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  1. #1
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    The Engine Conversion Thread. 4th gen F22 to H22.

    As promised here's my lengthy story of my engine swap, hopefully those with similar experiences will share their story, and it can be used as a reference point for anyone wanting to go down the engine conversion road.

    My engine swap story starts in June 2005… I was driving home from my girlfriend’s house one morning and as I coasted to a stop at the bottom of the hill, my car stalled like it was in gear, the only problem there is, I had the clutch in…

    After starting the car again everything seemed to be fine, I drove along normally; gear changes were more difficult than normal, but still the car was working, until I pulled into the service station, pulled up to the bowser and the car stalled again. This time however, the car would not start, and the gearstick was stuck in 1st.

    After getting it towed home, and throwing the car cover over it, I went to work as usual. After about a week I decided that there was no point in pouring any money into the busted-ass F22 to fix it. It had 250,xxx kms, piston ring wear and an oil leak. In other words it was f**ked. I knew that it was probably a clutch problem, but at this point, I didn’t care.

    So I set about a plan to swap a VTEC engine into the car, I started researching, talking to workshops, asking around on forums, searching on the net and decided the H22 was going to be the cheapest and best option for me (I had also considered the V6 VTEC from an accord).

    I made a plan, and knew I’d need to budget about 6-7k, as I was not confident with doing the work myself (an option which I looked into) so I started saving.

    After a month of saving, and only about $700 worth of savings, I quickly realised that it would be a long journey if I was to do it this way, work was becoming a hassle, thanks to our brilliant public transport system, and I didn’t have a car I could fall back on at the time. I needed a financial plan B; which stood for Bank Loan.

    I swore I would never borrow money to modify a car, but this was no longer about modifying, it was about getting my car back on the road (OK, it still was about modifying, I was just impatient) so I extended my current bank loan by 10k; enough for the engine swap and then a little extra for some mods.

    So I have the money, now I needed an engine, and a workshop. I spoke to a friend I went to school with, who is now 2nd in charge at Special Vehicle Imports, and asked him to try and find me a JDM half cut, and asked if he could recommend a good workshop. He pointed me in the direction of Allstar Tuning Systems, located in Geebung.

    I visited Allstar, and spoke to the owner, Richard, about my situation, and what I wanted to do. We spoke briefly about ECU’s and installing a VAFC while doing the conversion, and Richard was clear on what he wanted to do. Basically, the engine swap would cost me $3500 including installing the ECU and loom, and $80/hour installing the VAFC (Expected to take about 5 hours to fit & tune); OR, if I purchased a Haltec EX6 ECU, he would fit and tune this for $2500 (including purchasing the unit) and do the physical engine swap for $600-800. Seeing as the Haltec could do everything the VAFC could do, and more; my choice was clear. I booked my car in for a month from that date, the 8th for August.
    Last edited by 16OTH; 18th May 2007 at 05:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    Now I needed to source an engine/half cut. I rang around to every wrecker in the greater QLD area, and no-one had anything available, or if they did, they wanted around $1800 for the block, and extra for the dizzy, ECU, loom and exhaust. Not to mention gearboxes… it seemed that I hadn’t quite done my homework no how much this was going to cost me, until I searched the net and came across Hondawreck in Vic. Not only did this guy have an engine, he was willing to take it out of it’s half-cut, and include the ECU, loom, dizzy and Exhaust manifold, all for 1800, plus $100 to get it up here F**kin bargain!!!!! (To top it off, the engine had 40,xxx on the clock, and I wouldn’t learn till much later, but also proved to be JDM)

    So 2 weeks to go until my car was due to go into the workshop, I had arranged the engine to be couriered to Allstar and stored there for the time being. I had my engine, I had my workshop, and I was well and truly on my way to H22 goodness.

    8th of August came around and we put my car on a tow truck, I had borrowed my girlfriends car and drove to Allstar. I spent about an hour there, talking to Richard, going through what we wanted to do, what he was going to do and importantly the timeframe. With Brisbane Auto Salon coming up Richard told me that there might be a bit of a delay, which I understood, as long as my car was being worked on in some form, I was happy.

    2 weeks passed and I got my first phone call, the auto-tensioner had shat itself and required a replacement. It was at this point that I was thoroughly impressed, I was asked if I would like a genuine one or a generic one (I was unaware that the H23 manual tensioner was a better choice and interchangeable at the time) I opted for a genuine one, an about 2 hundred dollars later, we were back on track.

    After a few days they called me again and let me know that it was in fact a clutch problem, and we discussed my options, I said I didn’t want anything too heavy, as it’s not a high power performance machine, it’s a daily driver with a bit of poke, so I requested an organic sports clutch, as I had learnt that this was a good compromise between power handling and driveability.

