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1990 Honda Prelude 2.0Si, 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0Si 4ws, 1990 Honda Prelude Si 4ws, etc.
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It's been a long time since I started a thread for anything....so here goes. I fixed up a 1990 3g awhile back (07-08 or so) with the help of this forum. That one went the way of the carrier pigeon not that long after. I've never been lude-less since those days - bought another shortly thereafter that didn't need a lot of work, and I just didn't need to be here all the time for it, so I was scarce from the forum for a time. Sometime in between then and now, my account with Photobucket was discontinued, and now any photos I posted once upon a time are all gone. I know I made some write-ups and how to's that are now picture-less, so I'll see what I can do to fix them up while I work on this new project. Over the summer (2020) I discovered that the lude which has treated me so well over the last decade or so had developed a very serious rust problem in the left front strut tower. I took some pics of it then, but I seem to not have them anymore....suffice it to say that all along the interior seam where the strut tower attaches to the frame has started to rot away. The problem is bad enough that you can see through it in several locations, and probably put some fingers through it into the wheel well in a couple. I'm not going to attempt to repair a structural problem of this magnitude - I'm sure a good welder could fix it up, but I'm not a good welder. Ever see any of Hert's early welding work on the Hoonigan youtube channel before Dan and Suppy took him under their wings for training? My welding is of that quality or worse. LOL That, and the old welder I had decided it didn't want to work anymore, and I'd need it fixed or need a new one to continue practicing.

Anyway, I recently got ahold of a pair of 3g chassis - an '89 and another '90. Both are 4ws. Got 'em cheap because neither runs. The '89 is an automatic and is in better shape, apart from the trunk floor where it meets the rear quarter panels, but the previous owner told me the timing belt is no good, and it probably has some bent valves. The '90 is a manual, is in a little worse shape, but repairable. Previous owner abused it and there's a hole in the B21A1 block under the hood. He also took a hacksaw to the shifter, lowered it by chopping the springs and otherwise just did a lot of stupid stuff to the car, to include losing the title....but the strut towers are in fine shape, and I can drop a running engine in there with no problems and use my runner for parts for it. I'll get a bonded title when it's fixed...or just put my plates on it and pretend that it's the same car, since it's a red '90 like mine, and no one will know the difference unless I want to sell it....which I won't. LOL

