We Have Moved!

Thanks to Photobucket introducing its sudden ‘ransom’ for hosting I’ve decided to move this blog elsewhere. I’m in the process of moving all my post over and adding even more pics. Please come over and click ‘LIKE’ to follow progress!

 

www.facebook.com/corporalgreen

 

Thanks,

Phil.

 

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End of ‘Phase One’

It’s been a strange few weeks with work on the car close to coming to an end for now. I was hoping to have a new garage and workshop built by now but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened as quickly as I’d have liked and I’m still clearing the land where it will be built. Due to limited vehicle access to the plot (can’t get anything larger than a 4×4 down the access road) I’ve had to clear over 15 tons of stone blocks by hand and have still to clear an area 10ft deep x 30ft wide x 9ft high of soil, rubble and stone. This will take MANY weeks to do when digging and removing by hand. In reality it’s going to be late autumn before I can get the garage built and start work on the car again.

So, where am I up to?  First off, the car runs fine. I’ve tweaked the timing, bled the brakes (and checked the new copper pipes and flexi lines for leaks), replaced the clutch fluid and started repairing and priming all the plastic parts on the car. Both front and rear bumpers need significant work to get them straight again as every corner of the car has been heavily scratched and dented, sadly not too uncommon on a 4WS car!

The old clutch fluid was black and watery. Could have been the original fluid from 27 years ago!?

The rear bumper still needs some filler and reshaping but it’s getting there. As previously mentioned, I will be changing the black strip around the whole car to body colour. This will also be the case with the headlight surrounds and bonnet lip to tie in the colour-coded ‘look’. The door strips took significant time to repair as the ends had split due to water ingress. This had rotted the metal frame causing the part to distort. Thankfully they were repairable with some plastic/rubber repair filler and many hours of slowly building up layers and adding strength to the weakened parts.

One other job I’ve done is to change the colour of the wheels. I never really took to the dark matt finish on the Lenso Spec C rims so I’ve opted to change them to Honda Solaris Silver (NH536M) which was used on the 94-97 NSX seven-spoke wheels. Having previously owned a ’96 NSX I knew I’d like the shade and thought it’d work well with the Prelude’s green/blue hues. Here’s one prior to being polished….

So here’s how the car looks now. The windscreen is out and a new one has been ordered. This will be fitted once the frame and roof have been cut out and new metal welded in. The bodywork will be having all the dents, ripples and creases pulled out and I’ll be filling the rest (which can’t be accessed) before cutting the outer sills away and replacing the rear arches and inner wells. This won’t be tackled until the garage is built and ready for use so it might be a few months away? In the meantime I’m going to start working through the myriad of parts that have been removed from the car and the donor to evaluate what will be going back on the car and what will be stored away as spares or sold on to other owners/restorers.

So, the blog updates might be rather infrequent for the next few months, but rest assured, they will start again once I’m in the workshop and tackling the bodywork!!! I’m aiming to have the car back on the road next spring upon which it’ll be travelling to Performance Autoworks in Swindon to have the engine rebuilt.  Maybe I’ll get to a few shows next year and get the chance to enjoy the fruits of all the labour???

Fingers crossed!

First Start in 6 Months…

It’s been a good week for the Prelude. First off, I’ve managed to complete the reinstallation of the suspension and brakes and I got the chance to see the car sat on its new wheels and tyres for the first time… before being put back on stands!

So with everything bolted and torqued up I decided to fit the new exhaust and refill all the fluids and have a go at restarting the car for the first time in six months.

I wasn’t sure whether the fuel would still be OK and I also needed to set the timing after fitting a new distributor. Having removed most of the engine bay I must admit I was a little nervous turning the key for the first time…

Thankfully the car was fine and since recording the video I’ve tweaked the ignition timing so it’s spot on. The coolant has also been bled and the PAS fluid topped up too.

So, the next job was to start on the mammoth task of the body work with the first area being the windscreen frame as the drivers-side top corner has rusted through as a replacement windscreen had been fitted at some point and was slightly misaligned causing water to trap there.

