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1988 Civic auto

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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:56 am    Post subject: 1988 Civic auto  Reply with quote

I started this thread on honda-tech, but prob more appropriate here, so I'm moving everything over.  I know this forum is pretty inactive, but it won't get any more active unless people post stuff Smile

I need a place to keep track of the work done on this car, so what better place than the internet? Comments both positive and negative welcome. Yes, I know it's an automatic. But I live in the rust belt and these cars are extinct around here. This car was too nice to go to the scrappers and it is super low mileage so I decided to save it; even though I have way too many other dope ass cars - some may even be shown here.

I bought this car around my bday December 2015. Drove it home with no brakes, no heat, and a hole in the exhaust. Around the same time I had bought a 2007 pontiac G6 (sometimes I buy cars accidentally, it's a sickness); I needed to turn around and sell the G6 quickly so that took priority. The Civic sat untouched till it started to thaw in the spring. The car had a saggy rear bumper, little quarter panel damage, bad rot in the forward rear wheelwell area, had stock wheels, stock everything, ghetto stereo with a ghetto install done, etc etc. I did manage to immediately source a brand new set of rear tail lights (new OEM in-box), new OEM antenna (car had a radio delete factory option, but some retard drilled into the delete plate), new OEM delete plate (but I could only get the new style without the 'HONDA' raised lettering), used German 89 auto cluster with tach and KMS, used old school Accord radio and the proper harness, used center trunk garnish from an LX model, used auto trans garnish (the PRND21 black surround), couple of used clocks, used 4 spoke steering wheel, etc. I'll let some pics do the talking.

the car was filthy, but I could see through it - it was a good car worth saving!! I could undo the butchering, make everything right again.

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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this cut and paste business is too quick for the server :p

Dirty, filthy car with b!tchmade radio wiring basically marretted together and taped to the front of the dash and run behind the door panel. Also note that the original radio harness was hacked off with no real purpose, there was no reason to cut the stock wiring.

Under the hood was no different. All original, all stock, just dirty as heck. Thermostat failed, trans has a harsh engagement into R only, and the aforementioned exhaust leak (hugely rusted out replacement exhaust. I bet the original owner got suckered at some point into replacing a perfectly good stock exhaust. That makes me really pissy, but it is what it is.

I wasn't overly pleased with the rear garnish purchase, had a slight scratch that I had to buff out and I think the one corner back side (not the reflector) got crunched in transit. But overall there wasn't much I could do...

from the same seller I bought the auto trans garnish. I was real upset about this one because it looks like ass - the lettering is all faded and just... not a good looking part. Mine was actually in better shape, but someone had leaned on it or something and cracked it. I ended up repairing mine and it looks better than the part I had bought to replace it. My repair is pretty much flawless.

here is how it SHOULD look, unfaded

but here is the faded part I bought... notice the bleed-through around the P.

here are three of the nine cars, my daily, the 88 civic, and a lowered saturn sedan...

The time came to rewire the cluster so I can put in the German cluster with a tach. I'm not a hack, so the cluster was depinned and repinned correctly. The choke light is now the CEL since german cars were apparently carburated? I MAY eventually get the correct gel inserts or splice together a USDM/DDM set of gels so I can have an actual CEL symbol, but that's pretty damn low on the list of priorities out of so many cars.

I know, pretty clean hands for someone that works on cars Razz

At some point in the summer of 2016 I pulled the carpet, floor looked good. Everything was stripped down completely and washed properly, including all the seat belts and all the upholstery. Everything was in good shape, I mean mint. No cig burns, no tears, rips, or significant wear. The headliner was lightly steamed and cleaned.

This was a good time to see about not having brakes... there was a hole in the left rear brake line. The right rear brake line was replaced previously, and that was a bit of a hack job. I fix.

Having the brake fluid out, it made sense to install a big 15/16 master cylinder. No pics of that. Actually there are lots of pics missing, but it happened.

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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had an H&R set of coilovers for an EK. I sourced a set of EG LCAs and EG front forks and went on about the business of installing coilovers. It was also time to take care of a few issues to pass safety inspection, like new upper control arms, sway bar end links, and tie rod ends. The EK coilovers were really just plain too long for an EF. I ended up having the forks machined out so I could push the coilovers deeper into the fork and I relocated the pinch bolt. I also ended up removing the lower lock collar. Overall I gained about 20-25 mm back. But this was a temporary solution; I could not be happy with that. Still, this is a journal, and that's how it was.

bodywork is happening next, see about that bumper hanging in the back
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mentioned previously the saggy rear bumper. I knew there would be some work, but I didn't care. The car was sweet, all the doors, rockers, floor, hood, trunk, roof, everything else was mint mint mint. Never a significant accident (I did mention a bit of quarter panel damage), and all original paint!