Those cars are both at a friend's house out of town so that the city I live in doesn't see a bunch of unregistered non-running vehicles in my driveway or yard and decide to have a problem with it. It's winter now and there's snow on the ground - work on the two chassis is going to wait until spring because it sucks being outside working on a car in sub-zero weather. Meanwhile, I have the old B21A1 that came out of my first lude sitting on a stand in my garage....like it has been for the last 13 years or so because I never did anything with it after I pulled it from that car. Dropped a B20A5 in its place and never looked back. Now I'm seeing a use for that engine, and it's not in the most terrible shape I've ever seen, so I've decided to rebuild it and put it in the '90 to replace the one with the thrown rod. I'm not looking to race with it, or any of that - I just want a car that's fun to drive, and I've loved my 3g's ever since my first one. That engine did consume and leak a lot of oil when it was in the car, with 262k on the clock. When I removed the head, I found a burnt exhaust valve that will have to be replaced, and all the valve guide seals are bad. The block seems pretty good, to be honest - the FRM cylinder walls have hardly any wear at all, even with the amount of miles on the engine. Only a tiny ridge at the tops of the cylinders. Still turns over by hand very easy and smooth. I haven't got it all apart yet and seen the condition of the crank and bearings, but judging by feel, I don't expect them to be bad. It's dirty as hell right now, and needs a cleaning. So does the head....while we're on the head, I also need to locate the rest of the parts to it that I took off....13 years ago....and stashed someplace in my garage. LMAO Last night I managed to find the valve cover with oil cap, most of the head bolts, both cams and gears, all the rockers from the intake side, 5 of the 6 cam caps from the intake side and about half of the cap bolts. The rest of the stuff...I dunno. I'm sure they're here somewhere, but I'm going to have to clean and look. I'm disassembling as I have time and taking the smaller parts to work to run through one of the parts washers a couple times when my shift is over, and keeping them safe in the meantime.
Even in a worst case scenario where I can't find everything I'm supposed to have, I have another B21A1 head on that bad block in the '90 chassis that I can use. Even if that one is somehow damaged, I know I can salvage enough parts from it to make my old one work. If all else fails, I know that I can drop the entire long block from my runner into it....but I'd like to try this first.
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It's going to be a slow moving thread, guys. Don't push for often and quick updates - it's not the only thing on my plate...but it is an important one, so updates will definitely come. Pics for those who care to see. Taillamp style should tell everyone which is which, but just in case, the one with the sawblade wheels on it is the '89 and the other, decidedly shittier looking one is the '90.
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Those pics were taken at tail end of October - unfortunately it doesn't look like that outside now, which is one of the reasons this will be a slow mover to start with. That all said, I'm going to call it a day for now! Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Looks like you have a nice collection of rides.
LOL The silver Volvo in the back and ludes are the only ones that are mine. Remember, the ludes are at my friend's house, out of town - those pics were taken at his place, aside from the pic of the cylinder head, which was taken at my dining room table where I was disassembling it. The rest of the vehicles belong to his family. I wouldn't be caught dead owning a PT Cruiser. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Got the valves, springs and some other hardware out and cleaned up. #2 exhaust valve from Cylinder #1 was significantly burnt - there's a chunk missing from it almost as big around as my finger. Didn't find any other burnt valves, so it's just the one that needs replaced after all. I thought I'd seen two in there earlier, but I was wrong. The other was just full of turds from the combustion chamber. Valve seats appear to be fine, but the head is very dirty and grimy, and there are black turds all over the combustion chambers and inside the exhaust ports. After cleaning the valves, I noticed that all the intake valves have a nice shiny ring on the valve seating surface, which looks good to me. None of the exhaust valves have that shiny area there....in fact, it almost looks like the exhaust valves were never lapped into the seat, though all the seats on the head look fine, if in need of a deep clean. Got the thermo housing cleaned up as well and the water neck that comes off the head to join with it. There was some lime buildup on the inside of both, and I can see lime on the interior of the water passages in the head as well. Should I take the plugs out and see if I can soak it in CLR or vinegar or something to get rid of that, or will it be fine? Or, will a bath in the hot tank at the local Arnold Motor Supply take care of all of that? Questions, questions.... IMG_20201221_032319808.jpg IMG_20201221_032324193.jpg IMG_20201221_032337224.jpg IMG_20201221_032427153.jpg IMG_20201221_032435030.jpg IMG_20201221_032511270.jpg IMG_20201221_032530255.jpg IMG_20201221_032549998_HDR.jpg IMG_20201221_045256144.jpg IMG_20201221_045303432.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
One more pic, everything all cleaned up. One can see what I was talking about in the previous post about the intake valves (right side) having a nice shiny seating area, and the exhaust valves (left)....not so much. Dunno what the deal is with that, or if it's normal or what. :confused:
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I've only ever seen one yellow 3g in my life, and it belonged to Sean (1funryd), although I don't think he has it anymore. No....it's 2, maybe. I seem to remember Import Tuna's ride also being yellow when he was still around this forum. I've never seen one in person. Until I became a member here, I didn't even know they came in that color. LOL I'd only ever seen Blue, White, Red, Black, and that ugly pale gold color normally associated with soccer-mom vehicles. LOL