    Another few weeks passed and I received another phone call, my radiator was gone and needed to be replaced, or reconditioned. My options, recondition the radiator for around $500, or replace with a reconditioned, bigger radiator, from a turbo car (they never specified what car it was, bit I think it was an S13) for about $250… well knowing the problems prelude radiators had, I opted for the bigger one.

    Another couple weeks passed by and I was contacted about the engine mounts, they were badly worn and would need to be replaced, totalling another $5-600, I begrudgingly accepted, knowing that there weren’t any alternatives. Three days later I was called back and informed that they found someone who could re-condition for about $300, and they wanted to check if I would rather do that.

    The conversion had been going on for about 8 weeks now; we were coming into the end of October. I had made several payments, including an initial down payment before they started the work, and phone communication up to this point had been excellent. To clarify, when it comes to things like this, I am the kind of customer who won’t bother you, will wait for you to contact me, and allow you the time to do the job right.

  3. #3
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    Around the 15th of October, I received a call at 8.30 in the morning:
    “Hi Troy, it’s ***** from Allstar, we’re taking your car to the exhaust shop today, and we wanted to know if there’s anything specific you’d like done with it?”
    “Oh, I was planning on getting the exhaust done myself after I got the engine in”
    “We have to do the exhaust before we can do the tuning, otherwise you’ll have to get it re-tuned once the exhaust is done”
    “Fair enough, ok well I’ll just go with something basic, 2.5’, mandrel bent”
    “Thanks, I’ll let them know”

    Ok, so things were coming along, the ECU, wiring, and engine were in, the exhaust was happening and that would mean we were on the home stretch. I was taking a week holiday at the end of October as my dad was coming down to visit for my 21st birthday. Every day of my holiday, I drove past the exhaust place (Mostly in dad’s car, he drives down from Mackay, I have to drive him round town while he’s here) and the car would be sitting out front, always in the same place…. It would be taken in at night (thankfully) but the next day it was parked in the very same spot.

    This was a sight I was sick of by the end of the week, so I called demanding answers, I was told that they had been busy and hadn’t organised a tow truck to pick it up. I (not so) kindly reminded them how long the car had been with them, the money I had laid down already, and the fact I had been patient up to this point.

    I was told that it would be sorted and that the car would be back at Allstar that afternoon. Tuning should only take them a couple days and I should have my car by the end of the week. This week turned to 2, and I called every day for that second week, I had gone from the patient and laid back customer to the one who bugs you until the work is done. At no point did I get narky, or threaten anything, as I do not think this is a wise move when dealing with people working on your car.

    The big day finally came, Friday the 11th of November, I was busy in meetings all day, and had to organise final payment over the phone. My father (who was still down here on holidays) had to walk down and get the keys before they closed; otherwise I couldn’t pick it up until Monday (and quite frankly that wasn’t an option.)

    It is at this point that My faith was restored in Allstar (after a decent 2 and ½ months, my opinion of them went to shit over the exhaust/tuning) Richard had stayed back after the place had closed to take me through everything, answer any questions I had, and ultimately watch me drive away with a smile on my face. He showed me all the tuning logs, the parts on the engine which were replaced, and a general overview of the work that was done.

    I fired it up and with an almighty roar from the new exhaust and I could not stop smiling, I gave her a bit of a rev and nearly wet myself with excitement. After a few more minutes talking with Richard, I hopped back in the drivers seat and put her in gear, eased my foot off the clutch and crept forward. My first reaction was “This clutch is a lot heavier than the old one (and the clutches in the cars I had driven here and there in the last 3 months) but it felt good, I could feel a distinct friction point, and it didn’t take too long to get used to.

    But the clutch wasn’t my main concern… I wanted to feel it… I wanted to feel VTEC, so I took a turn down a long, straight, back street and let her go. The car roared and gave me what she had, climbing rapidly from 2 to 4k, the haltec did it’s thing and VTEC kicked in at 4000RPM I had never felt anything like it, my backside was sucked into the back of the seat and my grip tightened on the steering wheel, 5000, 6000… it just kept climbing faster and faster.

    The whole time I was enjoying this experience, I was well aware I was on a local street, and if a police officer just happened to be passing by, I would most likely have to wait another 3 to 6 months before feeling this again… but damn it would be worth it.