I've never done welding or body work, but how hard can it be?? Now, I'm a whore for tools, cars, everything... basically I'm a whore, I hoard everything. So yes, I have torches, MIG and wire feed welders, good size compressor, sand blasting cabinet, most air tools a man could desire, etc. For most of the work seen here I used a few hammers, blocks of wood, lots of sheet metal, die grinder with a 2 inch cutoff wheel and a 4.5" elec angle grinder, wire brushes of different kinds, my little Lincoln Electric 110V wire feed welder with .030 flux core wire. I started out with 0.035 wire cuz that's what I had on hand, but my welds looked like poo.

Everything was cut out and replaced, seam sealed or fillered, covered with POR-15 or weld-through primer, then sealed up with primer-sealer.

This shot shows the quarter panel damage. The panel and part of the wheel arch were pushed about 20-25 mm in.

Here you see the rusted tabs. The left upper is newly made

Cleaned up/replaced as needed

No pics, but a small portion (the lip) of the trunk floor was also replaced because it caught cancer (rust) from the adjoining rear panel

Test fitting... yes, this piece was banged out with a hammer and a piece of 2x4

looking a bit better

This area was too hard to include in the initial patch, the geometry of it was too hard to all form at once with a hammer. So, I made it a 2 part patch.

assessing the other side, not as bad - two pretty small patches. the rest of it looked good

patches welded and smoothed a bit

Ok now the wheel wells where the bumper brackets mount. This side was totally gone, luckily I had the other side mostly intact so I could copy.

Inner panel done

rotten wheel arch

rotten wheel arch repair Smile

oh-oh... this looks bad. but the rocker is totally solid!! win!

again, trusty hammer and 2x4, some cardboard template... voila a patch is formed and welded in place

inner panel and wheel arch repair - I cut away the outside panel too, it was starting to rot. so the dogleg at the bottom behind the rear door (south of the molding) was also replaced.

with por-15 coating

this shows the inner panel repair of the dogleg area. The larger hole is as-factory for the molding, the smaller hole goes on the outside panel. Everything was copied as from the factory.

I bought a complete quarter panel patch on ebay so I could snatch the dogleg area and have good (decent??) geometry to start with. I fitted the panel real tight and welded it in place. Notice in the pics there is nothing holding the panel in place before welding, no magnets, no screws, no pop rivets - that's how much care I took to fit the panel correctly. The masking tape is just to protect the door from grinding sparks and welding spatter (using flux core produces a lot of spatter and I didn't feel like lugging around the MIG and bottle).

The daily needed a engine bay wash

Work continues on the outside skin of the dogleg area

don't trust the aftermarket coating of the replacement panel

The other side needed a little less love, but just the same, all rot was cut out and replaced, here the rear bumper bracket area you can see is already taken care of, and I suspect at this point the wheel arches and forward inside wheelwell area had already been done. This pic is more about the quarter panel damage and getting it straight again and looking good without using some b!tchmade solution like a ton of filler. Yes, filler was necessary, but only to smooth the panel to perfection after straightening and to recover some of the body lines and corner radiuses (radii??... wtf is the plural of radius in this context, I know radii is correct for geometry use, but this is more of a body work... never mind).

Here you see studs welded to the panel ready for pulling. Paint has been ground off and the panel was already worked with hammer and dollies from inside the trunk area as far forward as I could reach. Remember, I've never done body work or anything, but I'm not a retard. Some degenerate had unfortunately pounded on this panel from the trunk and caused a lot more damage than the original incident. Hence the need for filler, I suspect if I had gotten this car before that hammering idiot, I probably could have restored the panel pretty much to perfection. Now, note that I did have a replacement quarter already purchased, but I didn't see a need to cut original sheet metal when all it needed was a little gentle massaging.

First coat of filler. Less than 2 mm thick in the deepest areas.

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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^ notice there I brought back the original lines of that profile. The Civic has this sexy curve that goes from the end of the wheel arch and gradually tapers into the tail light area. The incident crushed all that but I restored it.

another good shot of the curve I'm talking about

Started sanding to identify panel condition. You see the high spots where someone banged around with a hammer inside the trunk.

Oh wait a minute. This is no good... evidence of rust, so I did some digging - did not look good. I stopped there and slept on it... decided to cut it

Exactly what I thought I would find...


Moving on... fast forward a lot of filling and sanding, then feeling the panel for straightness, then more filler, more sanding, etc etc etc... prob a week in filling and sanding, then pawing at it like a pervert, feeling every curve for correct geometry.

