About 2 years ago Patrick and I were at our local track (Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch) in Pahrump NV. I was having a great day driving at my peak, while Pat was trying to work through some minor issues. Once he had worked all the kinks out he managed to get a few laps in before catastrophe struck! He pulled off the track into our pit and as he pulled close you could hear the unmistakable sound of rod knock. Don’t feel sorry for him though, it’s 100% his fault (sort of). I don’t want to say that he deserved it, but… He was running 225 R comps with a non baffled oil pan in a K20. For those that don’t know, this is a very bad idea. K20’s seem to be a lot more susceptible to oil starvation than a B series is, especially if you’re running grippy tires that cause excessive G’s. I almost want to say that since pat had already done so many track days prior to this with out an oil pan baffle, that maybe he started to believe he was immune to what had plagued so many others. Don’t get me wrong, I was never hoping he would blow his motor, or anything bad would happen to his car. But I have to ask, why would you spend so much on a K swap only to never get an oil pan baffle. OK, wait a min… There are some facts I’m withholding:
- He did try to buy an oil pan with a baffle, but since he had a Euro R K20, a regular DC5/EP3/RSX oil pan would not fit his motor.
- He did also try to use a clockwise motion baffle, but alas this would have the same issues as attempt #1
- Giving up because nothing fits a Euro R pan, or a baffled pan doesn’t fit his block.
This leads us into one of the many misconceptions of K swaps, parts are not as interchangeable as B/D series. You see, like most people Pat wanted to go K and H motors was having a great Black Friday sale on a complete K20a Euro R swap. Pat couldn’t pass up the opportunity. This later turned out to be a bigger mistake then he could foresee, causing him headache after headache while trying to get the swap running and even once it was running. You now already know about the incompatibility of the oil pans but the differences don’t stop there.
- Its a TSX/Accord motor. The shifter cables and shift boxes must be for a TSX/ACCORD you can’t interchange the DC5/RSX Type S, shifter cables or shift box.
- Since it’s a TSX/Accord the trans is a little different, the usual Hasport mount kit won’t work. The do make one for it, but it costs a little more and mounts a little differently to the rear motor mount/subframe, trans. And how the driver side mount, mounts to the trans.
- Wiring the motor is also a little different than doing a regular K20a/A2/Z1 JDM DC5/EP3 JDM type R, 02-04 Type S, 05-06 Type S. This can become confusing when tying to find information on how to properly wire your swap. For instance when he got his conversion harness he was blowing coil-packs when he was first trying to start it. He had to call the conversion harness company and they told him that he had to re wire some wires for that type of motor.
- The head is basically a TSX head
- Cam shafts have different part numbers compared to the DC5/EP3
- Different oil pump with no balancing shafts compared to the DC5/EP3
- Ecu is different as well.
Sure there are ways around all of this… swapping oil pumps, oil pans, etc. But is it really worth all that extra work and extra money for new parts? After you have done all this you’re going to likely be nearing what the total cost of just a complete DC5/EP3 Type R swap would be. This is why I’m always telling people that K swaps aren’t cheap, and if you’re going into a K swap trying to be cheap then you should just go B series. Im sure that’s a hard pill for some to swallow, and I’m also sure that some of you know a cousin/brother/friend that has done a “cheap” K swap. There are plenty of cheaply done K swaps out there, but in the end the reliability and performance isn’t what you would be getting from an actual DC5/EP3 type r swap. Why not just start off with the best one? K20A/A2/Z1 these are the ones that pretty much every part is modeled after and what after market is most abundant for. Yes the glory of owning a K swap is no doubt amazing but don’t take short cuts, because you will just regret it later on down the road. Be ready to spend money!
This leads us to where Pat is now, a little older and a little wiser. His motor of choice now is the DC5 K20A, and he will finally be able to get an oil pan baffle! (I would also like to mention that years ago when he was doing this swap there wasn’t baffles made for RBB pans, but now Trac Tuff makes one, but I believe it is only in conjunction with a Type S oil pump)
Throughout the years of us having our K swaps I would always heckle him by saying “If you had just got a real type r swap, you wouldn’t be having these problems” he would always reply”I know, I know.” The morale of my little story is to not be cheap when it comes to this stuff, cause it will only end up hurting you in the end.
Anyways, on to more about Pats situation, and why his car sat for the last 2 years awaiting its resurrection. Well right before Pat blew his motor he was already planing on moving up to Oregon from Las Vegas. The car just got parked in his garage, destined to collect duct for the next few years while he pretty much started a new life. He got a new job, moved to a new state, and left everything behind here in Vegas at his house. He went full speed into his new job pretty much foregoing any rest or relaxation for almost 2 years. In that time he managed to sell his house in Las Vegas which meant his busted ass car needed to get stored somewhere else. Luckily, for him, his brother had a spare spot in his garage here in town and was willing to let him store it there indefinitely. Pat never lost sight of his passion for motorsport or hobby of fixing up Honda’s, he simply put everything on hold. He worked tirelessly, saved money anyway possible, sold one of his cars, sold his house in Vegas, and kept his eyes on the prize. Im sure it was hard for him at times to see how all of his friends down here were doing events, and fixing up their cars. That didn’t slow him down though, he knew that one day he would return ready to rebuild and get back out there.
