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1989 Honda CRX HF
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The madness begins.
So, as I have mentioned on many boards before, I am not interested in "racing" but i wanted an engine that was a direct mechanical drop in; no frame notching and I needed to keep my stock A/C or else the wife would complain. I, more than anything, wanted something that would still keep my HF a High Fuel efficiency vehicle while also pulling its own weight when it needed, particularly in mountains and hills.
In comes the little understood gem from Honda. I chose the D15z7, also known as the JDM D15 Three Stage VTEC. This little marvel comes out of the '96 - '99 Civic Ferio Vi-RS. Mine was from a 1997 CVT Civic. I also chose to run this engine the way that Honda intended it to be ran... That is right! I wired my car for OBD2a and I am using the P2J-003 ECU. This write-up/thread will detail my trials and tribulations while undertaking such a huge task for my second engine swap ever.

Materials Needed
- D15z7. I retrieved mine from Hmotorsonline.com. They are always friendly and helpful.
- P2J ECU. I have the 003. This is the OBD2a manual ECU. The different ones are as follows: P2J-003 for OBDIIa M/T, P2J-J11 for OBDIIb M/T, P2J-J61 for OBD2a CVT, and P2J-J62 for OBD2b CVT. Make sure that you get the right one for your application.
- D-Series transmission. I reused my HF transmission to reap the benefits of the lean burn mode. It keeps my cruising RPMs below the 2800-3000RPM lean burn cutoff.
- CRX. My write-up deals with the quirks of the '89 HF. The DX, HF, SI models of different years will have some differences with the under the hood harness but it should not be that bad. Do a Google search; these differences have been well documented by other people. If you are using a DX, then do an MPFI Swap preferably from an '89 HF to follow this write-up.
- Soldering iron plus solder. A cheap Radio Shack one will do but if you deal with electronics or plan on doing wiring and electrical modifications, you will want an adjustable setup. Spend the 60USD. It is worth every penny.
- Shrink wrap. I bought a variety box from summitracing.com for about 6USD. Brand is ThermoSleeve. It comes with 60 1/16", 35 3/32", 25 1/8", 20 3/16", and 10 3/8" sleeves @ 4inches a piece.
- Heat Gun. I used the one from the wife's arts and craft set.
- 96 - 2000 Civic EX Harness. This is not necessary but it helps tremendously for our old cars.
- Mechanic's Tool set. I have a 204 piece set. You tend to use the 19mm, 18mm, 17mm, 16mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm, and 7mm sockets.
- Adjustable wrench
- Pickle Fork or Three Jaw Puller. Use this for the tie rod ends and the front LCAs.
-Drain Pans to catch the different fluid. Don't cheap out here. Don't mix your fluids, save the environment and buy multiple receptacles.
- Replacement fluids.
- Repair maintenance manuals for the CRX and the 96-2000 Civic EX.
-More as people remind me or I remember.
- OBD0 receptacle from a donor ECU.

Getting Started

If you get the engine from H-motors, then it will come to you on a pallet wrapped in cellophane. Unwrap and inspect for damage.


My engine came with a chopped harness, power steering pump, and alternator attached to the engine.


Also check to see that there are two VTEC solenoids propped right next to each other. There should be a two pin connector with a red and a green/yellow wire going into the solenoids (respectively).
Even though these engines are advertised as "low mileage" engines, you still want to do at least a minor tear down of the engine before you drop it in. I took off the valve cover and checked that everything met the specs of my manual. I then painted the valve cover to my liking.
I inspected the engine block to ensure that there were no cracks or signs of over-heating. The engine had been tested and cleaned at H-Motors. It is stripped down to the bare metal so it is advised to cover it or paint it to it to keep it shiny. Mine sat for about a year before I got to it. I ended up sanding down the block and painting it as well. I should have at least covered it. I did the normal engine maintenance, including replacing any seals since the engine is already out of the car. There is a thread on D-series.org that has all that you need to know as far as part numbers or comparable parts for this engine.

Creating Your Wiring Harness
So as stated before, I used a '97 EX Civic harness (manual) and the stock '89 CRX HF harness. First, I created a one-piece harness because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Once I got the engine in the car, I realized that this was more of a pain then anything. For one, I made the harness too long and also, there were some "gremlins" in the wires and I ended up using vampire taps to tap into the stock harness for relay grounding and stuff. After getting the engine to fire up and run, I realized that in a pinch that a two-piece harness is both better and allows for troubleshooting. A two-piece harness also allows you to use the stock harness for everything else in the car. In my case, I was able to use the total stock harness and "convert" it to OBD2a. You can use the resistor box wires as additional wire leads so that way you do not need to "run" additional wires into the cabin.

