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|Finally, my Civic Type-R cams arrived from Japan (thanks
to Eric) and I was eager to see how much of a difference they made.
Eric, too had a set for himself and was itching to do the same. So, armed
with the right tools we set out to do both cars.
But first, there are some issues to clarify. According to Spoon's race
engineers, the valve springs need not be swapped out for the Type-R dual
springs if (and only if) the rev-limiter is not raised above that of stock.
Well, good for us. We had absolutely no intention to raise our rev-limits
any time soon or in the future.
|According to the specs, the Civic-R camshafts are slightly different
from the Integra Type-R camshafts. Actually the difference is only on the
intake side. The VTEC lobe on the intake side has slightly more duration
(3 degrees more compared to the Integra Type-R) and the cam profile was
bigger and broader. The exhaust cams are exactly the same as the Integra
The Civic Type-R cams would be the cams of choice as they will allow
the engine to breathe much better. In addition, the increased duration
on the intake side will allow for better exhaust scavenging.
Tools RequiredBefore you start, make sure you have the right tools. You will need the following:
IN cams: B16A, B18C1, B16B
PreparationLogically, the first step of the process it to remove the old cams from the engine. So, remove all attachments to the valve cover. This includes the grounding points, the PCV return hose and the spark plug wires. The nuts that hold down the valve cover are then removed. Using a screwdriver, remove the metal/rubber seats from where the nuts were. You don't want them to fly out when you remove the valve cover. The valve cove should be ready to be removed. Using a thick putty knife to scraper, gently pry the valve cover off along the edge, while taking care not to damage the rubber seal.
Go over to the side of the engine and undo the bolts holding down the timing belt cover and remove the top piece of the timing belt cover. Then check to make sure that the timing belt tensioner is locked down (tight) by checking the tensioner bolt. If everything checks out, loosen the bolt that holds down the cam pulley. To do this, press down hard on the cam pulley while breaking the bolt loose (don't remove it , only loosen). It can be pretty tight and an extra pair of hands will come in handy here.
Next, disconnect the two plugs that are connected to the distributor. Then undo the three bolts holding the distributor in and remove the distributor by pulling it off. Put the distributor in a safe place, don't want to damage it unnecessarily. Last, loosen all the spark plugs (but don't remove them) so that it will be easier to turn the crank by hand.
If you have been following thus far, the valve cover should be off and the camshafts should be ready for removal.
Camshaft RemovalWith everything removed, the next step will be to remove the camshaft holders. Undo (loosen by 2-3mm) the bolts that hold the two oil spray rails and the cam holders. Next, undo remove the two front(timing belt side) bolts that hold the camshaft seals down. Next, remove the outermost camshaft holder bolts (the ones forming the distributor bracket and next to the VTEC solenoid.
|Next, completely remove the oil spray rails and the three camshaft
holders in the middle. Be very careful when removing the middle one as
there is an oil channel guide (small metal tube) that fits in the middle
of that piece. Take note of which guide came from where and
also the orientation and set everything aside in a clean area. Then finally
remove the four small camshaft holders .
Once everything is out, the far end of the cams should hang loose like
the picture on the left.
||Now, before removing the cams, you have to release the timing belt.
Lift the camshaft at the free end and slide the timing belt off the cam
pulley as the belt tension is released. Next, undo the cam belt pulley
bolts and CAREFULLY pull out the cam pulley. Make sure you don't lose the
tiny Woodruff key that keys the pulley to the cam. Again put everything
in a proper place so you don't lose anything. Finally, lift the cam out
by the far end and remove it from the cylinder head.
Putting it all BackAt this stage, everything is almost ready to be put back together. Using the 19mm socket on 3 extensions, turn the engine over by the crank pulley bolt until the TDC (white) mark on the crank pulley lines up with the timing mark on the lower timing belt cover.
Apply an even layer of oil all over the camshafts, except the end where the timing belt pulleys bolt on. After identifying which cam is which (the intake cam has a slot cut on the far end for the distributor) put the new cams into position. The slot for the woodruff key should be pointing upwards. Next, carefully reinstall the cam pulleys with the keys in the right place (again, don't drop the key down the timing belt cover, a tiny bit of grease helps to hold it in place) and replace the cam pulley bolts (hand tight). If everything is correct, the "up" arrows on the cam pulleys should be pointing upwards.
The next step it to put back the timing belt. Making sure that the TDC mark on the crank pulley is still aligned, pull both sides of the timing belt is taut. Keeping the timing belt taut, pull up the far end of both cams and slip the pulley under the timing belt. Putting down the end of the cams should tighten the belt up. If you have done this correctly, the front side of the timing belt (side towards the front of the car) should be completely taut. The crank timing mark should still be aligned and the UP arrows on the cam pulleys should be pointing up while the timing marks on the pulleys (small tick marks on the edge of the pulleys) should line up straight across both pulleys.
|The cam holders can now be reinstalled. Making sure you have the cam
holders in the right order, put them all back, followed by the oil spray
rails. Remember to apply a small amount (not a huge glob) of high-temp
sealant on the mating faces of the end camshaft seal hole. The same goes
for the opposite end. Finally torque the 12mm bolts down to 2.0-2.4kg-m
and the 10mm bolts to 0.8-1.4kg-m.