  4. #4
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    The Aftermath

    Things went incredibly smoothly for the next 3 months, I had replaced my pads and installed slotted rotors, and enjoyed my VTEC experience, surprising many a competitor in the process. One night out at the races I noticed my car feeling sluggish. I had been beaten by a euro rolling on 20’s, but the ultimate insult came when I had a 1.6ltr pulsar nearly keep up with me… something was wrong, very wrong…

    To quote Fast and the furious “It’s your fuel line man, you’ve got a massive hole… that’s why you’re offloading in 3rd” would not be far from the truth. My stock fuel pump was not coping with the demands of the new engine, and needed replacement.

    After a few phone calls, I bought an aftermarket in-tank fuel pump (I’m sorry, but I cant for the life of me remember the brand) and had that installed by a good friend. The new fuel pump worked great, with my only complaint being fuel surges when my tank is running low (Although, I now believe this to be a pressure problem).

    Another month later and my car would be struck by the engine conversion gremlins again; the problem now being the revs would ‘bounce’ between 4k (VTEC activation point) to 5k once past this point the car would continue to rev as normal, but was nowhere near the power that it should be.

    I took the car back to Allstar and asked them to diagnose the problem. After about an hour, Richard came back to me and explained my VTEC solenoid was shorting out, as a temporary fix, we unplugged the solenoid, so that I could drive again

    “No VTEC for you!”

    Driving around without VTEC was a sad affair; I basically had paid for a H22, but was driving with the performance of an F22b (No offence to F22b owners out there). Unfortunately, with Honda spare parts being the only stockist of VTEC solenoids (wreckers were absolutely no help, further cementing my opinion of them) I was a little while off purchasing a replacement part.

    When I had actually managed to save the money, I was thrown a massive curveball; I started my car to go to work, and the clutch felt extremely squishy, and the car would not go into gear! I was back to square one! I quickly jumped out, did a couple checks and tried again, still no success… so it was back on a tow truck to Allstar for another visit.

    My clutch master cylinder had failed. I enquired as to why this wasn’t checked when the swap was done, especially seeing as I had my clutch replaced, while they did not take responsibility for it, they agreed to get the master cylinder re-conditioned for me, at no labour cost.

    I had my much needed holiday, and bought the Solenoid when I got back, a few hundred dollars for a small metal cylinder did not impress me, but I missed VTEC so much, I had to get my car fixed.

    Another trip to Allstar, this time, I was told that it shouldn’t take very long at all, and given the work they had on at the moment, it should be fixed in a couple days.

    Days turned into a week, and I made a phone call, they had fitted the solenoid, but VTEC was still having a few problems, we’ll get back to you this afternoon. After no call that afternoon, I called the next morning. “The car wont start, we’re looking into it” WTF, the car was running when I left it there!!!

    Another 2 days passed and I had to make ANOTHER phone call to find out what was going on with my car. The ignition has failed, we’re getting to the bottom of it and we’ll get back to you.

    I was seriously not impressed at this point, what was with this lack of communication? Is this the same workshop that I took my car to for the engine swap? Coming into the 3rd week of my car being there, I made another call, bypassed the receptionist and asked to be put straight on to Richard. After a very frank discussion, I felt a lot better, Richard had given me his word that he would now be overseeing my car (apparently the 2IC had been looking after it up to this point) and I would be kept in the loop.

    The day after my conversation, I received a phonecall from Richard explaining the problem with the ignition, and that he recommended getting a Haltec ignition setup.
    “That’s great Richard, but what’s this going to cost me? I’m a little concerned that my car has been there for 3 weeks already, and if it’s been worked on as much as I’ve been told, I’m in for one hell of a labour bill already”. Richard told me he would take care of that, but it would cost me around $600 for the ignition setup. A compromise I was happy with.

    The ignition was ordered and fitted in the 4th week and the car was running again, now it was time to retune… and here was another problem. Basically the car did not like cold starts (it would have to be cranked over 4 or 5 times before it would keep running) and the voltage would increase with the revs. (Low revs – low volts, righ revs – ridiculously high volts) and when this happened the ECU would go into a safe ‘limp’ mode to protect the car and itself.

    Week 5 was spent by Allstar doing a lot of R&D, with calls to Haltec support and another tuner coming in and trying to work on the problem. At this point it was determined that my entire distributor setup would have to go down to Haltec to examine. So it was sent on holidays down to Sydney, where it was examined bu Haltec themselves.

    The result…? A piggyback system; which basically regulates the current as the revs increase, keeping the ECU within normal operating parameters. I have been told this problem has been used as a case study for Haltec and these piggyback units would be further developed to stop this from happening in the future.

    6 weeks later, my bill came to a total of $990, for the ignition setup, dyno time and labour for something else I had them work on. This had once again restored my faith; considering the work that was carried out in R&D and troubleshooting, by both Allstar and Haltec, couriering of parts to/from Sydney, and everything else came at no cost to me.