I don't have any updates on progress yet, largely to do with the season. Got lotsa snow over the last few weeks, and it's SUPER cold outside (the average this week has been around -7, but there's been a couple days it just hovered around -20). Not even my Volvo likes this weather....and keep in mind that it's made in SWEDEN, where they get REAL cold, so it should be at least mildly ok with weather like this.....but it sure isn't. I sure as HELL am not going out there to work on a car in it. I spent some time in the garage the other day - was out there just long enough to smoke a cigarette. Took a can of beer out there with me while I continued to look for parts I'm still missing to the head I've been working on....which I'm about ready to give up on and just use the one from the blown engine because I have no idea what I've done with the rest of those parts. I'm sure I'll find them the instant I don't need them anymore and stop looking for them. Isn't that how it always goes? LOL By the time I was done with the cigarette, the beer had already become a slushy because it's so goddamn cold. I freekin' HATE February.....worst freekin' month of the year.:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Got some work on the '89 in my profile pic done over the weekend now that it's warmed up. Sure enough, snapped timing belt.
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It's a surprisingly clean break, and the belt doesn't look like it's otherwise bad; like chewed up or just plain old or anything. Makes me wonder if this wasn't just a cheap, low quality belt. Note to self: it's ok to cheap out on things when you know the potential consequences of getting low quality parts and can tackle them accordingly. It's not ok to cheap out on parts like the timing belt. It's a lot of work to replace, and the case of failure is catastrophic. Fixable, but not a cheap or easy repair job with the potential of bent valves or damage to the pistons. The intention this weekend was to get the head off so I could take it home, replace valves as necessary and rebuild the rest, replacing any and all seals and gaskets, etc.
I did not document this particular wrenching session very well...We were in somewhat of a hurry trying to get the head off this car so I can rebuild it, and we just didn't think very hard about it, I guess. I didn't think about it until much later, after it had gotten dark and my friend and I were calling it a night, which is why most of these pictures are so dark. It's unfortunate because documentation for my own records would have been useful - so much stuff has to come off to get the head off. Discovered the catalytic converter has been deleted and replaced with a straight pipe, and that the flex pipe normally forward of that is broken and unusable. Previous owner was apparently trying to hold it together with a split tin can, held on there with hose clamps. I'm sure anyone reading this can guess how effective that was. LOL Not a big deal, I can source flex pipe. This is one of the cars at my friend's place, and the one closest to being a running vehicle, destined to be my son's car. The wiring harness seems to be in working order, but a lot of it seems kind of hard and brittle - I'll have to see what I can do about that.
After loosening the tension on the belts, we first removed the power steering belt, then the pump itself, storing the removed parts in the trunk for now. Had to get the cruise control actuator out of the way to get at the tensioner adjusters better, but left it connected for the most part and was able to just move it up around the brake master cylinder out of the way. Upper timing cover came off pretty easy as well. This engine isn't nearly the mess under that cover that the B21A1 was. Clearly the cam seals are still leaking and everything is old and in need of replacement, but it's not the worst I've ever seen.
I'd forgotten how low these are from the factory, and how uncomfortable it is to work on them. After just a little bit, we jacked it up and placed it on stands, making it a much more acceptable height to work on...but it didn't stop my back from hurting. Take precautions to minimize the amount of time you have to be bent over, people. You'll thank yourself for it later. Took the EGR tube loose with some WD-40 and some heat on the manifold portion....but my friend still managed to round off a corner of the flange nut, so I may end up having to replace the nut and re-flange the tube....or block it off on both ends and delete it entirely if I can figure out how to do that without causing an emissions-related CEL. Under the car, undoing the 4 downpipe flange bolts made us take the transmission support bracket off as well, since it was in the way. :rolleyes:..removing the two bolts that held the exhaust manifold onto its lower bracket afterwards was pretty easy. Had to also remove the alternator mount to get at all the nuts for the exhaust manifold...then discovered that the stud I had a hard time getting to with the mount in place was already broken, so I have a broken stud in the head on the exhaust side to replace during the rebuild.

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Moved to the intake manifold afterwards, removing the fuel rail with injectors, small coolant hoses, vacuum lines, upper plenum and secondary butterflies. Took some pictures for my personal benefit to help with routing them all when we put it all back together - these little coolant hoses behind the head and on the transmission side of the engine drive me crazy....wish I could delete them all and clean it up. It's the first time I've ever unplugged fuel injectors and didn't immediately lose or break those little metal clips that hold them in place! Saved every one of them! Could not get the rotor to come loose from its mount under the distributor cap, but the distributor itself seems to be in pretty decent shape - we'll worry about that when we come to it. Cam position sensor seems like it might be leaking oil and could require a rebuild of its own. Will take it apart to look at it later. Fuel smells terribly like varnish, which was noticed when we took the fuel rail off. It seems likely the car was sitting a bit longer than the seller advertised when I bought it - may need to clean out the fuel system a bit, definitely will need a new fuel filter. I'll have to check out the condition of the fuel pump at a later date. We did not accomplish everything that I wanted to during our roughly 12-hour wrench session, but we're pretty close - had some problems getting to the fasteners under the intake manifold for the support bracket, which prevented us from removing it and the head, at least in part due to a lack of proper tools. So....Second note to self, next time I go to my friend's place to wrench on this thing, bring some tools, because he doesn't have everything we might need.

