Classic Hondas on the Dragon III - No Honda Left Behind

The kindness of those who attend this event was really the highlight this year!

Classic Hondas on the Dragon II

A large group of classic Hondas driving together is truly something special to behold!

2017 Mitty - Day 1: Coker Tire Tour

An incredible drive through southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia, capped off with the best vintage racing out there.

Honda Dreams Do Come True

I bet you didn't realize that your first gen dream car was in Austria all this time!

Letting Go

Even the best laid plans don't promise success. Find out how I learned that the hard way.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take a moment and wish my 1G family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Safe travels.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tech Tip: Plastic Body Panel Repair (If You Dare)

Hey first gen fans, it's time to talk about one of the biggest issues with our favorite cars, the plastic body panels.  I don't know about you, but if I didn't love these cars so much, I would avoid them like the plague because of this issue alone.  I appreciate Honda's decision to keep the car light by using plastic body panels, but they weren't considering their enthusiasts 30 years down the road.  The sad thing is, when most people see first gen CRX with cracked, chipped, or missing body panels, they walk away, or worse, scrap the car altogether.  Since Honda no longer makes replacement body panels, and the few companies that did re-manufacture them aren't making them anymore, we're left with only a few options.  Heeltoe Automotive is a great option.  They manufacture front quarter panels, lower door panels, and rocker panels.  They are all well made out of fiberglass; a bit pricey, but a great option none-the-less (My own CRX sports Heeltoe fiberglass body panels).  Kevin Sousa also makes fiberglass panels including front quarter panels, a custom spoiler and nose panels.  But if you've priced out ordering new panels and have realized that they will cost more than what you paid for your car, there's still one last option, and that's repair the ones you have.

This is not an easy task because most of the factory plastics are very brittle and crack easily.  This tech tip will show you how to reinforce the plastic on the factory body panels, stop cracks from getting worse and show you how to repair smaller pieces that have already cracked off.

Panel Assessment:

There's no point in spending the time repairing panels that are so brittle, they will literally crack, or even shatter during removal or installation.  The simplest test is taking them off the car.  This is a strenuous task for the plastic parts and if they don't fall apart during removal, there's a good chance that they will qualify for repair.

Panel Reinforcement:

The best way to reinforce your panels is with fiberglass.  You can pick up some fiberglass mat (or cloth) and a can of resin at your local auto parts or hardware store.  While you're there, grab a box of heavy duty rubber gloves, and respirator (if you're working on this indoors).  Depending on how many panels you are going to be working on, you might have to find larger quantities of mat at a specialty store.

First, position your body panel with the inside facing up.  Next, lay out your fiberglass mat over the inside of the body panel.  Make sure you press the mat up against back of the panel so you can confirm whether or not you have enough to cover the entire panel.  With the mat covering the inside surface of your panel, trim the excess mat around the edge of the panel.  Leave at least 2 inches of mat, outside the edge of the panel to allow for mistakes or folds.

After you've prepared the fiberglass mat, remove it from the panel.  Then cover the inside of the panel with a layer of resin.  You can use a paint brush to apply the resin.

Once you've covered every inch of the panel in resin, take your mat and lay it over the fresh resin.  Position the mat back into its original position when your trimmed the edges, and then begin pressing into the resin.  Make sure the mat has been pressed into the resin across the entire panel surface.

Next, apply another layer of resin on top of the mat.

You may repeat this process (adding additional layers of mat) to increase durability, but keep in mind that the panel still needs to fit over the body.  If you make the panel too thick, you might have to go back and trim/sand the fiberglass back in order to reinstall the panel properly.

Once you've finished applying the mat and resin, allow to dry (see instructions on can of resin for dry times).  After the fiberglass has dried, trim back any mat or fiberglass that extends beyond the edge of the panel, and sand down any sharp edges.

This process should keep your panels in the game for a long time, but that doesn't mean you let anyone lean on the front of the car. :)

Panel repair:

If your panel has a section that has cracked off, and you still have that piece, all is not lost.  It is possible to reapply the broken piece, and here's how.

Before you start, you'll need to pick up some plastic weld, denatured alcohol, sand paper, a rasp, a file or wire brush, masking tape and a dust mask.  All of which your local auto parts or hardware store will have.

