This week’s blog post marks the third installment of my K swap guide (the first was the prologue). This week I will be doing a thorough write up of how to install:
- 4piston racing oil pump.
- Spoon sports baffled oil pan.
- TODA timing chain.
- Hybrid racing timing chain tensioner.
- Circuit hero lower timing chain guide.
If you’re new here, or just haven’t read the first two articles. You can get yourself caught up by clicking the links below.
So why would you want to do these upgrades to you engine? Starting off, K20 engines in general have oil starvation issues when running them on track, or even during some spirited canyon driving (depending on how hard you are going). Since this is such a known weak link in K20’s, its best to just get an oil pan baffle right when you do your swap. Let’s face it, you are (should be) spending a lot of money to get your K swap properly installed and running (if you’re taking short cuts you might as well just put a B series in) So why would you risk starving your engine of oil, even if it doesn’t blow the first time you take it on track, the lack of oil is causing irreversible damage to the crankshaft or rod bearings, and or excessive friction/wear on the cylinder walls/piston rings. All of these things are taking miles off your engines life expectancy, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have another 3k sitting around to buy another K swap. For these reasons I highly recommend getting an oil pan baffle before you even get your car running, because if you don’t then you will just keep putting it off until the inevitable happens. This is exactly what happened to Pat, he did a hand full of track events without issue, then BOOM (or rather knock, knock, knock) Which is why now, this time around we are doing all these preventative upgrades.
As for the 4piston oil pump. He plans on down the road giving this engine more power, and revving it higher. To quote 4piston:
The stock K-Series oil pump is a great piece for up to 8,000 rpm. Past that, there can be cavitation issues and oil pressure drops as temperatures rise. Our ported pump increases flow by 25% and will allow continuous use above 9,000 rpm. The pump has been tested well over 11,000 rpm with great success. We start with a brand new OEM oil pump from Honda, disassemble, port and smooth oil passages to increase flow, and modify the outside housing so that it can be used on all K24 and K20 engines (including the K20Z3). The pumps are then cleaned, oiled, reassembled and repackaged. This part is cheap insurance to protect your multi-thousand dollar investment.
This pump has some advantages over the S2K pumps that are commonly used. The pickup is further forward, and lower in the pan, and it frees up an additional 1-2hp. This is the chosen pump for all of our racing engines for many of these reasons.
There are some DIY videos/guides that explain how you can do this yourself, but my thought is… Why even try to risk it? What’s an extra 300 bucks in the grand scheme of your K swap. Now personally I DO NOT have an aftermarket oil pump on my K20, but I don’t rev it higher than the stock redline. If your goal is to rev higher than stock, then you should seriously look into getting one of these. I DO have a baffled oil pan though.
Since installing the oil pump meant removing the timing chain, I suggested to Pat that he just get a new timing chain, chain tensioner, and lower chain guide. This way we could just ensure that everything would be ready to handle the abuse he is going to throw at it. Higher mileage timing chain tensioner’s are known to cause issues, but as long as you know what a failing tensioner sounds like (its ticks loud, like loose valves) you will be able to prevent a catastrophe by just replacing it when it starts to make noise. When I did my brothers K swap 6 years ago I installed a hybrid timing chain tensioner on his motor, only because I knew he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a good or bad one. Also once the motor is in, It’s also very difficult (impossible) to change the tensioner in a K swapped car because the timing chain cover is pretty close to the passenger side chassis/strut area. For my K20 however I did not replace the tensioner just because I have no problem pulling the engine and replacing it when it eventually starts to go bad. Honestly if you get your motor from Hmotors they will come with such low mileage that you won’t really need to worry about replacing the tensioner that soon, just be aware and know what to listen for. The timing chain tensioner automatically keeps proper tension on the chain through oil pressure, the “auto” part of It starts to wear out, causing more slack in the chain which can lead to jumping teeth and can cause engine failure. The telltale sign is the noise it will make. Yes, I’m sure you know someone that has a noisy one, and they have had it like that for a while. This is literally a ticking time bomb and there is no way you will know when it will deiced to let go, completely wrecking their whole engine. It’s also worth noting that some people have had incidents with aftermarket ones, and for that reason they swear by the OEM one. Im fine with either way, just so long as you are getting a new one to replace the worn out one.
As for the timing chain there is no specific replacement interval, it’s based on how much it has stretched. Having a stretched timing chain will throw your timing off slightly, and in some extreme cases can cause piston to valve contact, or the skipping of teeth which will throw off your timing off completely. I’m sure by now you realize that Pat’s build has a much higher budget than most would have. So for him, he is balling out to the max. It wasn’t necessary to replace his timing chain because it was still within spec but we both just figured that it would be a safe bet to upgrade to a high performance one, and since it was all going to be apart anyways we might as well.