In other good news, I was able to confirm that the car does have all the 4ws parts and that it is functional - I've driven 4ws 'ludes, but never owned one, and now I have 2 to play with, so I'm kind of excited!

It wasn't all good news over the weekend, though. We also discovered that this particular car, while the underside is in pretty good shape, the seals around the trunk lid were no good and hadn't been for some time. There was standing water in there at some point, and some of the trunk floor is just....gone. The portions of the trunk that attach to the inside of the rear quarter panels, while not entirely disintigrated, aren't attached where they're supposed to be anymore, the area around the gas filler tube is a complete mess of rust and missing metal. There will have to be some welding and patchwork later, but for right now, we're just going to continue to concentrate on what we planned for.
Also discovered that the other chassis, which is out behind his house now needs a new back window because a tree branch fell on it sometime over the winter. :mad:....So, now I need a new rear window, and to do some minor bodywork repairing the C-pillar on the driver's side of that car - but, first things first. I did not get any pictures of the damage, unfortunately....but we covered the car with a tarp for the time being. Get the '89 roadworthy, then worry about the other. Some pics for y'all's enjoyment!

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Will update again in a couple weeks!
 

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I say don't go ahead with this. You are lucky to have had such a cool car like the Prelude and the magic that comes with it. There are a lot of other cool cars out there that you can experience magic with all over again. You only live once...
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I say don't go ahead with this. You are lucky to have had such a cool car like the Prelude and the magic that comes with it. There are a lot of other cool cars out there that you can experience magic with all over again. You only live once...
Sure there are, but I don't own any of those, and I already happen to have a couple 3g 'ludes to fool around with. I've long wanted a late '60s/early '70s Triumph GT6 for a project car, but they're few and far between, not cheap even if they're complete junk piles, and the same problem we have with 'ludes in sourcing parts is unfortunately also a thing. Affordable cool cars where you can experience that kind of magic are not common here in the US. Aussie-land still has some cool ones around - I'm honestly a little jealous of the Ford Falcon muscle cars you guys got on that side of the globe....we didn't get those here. We got other cool Ford muscle, but to us, some of the stuff available in other markets was much more desirable. Europe got the Sierra and Escort Cosworths. We got the Sierra (known here as the Merkur XR4Ti with a non-intercooled turbocharged 2.3L inline 4 under the hood normally used in the Pinto), and just didn't get the Cosworth Escort at all. There were loads of cool cars elsewhere in the world we never saw in our domestic market because they were considered "too good" for the United States. Nissan is one of the biggest offenders - SIlvia/240sx in Japan and other markets came with a DOHC SR20DET in performance trim, producing 200hp or better. We got one model of 240SX, the hatchback version with front facelift (flip-up headlamps like the lude) that came with a SOHC KA24E producing roughly 140hp under the hood instead. The KA24E is a truck engine normally seen under the hood of Nissan's Hardbody light truck, not a spirited engine that was appropriate for sporty cars. It was basically Nissan saying, "We don't really have any other use for these crappy engines, and we're sure not giving America the good performance ones we use here, so here you go. Take it or leave it." :rolleyes: We got the NA notchback versions of the Pulsar where everyone else got the intercooled turbo hot hatches. We've only seen the latest version of the Skyline, which now costs as much as a 20-year-old Ferrari and is less a car for people who like to drive than it is for people who like impressive new tech (sort of like BMW in that respect). We never saw any of the previous and more affordable versions of that car. R30 - R34 chassis never made it here any other way than a specialty import. Nissan isn't the only one - they're all guilty of it. All of the Japanese and European automakers have done this to us. Our own domestic automakers have done it to us by denying sales of cars that are even made by their own overseas holdings. Opel and Holden are both subsidiaries of GM. Opel makes the Speedster, a spirited twin-turbo mid-engine 2 seater roadster. Holden makes the Maloo, a car-truck hybrid reminicent of the Chevy El Camino, and just as bad ass. We don't get either of those here: Our version of the Opel Speedster is the Saturn Sky or Pontiac Solstice, an underpowered non-turbo front engine rear wheel drive version of the same chassis and far less impressive...and also no longer in production. We don't get the Holden Maloo, although GM appears to be heavily using Holden designed chassis and frames for cars they produce for the USDM. We don't even get the Commodore (the Malibu and Impala are the gelded American cousins of that chassis, among others, here in the States). That whole situation is why Japanese cars in the 80s were seen as such jokes here in the US. They had stuff that could compete with the Mustang, Trans Ams and Camaros of the age....they just didn't sell it to us; in fact, deliberately kept it out of our hands until well into the 90s.