The screen was rather difficult to get out as the fitter must have used about 10 tubes of screen sealant to fit the replacement and it took a lot of time and effort to cut through it all without being gung-ho and damaging the frame. I wasn’t worried about cracking the screen as a new one is going in. The current one had two very large ‘star’ chips that weren’t repairable and wouldn’t have got through an MOT. On removing the screen I was pleased to find that the rest of the frame is in perfect condition which is a huge relief!

Next up was to go to the donor car and remove the screen from that and then cut out the section of roof and frame that I need. Having removed the screen and drilled out the spot welds (the ones I could see!) it became apparent that taking just the ‘top skin’ wouldn’t be easy as there are about 4 panels and reinforcing sections all welded together and I couldn’t work out where they were attached. Having struggled for about an hour I decided the best route was to remove the sunroof panel and cut out the whole section I needed and then liberate the outer panel and frame lip once it was off the car. Shame I didn’t think of this to start with as I’d saved myself a whole heap of time!!!

 

So, I’ve just got to cut out the rusty section on the project car and weld in the good piece from the donor. Maybe I’ll wait until the garage is built as I don’t really want to be welding outside on the driveway but at least I’ve got the section I need and I’m pleased to discover that there was no additional hidden rot behind the windscreen. I’ve got a few more bits to cut out of the donor before it goes to the great Honda showroom in the sky so I’ll get a list together before attacking it with the cutting disc.

Next job is to start preparing the plastic pieces that I’ll be colour coding. This includes the door ‘bump’ strips, bonnet lip and headlight surrounds.

Time Spent: 660 Hours.

Slow Progress is still Progress!

It’s been a mad few weeks for me with my ‘actual job’ (which isn’t restoring the car!) so sadly the Prelude has had to take a back seat but this hasn’t meant nothing has been done – far from it!

First off, I’ve managed to complete the aircon restoration work having already replaced the condenser, seals and pipe insulation. The last part needed before re-gassing with R437a was a new receiver/dryer. I had ordered a replacement from RockAuto in the USA but when this arrived it had no aperture for the pressure switch so a couple more hours of internet research were needed as everyone I found seemed to be listing the Prelude dryer without the switch connection. Eventually I found that the 1990 Accord dryer measure exactly the same and I ordered one online. This is the NRF 33024 and thankfully it’s a perfect fit. It would make sense that the Accord and Prelude of the same year would use the same part as in the UK the aircon systems were not standard and fitted as an option by dealers.

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I’ve decided to move to a ‘drop in’ replacement AC gas as opposed to stripping and resealing the compressor to work with R134a which is the replacement for R12 (now illegal) and used widely. Although R437a doesn’t produce quite as low temps it will work much better in an old R12 system as it pressurises at a similar rate to R12 unlike R134a which much much higher and increases to risk of leaks in older systems.

Next up is the start of the suspension and brake reassembly. Here I have to give my good friend Gareth Davies of Chartist Garage in Hyde (UK) who kindly pressed in the new bushes and bearings for me. First slight surprise was that the front track-rod ends were slightly different. Thankfully the exact same length and fitment but the tapered shaft that goes through the knuckle was much longer than the original, so much so that it meant the lock nut couldn’t be tightened enough to secure the joint.

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Weirdly enough both original front rod ends had no boots on them and were connected directly to the knuckle. As expected both, which looked original to the car, were utterly shot! To fix the issue I’ve used 3 x M14 washers as spacers to allow the nut to secure the joint, which seems to have worked perfectly.

This has been the only issue so far with rebuilding the front of the car. It’s so nice to be working with so many new parts and seeing the whole thing come together. I’ve been very slow and methodical putting everything back in place and have used the shop manual to get the exact torque settings for every bolt. Here’s the list of new parts just for the front suspension/brakes.