Finally the lower timing chain guide is beneficial for two main reasons.
- if you’re tensioner decides to take a crap. This part has been known to stop the jumping/skipping of teeth if the tensioner goes out thus giving you crucial moments to shut off your engine before major damage is caused.
- It was also help assure that if you ever change cams, you won’t lose timing on the crank shaft. All you have to do is line up the marks on the timing chain cover, and crank pulley. Then just make sure your cam gears are set in the correct TDC position. This is most beneficial for K swapped cars where that whole timing chain cover is up against the chassis/strut area. If your car came with a k motor from the factory then you won’t really reap the befits of this perk.
Some people argue that if too much slack is developed in the timing chain, the chain will grind on the lower timing chain guide causing metal shavings to get in your engine. Honestly though if you can’t hear the sound of that rubbing then you should be having a k swapped car. For Pats motor though, since we installed a new timing chain and tensioner, the main reason for doing this was so he could easily add cams later if he wanted. Instead of us having to pull out the motor to ensure the chain didn’t slip, and throw off the timing. (yes there are other ways to stop the chain from skipping teeth while doing cams, but you don’t want to risk it when it comes to your engines timing. You need to be 100% certain its correct. I would rather pull my motor to be SURE my timing was correct, than risk it with some stupid make shift method.)
If you are doing a K24, one of the most important things to do is to upgrade your oil pump to a K20 type S/type R style oil pump. Many companies make a complete kit that will retro fit that style pump into your k24. Oil pan baffles are going to be a little more challenging to find for a k24. Plus you should for sure be installing a new tensioner and chain (since you’re going to have it all apart anyways)
Now for the actual HOW TO part of the article: I will be doing it on an engine stand. This whole process would be difficult, if not impossible while the engine was in the car.
Remove the belt, side motor mount, oil cooler hose, and VTC oil control valve.
Remove the crankshaft pulley. What I usually do is just blast it off with ol faithful (the Milwaukee 1/2 impact.)
However this time around it didn’t work for me, this thing was stuck on there. I don’t know if it was the JDM oxidization that was locking it on or what, but it was really on there. I had to run to the Autozone down the street and rent the “OEMTOOLS 27279 Honda/Acura Crankshaft Damper Holding Tool”
for reference I’m pretty sure this fits ALL Hondas/Acuras. It fit my B series, D series, and K series. It was quite a challenge getting it to come off, thank god Ever was there to help me. We had to use breakers bars and long cheater bars, and I was pretty certain that we were going to break the breaker bars or punch our selfs in the face. I have heard that Using PB blaster will help if you soak it before hand, but we didn’t have any so we just went at it raw.
Remove the valve cover:
This is very easy. Just remove the X4 10mm nuts/bolts holding the coil pack cover on, the X4 10mm bolts holding the coil packs in, and the X6 10mm nuts holding the valve cover on.
Remove the X16 bolts holding the timing chain cover on. X3 of them come through the oil pan on the bottom, and there is X1 I overlooked that was not allowing me to remove the cover and was pissing me off. It’s directly below the intake cam gear right where the VTC oil control valve goes, and is kinda tucked in there. Once all X16 bolts are removed you can gently pry off the timing chain cover. All you are doing is breaking the seal of Honda bond used to completely seal the cover to prevent leaks. It shouldn’t be that hard to get off. (as long as you remember to remove ALL bolts)
Pay close attention to the two bolts on the bottom (the finger is pointing to one, and the other is directly to the right of that.) These two bolts are specific to these holes as they have centering humps built into them to help properly align the timing chain cover.
removing the timing chain.
Pay attention to the orientation of the crank pulser plate (the large washer thing on the end of the crank shaft) there is a stamping on one side saying “outside” when you go to reinstall this you must have that face “outside”
Re thread in the crank bolt, use the impact to “lightly” snug it down. Now place the breaker bar on and rotate the engine COUNTER CLOCKWISE about an inch to compress the timing chain tensioner. This will allow you to put a push pin in and remove it without it fully extending. If you are re using the timing chain tensioner (we are not) and it fully extends you can use a vise or similar tool to press the rod back in and then place a push pin in the hole seen below.
Its hard to tell, but if you look at the above picture it shows the orange “latch” on the timing chain tensioner pointed a little down at an angle.
Now rotate the engine slightly counter clockwise.