For pretty much the last 6 months he has been purchasing parts, a new motor, and anything else that he needed to completely rebuild and insure that his car will remain reliable. Knowing that he was only renting a town home up there and not having a large enough garage space to actually work on his car. I asked him if he would be willing to send all the parts to my house, let me do all the work on the motor, and let me swap it all and get it running for him. Not only would this be great content for the blog, and benificial to many people. But 100% I love doing stuff like this, no matter how hot or cold out, or how busy I may be in life, nothing brings me happiness like working on some cool car projects and seeing them thru to completion. The fact of people getting enjoyment out of my work, and seeing them appreciate something that I was able to be a part of makes me happier than a pig in shit. Not only does it bring me happiness, but it brings me real world experience and helps me become more knowledgeable with cars in general. This for me is equally as gratifying.
So this being a prologue to our multi part “K Swap Guide” let me go over some of the many things we will be covering in the coming weeks. Im not sure about what topics we will cover on which part, merely because I’m not sure how in depth I will get for each one, or how many stages I will do. But below are some of the main things I will be going over in no particular order.
- Removing the old engine
- discussing what are must haves, or things you can do with out.
- How to cut an RBC/RRC manifold to fit a DC5/EP3 K20A head. Fitting the throttle body, what sensors are necessary, adapter plates, thermal gaskets, vacuum lines, and IACV issues
- New clutch and flywheel installation, properly bleeding a clutch, basic trans info, plus clutch/flywheel buyers guide
- Fuel system refresh
- Baffled oil pan install
- Traction bar installation
- Radiator and cooling issues/upgrades
- Reinstalling the swap
- Getting it fired up and running, troubleshooting codes, ensure that everything functions as it should, and properly bleeding coolant.
These are just some basic topics off the top of my head, I would love for people to chime in and ask questions along the way so I can answer them. Plus, as with any motor swap there are bound to be some unforeseen issues that arise. I will be documenting and dealing with those as they come up. The goal is for this to be a useful real world guide, for regular people to follow and be able to do in their own garage. If you’re new here, then be ready for some very detailed how too’s, with many pictures along the way. As a person who hates misinformation I will break everything down and explain why I do things certain ways, if its possible to do it other ways, what are your options, and what’s the purpose of doing each thing.
Here is some pictures of Pats car and his motor, so you can see what we are starting with and where we will end up.
It comes bearing 2 years of dirt, a flimsy DIY lip/splitter that will be redone, and lust for life.
Originally when the motor was delivered it was on a pallet. This made life a bit challenging, every time I would work on a car in the garage (which was every week) I was always dragging the pallet in and out. One day, out of the blue Pat text me saying he had and engine stand on its way to my house. When the “Vein Engine Stands”, engine stand arrived at my house I was certainly not expecting anything as cool as this. The stand allows the engine to be securely mounted and easily be moved around while having no doubt in the sturdiness of the stand. I have complete confidence in the stand, and the thought of it breaking or the motor falling never comes to mind. This stand allows the engine to sit at the exact angle as it would when mounted in the car (making mocking up parts a breeze) This stand also allows for you to bolt the trans on while the engine is secured to the stand, which also makes mounting the clutch and flywheel a breeze.
Heres just a couple of money shots.
Some shots of what the engine bay looks like before I get started.
Lastly the replacement engine next to the old engine (still in the bay) This does have my K Tuned header on it just for display purposes only because it looks so sick, but will not be going in his car. Plus, my best garage buddy Lieutenant Rig’s always enduring the ridiculous heat with me.
I’ll wrap it all up by saying that I’m very excited to start on this project! Pat will surely spare no expense, and I’m so humbled that he’s trusting me to do all the work for him. I promise to not let him down, keep my integrity and standards as if it was one of my own cars, and cut no corners. This series will quickly become your one stop shop for step by step K swap how to’s, information, and specific documentation of what all truly goes into a k swap. I plan on keeping it 100% transparent, real , and unbiased. I hope you will all look forward to keeping up with the multi part series as we go from busted ass car, to reliable track monster.
Like always please feel free to comment any questions you have, or discuss anything relating to this post, either by commenting on the post below, Emailing me at Billy@functiontheory.com, or lastly just DMing me on instagram @FUNCTIONTHEORY. I want this series to help as many people out there as possible.