New Shock Absorbers (KYB)
New Springs (lowered 30mm)
New Upper Shock Bushes
New Track Rod Ends
New Lower Ball Joints
New Upper Ball Joints
New Lower Control Arm Bushes (inner and outer)
New Wheel Bearings
New Control Arm Bolts (Shock)
New Anti-Roll Bar Links and Bushes
Newly rebuilt Brake Calipers (new pistons, seals, sliders etc)
New Braided Brake Hoses (Goodridge)
New Brake Discs and retaining screws
New Brake Pads

And here’s how that all looks…

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I quickly fitted a wheel just to be 100% sure they cleared the caliper without issues (as they ET38 offset and a 7″ wide rim). Thankfully they do!

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Next up is to finish bolting up the rear of the car and then move onto filling the fluids and getting the car running again so I can check for leaks and set the timing. Very pleased with progress so far though it’s looking more like I’ll get this car ready around next spring/early summer. No point in rushing!!!

Chipping Away

It has been a strange couple of weeks if I’m being honest. Having finally got round to getting the suspension bushes pressed into the lower control arms I fell at the final hurdle as the very last bush (front shock bush) twisted and split as it was being pushed in – Doh! I was going to order a replacement from Honda, as that would be the quickest route, but have now been told they’ve been discontinued (they were available as recent as 3 months ago). So, I’ve order another bush, and a spare besides, from my supplier in Germany. This is holding up the whole process of reassembling the suspension but I’ve had plenty of other jobs to be cracking on with in the meantime.

Another slight delay has been caused by the refurbished calipers which had started to slightly ‘pit’ whilst in storage. This wouldn’t have bothered me if they were sat behind the stock ‘Blade’ alloys, but with the 6-spokes they’ll be highly visible so I’ve decided to strip and refinish them in a more durable coating. I don’t want to be cutting corners and then removing/refinishing parts in a year or two just for the sake of holding things up for a few more days.

On the upside I’ve had a visit from 3G Yoda who brought over a stash of parts from the USA which included a full tool kit, rear inner control arm bolts and some wiper linkage bushes. Thankfully I was able to hand over a few bits and pieces in a ‘Prelude Parts Exchange’ which included the 2WS eccentric bolts and some brand new rear upper ball-joints which are incredibly rare. The parts on this car are coming from all corners of the globe!!!

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Whilst waiting for the replacement bushes I’ve made some progress with the underside of the car which needs the liberally applied underseal removing so the floor pan can be fully assessed before being re-coated in stone guard paint. I’ve also managed to strip off most of the 10 coats (no exaggeration!) of underseal that were covering the 4WS gearbox and rear subframe. Most pleasing was the condition of the exhaust tunnel which occupies the 4WS shaft. This area, once the only remaining heat shield was removed, was found to be utterly immaculate and the underside of the gear shifter mechanism has only light corrosion which is extremely rare. Phew!

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Some areas around the rear subframe ended up being stripped back to bare metal hence the coat of etch primer here and there. I’ll be painting over this just as soon as it has cured fully in the next 24-48 hours.

Next up will be (parts permitting) refitting all the suspension, hubs and brakes. It’ll be great to see it all going back together with new parts. Exciting times!!!

Mix and Match

It’s been quite a productive week or so working on the Preludes. I say ‘Preludes’ though most of the work has been stripping the spare vehicle to grab a few parts I need for my car whilst also giving me a supply of spares to keep. With the B20A4 (2.0EX twin carb) being a completely different beast to the B20A7 (2.Oi 4WS) I’m limited to parts such as the switches, motors (headlights, wipers, blower etc.) and a few other bits and bobs, but all the other parts will be given or sold to other owners to keep their EX models on the road. One thing that has come in handy is having a full matching lock set which the Corporal didn’t have (it does now!). TBH, this didn’t really bother me but given the opportunity I’ve swapped them all over.

During the strip down of the spare car down I found the levels of rust to be far worse than I’d expected, which makes dismantling it feel even more like the right thing to do, even though I knew this already given the dreadful state of the inner and outer sills. As you can see the inner rear arches have also rusted through where the seatbelt bolts are mounted which could have been fatal had the car been in an accident with rear seat occupants – there’s no way the belt mounts would have held up as the metal is wafer thin!