Start by 'roughing up' the cracked edge on both the loose piece and the panel with a file or wire brush.  Take the file or wire brush and drag it along the cracked edges at an angle (image the panel, or loose piece as the neck of a violin, and the file/brush is your bow.  Do this lightly because you don't want to take off enough material where the two pieces don't contact each other when pressed together.  You just want to round off the cracked edges.  This allows for the welding material to rest between the two plastic pieces.

Next, clean the two cracked edges.  Brush off any visible dirt with a dry rag and then wipe them down with denatured alcohol on another clean rag.

Then secure the loose plastic piece to the panel with painters, or masking tape, by taping one side.

On the side you haven't taped, apply your plastic weld.  Apply it liberally.  Make sure it's in the crack, and don't worry if there's excess amount of weld, you will be grinding it off later (at least on the outside of the panel).

Once the first weld is dry, take the tape off and weld the opposite side.

When both sides have dried and it feels secure, take a rasp and scrape the excess weld off the outside of the panel.  Make sure you don't take off any of the original plastic, the point of this step is to reduce sanding time.

Then with 220 grit sand paper (on a power sander, or sanding block), sand the weld down to the level of the original part surface.  Afterward, sand the surface again by hand with 600 grit or higher to smooth the plastic out.

Below is a repair I made to a factory body panel.  In this case, I did not have the piece that cracked off, so I used a Dremel tool to cut out a piece of plastic from another panel I wasn't using.  I shaped the piece with the Dremel tool to fit into the cracked panel. (Note, in the image below, you can see I had already applied some fiberglass strips to reinforce the panel.)

Above, I welded the part onto the panel, but then I had to eye-ball the shape from the opposite panel and draw it onto the new plastic piece.

I then took the Dremel tool and cut the plastic to match.

Here's what the final product looked like after a lot of sanding.  Turned out ok.  

So for those of you that are stuck between a rock and a broken body panel, I hope this posting gives you hope.  These are the cards we are dealt, so let's make some lemonade! ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Part With A Purpose

Now that I've completed my CRX tribute build, I've had the chance to just enjoy being an owner/driver.  Aside from tearing up mountain roads, turning heads, and having a clean garage, I discovered something else to enjoy about having a completed project.  Spare parts.  At first, going into my garage was painful due to the awful mess.  Towards the tail end of the project, I wasn't interested in cleaning anything, or putting anything away and things just got out of hand.  For a while, I just left it because I didn't want to deal with it, but after a few months, I decided to clean and sort through all my parts.  After separating the parts that I wanted to keep from the parts that I was OK parting with, I got on the internet and started listing everything.  It didn't take long to realize that I enjoyed selling parts as much as buying them.  I've always preached the conservation and rescue of first gens, but now I am in a position to actually contribute to those who are actively maintaining and/or restoring first gens!

One particular sale that I made, stuck with me, and I have to share.  About a month ago, I was contacted via email by a gentleman named Tom, from California.  He had seen a listing that I had posted online, and inquired about some parts.  Sadly, the parts that he was looking for had already sold, but I mentioned that I had a ton of stuff lying around and that he should feel free to ask me for anything, which he did.  He was looking for a passenger side fender for his current project, a 1987 CRX SI.  It hadn't occurred to me until he had asked, but I did have a spare fender laying around, and it was in great shape (a rare occurrence).  I sent him a couple pictures of it, and he quickly gave me the green light.  There was one hang-up though, and it was shipping.  How would I ship a fragile plastic fender from the '80's across the country without it getting destroyed or it costing a fortune?  Tom suggested Greyhound.  I had no idea that Greyhound even had shipping services.  I looked into it, and the price was very reasonable, so I complied.  I found a box big enough, packed up the fender and drove it down to the bus station.  When I walked into the bus station, there were stacks and stacks of huge boxes, furniture, and other odds and ends, all ready to be shipped.  There were more things being shipped then there were people!  I was shocked.  I had a feeling that I had discovered a great way to ship big stuff, and I had.  It took about a week, but as promised, I received a call from greyhound notifying me that the package had arrived.  I then passed the news on to Tom, and shortly thereafter, he was inspecting an undamaged fender.  It's a great way to ship big parts for cheap, and I highly recommend it... but I digress.  After Tom thanked me for the fender, I asked if he could send me pictures of the car after it was complete, and sure enough, a month or so later, they were in my inbox.  It was so satisfying to see Tom's freshly painted CRX, knowing that an original part from my project car could be part of another first gen getting back on the road.