So...in all fairness, fixing these up is a lot of work....but it's worth it to me because I can't really get ahold of any of the other cars I lusted over in my younger years to toy with, enjoy driving, etc. Since an old Opel GT or Triumph GT6 or MGBGT is a bit out of my price range, would probably need just as much work or more in the long run, and in the end would be just as hard to find parts for, it's just as easy to stick with what I have - I had a great time in the 'ludes I've owned, and I wish to continue that great time. I'm willing to put in that work for the car that gives me the great time, and my hands are keeping a piece of history on the road. Besides, I already have a lot of what I'll need and it would be a shame to junk it all and give up when there are people out there looking for some of what I have to fix up their own rides. Plus, it's better to deal with the Devil you know, rather than the devil you don't know. I've owned enough ludes, done enough work and research, etc. that everything I'm doing is familiar. I'm not your average mechanically illiterate American. I know my way around cars of most types, and my knowledge of this specific make and model is quite a bit above average, even as far as professional mechanics go. This is probably the 5th or 6th head gasket I've done on a 3g 'lude. Some of it is almost muscle memory now.

Ever hear the song "Red Barchetta" by the Canadian prog-rock band, Rush? Listen to it sometime. There's a story behind the writing of that song that has nothing to do with anything I've said here, but it's inspiring. It's true you only live once...and if you don't spend at least a little time in this life fixing something up that you care about so that you can enjoy it the way you've always dreamed of, you're doing yourself a disservice and have no idea what you're missing out on. ;) The Journey is just as important as the destination.
 

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You know what?! I wasn't actually suppose to make that post in this thread. I had this thread open in a tab and another thread open in another tab and accidently posted what I wanted to say in another thread in your thread. Sorry mate! :) and yes, if you already have some Prelude's then that is a different story. :)

The Triumph GT6 looks like a cool car with a lot of character!

Haha yeah I know how it is getting parts for our Prelude's!

Commodore's are finished here mate. No one wants big cars anymore because of the price of petrol. The Australian car industry is gone anyway, it's mainly done by robotics in Asia these days and their human quality assurance is pathetic.

I know a lot of people have had a lot of fun in Commodore's but I have never liked them, they handle like boats and their quality is shite! Like REALLY shite! My experience with cars made in Australia is that they were assembled poorly. The late Monaro's looked alright but they were really just Commodore's chopped in half.

That's a lot of head gaskets you have done. I damaged mine 6 years ago and have paid the price ever since, 25% loss of power and needing to top up coolant every 600 kilometres. I was on my way to my first ever acting gig when my thermostat seized up. It was either miss my first gig or pull over and save the car. I drove for 45 minutes with the temp gauge off scale. I don't know how I sustained such little damage given the circumstance!

I don't enjoy working on cars much these days because I am usually fixing something that I have broken myself out of recklessness.

I am glad to hear that you will enjoy working on your next Prelude project. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
LOL!!!! Responded to the wrong thread with a reply? I've done that too! LOL!

I don't want you to misunderstand - I don't like Commodores or big cars like it either..... But, they came with V8s and were a well regarded performance platform, at least once upon a time. I know the Commodore was a RWD platform, but ours (Impala, Malibu, Oldsmobile Cutlass, etc) were all FWD and really kind of a no-frills family car. Even the SS version of the Impala only came with a mildly tuned V6 - probably the same 3.8L that came in the Monte Carlo and other chassis. No V8 option. If there had been, those probably would have sold amazingly well, especially here in the Midwest, despite the price of fuel. The price of fuel never stops people from buying ridiculous, impractical, giant pickup trucks to only use as a daily drivers because they don't actually use them to haul anything - they just think trucks are cool is all....or giant SUVs that seat 7 or 8 ...being used by a family of 3 or even single people. People around here are kind of dumb and impractical in that respect, and although it's not all of us, it does reflect the attitude of a decent sized portion of US citizens, unfortunately.