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The rest of the car looks a sad shadow of its former self but at least the parts will help to keep many other 3rd Generation Preludes on the road. It’s amazing what you find once you peel away the body panels and underseal!

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Oh, if you were wondering where the passenger seat was….

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Having compared the front wings from the spare car I decided the they needed slightly less work that my existing ones and the same goes for the rear bumper. Thankfully my rear bumper frame (hanger) was in superb condition unlike the one on the spare which had turned to dust, quite literally! So I’ve test fit the parts and it’s all looking good. Lots of body work to do next once I’ve got the suspension and brakes refitted which will be done in the next 2 weeks. Annoyingly, this would have been done sooner but I’ve found the rear bearings I bought back in February don’t fit. I’m hoping the supplier will take them back as they had listed them incorrectly. In case you were wondering the fronts are part 44300-SF1-003 and the rears are 42300-SF1-008. The rears are only a couple of millimetres smaller than the fronts and it begs the question why? Surely it makes more sense to use the exact same bearing front and rear? Anyway, I’ve ordered the correct parts now (hopefully!) so I should have them in the next 5-7 days.

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Hopefully the car will be back on the ground and running in the next few weeks. I’ve got to thoroughly check everything over as most of the engine bay has been refitted and I’ve also got the ignition timing to set as I’ve installed a new distributor. It’ll be great to hear the car running again so I’ll be able to drive it into the garage (once it has been built!) to crack on with the bodywork and welding.

A Quick Dash

As my previous post shows, I’ve been rather busy lately and it’s fair to say that my house has been turned into some sort of ‘Museum of Preludes’ which is less than ideal if I’m being honest. I’m holding out on the thought that the new garage and workshop should be built and ready to use in the next 6-8 weeks so that’s something to look forward to.

The main project is still progressing nicely and instead of posting a lengthy description I’ve done a quick walk-around the car with commentary…

Since doing that video (infact 10 mins after I completed it!) I removed the dash which will make the windscreen removal and refitting much less of an issue and will prevent anything getting scratched or damaged.

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I still have a few more jobs to do in the engine bay but that’s mostly refitting clips and brackets – plus the left bracket on the new condenser doesn’t line up so I’ll have to grind that off and weld it into the correct position.

Next up is to get the new suspension bushes, bearings and ball joints fitted so I can reassemble the suspension and brakes. The target is to get the car ‘rolling’ by mid-June so I can move the car (hopefully into the new garage!) and get the cutting/welding started. Oh, not forgetting to strip the other Prelude too…

Double Trouble

So its been a rather chaotic fortnight, hence the lack of updates. To cut a long story short, I bought a 2nd Prelude as the opportunity arose rather suddenly and I took a shine to the car! This particular Prelude is a 1990 2.0EX which is the base model here in the UK – it features a single-cam 12 valve engine, fed by twin Keihin carburettors and produces 114bhp. This particular car has only done 82,700 miles and has the auto gearbox fitted which shifts incredibly smoothly and makes the car waft along very nicely indeed.

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The plan was to keep the car in storage and look at overhauling it at some point next year. I say ‘overhauling’ as I was aware of a number of poor welding jobs to the rear of the car (around the wheel arches and sills) so I took a bit of a gamble in buying it without being able to strip back the masses of underseal that were hiding the bodywork repairs. So, after around a week of the car being parked up curiosity got the better of me and I decided to have a closer look at the state of the sills and underside of car. What happened next wasn’t entirely unexpected but really disappointing nonetheless…. basically the rear of the nearside sill collapsed whilst being jacked up. The reason soon became clear to see….

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Since this is the base model automatic (no ABS, no 4WS, no Cruise Control, No Aircon… you get the picture!) it’s simply not viable to rebuild this car given the extent of the rot. It’s bizarre though, everything from the sills up is in remarkable condition, it’s almost like the car has been sat in the sea for 10 years!!!

