New to site: 1997 ej8 turbo build thread ***custom gauge holder***

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SRDF Titan

New Member
Ok so I used to be in the honda game way back in the day (about 7 years ago) so I'm just getting back into it thanks to the wife.....I know strange. Anyway last August wife comes up to me and says, babe I don't want my BMW anymore and I want to get rid of some debt. I'm thinking ok, you can sell your car but I'm not selling my car (2008 black on black Charger). Well wife sells her BMW and I get her a civic (1997 Civic EX coupe 5 spd), I'm thinking hey a Civic is reliable, good on gas and if something happens to it I can fix it, you know the all american husband lol!! So we fast forward to January of this year (2012) and wife blows the head gasket on said Civic and is now stranded on the side of the highway at 3 in the morning. I meet her, make a quick fix and on the way home wife says; I don't want this car anymore, I want a EK hatch!! I'm thinking first off where did you get that chassis code from (EK)? You been watching that Top Gear show again lol? She said no I've been on Import Atlanta and Honda Tech. I'm like ok well we'll find you a hatch and I'll keep the coupe (in my mind I'm like hell yeah, she has no idea what I'm going to do with this car)!! Long story short I buy her a pretty clean 1996 Civic CX hatch and she loves it!! So now that I've kept the wife happy (for now) I'll move on to the build:
Now keep in mind I just started this build in January and still have a lot of work to do, but thanks to the guys and Mainstream Performance (Robert, Ben, James and you can never forget ole Scotty!!) this build is happening, so I would definately like to thank all of them!!!
Ok first pics right after purchase:





The car was in decent shape. I bought the car back when gas was a little higher than it was now and Hondas were going for the premium. Seller wanted $3500.00 but after picking it a part I ended up getting it for $2,060.00. I thought it was a pretty good deal with 124,000 miles on it.
So like I said earlier my wife blows the head gasket so now comes the hard decision. Do I stay single cam and throw a little boost on her, or do I go atleast with an LS swap and boost it. Well after visiting Mainstream the decision was much easier, I ended up picking up a jdm GSR swap that was fully built with only about 3k miles on it. The swap was full of aftermarket goodies like Eagle rods, JE pistons, block gaurd, magnetic drain plug, Skunk2 intake manifold, Wavetrac lsd, ACT clutch/flywheel and brand new seals and shit!! The motor and tranny was built at Mainstream with all Honda OEM parts and such and I got it on the low (thanks Charles!!) Anyway so after a few frustrating days (mainly because I forgot how to do everything) the swap was in!!




Ok so now the swap was in and now it was time to address a few things before the boost came. First order of business was the wheels/tires, suspension and brakes. I ended up going with the Eibach Pro System Plus, complete with springs, shocks and swap bars. As far as brakes I ended going with an AEM big brake kit for now with hawk pads. Will probably end up going with the Willwood kit before long! As far as wheels go I went with some 16" polished Rota slips, wrapped in Falken Azenis (215-45R16) to round everything out!!
More pics:






And yes these brakes do fit behind 16" wheels, I still have about 1/4 gap between the calipers and wheels with this setup. These AEM brakes kind of suck, good thing I don't have to much money in them. I wonder if Fastbrakes has figured out a way to mount the willwood calipers on the AEM big brake kit? Will have to find that out. Oh and by the way I ended up doing a complete 99-00 front end conversion (headlights, front and rear bumpers, both fenders, hood, foglights and both front and rear lips). I'm probably going to end up going with a Back Yard Special (BYS) front bumper before I finish the exterior though.
And now pics of the new stance:


Ok now the next order of business was to have Mainstream fabricate me a valve cover ventilation/catch can system for the boost to come!!
Lines and catch can mocked up:

Valve cover stripped and prepped for some welding:

Ok now that the ventilation system was taken care of it was now time to swap the Skunk2 intake manifold for an Edeldbrock piece:


End results:

Next up was mounting of the intercooler and some modifications to the intercooler piping to get everything to fit snug. I got the intercooler off of ebay and the dimensions are 28x8x3.