Below you can see the orange “latch” is now more horizontal and now the hole in the “latch” and hole in the tensioner will line up and you can place the push pin in.
you can also notice between the two pictures how little I had to move the crank shaft counter clockwise to get the tensioner to compress enough to place the pin in.
***SIDE NOTE*** you can do the timing chain tensioner without having to remove the timing chain cover completely. Just remove the black plate held on by X3 10mm bolts and this will allow access to remove and replace the tensioner. This way if you’re not doing the whole timing chain and oil pump you can at-least replace the old worn out tensioner.
Above you can see how the push pin is in the tensioner. Next you are going to unbolt the X2 10mm bolts holding the timing chain tensioner on.
The timing chain guide that the tensioner was using will just hang, you do not need to remove this one. At this point you can also remove the crank bolt, and remove the crank pulser plate.
Now remove the cam chain guide. X2 12mm bolts
And the chain should come off. (sorry for some reason I don’t have a picture, but you get the idea)
Removing the oil pan: loosen all X15 10mm bolts (there are 18 total, but you should have already removed the X3 10mm bolts that hold the timing chain cover on.) So if you’re doing just the oil pan, you will remove X18 10mm bolts. Once all bolts have been removed, again you’re only trying to break the Honda bond seal. there are two specific prying points, as seen below. DO NOT pry anywhere else or you will risk scaring up the mating surfaces possibly causing leaks. *please remove all oil before flipping the engine upside down.
This is what it should look like all taken apart.
Removing the old oil pump. Remove X3 10mm bolts that hold the oil pump chain tensioner on.
Now removed it should look like the picture below.
now remove the X2 Allen bolts that hold the oil pump chain guide on.
Remove the X2 12mm and X1 10mm bolts that hold the oil pump on.
Once all three bolts are removed you can wiggle the oil pump back and forth to get it free from the block. Once completely free, you will have to angle it slightly to get the chain to come off. Below is what you should be left with.
Installing the new oil pump. When installing the new oil pump make sure there are no old dowels left in the block from the old oil pump. Below you can see I have the oil pump on, but with out the chain. thats because I’m showing you that you can’t bolt the pump on and then put the chain on. You must angle the pump and slide the chain on to both the gear on the crankshaft and the oil pump gear. * Side note, the 4 piston pump comes pre lubed so there is nothing you need to do except put the chain on and tighten the three bolts that hold it on.
Take note of the bolt orientation. make sure that the X2 12mm look like the picture below, and then obviously there is only one spot for the 10mm to go. The X2 12mm should be torqued to 16 lb/ft and the X1 10mm should be torqued to 8.7 lb/ft (these are actual specs from the Factory service manual, not internet heresy)
Below is what it will look like all bolted on. ** IMPORTANT! there is a small dowel pin coming out of the back of the chain drive sprocket (the one piece two gears on the crankshaft) this dowel must fit in a groove on the crankshaft. If you forget this part then the gear will freely spin on the snout of the crankshaft causing much problems. The oil pump wont spin, the timing will be off, and you will mare up the crankshaft. I didn’t get a picture of it but its easily noticeable.
and again just to reiterate the only three bolts that hold the pump on.
And the proof of it being a 4piston pump
Next reinstall the oil pump chain guide, simply bolt the X2 black Allen bolts back on and torque to 8.7 lb/ft. this will just go on with out tension. Next you will install the oil pump chain tensioner.
For some reason I don’t have pictures installing the oil pump chain tensioner, but its very easy for me to talk you thru.
- Take one of the X3 10mm bolts and thread it into the the upper most left hole. this will allow the tensioner to pivot.
- There is a specific tool that will hold the tension while you install, BUT thats not necessary because the spring of the tensioner isn’t that strong and you can manually compress it with you fingers
- Once you have compressed it, hold it compressed and line up the other two holes and thread the bolts in until they are all snug.
- Now you can remove your fingers
- Tighten the X3 10mm bolts to 8.7 lb/ft
Now just double check that the gear on the crankshaft is locked in by the dowel pin (it will spin freely if its not) double check that you have properly torqued the X3 bolts for the oil pump, the X2 on the oil pump chain guide, and the X3 for the oil pump chain tensioner. That concludes the new oil pump install, and it should now look like the picture below.
Installing the new oil pan. If you only choose to install the oil pan it can be done while the engine is in the car. Loosen and remove the X18 10mm bolts holding the oil pan, if you scroll up a little you can see the only two places you should pry from to remove the pan. (see step 6)
Once the pan is removed, thoroughly remove and clean off all old Honda bond/liquid gasket
Be carful to not get any old gasket into the engine block, large pieces can block oil pump screens or possibly block oil passages.