I hope this encourages those of you who have piles of parts lying around that you don't feel like dealing with, to clean out the garage and sell those parts.  There are a lot of folks out there that need first gen parts, and you could have what they're looking for.  Just think, you can get the satisfaction of helping others, and get paid for it! It's a win-win.  :)

Photos taken by Tom Lancaster

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Mugen That Needs a Good Home

Hey 1G fans!  You all need to see this.  I haven't done classifieds on the blog before, but if it means making sure another 1G stays in the care of an owner who can appreciate it, I'll do it (no questions asked).  Also, the seller is a long time Red Pepper Racing member.  He's asking an absurdly low price for what he's offering, and when you start to get into prices 5k or below, the chances of the car falling into the wrong hands are higher.  I'm hoping that a little more exposure to the 1st gen community will stir up some interest in this great car.

Here are the details from the seller:

I bought this car in 2002 as a stock Si.  Soon after I replaced the engine and trans with a imported Japanese B16A drive-train.  About a year after that I turbocharged it (11psi) and started adding more performance parts.  In 2004 I came across the rare 9 piece Mugen body kit and later had it installed, painted, and put in the square 1985 headlights to fit it.  I had the bottom of the front bumper rebuilt because it had been destroyed over 20 years by previous owners.  It was my daily driver until about 2008 when I started a family and it became the toy that sat in the backyard collecting dust.  During the building process all new parts were used like clutch, cables, ball joints and countless other parts.  The Zdyne ecu is completely programmable and I can provide the software so you can change air/fuel maps, vtec activation, clutch cut, rev limit and much more via laptop.   It's been to the drag strip once and just spun the tires through 3 gears, never got a chance to put slicks on it.  I'm moving soon and can't take it with me.  I will take pictures of anything you want to see better and answer any question you may have.  It still runs and drives fine.  You can drive it to wherever it needs to go or you can arrange shipping.

Car specifications:

Genuine Mugen/Moon Craft 9 peice body kit with front emblem
Turbocharged B16A on Zdyne Gold ECU
Comp cams & springs
AEBS intake manifold
Water to air intercooling
3 bar map sensor
Place racing mounts
Aluminum radiator
Raxles axles
28mm torsion bars
Adjustable rear coils
Konig feather wheels
Integra swaybar
Integra disc front and rear
Drilled/slotted rotors
ARP front lug studs
Momo steering wheel
Relocated battery with Hella kill switch
Racing seats in synthetic leather
Legal DOM cage with Takata belts
Rust free Arizona car
Matching Kumho Ecsta tires

How often will you find a 1st generation CRX with a well built JDM B16 Turbo swap, AND an actual Mugen body kit that is for sale for $5000...? Exactly.  Let's keep this one in the family so that it can be enjoyed for years to come!

If interested, contact Ryan
(The car is located in Arizona)

[NEW] Video:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tech Tip: Mud Flap Refresh

Here is my first 'Tech Tip', the Mud Flap Refresh.  We've all seen this problem on the first gen CRX, mud flaps that are sun-faded, covered in 30 years of caked dirt, and are covered in scuffs and gouges.  Some flaps are just too far gone to really refresh, especially if the rubber is starting to crack, but most are savable.  After a little trial and error, I found a good way to bring old mud flaps back to life, and here's how:

Step 1:
Soak the mud flaps in a bucket of Simple Green cleaner and water.  Be liberal with the Simple Green, the more you add the faster the dirt comes off.  Three to four hours soak time is usually all you need, but if the dirt still gives you a hard time, soak them for a couple more hours.

Step 2:
Take them out of the Simple Green solution and scrub them down with a plastic brush.  Rinse periodically to check your progress.  If the solution has broken the dirt down enough, the filth should come right off.

Step 3:
Take a razor blade or a sharp knife and trim off the burrs and chunks of rubber that are sticking out.  Then use a fine file to smooth out abraded edges of the flap.  Don't go crazy with the file though, the rubber is soft and will come off easily.

Step 4:
Wet sand all the exposed surfaces with 400-600 grit sand paper until the surface starts to look uniform.  Be sure to sand areas evenly.  Make sure you make long swipes to avoid over-sanding in one area.  Wiped sanded surface regularly with a dry cloth to check your progress.

Step 5:
Once the surface looks smooth and most of the pock marks and scuffs are gone, switch to 1000 grit sand paper and wet sand the exposed surfaces again.  Again, make sure this is done evenly, and check your progress regularly.