Next I ordered some 1000cc injectors from Fuel Injector Connection up in Cumming GA (freakin awesome deal) and a Walbro fuel pump. Now you would think that all the hard crap was done...........wrong (rant time!!) I swear I had never seen people that will post something online that they are trying to sell and then when you call them and tell em that you want to buy it they flake!!! I probably found 3-4 nice quality turbo kits ranging from $1500.00-$3000.00 that people were trying to sell that I could not buy for some reason. I would get in contact with them and say:
Me: hey bro saw you had a turbo kit for sale on the forum and wanted to know if you still had it.
Them: uhhhh yeah I still have the kit
Me: ok well I have cash in hand, front pocket, back pocket, your pockets, my socks, your socks and I'm sure if I looked in my glove box I would probably find another dollar!! (you get my drift)(for all the slow people: I was basically saying hey I have all the money in my hand right now, not part of the money, not can you wait until I get paid?).
Them: well uhhhh hmmmm I don't know man I was about to go to the gym and work out. Think you can come get it next week?
Me: WTF? Are you serious. Ok guys I know people are busy, but I wouldn't care if I was loaded and trying to sell something. If someone called me wanting to buy one of my parts that I'm trying to sell for like 3 stacks, I'm going to get my fat ass up and meet so I can get paid. Atleast thats what I thought normal people would do. Ok enough ranting. The above scenario happened 3-4 times and I finally got fed up with it, so I called a buddy of mine who had a slightly used (50 miles) ebay kit. Now at first I didn't want the kit for the obvious reasons, plus the kit was intended for a SOHC so the turbo was a t3 t4, but it was a 50 trim. So I rolled my happy ass up to Rome and bought it for $300.00 complete with everything, turbo (zero shaft play), mani, intercooler, intercooler piping, bov and a bunch of other stuff. I hopped on ebay and bought a log style manifold for $40.00 and I also picked up that intercooler that are in the above pics. I ended up getting a tial waste gate from a fella on here (can't remember his screen name, but I appreciate the good deal). After the new mani got here I installed the kit. Had a couple of issues as they should be expected from an ebay kit but none the less the kit was on and working fine.



Next was the tune which Scotty @ Mainstream did for me. Setup ended up making 360hp @ 14-15lbs. The turbo responds very quickly and was at full spool around 4k rpm. The boost comes in real smooth and has a very broad power band. We tried to go higher (19psi) but the waste gate spring (6lbs) said hell no. No worries because very soon I'll be purchasing some cams, valve train, throttle body, equal length mani and some other crap that I can't remember then I'll retune and see where I'm at. I am very happy with the power output or hp per dollar spent. At 300hp (9-10psi) the car is a beast (ripped the welded driver's side motor mount 3 times and counting). So don't hate on the egay to bad, when this turbo decides that it wants to take a poop, I'll replace it with a 60-1 Garrett variant FTW!! I don't have any pics from the dyno but as soon as I'm done posting this thread I'll upload them to Youtube and edit in a link.
Here is your link:
Built GSR Ebay Turbo 360hp @ 15psi T3T4 50 trim (dyno engine view) - YouTube
Ok now came the exhaust, I didn't want anything loud at ALL!!! So I modified my stock muffler. I started by removing the muffler and cutting it open:
Took out one of the walls and several baffles.

Replaced the 1 3/4 pipe with a 3" pipe (outlet):

And welded it back together (I know my welding sucks as I haven't welded in 7 years), you'll be fine. Mocked it on the car and welded a 3" inlet, then took it all back down, welded the axle back portion to the muffler and mocked it back up. We then welded and angled 3" outlet that continued to meet the bumper, then painted everything black to hide my shotty welding.