Use scotch brite to remove any trace of old gasket. Extra effort here will help ensure there won’t be leaks when you reinstall. Stay away from steel wool because the pieces of steel will break off and most likely get into your engine, which won’t be good at all.
Once all cleaned and dry from all oil. Now take Honda bond (or similar) and spread evenly around the block. DON’T GO CRAZY, a little goes a long way!
Now take you finger and smooth out the gasket evenly around the whole mating surface.
Make sure you don’t allow too much time to pass before you install the pan (no more than 5 min) or the gasket will start to cure and not correctly seal.
Now take your oil pan: In Pats case it s Spoon one, and just look at how happy Spoon parts make me.
Place the pan on, making sure you don’t have any dowels still in the block from the old pan and making sure you line up the new dowels properly.
Take a rubber mallet, or (in my case) your fist and tap the pan into place making sure its seated correctly. Then being to reinstall the 10mm bolts that hold it on.
Im only using the electric ratchet to snug them down. There is a certain sequence to tighten them in a two stage process ending at a final torque spec of 8.7 lb/ft. Starting at the center of the oil pan go back and forth in diagonal pattern to tighten. If that doesn’t make sense, you can google it for a more specific description of the tightening pattern.
Now your oil pan is all on. Remember if you’re only doing an oil pan there are X18 10mm bolts to remove and reinstall. If you are doing the whole process as I am doing then you will only reinstall X15 10mm bolts because we still need to install the timing chain cover.
Setting the crank and cams to TDC (top dead center), and installing the timing chain.
At this point you can re thread in the crankshaft bolt, and manually turn the engine CLOCKWISE until the arrow on the block lines up with the dot on crankshaft gear.
Now take a 24mm wrench and place it on the camshaft, to rotate or “hold the intake cam at the TDC mark.
above you can see how the intake cam won’t stay lined up. You can either turn the 14mm bolts that hold the cam gear to the camshaft, or use the 24mm wrench to actually turn the camshaft itself. You are going to turn them around until the lines and arrows look like the picture below.
Above you can see how in the background I have a wrench on the camshaft and I’m holding the cam in place to line the lines up.
Now take the chain (you will most likely need a second set of hands for this part)
On the TODA chain there are three gold links to help ensure that you have the motor set to correct TDC. One gold link will line up on the bottom and the other two will line up on the cam gears. Make sure you’re lining them up properly. For an OEM chain it will have “darker” links instead of gold.
The picture below shows how the two gold links line up with the dots on the cam gears. The dots should be centered between the two rivets of the gold links. Like shown below.
Please forgive me but for some reason I did not take picture of the gold link on the crankshaft. Let me try and explain, there is a dot on the crankshaft gear (its a different dot than the one that lines up with the arrow on the engine block) and like the cam gear dots… the dot on the crankshaft gear will line up center between the two rivets of the gold link. This will ensure that you have the correct amount of links between all the gears and the timing stays correct once the engine turns over. * note if you are using an OEM chain the “darker” links will line up the same way as the “gold links on the TODA chain. The only difference is the color of the links.
Installing the timing chain tensioner. The replacement tensioner will come already compressed and with a clip/pin to hold the tensioner compressed. DO NOT REMOVE IT until the tensioner is bolted in place and is for sure where you need it to be.
Swing the guide against the chain. You will see how there is a notch that the tensioner head will fit in. Install the X2 10mm bolts and torque to 8.7 lb/ft.
In the above picture you can see how the Hybrid tensioner comes with a pin that is threaded in.
Now reinstall the cam gear guide
make sure you have the bolts in this orientation, or the valve cover will not go on.
torque to 16lb/ft
At this point you should have all three timing chain guides installed and torqued to spec.
above I’m pointing out the threaded pin. that you are about to remove, but haven’t yet.
Once you’re sure all the chain guides are tightened, the tensioner is tight, and all three of the gold/dark links line up with the dots. You can now remove the pin that will allow the tensioner to extend outward and put tension on the chain, you will need to spin the engine by hand CLOCKWISE to allow it to come out a little more to ensure the correct tension.
Below you can see how much the tensioner rod comes out just by releasing the retaining pin. (compare to the pictures directly above)
Move it a few rotations CLOCKWISE to ensure correct tension, and you can see how its out even further. * side note… the Gold/Dark links will never line back up once you rotate the engine. I mean, they might if you spun it enough times around. (I spun it A-LOT and it never lined back up) but don’t fear, those are only there to ensure you have the correct amount of links in between each timing mark.