Step 6:
Clean and dry the sanded surfaces, and then rub protectant (I use Mothers Back to Black) onto the mud flap to get a nice black sheen.  You should be pleased with the results.  You will have to continue to apply protectant to the mud flaps because it does wear off.


AFTER: (Note, this image was taken before protectant was applied)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Taming the Dragon

I woke groggy and sleepy-eyed on Saturday morning because I had spent the night before painstakingly making sure everything on the car was perfect.  I didn't want anything to go wrong.  The big day had finally come... I was finally going to run the Tail of the Dragon!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Tail of the Dragon, also know as Deals Gap or simply The Dragon, is a mountain road that cuts through the center of Smoky Mountain National Park, crossing the Tennessee-North Carolina border.  Originally created by herds of wild animals moving through the mountains, the pass was also frequented by Cherokee Indians, hunters, trappers, and even British soldiers in its early history.  The pass even saw battles between the early white settlers and the Cherokee Indians.  By 1913 the pass was made into an official road to allow access to a town that was created for those working on 2 local dams that were being constructed at the time.  For the next 80 years, the road was largely forgotten until the early 90's when it was discovered by a local from Atlanta for its benefits as a motorcycle driving road.  The road is 11 miles long with 318 turns so its easy to understand why.  It has since become a popular destination for many driving enthusiasts, me being one of them.

My obsession with the Tail of the Dragon started years ago when a good friend moved to the Knoxville, Tennessee area and told me about his amazing discovery.  He became a regular on the Dragon with his tuned MK1 Mazda Miata.  At the time, I was living in Chicago which made it difficult to visit the Dragon without making a specific trip.  About four years ago, things changed when I moved to North Georgia, an area only 2-3 hours away from the Dragon.  I regret not going earlier, but I had set a goal to make a car specifically for tearing up mountain roads such as the Dragon, and until now, I had been building and tweaking the CRX for that very purpose.  Now however, it was ready.  All the hours of diagnosing idle issues, and tweaking the suspension, alignment, and timing were about to pay off.  I had finally fixed everything, as it was ready to go.

I left early that morning expecting to hit a mass of holiday weekend traffic on the Dragon.  I had heard of the recent issues with traffic, people driving slowly, tourists, and Semi-trucks, so I was prepared to be disappointed... but I wasn't.  After three hours of driving, I came around a bend to see the Tail of the Dragon store and the Deals Gap motorcycle resort, both on either sides of the Road.  The traffic was light, and there were open parking spaces in front of the store.  For a moment I entertained the idea of stopping first to look around, but I couldn't, not with the Dragon entrance right in front of me.  The store and resort are nestled at the bottom of the mountain, and from that point the Dragon goes up out of the valley at about a 5% grade.  I dropped the car into second and headed up toward the first turn leaving the valley with the echos of my exhaust note.  I really wasn't sure what to expect from the Dragon.  The roads getting there are nothing short of spectacular.  Well kept and clearly marked asphalt bands that gracefully carve up the country side.  About a mile in, I began to understand what the buzz was about.  It's not just a twisty mountain road, it's a technical masterpiece.  The turns are tight, some with multiple apexes, some decreasing and increasing radii, and most with significant elevation changes.  It is a driver's mecca.  It quickly became mine, but what surprised me more, was the CRX.  It ate up the corners like a starving shark in a pool of baby seals.  Little to no body roll, almost no under-steer, and power for days.  Since the road is so curvy, I spent 90% of the time in 2nd gear.  I'm not sure what it is about 2nd, but the power band is rich and constant in 2nd.  It pulled out of each corner like a John Deer.  I was transfixed.  Everything finally made sense.  Taking any car to its limits is a bonding, almost emotional experience for car lovers.  Getting the opportunity to do this with the CRX was unforgettable.  I thought I loved the first generation CRX before I took this little journey, now I'm officially obsessed.

As I headed home from my pilgrimage to driving mecca, I reflected on all that I had experienced.  That area of western North Carolina, north Georgia, and eastern Tennessee is just gorgeous.  Mountain lakes and streams, sleepy little towns, evergreen forests, waterfalls, kind folks, and an amazing number of awesome cars and motorcycles.  It was heaven.  I strongly recommend that if you have not visited this place, make sure it is not your to do list, especially for those first gen owners, who are guaranteed a great time!

It was a bitter sweet moment when I pulled back into the garage after such an epic day, but there was one more thing to be done to cap off the day... add the dragon sticker to the hatch!