Re-install the distributor and then double check that all the timing marks are correct before proceeding to the final stage.
Finishing Up - Valve ClearancesBefore the engine can even be started, the valve clearances have to be checked to make sure that they are within specs. To make this process easier, remember to loosen the spark plugs so that it is easier to turn the crank by hand. Remember that valve clearances on a Honda have to be done when the engine is cold so only do this if the engine has had ample time to cool down (3 hours at least).
If you have just replaced your cams, it's time to re-tension the timing
belt. Loosen the 14mm tensioner bolt and turn the crank counter-clockwise two
turns. The timing belt should be at the right tension at this point of
time so go ahead and tighten the tensioner bolt.
|Using a 19mm socket on the appropriate number of socket extensions,
continue turning the crankshaft counter-clockwise until the engine is TDC at
cylinder 1 (remember the up arrows and the tick marks?)
With cylinder 1 at TDC, you can now proceed to do the valve clearances. The valve clearance specs (for any DOHC VTEC engine) are as follows:
|Slip the appropriate sized feeler gauge (I use the smallest
one) between the intake side rocker arm and the cam lobe. The gauge should
slip in easily. If it does not slip in, don't force it. Release the 10mm
lock nut on the adjustment screw and loosen the adjustment screw with a
screwdriver to get more clearance.
Next, try sliding the gauge around between the space. There should be
a slight amount of drag but the feeler gauge should slide freely, without
any resistance. Loosen or tighten the adjustment screw accordingly and
once you are happy with it, hold the adjustment screw stationary and tighten
the 10mm locknut. This task is difficult with regular tools so I'd recommend
you spend $40 on the correct valve adjustment tool available from Honda
or Snap-On (what I use). Once this is done, double check by testing the
gap again with the feeler gauge, followed by the next bigger size, which
should NOT fit.
|Once you are done with both the intake valves, move on to the exhaust
valves and do the same. Remember to switch to the correct sized gauge.
Assuming you have done this properly, you are now ready to move on to the
Turn the crankshaft counter-clockwise by 180 degrees (the cam pulleys will turn by 90 degrees) to bring cylinder 3 to TDC. Proceed to adjust the clearances for cylinder 3, before moving on to cylinder 4, then finally cylinder 2, turning the crank by the same amount (180 degrees) before you switch cylinders.
Finally...The final stage of this procedure is to reassemble the last bits and pieces. Apply a small amount of sealant to the sharp corners of camshaft end holders before putting the valve cover back on. Carefully replace the valve cover without cinching the seal and replace all the retainers and nuts that hod the valve cover and finally torque it back into place. Before you forget, re-torque the spark plugs and re-install the plug wires.
It's almost ready. Loosen the three distributor mount bolts (just enough to hold the distributor in place) and turn the top side of the distributor towards the front of the car to fully retard the engine timing. Locate the system test plug (usually a green rubber plug close to the ECU in 5G Civics or in the engine compartment for the 4G Civic/CRX) and short out the 2-pin connector with a paperclip.
Double check that everything else is connected correctly then start the engine. Leave the engine to run until it warms up to operating temperature (the fan should come on at least once). In the meantime, hook up the timing light according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Once the engine is warmed up, aim and shoot the timing light at the crank pulley and check that the timing mark (middle red mark of the 3 timing marks) lines up with the timing pointer on the timing belt cover. If it falls in front of the pointer, rotate the distributor's top side towards the rear of the car. This should bring the three timing marks closer to the pointer. Keep rotating the distributor accordingly such that the timing marks line up properly. For the more advanced HP'er, you can go ahead and advance the timing up to 2 degrees ahead of the red mark to optimize power.
Once the timing is set, tighten down the distributor and double check the timing again. Finally, stop the engine, remove the jumper wire on the test plug and (optionally) replace the spark plug wire cover.
You are now ready for a test drive. Remember to let the new cam seat properly so don't run at constant or excessively revs for extended periods. Let the engine run through a varied range of RPM's below 6000 RPM for about 100+ miles.
Just don't get a ticket.
Performance InsightsHow do they perform?
The difference is like night and day. Unlike the stock cams, the power doesn't taper off as you approach 8000rpm. Instead, the power just keeps coming, especially after 6000rpm. The first time I took it out and floored it on 1st, I hit the rev limiter in a flash! That was even before I put the shorter Type-R FD in (watch for another upcoming tech article).
Driving around with the broken in cams, the car exhibits awesome and unbelievable acceleration on the high end (yes, that's how I drive, VTEC on all day) but the low end cam lobes seem to give improved performance too, but I cannot substantiate this with my butt.
Coupled with the shorter ratio 98 Type-R FD, highway onramps and offramps have become extremely entertaining.
These cams are the probably best $450 I've spent, short of the $500 spent on the shorter 98 JDM Integra Type-R FD.
...I wonder what Eric Bauer has to say about his Civic-R cams.
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