Ok so to me it looks good because it looks stock, but more importantly its flows very well and is quiet as hell (some of my buddies that have rode in my car call it the quiet demon) lol. The entire exhaust is 3" mandrel bent piping all the way out. I also recorded a video of the exhaust and once again as soon as I'm done posting this I will upload one, you should like. Haters go ahead and blast, but it flows well, looks good, sounds great (quiet) and didn't cost me a dime!!!
Built GSR Ebay Turbo 360hp @ 15psi T3T4 50 trim (dyno modified honda muffler sound) - YouTube
Built GSR Ebay Turbo 360hp @ 15psi T3T4 50 trim (modified honda muffler view) - YouTube
Ok so now that I can pause on the engine I started on the interior!! First thing I bought was an 99-00 SI gauge cluster. I took the gauge cluster a part so that I could re-paint the needles and put some carbon fiber vinyl on the trim piece. I painted the needles with some flourescent amber/orange paint so the needles can glow under some uv bulbs (still haven't ordered yet). I then took some 3M carbon fiber wrap that I had laying around and wrapped the trim.
Stock before mods:

Carbon fiber cut out for trim piece:

Carbon fiber applied to trim piece:

Trim piece installed back onto newly painted needles:

Almost there:

Money shot:

Ok so hope you liked it but if you don't, don't worry about it lol!! Next I went on to fix a failed attempt to due a complete interior color change from grey to black. I had already attempted to do this once using the Krylon Fusion for plastic paint. A little advise.....DON'T EVERY USE THIS SHIT!!!! Ok now that thats over I can proceed. If you are going to paint the interior of your car only use products from a company called SEM. You can only buy this stuff at automotive paint supply places. This stuff works wonders, I bought the Laudau Black and everything I painted looks like it came from Honda black!!! Anyway I'm almost done with the interior but I'm having to wait on my headliner, sunvisors and center arm rest. As we all know the back upper plastic pieces all play a role in holding up your headliner so I'll just have to wait. I'm getting the headliner, sunvisors and center arm rest all done in black suede with red stitching for the low ($110.00) and they do great work!!! Will post pics when its done. Anyway I ended up buy 4 guages (Depo) to help me monitor my engine so I made a custom gauge holder out of acrylic but I ended up breaking it when I went to drill the 4th hole. Good thing for me my wife is the shiznat with CAD and we have a laser cutter. It took me 2-3 hours to make a gauge holder that ended up breaking. It took my wife about 10 minutes, ain't that some bull shi!. Anyway hope you guys like as I've gotten tons on compliments on it even though we're still working out the kinks to get that perfect fit. I ended up moving my radio and taking out that coin tray that sits next to the radio to run all 4 gauges all the way across.
Krylon Fusion crap, this is what you'll end up with:

Get this instead:

Remember this?

Now (straight sex):

Waiting on that headliner, cool shot of my frost king (STUFF WORKS) FTW!!:








Picked me up a pair of Delsol seats that just need some touching up, I've pulled that fabric off of the passenger side seat so that I can re-attach the fabric to the foam with some 3M fabric adhesive!!

More sex with the gauges!!:

Now if some of you guys are wanting something like this gauge holder that is made to fit perfectly for YOUR vehicle (not that egay universal crap) let me know. I've got several friends that are letting me use their cars to mock up these block off/gauge holders for their year civics. So far were making these for the 88-91 civic, 92-95 civic, 96-98 civic, 99-00 civic single and double din sizes, 94-01 integra single and double din sizes, 02- up RSX, Honda Prelude and others coming soon. And the best part is say you only want a holder that can hold one or two gauges, but your car is boosted and you can't find a good place to mount you electronic boost controller or turbo timer and such. I'm currently getting the dimensions for all the popular electronics to include Greddy, Apexi, HKS, etc, etc. After I get these dimensions I will be able to cut out gauge holders that can also accomodate your electronics for a very clean look. Best part is I'm going to be selling these anywhere from $20.00- $30.00!!! Let me know what you want, I've included some pics of some of the R&D thats going into these things to get that perfect fit. I also recorded a video of the laser cutter in action, it's pretty nice that I'll post up as well. I'm going to try and have some of these on hand this weekend as I may ride out to Barrett Pkwy, so if you want to see one in person or buy one I'll be there.
Designed on CAD:

Computer generated picture:

Various pieces of cardboard (used for mock up), trying to get that perfect fit.