Lower timing chain guide. I did it this way to show you that you don’t need to have the oil pan off to install this.
Remove the X2 black Allen bolts holding the guide on. With both bolts out the guide will remain, don’t worry about tension it will only have the tension on the side with the tensioner on it. Remember there is no way for the chain to come off the pump unless its at an angle (like when we installed the oil pump) so everything will be fine. You will be leaving the oil pump guide in place, just removing the X2 Allen bolts.
Below you can see how the new lower timing guide already has the thickness of the Allen bolts machined into the guide. The aftermarket one will come with new Allen bolts to properly bolt it down.
The clearances are very close, but remember thats how its supposed to be. Just make surer the chain isn’t resting on the new aluminum guide.
Reinstalling the timing chain cover.
Don’t forget to slide the crank pulser plate back on, and make sure the word OUTSIDE is pointing out.
Next you will remove the water neck coming out of the water pump.
Doing this will allow the chain cover to go straight on and not have any hangs lining it up.
Not pictured. but make sure you remove all the Honda bond just like you did for the oil pan. Make sure you remove it completely off both the cover and the engine. Then apply the Honda bond (or similar) to the cover. Spread evenly around with finger, then mate the cover to the engine.
Place the bottom (where it mates to the oil pan) on first. Then push the top against the engine.
Install the X2 lower 10mm bolts that had the special centering hump on them first. DON’T fully tighten, just snug down.
then snug the other ones in, including the three from the under side of the oil pan.
Then torque to 8.7 lb/ft remember to install it quick enough so the Honda bond doesn’t begin to cure before it has the chance to adhere the two pieces.
Reinstall the VTC oil pressure switch as shown above. (use the bolt with the shoulder half way down) And you can see that I forgot to reinstall the X1 10mm bolt that secures the chain cover to the engine. (like I forgot to remove when taking off the chain cover originally)
Clean off the Honda bond from the tensioner inspection cover, apply new Honda bond (or similar) and reinstall the water neck to the water pump. (a little WD-40 will help ensue you don’t rip, kink, tear, or mess up the rubber O ring that keeps its sealed)
installing all the accessories back on.
Reinstall the oil cooler hose
Make sure you reinstall the woodruff key in the crankshaft to ensure the correct indexing of the timing marks on the pulley. Also this will ensure you don’t damage the crankshaft snout by allowing the pulley to freely spin.
Next the pulley has a grove that the woodruff key will slide into
Thread the crank bolt back in and torque to 181 lb/ft
Below you can see how the crank pulley has timing indicators on it. The white mark will indicate TDC and should line up with the arrow on the timing chain cover.
And then up top you can also see how when the crank pulley is lined up at the TDC mark, the cam gears should also line up at their own TDC marks. This ensures that the timing is properly set.
Below you can see how the two lines on the cam gears should face inwards towards each other. While the two dots on the cam gears should be facing up.
At this point you should rotate the engine a few complete cycles just to ensure you’re timing is properly set. Everything should line up PERFECTLY if its slightly off that means you are most likely of a tooth, and you will have to take everything back off and redo the timing. (basically go back to the top of this page, start over again, and read carefully)
If everything lines up like the above pictures, then you’re all good.
Reinstall the motor mount bracket. Torque X3 bolts to 33 lb/ft
When reinstalling the valve cover you would want to apply Honda bond to a few area’s. Since this is not the permeant valve cover I didn’t do any of those steps. I will go over it when I get the motor in and running and swap over to the valve cover he wants to use.
And don’t worry! I remember to install the 10mm bolt on the timing chain cover that I had forgotten about. See below.
My favorite helper.
Reinstall the belt. You can see how this is done by clicking the “part 1” link above.
And there is my FSM, how did you think I was getting all the proper torque specs for everything.
As always thanks a million for taking the time to read all my hard work. I truly set out to help as many people as possible when it comes to building Hondas, or any car for that matter. In a world of misconception and wrong information so widely spread as correct information, I want to be one of the few to help set things straight. Everything I have done is based on first hand real world experience. I don’t just take opinions from others, I truly live it and breathe it. I try and make things as transparent as possible so you really know what you’re getting your self into before you dive in head first. I don’t claim to be the best, but I do pledge to try my absolute hardest in making sure you get the facts. So that you can go forth to educate others so we can put an end to the phony “internet mechanics” of the world and stop them from spreading the proverbial shit they spew from their mouths.
Any questions about anything? Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask, or start a discussion with me about possible routes you want to take with your car. Comment below on this post, Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM on Instagram @functiontheory.
Have a great weekend, and make sure you get out in the garage and work on something!