So, the car will be broken for spares. Although my 4WS project is a very different car there are a few bits and pieces I can use so that’s some sort of consolation. I’m hoping to find a buyer for the engine and gearbox and hopefully that will help to keep another 3rd Gen Prelude on the road. Here’s the car running….

 

I have also been working on the main project and the engine bay is almost completely reassembled….. I’ll give an update on that in the next day or so.

Turning the Corner

This past week has been quite productive and although it’s hard to see a big change in the look of the car there has been a great deal of smaller jobs happening and little details being attended to. I completed the refurb of the front cross-member (that the radius rods are attached to) and also cleaned up the brake pipes, ABS pump and ABS accumulator in the engine bay. Perhaps the biggest news is the last piece of the suspension puzzle has been solved… my mate John (3G Yoda) has found me a pair of rear inner control arm bolts. These are a unique eccentric design and utterly unobtainable. Knowing I can get my hands on these in the near future is amazing, it really would have been difficult to replicate these parts so this is a HUGE result in terms of the project! In case you were wondering, the old ones seized into the suspension bushes and had to be cut out.

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Made from 100% unobtanium!

 

The front cross member looks much better now…
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One of the jobs this week has been to remove the Electronic Air Control Valve (EACV) and the injectors so they could be overhauled. The EACV controls the idle during warm up and works on readings of air and coolant temperature. The coolant passes through the underside of the EACV and a valve opens and closes (dependant on temp) sending a signal to the ECU. The air feed comes from the plenum into the two holes that have the figure 8 rubber seal around them (see below).

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So, after 27 years quite a bit of muck had built up inside the body of the case and the mesh filter was completely blocked. A liberal dose of brake cleaner soon sorted matters…

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The injectors were a little more tricky to sort. To remove them requires disconnecting the fuel line, fuel rail and the wiring to each injector. The injector electrical connectors use tiny retaining clips that are really difficult to remove, especially with my annoyingly big hands! Still, I managed to sort that eventually and only dropped a clip once! The injectors were cleaned and new seals, seats and filters fitted before being refitted to the car.

Before:
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After:
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So the project feels like it’s turned the corner with the first parts (Engine mounts and ABS motor mount) being refitted to the car. Having now done well over 300 hours on the project it’s nice to know that I’m at the point where things might start to look slightly better… before they look much worse when I start on the bodywork! Still, I’ll enjoy the moment whilst it lasts! 😉

Another day in the bay!

Well, it’s been a very productive few days on the car. Firstly, I’ve been able to spend quite a lot of time refurbishing more of the parts that have been removed from the car. This process tends to be rather slow and laborious but the end results speak for themselves. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not looking to overly-restore the car or any of the old parts, the plan is to remove any corrosion and then repaint or refinish the parts so they look ‘refreshed’ as opposed to brand new. Here’s a few examples – ‘before and after’

AC Compressor

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Alternator

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Cruise Vacuum Unit

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Basically the parts have all been assessed and any badly corroded bolts, brackets or fittings are either stripped and treated or replaced. The body of the metal has been cleaned with a small wire brush (on the dremel) using liberal amounts of WD40.

Next job on the job list was to strip out all the underseal from the wheel arches. Given the amount of corrosion in the sills and to the back of the rear arches I wanted to be sure the underseal wasn’t hiding a multitude of sins. Thankfully all four inner arches are absolutely spotless and no additional work is needed. I’ll be reapplying a healthy coat of underseal now I know that the metalwork is all solid and rust free.

Right Rear Arch

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Left Rear Arch

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So with the arches cleared out and the stack of parts refurbished I turned my attention back to the engine bay. I’d actually run out of paint a few days ago but thankfully more had arrived so having got a break in the weather (more rain!) I got the remaining work done including a very generous coating of lacquer. With this done I’m aware that the bulkhead looks rather poor in comparison but I’ll have a think on what to do once I’ve had a go at cleaning it thoroughly.

As it stands…

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The next step is to reattach the side engine mount and the refit the restored headlight pods. There’s still lots of work to do in the engine bay but it feels good to know that a few things will start to go back onto the car soon.