Finished product:

I just bought a huge sheet of black acrylic that I'll be using to make these, so the default color will always be black not clear lol.
Hope you liked the car, stay tuned as there is a lot more to come!!
Nice :thumbsup: you a cop?

Edit: Polk County Police it looks like. Cool, Matt and I are also from the great Pacific NW.
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Nice build, the gauges look great! :thumbsup:

Thanks bro I appreciate it!!

Nice :thumbsup: you a cop?

Edit: Polk County Police it looks like. Cool, Matt and I are also from the great Pacific NW.

Yeah I am, I'm one of the cool ones though. I don't have a low self esteem or anything lol!!!

how dose it shine with some armorall?

I've never tried it with armor all or anything like that. I would imagine that it wouldn't be too bad. But to be honest I'm not going to try it either, I painted the dash with some Krylon satin black and it came out glossy as hell!! The sun would shine right off the dash and either in my face or would reflect off the windshield making it almost impossible to drive!!

Wow, very nice build! So when are you going to turbocharge the wife's hatch?

Actually me and the wife were talking about that the other day.
Wife: ummm I've been doing some thinking and after you left me in the dust the other day when we were driving home (seperate cars), I've decided that I want my car to be turbocharged too.
Me: I have a look on my face like I've seen a ghost!!! I couldn't believe it lol!! So I said well sure lets do it.

My new 60-1 turbo will be here on Thursday, so once its here I'm going to give my current turbo to the wife. I also already have a turbo manifold and intercooler standing by for her ride. Should turn out nice!!
I just took some pics of my gauge holder that is finally out of R & D (pics are in the first post). I'm very happy with it, took a while because there are two different angles on each side where the gauges are located. I think we were able to get it almost perfect. The holes in the gauge holders were cut to 52mm. After test fitting all the gauges in we were finally able to get a snug fit on the the gauges without having to use any shims or anything. I even turned it upside down and none of the guages moved or acted like they wanted to slide back out (very happy). Another important note was after installing the new holder in the dash there was an even amount of spacing between the dash and the gauge holder, each gauge and from top to bottom. As mentioned in the first post the default color on these holders will be black 1/4" acrylic. I went with the 1/4" because it needed to have enough depth and thickness to fit flush in the dash where the factory radio and coin tray were. When looking at the photos keep in mind that its installed in a 1997 civic ex, I have 4 gauges where a radio and coin tray used to be with plenty of room to spare. Also remember that if you wanted one of these I can do them in almost any configuration whether it's 1-4 gauges, 2 guages and a turbo timer and an electronic boost controller, etc,. I'm still working to get the exact measurements of all the popular boost controller, turbo timer and even apexi for there vafc/afc line. I'm doing this so that you can now have all your gauges and electronics in one central, clean location thats easily accessible with a quick glance while driving down the road. If you have any questions about any of it, shoot me a pm and stay tuned, got plenty in the works like (S2000 gauge cluster into ek/eg civic adaptor kit, other gauge holders for other cars and a whole lot more). And as always thanks for the compliments and feel free to offer suggestions that might make it better!
Pics as promised:
Pic of the gauge holder not installed yet. These holders are cut with a precision laser cutter so that duplication and a snug fit is effortless. Again this one was cut out of 1/4" acrylic, in the future I will also be offering holders that are 3/16" thick, as some applications won't need such a thick piece.


Holder installed with no guages inserted, look at the space between the holder and the dash, doesn't really get any better than that. Ok it could have but dang this is the first one lol!!!

