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Rebuilding '86 CRX Si to stock

Old 01-17-2008, 12:47 PM
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Default Rebuilding '86 CRX Si to stock

Back in November, I picked up an '86 CRX Si for $800. It was running, but I when I bought the car I was itching for something to tear apart. It looks like I got what I wanted. The car was idling funny and the starter was working about 50% of the time I turned the key.

I'm about halfway through the build, but I'll upload pics in the order that I took them.

For $800, I think I got a decent buy. The last owner changed the head, but he gave me the old one. I also got the old intake manifold and a new door handle for the broken passenger side handle.

My current major goals for the car are to:
-bring the engine back to stock to use as a daily driver
-replace the torn control arm boots for both the front axles
-completely redo the interior

Some minor goals that I'll take on when convenient:
-fix the sunroof
-touch up rusty spots on the paint
-replace the front upper lip, lower lip, both front wings, and get new splash shields (the current ones are missing)
-clean up the engine bay

The old head

The old intake mani

Passenger side wing

Driver side wing
Old 01-17-2008, 01:08 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

So I realize I don't have pics of the entire car. I'll snap some tonight if I can remember to.

Here's some pics of the engine bay after I went at it for a few hours with degreaser. *sigh* I really should've taken before pics. The sludge on the transmission was between half an inch and an inch thick. Oh well, I still think this looks pretty decent as far as cleanliness goes. I'll probably wipe down the engine bay with degreaser one more time before I put everything back together. I'm not looking for a polish, but I want to at least be able to see everything.

For degreasing, I started with an aerosol degreaser that I got from Autozone, but because I can't hose down the engine bay in my garage, I decided to switch to a different approach. For most of the degreasing job, I used a 1 gallon degreaser concentrate that I got from Harbor Freight for under 5 bucks. Mix that with some water, put on some nitrile gloves (and tighten the gloves to my wrists with rubber bands) and I was good to degrease for a couple of hours with an old sponge and toothbrush. I had to stop a few times since the rubber bands cut off circulation to my hands This was better than having a glove full of degreaser. That really screws my skin up for the next few days.



Old 01-17-2008, 02:34 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

So apparently I do have a couple pre-cleanup pics of the engine. Here's some of the block after I pulled off the head. It seems like people tend to prefer engine swaps when there's major internal wear or damage, but I still like the idea of taking a worn down motor and replacing a few relatively cheap parts to get it working.

Btw, does anyone know of a way to pull the head off the block without making an oil dripping mess? This is my 3rd time pulling a head off a block and I still get oil all over the place. I drain the oil first, but it seems like there's still a bunch of oil in the head that only comes out when I'm pulling the head and it's tilting.

There was some weird white foam at the top of the coolant sleeves. I think it came from repeatedly pumping small amounts of oil that got into the coolant. The last owner didn't bother fixing a coolant leak--instead, he just kept a jug of water in the backseat to refill the overflow tank whenever it went low. The head gasket seems like it wasn't crushed or torn, so I'm still trying to figure out why the coolant was leaking. The last owner told me that the coolant didn't leak all the time. He'd drive it 10-20 miles to work and back. On some days, he'd have to fill up a gallon's worth and on some days, he wouldn't have to fill it at all. A leak through a hole should be draining pretty constantly.

My theory is that the leak comes from having the wrong head on. When I bought it, the installed head was D15A2. I didn't see the engine code stamped on it, but that's the engine on my '87 civic and I've worked with that one enough to recognize the head. I posted some pics of the differences here. That head was made for carbureted cars and this engine (EW4) should have a fuel injected head. I think running the carbureted head with the CRX's FI setup caused the precombustion chamber in the head to run super lean. So my guess is that the lean burn in the head was heating up the coolant a lot more than normal driving would, causing it to build up high pressure and escape out the radiator cap. Maybe on colder days or lighter driving, the coolant wouldn't get hot enough to do this, so that'd explain why the last owner didn't have to fill up the same amount each day.

If anyone has any other ideas on why the coolant was leaking, let me know. I'd like to be able to address all the problems this car was having in one teardown.


the foamy stuff

Old 01-17-2008, 02:54 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

that engine needs lots of elbow grease...
Old 01-17-2008, 03:10 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

You haven't even seen the interior yet. I'm sure redoing that'll take me a couple of weekends at least. I kind of like applying elbow grease to my car, so it's all right

I found out that I have some more pics of the engine bay before degreasing. They were taken after I used a screwdriver to shovel off a few layers of grease, though.




Old 01-17-2008, 03:48 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

Is it an Si? You could so a swap relatively easily.
Old 01-17-2008, 04:11 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

It is an Si. I think I've read that the ZC and similar year integra swaps are easy, but I didn't want to spend the cash on getting a new engine yet. I still want to research possible swaps and I wanted to get another daily driver out of this car for a while. My mom's driving around an old Toyota van and at her age, that's just asking for an accident.

I'd love to drop a B18C1/5 into this car and maybe eventually turbo it, but I still need to find out what I'd need to do and check a few sources to be absolutely sure of everything I have to do. I also need to scrape together the cash for that job Oh yeah, this car is also my first stick and I'd rather learn stick on a junkier transmission so I don't have to worry about messing it up.

Here's some pics of the upper lip and lower lip. The paint looks pretty jacked up on them, so I'm going to see how much it is at a local auto paint shop to mix the right color for me. If the price is right, then I'll get some to redo both of these pieces. I might also want to scour junkyards for first gen CRX's to get a new upper/lower lip since parts of mine are damaged. I'll probably try to get another upper lip and then just paint that, if necessary.





Old 01-17-2008, 06:14 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

So this thread is pretty much caught up with the work I've done to the car so far. I've started removing the valves from the original EW4 head. Two exhaust valves seem to be stuck. I've included some pics of the pistons which show that the valves probably hit them hard. I'm thinking that maybe these two valves hit the pistons hard and the valve keepers got pressed into the valve. I sprayed the two locked valve stems with Kroil yesterday, so I'm gonna see if that loosened them up at all. Does anyone know how to loosen these valve keepers?

By the way, I discovered that when removing the camshaft bearings, it helps to have a long, thin piece of wood like the one shown below. I used a hammer to tap at an upwards-angle on the bearings after I loosened the bolts. That knocked them up without damaging the metal. For the first engine I worked on, I used a screwdriver to pry the bearings. It worked, but it's a bad idea on an aluminum head...

Oh yeah, another small tip: if you're doing this and you have a magnetic pickup tool, then it really helps when you try to remove the valve keepers. I got the orange one below for .99 cents at Harbor Freight. You could probably rig up one of these with a stick and refrigerator magnet too.




Old 01-18-2008, 11:49 AM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

Last night I was able to get all the valves out of the original EW4 head. The keepers were really stuck for a few of the valves, so I put the head on the ground, compressed the springs, then hit the spring compressor with a hammer. I had to really whack those valves hard to loosen the keepers...I even damaged the garage floor, haha

Oh yeah, I found all these metal shavings. I'm not sure if they were in the bag that was holding this old head, but they're all over the head. In the third picture, you can see little bits in the oil under where the camshaft sits. I've determined that they're iron since they stick to a magnet. I'm not sure what they're from, though.




Old 01-18-2008, 12:01 PM
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Default RE: Rebuilding '86 CRX to stock

dam brings back memory's of my first honda.... 86crx. tho i got a steal for it at only 500bucks.
wish i still had the thing. its worst downfall was its crab tho..... other than that i loved that little ugly turd!
cracked fenders are VERY COMMON! i was told to buy new ones and then scuff up the gutts and fiberglass the insides preaty good so they would hold together beter. but you can fix the cracks also....

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