I got into New Mexico (and subsequently left New Mexico to re-enter Texas) I noticed my boost gauge wasn't going past 5psi when I pegged it to the floor. My A/F ratio was also all over the place. I couldn't hold my foot steady on the floor and expect the A/F ratio to remain the same, it just either leaned out (past 17:1!) or got so rich the engine choked! (more than 10:1) I literally drove my last 300 miles to El Paso flooring the car to 90mph then letting it coast to 60 before nailing it again. Talk about a nightmare.

By time I reached El Paso, the car wouldn't do more than 4psi of boost (maybe 3) and I was ready to drive it off a cliff. I parked it and unloaded at my apartment and examined it. The oil looked to be coming from behind the block, which would have been a mechanics nightmare with that supercharger over top of everything and ATTS blocking the view from the bottom.

So what could I do? Like any of the two Honda Dealerships in El Paso would've touched my car I thought, so I took it to the local speed shop called "Speed Factory" the very next day.

What happened next is something I still haven't fully comprehended to this day.
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Old 09-29-2008, 12:09 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Speed Factory, Gateway West, El Paso Texas

First thing you should know about El Paso... Tuner Scene? Yes! Reputable Tuner Shops? No!

You would think that being as close as we are to the Gold Coast, that El Paso would be a haven for shops that cater to the import enthusiasts... well yes and no. I've never been in an area with so many crappy shop in all my life. Is it just me or am I asking for too much when I want my local tuner shop to at least look like (in terms of cleanliness and servicability) a dealership? Seriously, we don't need mountains of cars stacked all around, blown engines and tools that populate the same floor that the dirt and oil does. But since that's how every shop operates in El Paso, I had to choose the one that least exemplified it all. I chose Speed Factory. At least when you walk in the door, it looks like a store with a garage in the back (not a plywood table with a B18B engine propping the door open) I was sold that the owner, Rich, told me that he could get my car running right. But then again, it doesn't take much to convince a starving man to eat right?

I left the car in his hands while he would go take a test drive. I decided there's no harm in getting something to eat because the car was in the hands of a professional. I didn't even have to wait until I came back to the shop to get a phone call from him telling me my supercharger belt had snapped. No... not snapped, blew up is more like it.


See that tiny belt above the PCV valve? yeah, that need to be replaced every 10,000 miles says Jackson Racing, because it's so small it doesn't have enough time to properly cool down and then it gets very weak. My first one lasted me 1500 miles...


Not the first or last time this will happen, but the belt just disintegrates...


Rich took the car and told me to come back the next day. I waited around for a while and tried to do some work myself because his mechanics were strapped with other things to do. I attempted to take off the side jackshaft plate of my supercharger with minimal tools and when it came time for closing, everyone left and I walked a full 8 (yes 8!) miles back home. It was a good time to soul search about what i was getting into. Rich had promised alot, but only time would tell. In the morning, I loaded up a backpack full of 20lbs of water and tools and walked back to the Speed Factory again. This time I was able to do more work and got a chance to replace the belt. The mechanics there helped put it back together quickly and we started up the car for a quick diagnostic.

Remember that clicking noise I said sounded like a sewing maching breaking a needle over and over? Yeah, they heard that. It only occured from 1500 to 2100 RPM and never while the car was under load, only idle. They shook their heads and began hypothesizing and overspeculating, but ultimately, 5 mechanics who knew their stuff had no idea what was going on. Removing the valve cover showed no signs of wear and tear either.

As Rich took the car out to give it a preliminary tune, an error occured at which the car lost all ability to go into boost at all without leaning out immediately. It became lethargic and even worse to drive than before. Although I was charged for labor that day, what I got back was the equivelant of a vegetable when i had initially given a patient with a broken arm.

$500 spent in labor at your shop only to end up with a worse product? Sign me up! Oh, and I'll take a free sticker too!


Rich continued to offer optimism for a price and never delivered. At one point, he had my car for a full week without touching it once. The small amount of tuning he did never amounted for much, and oh yeah, he also lost the base tune that Honda Bob had given it back in January.

My job requires me to be accessible and active 24/7, so there was no way I could let it set at that shop even longer. Upon giving the keys back to me Rich shrugged his shoulders and said "I dont' know man, there's something mechanical wrong with it, maybe you should get it fixed before you bring it back to us." Really Rich? Because I thought your shop employed mechanics.
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Old 09-29-2008, 12:26 AM   #17 (permalink)
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First and Foremost, I am a dumbass.

I succumb to my inner need for showmanship and respect. I asked Speed Factory if I could be in their lineup of cars they were showcasing at the annual "EL PASO HONDA XTREME TUNER SHOW" in February of 2008. My car is the love of my life, so I sold my soul for a day to show off the hard work, money, sweat, tears and memories I had invested so much into my car. I rushed as fast as I could to get the suspension and brake kit I had hauled literally from Ohio to El Paso almost 3 months prior, installed on the car.

But as life does to you sometimes, it will kick you in the @$$ just to show you who's boss, and maybe for a little motivation. Well, here's my motivation to get started on the suspension.