With one gauge installed, achieved an almost perfect snug fit around the gauge itself.

Another view.

This pic is with all 4 gauges installed, look at how flush they all fit. Even with my particular gauges having a hood to block sunlight the gauges are all flush with the top of holder and not hanging off.

Another view.

Everything installed, check out the spacing between each gauge as it is an equal distance between them all. Also after achieving such a snug fit with the dash, only a couple of pieces of heavy duty velcro are needed to secure the entire holder. This holder will not budge!!! I've been using the same two pieces of velcro on 4-5 different prototypes and its still holding strong!

Last one, hope you guys like it as I'm very proud of them!

If you want one that will fit in a 96-98 Civic send a PM, only $20.00 + shipping for this piece!!
All the other popular models are coming very soon!!
Scott Racing & Development Factory
For enthusiast, by enthusiast.......
Looks good! Do you have a little bit of bow in the plate? Or is that just after mounting the gauges?

My new 60-1 turbo will be here on Thursday, so once its here I'm going to give my current turbo to the wife. I also already have a turbo manifold and intercooler standing by for her ride. Should turn out nice!!

Very cool. :D Do you have pictures of the hardware you're going to put into her car? Same "level" as what you put into yours or cheaper? ;)
I looked at that earlier and it was just from mounting the gauges. It's pretty straight, its hard enough trying to bend the piece at all cause its so thick and thanks for the compliment.
She said no I've been on Import Atlanta and Honda Tech.

the only 2 things wrong with this thread :p

nice build. I wouldnt bother going for head work or more power, it will just make it harder to drive. focus on getting thayt power down.
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What's wrong in those pictures? No vents and horn button?

Yeah I was curious about that too lol, oh well good thing I'm not building this for other people lmao!!!

can you let me in on your secret for laying the vinyl so wonderfully?

A heat gun and plenty of patience. I'm still not good at it, there are plenty of tutorials on youtube, if only I could be as good as them.
Hell yeah for the new turbo, very excited!!
It is a Precision 60-1, but it was put together with a stage 5 wheel and .82 a/r hot side with a 60 trim 60 a/r compressor side. I needed a combination that would be high flowing and relieve as much back pressure as possible because I'm going to be running high lift cams. I'm going to do a full review on it once its installed. I purchased it from Jesse at (760) 721-7669, make sure you ask for him (Jesse). I was very pleased from the very beginning because they rebuild turbos and include a one year warranty on all of them. The best part is, is that I paid just over $500.00 for this turbo and it came with the same warranty that I would have gotten if I bought it brand new directly from Precision or one of their distributors. So it was a pretty easy decision for me, plus if you have a question (I had plenty) Jesse was more than happy to answer them. Now I'm not saying that he will do this for everyone (because the man has to work lol) but I was on the phone with him for about 20 minutes talking about my particular setup and what I was trying to achieve. By the end of the conversation we settled on the 60-1 with the stage 5 wheel and .82 a/r turbine housing. A few days later and it shows up on my door step, can't wait till tomorrow so I can get this on!!! Here are some pics:







Let me know what you guys think, check out their website. On the website it's easy to navigate because you can select how much power you want to make and it will pull up the turbos that will work. Remember even after you pick one give him a call if you want to make changes or have any questions. Hope you like it and I will update this tomorrow with an in car driving impression video..........hopefully!
Yeah make sure you check em out, they have new and used turbos ranging from 250hp-1500hp+
I was at a work, and work filter blocked images. I didn't mean to quote any pics.