OBD0 and OBD2a Plugs and Wire Color

OBD0 B and OBD2a C Plugs and Wire Color

OBD0 C Plugs and OBD2a D Plugs and Wire Color

Plug/Wire Correspondence List

OBD0 and OBD2a Alternator Wire Correspondence.

So for starters, let us look at my diagrams. This is what I used to do my obd0 -> obd2a conversion. The P2J ECU controls more of the logic and accessories than the OBD0 ECUs do, so be prepared to figure out how you are going to wire those things into your chassis. Again, using the now defunct resistor box plugs is a good idea to prevent any non standard wires. This thread started by CustomY8 was used as a reference. 88HF has acted as the scribe and has collected a lot of knowledge that we dug up on d-series and ecomodder. He has compiled PDFs with our findings. Other wiring and hardware information can be found here. And now here

Installing the Engine


Now if you notice in the picture above, the stock driver's side mount is different in length and design than the one that comes on the CRX. I chose to use the CRX mount on this engine and make any modifications to the timing cover needed to fit it.

If I had a rotary tool that was worth a damn I could have just notched the engine mount as I attempted to do, but after an hour of trying to cut it and breaking three grinding discs, I said eff it and just cut the timing cover. It's plastic and can be replaced once I get adequate power tools.
The other issue that I had was getting the whole package together. As I took the front end of the car apart, I realized that I had more front end damage than even the body shops thought. My frame was bent and the previous engine held everything squared. No matter which sequence I tried to get the mounts in, one was always off by an eighth (1/8) of an inch. You can see the damage that I am my neighbor created on the driver's mount bracket.
[insert driver's side mount bracket damage]
You can see that we put a hole straight through the mounting bracket.

I also chose to go with "solid" engine mounts for this setup. I used the instructions from this site. The car puts more power down to the ground and it also allowed me to use my old mounts that starting to tear and rip. The down side to this is that, since the car is a 4cyl, it shakes between 0 and 1700 RPM. Luckily the car cruises at ~2000.

Things that this ECU does not have
Like most JDM engines, this car does not use a "VTEC Pressure" solenoid. It also does not use an "Absolute Pressure" sensor.
I don't know if this next one is a wiring issue or if it is a "feature" of this ECU, but the engine coolant fans do not come on if the AC is not on. The car has tried to over-heat once while sitting in L.A. traffic. It got to three quarters (3/4) of the way to hot before I noticed this. When I turned on the AC, the coolant fan kicked on with the A/C fan and the coolant temperature began to drop down to a safe level (just below the halfway mark.)
This brings me to another quark. The engine runs just a little bit hotter than the stock HF engine. Yes the stock radiator was designed for the HF specifically and is a little bit smaller than the DX and Si radiators. Maybe since this engine has Lean burn it significantly raises the temps at low RPM. We will find out once I fix the IACV.

Engine Part numbers
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So, as I work out the wrtie up above, I will grace you all with some progress pictures that I had taken over the course of the swap.

So here is Betsie's engine bay before I took out the old power plant. I thought that I would clean it all up before dropping the new engine in there. It made the paint come off of the valve cover.




She looks so neglected


Here she is with the old, tired heart out. I was tempted to do a wire tuck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
MexiChriS said:
Looks promising. I'll be keeping tabs on this!
Thanks.

So Lets see some before pictures of the new engine. And since I know we are all pic whores, there are a lot in this post.



You can make out the two vtec solenoids here.


The engine comes with cut hoses and harnesses. One of the vtec solenoids are peeking out here.

Closer shot



The guys at H-Motors were nice enough to throw in an alternator to get me going. Too bad that the heat in Lemoore eventually killed it (the day was 135 F). It also came with a power steering pump. My wife's first mod will be to get power steering working in her CRX.


I was using a crappy phone camera at the time. You can barely make out the engine stamp, but it says D15B.

Attempted with flash on. Is it better?


Here is Betsie's new heart head on.


This engine has a weird, to me, oil pan. It is not flat like modes USDM oil pans. Also the dip stick goes into the oil pump instead of the oil pan.


This is the intake manifold. You may not be able to tell but this engine came from an automatic. So I have a 3 wire IACV which is causing rich fuel mixture at low idle and searching idle (not so surgey). I am working on an adapter plate to put a 2 wire IACV on this thing. I was going to tap and thread it on the back but there is no air bypass from the throttle body to the intake manifold.