Way to make a ball joint China


After a painful morning of how my car was initially positioned and trying to get it on a flatrack (which is precarious to say the least, with a wheel that's ready to fall off) I took it to a new shop for me in El Paso, "Honda & Acura Technicians" on Montana Ave. First and foremost, these guys are not a dealership. They are simply a group of guys that have been in the business for a very long time that are able to do quick, efficient, and best of all QUALITY work on your Honda or Acura. Hell, when I showed them the aftermarket stuff I needed to be put on in a hot minute, they said they'd do it! I handed them the keys to the car, 4 Ingalls adjustable upper ball joints, my full set of KSport Koilovers and the Megan Rear Toe Arms and said "please install." A hearty $700 or $800 later, viola, the car was tucked, balanced and beautiful. How about that?!



Hate all you want on Hong Kong knockoffs, but I chose KSport because I saw many pictures of my application on the internet with an actual picture of them installed on it. I've got one thing to say to the other companies out there that make a product for a car, why the hell won't you post a picture of the product on that car!? Don't give me a caption that says "picture may not be your application", give me a caption that says "this is what our kick@$$ product will look like on your car, pretty F*ing hot huh?!" That's what I'm talking about!

So I was so impressed with H&A Technicians work, I came back to them for a little Wilwood Big Brake Kit install. Once again, the quality of their work completely rocked, look, it speaks for itself.

Oh yeah, and if you're getting a BBK, watch out! There's so much more involved! I had to get ARP wheel lug extenders which cost alot to press into your current hub. You also lose your ABS. And to top it off, if you don't have the right wheel (and i'm not talking about just offset!) then you'll need spacers, like me!

Please ask questions if you're going to do this to your car, it'll save you alot of trouble to look as gangster as this!

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Old 09-29-2008, 01:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Oh, I want to expand a little bit on the Coilovers and Brake Kit.

First off, agree or disagree with me, but I have read alot on the diferences between Coilover Kits. It seems that a monotube design is far more responsive, robust and durable than a twin-tube design. So for all you people out there rockin' Tein's, no offense, but Tein didn't make a monotube design for the Prelude when I was looking for one (at least, I didn't find any). So my choices (besides picking a spring and shock combo) were limited to D2 or KSport. Since KSport was a growing company with new and innovative products coming up (like Big Brake Kits and suspension components like Arms and such) I chose them. They offered a 1 year warranty and the build construction looked sound. Here I am, almost 8 months later without a complaint.

Secondly, if you're going to lower your car no matter what method you use, get a damn camber kit already. You're gonna break some rules by doing it, but you owe it to yourself. Case and point:
Honda manuals routinely say that if you are to change out your A Arm ball joint, to replace the entire A Arm assembly. Honda's do not take kindly to a pressed in/out ball joint.
My experience couldn't be farther from the truth. They are durable, they are reliable and they work. You are going to shred your inner tire if you don't. The Ingalls ball joints cost about $125 for a set of 2 (and their are two different part numbers, one for front and rear) and roughly $100 to hav them pressed into the arms. Just stop crying and do it already.

Okay, last point with the Big Brake Kit, look, it's not just a simple bolt on affair. If there's one thing (or phrase should I say) I hate, it's "just slap it on there." Yeah, I used to say it back in the day, but come on, is there any piece you've ever put on your car that can honestly say "yeah, i just slapped it on there."??? I mean, every piece initially involves some kind of trial and error if it's the first time you did it. Nothing is more true to that than the big brake kit. The Wilwood kit I have on this car was ordered from Ebay for (!) $780 (!) That's right, that cheap! But trust me, i paid for it in the end having to get the lug nut extensions, the 2 kits from H&R of their 10mm spacers and most recently, a set of Muteki open ended lug nuts. I'll explain in a minute.

Look at this dude that I took a picture of at the National Prelude Meet in 2007.


Damn! Them's some flashy wheels and brakes! He found a way to do it right. I don't think he had any spacers, but these wheels must be the ONLY kinds in existance to not need a spacer because look at the shape of the spokes. I'm telling you people, offset DOES NOT matter when getting a big brake kit and your wheel combo to agree. At least, it doesn't matter like 90% of the way. The fact is, offset measures the imaginal line that separates the width of your wheel perfectly versus how far out the hub of it goes or how far in. Unless you had a hub that was enormously deep (most are a standard depth from where the spokes attach to it) then it won't fit. You need to look at how the spokes are made. Look at my Enkei RSVs. The spokes are horrible! They're more deep and skinny than this guys Rotas (I think they're Rotas). He has a really fat face on his spokes with a relatively shallow depth and that is the key to how he fits his Rotora BBK behind them wheels. It still tucks under his wells too from the looks of it.

Not mine! The F*er's bulge out in the front and it looks pretty gey. I could explain it to others that a front wheel drive car needs a fatter wheel in the front but I can't lie because my wheels and tires are still the same size on all 4 corners...

See how ridiculous it looks? This is why I keep my car's suspension stiff, so the rebound won't bend the front fender!



Oh yeah, and I was there at NPM 07, but I parked in the back while you were all on the track. I scoped out the scene for a bit, but a picture of my car ended up on some website (possibly this one). I was a nobody back then and you were probably all laughing at my Rising Sun Valve Cover, jerks!