Adjusted my post :)
Well got the new turbo put on today, ran into a couple of issues but we got everything worked out and it turned out nice. Ended up having to make a downpipe flange (4 bolt), and then the rest of the downpipe. As far as the difference in how it drives is night and day. My previous setup was a cast iron log manifold with a t3t4 50 trim turbo and a 2.5" downpipe. I would see full spool at around 3500 rpm and because of the back pressure with this setup my torque curve was nice and broad. This setup is really nice for dd and for the person that wants to stay conservative with their tune and power goals (under 400hp). I liked this setup because it felt like there was always power on tap whether you were at 3000 rpm or in 5th gear cruising and you needed to pass somebody without having to downshift!!
Now with the new setup I have a ramhorn manifold and a 60-1 turbo .82 a/r hot and 60 trim cold and a 3" dowpipe. I picked this setup because I'm wanting to run a higher lift cam and make the same mid 300hp with less boost= more effecient. Because of my want to run the higher lift cams I had to reduce the amount of back pressure after the exhaust cam. Going to a ramhorn manifold, a larger (.82 a/r) turbine housing and a 3" downpipe achieves this perfectly.
First Drive:
Like stated earlier the difference is night and day, instead of full spool at 3500 rpm, I'm at full spool around 5600 rpm (right at vtec engagement). I can tell that a little bottom end (torque) has been loss, but with the addition of higher lift cams I should be able to get some of that lag and torque back (closer to maybe 5000 rpm spool up). Even though I was expecting this drastic difference I was still thrown off a little, but I will tell you one really, really good advantage. Because I'm not reaching full spool until around 5600 rpm, I can stay out of boost when I'm just put putting around town which= better gas mileage. Just on one tank of gas I went from an average of around 24 mpg to 28.3 mpg. Another great advantage is when this turbo finally spools man oh man is it nasty, I have a 6lb wastegate spring in right now and it feels like when I was running at 10lbs of boost with the smaller turbo!!! Freakin Nasty!! Ok sorry back to the great gas mileage lol- I'm going to keep tabs on it but I was able to go a substantial amount of miles more than normal.
A couple of things that I'm trying to keep in mind as far as the cams go is I'm wanting to make sure that the primary and secondary cam lobes are going to be a little larger than the current GSR cams that I'm running now. This will aid in reducing lag and hopefully getting my torque back up there a little. I'm trying to not just get tunnel vision on the max amount of lift (vtec lobe) that the cam is going to give me, I want it all!!
I'm planning on trying to do some videos of some driving impression on Sunday, if I'm able to do it I'll try to edit it really quick and get them up. Then that way for some of the guys that prefer videos (like I do) you can physically see what I'm talking about.

As always a big thanks to the guys at Mainstream Performance, there the only guys that I would trust!!

Turbo comparison, t3t4 50 trim on left, 60-1 on right!!

Undercarriage shot, had to modify a few things to get everything to fit propery.


New turbo mounted:

Close up (well kinda) of the downpipe.

Thanks for watching!!
Sorry guys for not updating this thread in almost a year, but I have about a years worth of updates for ya!!

I had my headliner, sun visors and center console armrest done. It turned out very well and big shout out to Wilson's Upholstery for doing such a fine job! There has also been a change of plans. I've grown up drag racing since I was about 9 (jr dragsters) and up until now that was the only racing that I would ever consider doing. So I've decided to try my hand at some Auto X/Road Racing events. Luckily there wasn't to many parts that I have to change but I've already gotten started, but keep in mind that I will be daily driving this car on occasion. On the way is some custom rate Ground Control coilovers 450/430, ASR subframe, ASR rear sway bar, Wicked tuning rear toe adjusters, Energy Suspension kit, new inner and outer tie rods, 11.1" rear disc upgrade (S2000/EP3 setup) with HPS pads and solid rotors (already have HP+ up front w/12.2" rotors), steel braided brake lines all the way around and motul 600 brake fluid. Only problem is I haven't figured out which front camber adjustment setup that I'm going to go with yet. I want to make sure that its of pretty high quality. I'll post pics as stuff arrives and is installed. You guys wish me luck and on to some photos of the SUEDE!!

Can you believe I got all this done for $110.00? Talk about a hook up!