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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now. most of you know the ED (EF?) bumpers have a metal rebar, then plastic standoffs, then a metal bracket where the plastic bumper cover fits into a groove and then really nasty philips head bolts sandwich the whole thing together.

The metal rebar was a disaster, the OEM one had fallen apart completely and it would have been too much effort to restore it as-original. I managed to source a replacement, I couldn't get my hands on a OEM part but I did find an aftermarket replacement. 4 week wait and I had it in hand. In the meantime, I restored the metal bracket... all the philips head screws basically either broke or stripped. I drilled them out as necessary, tapped the holes clean, and used new stainless bolts. I will eventually convert everything to the new OEM rivets that my EJ6/EJ8's use (the plastic rivet with a center section that pops up and lets you pull the bumper with ease).

The metal bracket had some areas of rust and pitting that were cut out and replaced

no pics, but the bracket was eventually smoothed completely, painted with POR-15 and everything was reinstalled. The license plate lights were taken apart, polished and washed, the license plate brackets were sandblasted and painted with POR-15, new stainless bolts were used.

The door windows had those stick on visors that I despise (I love only WeatherTech in-channel visors and rock those on my wagon) one was broken and one was missing and obv removed by an ape with a screwdriver... having scratched the door frame paint.

Pic of aforementioned wagon with WeatherTech visors, sittin pretty on AMR coilovers:

The door frames are faded and showing a little bit of rust. The glue from the dbl sided sticky tape was a disaster to remove.

Here you see I restored the left front door frame only

I had no more time for that nonsense, fall 2016 was fast approaching and there was an odyssey with a bad transmission I needed to tend to, and I had to get my new suspension installed

I mentioned before the EK susp was too long for the EF platform. Yes it fits, but it won't really perform. Leave EK coilovers for EK/DC/EG platforms.

I had also mentioned before I sunk the coilovers right into the forks to get lower. This meant I could do some prep work for my new coilovers. This meant modifying the brake line brackets to fit the new coilovers. Most of you guys probably ziptie your brake lines, but just because "bekuz_racecar_bro_dude" somehow is acceptable to most, doesn't mean it is acceptable to me.

The body of the coilover is fatter than the stock shocks, this mean moving the brake line mount out and back a little bit. Back to welding and grinding...

Ear cut off

Scrap piece of angle was the right thickness... here you see how little material I had to add to space out the brake line to clear the body of the coilover

Other side original (but sandblasted) and the cut-off ear from the side I was modifying

Side-by-side modified and unmodified brake line brackets.

Not sure what this pic shows, but that's the old suspension that was coming out.

Perhaps I was getting ready to install these

^^^ New steering rack bellows... those were installed at some point too.

The suspension was going back in with some new bushings. These are for integra rear arms since I wanted the option to have a rear sway bar at some point if I feel like it (but remember, this is an auto tranny build... sooooo I dunno)

Dirty vs clean... everything was cleaned or replaced

Sandblasted and painted, new bushings all around

Coilovers assembled with the brake line bracket

EF/EG Civic vs DC integra

Yes the brake line brackets on the brake line are dingy looking, but that's for another day...

Yes, those ARE in fact drums...

I have two sets of rear disks I need to restore, one of them will end up on this car
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Little underhood cleaning, can't really see detail, but I started removing all the oil rustproofing and cleaned up 28 years of pine needles and stuff

Notice the strut towers... engine and firewall another day...

Final ride height for now...

That was it for 2016, autumn came hard, and I still had that odyssey to get at...

that's inside a B7TA Honda transmission for those that were curious...

in terms of plans... maybe it will be as clean as my other sedan that I've owned since new (bought June 1998). Yes, that IS a real Si-R OEM lip and OEM CTR lights and OEM red/clear tails.

or my coupe??

Susp loaded = NO rub!!

Who knows... definitely will respray it myself in the original color - to perfection... no bullshit half assed paint job. Will definitely peel off that tint LOL... but for now it does at least protect that minty fresh interior.

I do want input on keeping the bumpers black vs. color coded to the body.