Here is the IACV. It requires two power leads and is grounded out in the middle. The ECU adjusts the rotating door inside this thing to dial in the right amount of air bypass. The 2 wire systems use a ground, a positive lead, and a spring. The are pulse width modulated so, they open and close many times per second (understatement) where as the rotatory type (3 wire) just holds its position. One wire puts out more voltage to compensate over the other and vise verse. I wonder why Honda did not just use the same IACV on all of their cars. The 3 wire seems to be more accurate, but the 2 wire requires less work from the ECU.

I had a crap ton more pictures, but I have been sitting on them for a while and they are scattered around. As I find them, I will upload more. Thanks for looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I found a few pictures related to the tear down (top half), sanding, and painting of the new engine. Please enjoy.


This is what was lurking under the valve cover of the previous engine. Those 62HP were really tired.


On the other hand, the 128HP looked like this. Seems that the engine was very well taken care of. I will continue to take care of it...and have fun! That is a more than double what the stock '89 HF has. The difference is night and day.


It is a crappy cell phone picture, but the wife stole a picture of me painting the the new engine's valve cover. This is before I started balding.


Here is the finished product. I did not use brake caliper paint unfortunately. I had to add a clear coat to it (three to be exact). The paint has started to turn a slight brown/orange from the heat. I am probably going to strip it and paint it yellow or white to match the car.

You can see that the paint kind of clotted up up top. The extreme temps in Lemoore were not nice to the paint as I layered them. I neve fixed it because of what happened above. I will use better paint. Don't go for high heat automotive paint.


So moving on to the intake manifold, here is the different paint that I was talking about. This is engine enamel. It is nice in color, very shiny, but it is not chemical resistant. Don't go for engine enamel either.

Any way, as far as sanding, this was probably the hardest part to fix believe it or not. The sand molding technique made this thing look gross. I had to take my 5USD Harbor Freight Jeweler's rotary tool to fix it up for all of the fine spots. It took me a whole day just to get the excess metal off.


My neighbor Yoshio and I painting the engine. I have not pictures of me sanding it down. Look how beautiful this thing is turning out. If only I had the right paint to start this thing off with.



Look, its VTAK Yo!

Times 2!


Here it is with the header put on there. DynaFlow. Yeah, say what you will but I bought it new from summit racing for 68USD. and it is CARBed.


To finish up, here is a picture of the weird engine mount.

I am looking for my camera as I have more on it. I just moved not too long ago and I am still trying to locate stuff. I have others scatter on my PC that I am grouping together. Thanks for looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
AZ,

The engine is already in the car. Just keeping things stock honestly. 128HP (at the crank) is more than enough when you come from 62HP. The solid engine mounts also help keep the power to the wheels and less engine bounce under the hood.

So as an update.I found the camera but the wife wiped the card when it gave her a "format error" so I think the other pictures that I have are lost. I am currently looking at fabbing a block off plate for the 3 wire IACV mounting point and then make an adapter to connect the two wire IACV to the block off plate.

I will take some pictures of everything together under the hood as well so that you can all see my mess of wires that I am individually fitting into a OBD0 to oBD2a conversion harness. The idea is that if I wanted to I could go back to totally stock or OBD1 in one day. I am also making an OBD0 to OBD2a conversion harness at the ECU. I initially started with a single piece harness to get the car up and running. I want to manufacture these harness fo simple people like me who are interested in stock performance. There are a lot of OBD2 engines that do not get the correct love from the correct ECU.

As a road trip update... The wife and I drove to Seattle on Sunday. I got my worst mileage on a long distance trip so far which was 39MPG. I usually get into the mid to high 40s. The highest I have reached is 56-57MPG. On short local trips, my MPG is about 35MPG.The car dumps fuel at low RPM due to the wrong IACV and spews fumes from the tailpipe. It also idles at ~1500RPM with the idle adjustment screw all the way out. I love this engine though. Minus the pain of wiring it to take the correct ECU, it is a blast and the second vtec solenoid really pulls at switch over (~5300RPM). I think the 2.5inch exhaust really helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As mentioned in another thread, my camera has a corrupt file system so all of my stored pictured from the swap got wiped. I guess I just have to take new pictures right. I'm currently looking for a shop that will cut and tap the aluminum blocks that I need to convert the IACV and mount it to the firewall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So today I am trying to add the OBD2 DLC to my setup so that I can test out a OBD UART that I am making for my next project, an infotainment system using a Raspberry Pi (have on hand) or CubieBoard (waiting to ship). They say that no USDM scan tool will work with JDM OBD2 because the Japanese market technically used OBD1 with an OBD2 setup for Hondas. Well I have a Bluetooth ODB2 scanner and my custom one that I am making to scan OBD1, 2, and CAN Bus. Pictures to follow shortly of the wiring. If I can get the Buetooth tool to work, then I will post that as well.