Proof
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Old 09-29-2008, 01:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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The XTREME Tuner Car Show 2008 sponsored by El Paso Honda

So the big day came of the car show. I forget what day it was exactly in February, maybe like the 21st or something. But my car was all ready for it. It was waxed, detailed and ready to go. I gotta admit, the selection and build quality of each car on Speed Factory's Row was tough to beat, but I later found out that this was a contest that probably used judges from circa 1999, because when f*ing Cavaliers take home the best in show for a *** yellow paint job and cotton balls around the wheel wells, you can basically understand why the shows attendee attendance has dropped over the years.

Here's a couple pictures of the car before the show, all ready to go...

Eyelids not yet installed, tell me what you think of them compared to the previous post where it showed them attached





For those of you that took Advanced Placement Tests in High School, you'll probably notice that I have a stock seat in the drivers seat and a Recaro Race Seat in the Passengers side. It's because I sure as hell didn't want to drive 2000 miles from Ohio to El Paso fitting my size 38 waste into a race seat! The other Recaro was installed the day before the show :-)

And here's some of the car actually in the competition...

(Due to the replacement of certain items, my hood prop could not properly fit under the hood, I carried it with me during the show when I wanted the hood down)


Engine looks good, but could've been cleaner and more sorted, but that'll come in future posts...


These two interior pictures were taken before the show, not because I didn't get any of the interior at the show, but the lighting was so terrible, they didn't turn out nearly as well as these. This shows the full "control panel" all lit up and I must say, it looks very sexy in all black... but time will show how I've upgraded this already show car interior...(P.S. Group Buy Center Gauge Console ain't got nothin' on me )







I actually learned alot from this show. It was more fun to participate in than peg your hopes on winning I found out. The knowledge you can share and receive is all very helpful and the ideas you walk away with and friends you meet last a lifetime.

I met some guys there who were forming their own club called "Deep Stage" and although they asked me to join, I've got a little bit bigger plans in store in the future. If you're reading this now, all the best in starting your new car club.

Overall I walked away with a nice Tshirt, Hat, and other trinkets which I consider score enough for the $50 entry fee. I enjoyed looking over at my car throughout the show seeing the large crowd gathered around it. I feel bad for the guy who stood next to his RX-8 (to my right) that had just an intake on it, wondering why people weren't asking him questions
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Old 09-29-2008, 01:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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After the show, a new sense of optimism about the car was running through my veins. With all the compliments on how it looked and then all the questions on HP numbers and Quarter Mile times (and my subsequent shrug of the shoulders) I wanted to get back in the game of getting it tuned. Up next was a quick stop at El Paso Honda where I learned that the pesky oil leak I was telling you about during my trip down was none other than basically ever seal on the bottom end giving out. Turns out Honda Bob was not as meticulous as I thought when he was putting it all back together after the big tear down. I had a crankshaft seal, rear main seal, balance shaft seal and a tiny leak near the oil pump itself aaaalllll need to be replaced. Don't hate on this, but I spent $1400 to get these things replaced. Which now will probably get the hate mails going with the question "Don't you do any work on your car?!"

Look fellas (and hopefully some ladies ) I do do alot of work on my car. I have started small (intakes and exhausts) and worked my way up, sometimes with the guiding hands of my dad, but I've worked up to the level where I can diagnose a suspension problem, replace accessible gaskets, replace the supercharger belt (an hour and a half ordeal), and basically do anything non-computer related. The question comes down to time. Do I have the time to do it? With my position in the military, time is something I don't have alot of. And when my weekends consisted of a couple days, the last thing I want to do is tear apart my bottom end and get out the Prelude manual for every hour of those days. I have a life too you know.

So yes, I'll be the first to say that I don't do my own work, but I make darn sure that I pay attention enough that when it comes time to mimick the work I've seen to performa repair, I don't have to pay again.

I wish I had the time, I would make this car my full time job, but I'm sure 98% of you can relate with me that we sometimes take luxury that another person can do it if we're in a pinch. Although I'm a huge advocate of learning to do something on your own when you can, that's the only way we build our skills.

Okay! Enough of my rambling, back to the pictures because I'm sure that's what's keep 100% of you checking this post anyway! I'm having fun and although it's late, I don't want to stop, I have a long bus ride back to El Paso from here in Fort Irwin California tomorrow and I can sleep then while I don't have internet.



I was going to continue with the fact that after the cars oil leaking problem was fixed and I had the valves adjusted to within spec's (because the clicking noise was still stumping everyone), I had solved one out of the two problems. The clicking noise continued. When I took it back to speed factory for the final time, they again sat on it before I threatened to pick it up and not bring it back. I arrived there hours after making that statement to find Rich fumbling around with his tuning computer, telling me pessimistic things about the direction it was going, but I made him go with me on an hour long joy ride around el paso to get the damn thing tuned.

And what do you think the outcome was?

Not one thing changed. Speed Factory's name was now mud in my book and I succumbed to the 6th grader in me and aptly changed the sticker on my car :
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