On the Triumph idea - I've held onto this desire for better than 2 decades. A friend of mine when I was growing up had two Triumph cars - a '72 GT6 and a '80 Spitfire roadster. I never owned one myself, but I helped him work on those (the SU carbs needed constant attention, I remember), and he let me drive them both on occasion. I loved them. They're not fast, but they are spirited, quick and nimble. So much fun to drive! There's a lot of Euro and Asian cars that kind of have similar configurations and characteristics that make them the same kind of desirable, and they're all about as easy to find, to be honest. LOL I consider myself lucky that I found the 'ludes that I have.

The two chassis I'm working on right now are my 3rd and 4th. The first went away with a teenager a decade ago after the timing belt snapped. I promptly replaced it with one I found on Craigslist, which is the running one I still have today. Unfortunately (like I said in one of the earlier posts) that car has developed a serious rust problem in a critical structural area that I can't reliably repair, so it's destined to be a parts car for the two chassis I recently purchased and am now working on. I replaced the headgasket on the first one I owned twice, the second time because I messed up the first - I was using cleaning vinegar to clean up something in the engine bay and had a cup of it sitting on the valve cover....which got nudged and spilled down the side of the engine. A couple days later, I was driving it to work, started smelling coolant, and noticed that the temp gauge was climbing. I got there ok, worked my entire shift, and even drove it the 30 miles home afterward with no issues - it never got hot enough to be a real issue, probably because it wasn't leaking that badly just yet, but I knew something was up. Spent the next couple days taking the head off to replace the gasket to find out that the existing head gasket had almost completely disintigrated by this point. It looked like the spilled vinegar had settled on a little exposed tab of the gasket, and then set about eating all the graphite matrix - there was very little left apart from the metal frame. So...apparently vinegar eats graphite, which is something I hadn't known before, and now I don't use it to clean anything in the car. LOL I ended up having to have that head planed before I reinstalled it - then the timing belt went out like a year later because stupid me had left the upper timing cover off the last time I'd reassembled it. I hit a raccoon on the way home from work one evening. I'm not sure what happened to cause this, but the car threw the power steering belt, which got tangled in the Alt belt and took it out too....and also the timing belt, which wouldn't have happened if I had re-installed that cover. I was burnt out on it at this point, so I had it towed home and let it sit for a month or so before selling it off to the teenager who took it away. Bought the runner I have now shortly thereafter because I missed the 'lude. ;) I've replaced the one on my current runner once, assisted a friend with doing his on his '88 (I swear there was another time in there somewhere) and now these two chassis I'm working on now. Never rebuilt a Honda engine or head before - got plenty of experience with small block Chevies and Fords....and I can't believe how much easier it is to work on a DOHC Honda motor than an OHV of almost any type (lack of room to work under the hood notwithstanding). It's like the difference between trying to build something out of random shaped pieces of rock versus the same thing from LEGO bricks. LOL On the other hand, small block V8s have a ton of aftermarket support for OEM and performance almost anywhere you care to look for it, despite their age and comparably antique tech, and our poor little cars have barely passable OEM support and zero performance aftermarket that isn't small-batch or one-off custom made equipment. I'm so glad Sean (1funryd) and Dave (Mustardcat) have been so active with developing stuff for our community. Without them, we'd be totally sunk and every one of these would be destined for a scrapyard.

It's gonna be a fun time, mate. ;) I'm a bit ticked about the tree branch taking out the rear window in my other chassis - The cost to replace that glass brand new through an auto glass retailer like Safelite is about what the entire car would be worth if it ran and drove....which it currently doesn't....But, we are going to do something about fixing it. I might get lucky and find a good used one somewhere for less. We'll have to see. The other I'll have completely apart to rebuild the head in the next couple weeks, and ideally should have it back together and running before May. I'll continue to keep you updated! Cheers!
 
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