If you want to look at the references, where is what I am basing the DLC wiring off of plus the K-Line noted in my above ECU diagrams. KWayRacing on Honda-Tech, FourthgenhatchB17 on Honda-Tech, and Marko_Think on Honda-Tech. Always give credit where credit is due.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
UltimX,

I have not got the chance to find local shop. I have been spending most of my free time with the wife. I had been working on trying to decode the jOBD coming from the ECU but I was using an ELM327 based scanner which is not jOBD compatible. I get connectivity, but the scanner sees gibberish. I am going to try to have all output dump to a *nix terminal (I am a Gnu/Linux guy) and see what is going on after the ECU/Scanner handshake. I don't have my carputer stuff together yet so I am at a stopping point with that as far as implementing my UART dongle to get ECU codes from the car (it runs hella rich).

Besides the IACV issue, it is a great engine to have. I recommend running with the stock ECU if you do not plan on doing more than bolt-ons. If you get one, make sure to get then engine and t he EU from a manual VTi and you should not have the problem that I have right now. You can also do a Y8 intake manifold swap I believe which has the spot for the manual IACV if you get unlucky with the pick.

Mickey,

I am not a sailor. I am a contractor. I travel with and am almost embedded with the squadrons. I take it that you have been to lovely old Lemoore? Are you Aviation on a ground pounder?
 

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shorty_boy said:
UltimX,

I have not got the chance to find local shop. I have been spending most of my free time with the wife. I had been working on trying to decode the jOBD coming from the ECU but I was using an ELM327 based scanner which is not jOBD compatible. I get connectivity, but the scanner sees gibberish. I am going to try to have all output dump to a *nix terminal (I am a Gnu/Linux guy) and see what is going on after the ECU/Scanner handshake. I don't have my carputer stuff together yet so I am at a stopping point with that as far as implementing my UART dongle to get ECU codes from the car (it runs hella rich).

Besides the IACV issue, it is a great engine to have. I recommend running with the stock ECU if you do not plan on doing more than bolt-ons. If you get one, make sure to get then engine and t he EU from a manual VTi and you should not have the problem that I have right now. You can also do a Y8 intake manifold swap I believe which has the spot for the manual IACV if you get unlucky with the pick.

Mickey,

I am not a sailor. I am a contractor. I travel with and am almost embedded with the squadrons. I take it that you have been to lovely old Lemoore? Are you Aviation on a ground pounder?
I'm actually going to be picking up an engine hopefully this weekend. Only problem is the manual ecu as I still need to get it. I was just looking to see if the iacv fixed the rich issue. The y8 intake manifold won't work correctly cause there isn't an egr on it I believe right? I would like to use the stock intake manifold and functions if I can.
 

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shorty_boy said:
Mickey,

I am not a sailor. I am a contractor. I travel with and am almost embedded with the squadrons. I take it that you have been to lovely old Lemoore? Are you Aviation on a ground pounder?
I have never been to Lemoore but I know a few people that are or have been stationed there. I was in Whidbey roughly a year ago and now I'm ship's company home ported in Yokosuka. And yes, aviation 8) One thing that I miss that I probably won't see for a long time if ever again are the EA6's. So old, yet so cool. I think it's the noise they produce :biggrin:
 

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Hey shorty_boy, I'm happy to see betsie up and running. I'm a little confused though. You had a 3-stage back on middle of 2011 then got rear ended shortly after right? What happened then? This a different engine and car? Or did you fix the damage after you bought the car back?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I bought the car back and fixed the damage enough to keep her driving straight. So yeah I see how you could be confused. The build/ restore/ general Betsie thread was long over due. Since I had it in draft when I was doing the swap and conversion, I decided to go ahead and upload it and I am adding to it as I see fit or things come up. I just realized that the first post does not have the original draft date. Sorry for any misunderstanding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So, I have started doing a few mods to my car. Don't worry, they are all tasteful and stock-ish. The first is that I pulled a very good conditioned two spoke steering wheel from an RT-4wd wagon. It had already been scavenged, but the interior was pretty darn good. I also pulled some manual window rollers, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, and some other cosmetic things from an EX civic.

As the weather warms up here, I will be doing more with my car. Picture posts are coming soon. I am planning on pulling the engine and redoing the harness. Also the paint needs a tough up so I will be repainting the transmission, engine, and valve cover. Thanks for being patient with me, my time is highly divided between real life situations. Stay tuned.
 
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