  5. #5
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    Summary

    In conclusion, I will summarise the problems and triumphs that I incurred during what seems like an epic engine conversion. I’ll try to outline costs, however given the fact that this was almost 2 years ago, please consider these to be a rough guide at best.

    COSTS
    - H22a Engine, ECU, Exhaust Manifold & Dizzy $1900
    (Delivered from VIC)
    - Haltec EX6 Ecu, Fitting & tuning $2500
    - Auto Tensioner for H22 $250
    - Exeedy Organic sports clutch $550
    - Re-conditioned radiator $250
    - Engine mounts $300
    - Oils, Fluids, Belts, Fuel Etc $500
    - Labour $1200
    - Exhaust & SRI $940
    Initial conversion total $8390

    - Fuel Pump $240
    - Recondition Clutch master cylinder $135
    - Ignition setup + dyno time $990

    Total conversion balance $9755

    Parts that needed replacing in the conversion:
    - Belts, fluids, etc
    - Auto Tensioner
    - Radiator
    - Engine mounts
    - Clutch


    'Gremlins’ that occurred after the conversion:
    - Fuel Pump failure
    - Clutch Master system failure
    - Ignition failure


    Overall I am very satisfied with my engine conversion, and as much as I may have criticized Allstar throughout this article, I am very happy with the quality of the work they have performed on my car. I will happily take my car there in the future, as they have an intimate knowledge of it, and it’s history.

    I’ve been asked the question, given the chance to go back, would you do it all again? And the answer is yes, I wouldn’t have done it any differently… but that’s not to say I’ll do it again any time in the future.

    Troyza

  6. #6
    Silver Member 16OTH's Avatar
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    Pics of the engine before & after, the ignition estup and the dyno sheet can be found here

    Also, Mods, can someone please correct the spelling error in the title.

  7. #7
    Silver Member The Lude's Avatar
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    whoah man thats insane, but at least your enjoying the vtec now!

  8. #8
    Silver Member Veilside's Avatar
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    Man thats epic and a half! i would have gone through the roof waiting for that long! but my mech told me he had a very similar problem and it took them 6months to fix the car.. he said he felt so bad for the guy he didn't charge the over 100 man hours to work out and fix the rather simple problem.

    Im considering this conversion at some stage.. well maybe who knows if i ever get this kind of cash to throw into the car, might aswell buy a better honda for the money nsx ^^ But i took note of everything that happened to you and i know what to expect now at least!

  9. #9
    J "The Stig" B 94vtirozguy's Avatar
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    good to thread to show the people it's not as simple and cheap as it sounds.

    But congrats on getting to the end.

  10. #10
    PA Resident typevu's Avatar
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    What a read and a half! I'd be going through stress balls like undies through that ordeal lol

  11. #11
    Generous Lover VCobra's Avatar
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    I dunno if I should do it now ha ha i was just saying today that I'll VTEC instead of turbo (After trying a 5th gen) but I dunno, 3rd gen will have more issues than a 4th gen.
    Quote Originally Posted by PeachExperiment View Post
    Its good to be king!!!!

  12. #12
    Regular Member Prelude_ftw's Avatar
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    great write up, very interesting read

  13. #13
    Silver Member The Lude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VCobra View Post
    I dunno if I should do it now ha ha i was just saying today that I'll VTEC instead of turbo (After trying a 5th gen) but I dunno, 3rd gen will have more issues than a 4th gen.
    This is the thing, you'd pay the same amount to have VTEC as a good turbs setup. Not really worth the money, especially when the 5Gs cant beat many new cars anyway, and theres always the respect of having a turbo. But if VTEC is what you want...go for it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member justjb's Avatar
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    Yeah this just goes to show nothing is easy when it comes to big mods. Just an example of how much mods can cost is what my mate did to his soarer. He went from the twin turbo set up to a large single tub (brought on by a stuffed turbo), costing $7,000. Which I'm told is a pretty good price considering labour and parts.
    Things done;
    Full 3 inch exhaust system
    Ceramic T4 (or T3 I don’t know much about turbos) turbo
    Custom manifold
    New fuel pump
    Braded lines
    Manual boost controller
    BOV
    Dyno and tuning
    Might me more shit I don't know about
    He's getting 200kw at the wheels with 12p boost (alot more than stock)

  15. #15
    Generous Lover VCobra's Avatar
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    Ok, i might turbo it..... but can I set the turbo to come on later? So it feels like VTEC kicks in still? like just around 5k revs I want that feeling!
    Quote Originally Posted by PeachExperiment View Post
    Its good to be king!!!!

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