The molding and handles are staying black for sure, that I already know.

doing some prep work on a brake upgrade. these are 280mm brakes (~11 inch) and fat too... 25mm thick.

mounted to a DA or EX knuckle, these would be a 300mm (11.8") brake setup. but I want to keep 15" wheels an option and I haven't been able to find an EX knuckle... sooooo... I'm good with 280mm

a random DX caliper vs new

that's how it should look all together, except the custom hubcentric ring would be on the hub :p

Scored a DA rear sway bar and all the hardware, 4040 prop valve, and a DA steering wheel today. Super stoked about the purchases! Wheel should be in tomorrow if weather cooperates and I'll have some pics. I love the current wheel, but it's a little too close to the light and wiper controls so I'm afraid one day I'll slip up and break them off. The idea is later to take a aftermarket wheel hub, and drill that pattern into my steering wheel - basically using the hub as a spacer. Cuz I'm not in love with having ACURA on the steering wheel.

On another note, I'm working on getting DA 1993 Integra seats fitted in the car.  Let me tell you, NOT an easy task to do it right!  Unless someone here has figured it out, but what I'm seeing is not encouraging.
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4g4d PFC

Joined: 17 Jan 2014
Posts: 67

Location: Finland

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is brilliant! Keep up the good work. I wouldn't do as much work to a FWD car with automatic transmission but it's good that someone does it. Otherwise, there would soon be no cars like yours.

I'm going to get another 4WD EE5 Civic on Sunday! Laughing

PS. I want your front coilovers!
MY07 S2000 AP1 "Nob"
MY05 Civic ES5
MY89 Civic EE5 --> MY89 (1st registered in 01/90) Civic EE5 "Rotisko v. 2.0"
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True, out of 10 of my cars, there are three automatics.  This is one, the other is a Honda minivan, and the third is an 83 Pontiac Grand Prix with a Pontiac 350 and TH400 trans.

But when I was shopping around, this was the cleanest body car and the mileage is extremely low... I think around 107000 kms.  All others I looked at, the rockers, quarters, doors, floors were all rotten.  This car is just a couple of spots here and there.  Not bad to repair for a beginner.  So, I can live having an auto Civic, it isn't the end of the world.  Also being a beginner, I wanted a 'practice car'... so if I ruined it, it wouldn't be a crime.  And the price was right too.

I also scored an OBD0 automatic B series ECU, so I have the option to eventually run an automatic B series in there if I choose to do that.  Likely a B20 with a B18 automatic.
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I have some blue 93 Integra seats from a coupe.  The rails do NOT fit a sedan.  Kinda close but so far away from actually fitting properly.  Seat pan swap is a NO GO despite what people say.  Also, rail swap is even more of a NO GO.

To make it OEM-like, safe, and clean, I've decided to use the feet off my stock seats and the rails off the integra seats.  This involved drilling out the stock rivets, plugging some holes, cutting some sections of the rail, the drilling new holes, putting the civic feet on, and finally some finish work and paint.  I'm on the home stretch of finishing the one seat, then I'll do the driver's side.

The flat portion of the rail was cut out, on the integra this was one of the mounting points.  Here I'm test fitting a plug before I weld it in place.  The other hole you see has a plug as well, about to get burned in.  

There will be two new holes drilled here, as dictated by the distance copied off the Civic rail foot mounting distances.  Then a little bondo for finishing and paint.

my pictures suck, I must have had a smudge or fingerprint on the camera lens.  Sorry for that.  But this is the rear side of the other rail.  Here, two holes are plugged and two new holes will be drilled at the correct distance from the front feet.  

If my measurements are right, the seat will then bolt in.

The Civic feet are about 1/2 inch higher than the integra feet are, so the seat will sit marginally higher (but still lower than stock Civic seats).

I'm torn between working on this and some other projects I have, but I'll update as progress is made.
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4g4d Enthusiast

Joined: 21 Dec 2011
Posts: 457

Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice work !
1988 Civic Lx
1990 CRX Si
1991 Civic Si
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Robb!

Got the passenger side seat buttoned up today.  Took some pics, but they look crappy, not really worth uploading.  Initial measurements look promising, the feet are correctly spaced AND more importantly the rails are 17.5" apart on center, just like the stock Civic rails.  If the weather is nice tomorrow I'll probably pop the seat in the car; that said, if the weather is nice I should really be buttoning up a head replacement on a VW diesel.
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Young Grasshopper

Joined: 20 Mar 2015
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

outside front

outside rear

inside front



general interior

1 down... now driver side front and the back seats left.
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Site Admin

Joined: 22 Jun 2006
Posts: 4598

Location: QLD, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbarbulo wrote:

Having the brake fluid out, it made sense to install a big 15/16 master cylinder. No pics of that. Actually there are lots of pics missing, but it happened.

But if you didn't take pics... Did it really happen? Razz

Love builds like this where people put in proper effort and realise that a bit of TLC goes a looong way.

ps that wagon is pimp

pps i hope you keep the black bumpers, i think the black and blue combo is awesome.

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