Need Opinions for options to fix busted head

So as soon as I got my new 92 GS-R a few months ago, I replaced the timing belt, water pump, cam seals, etc. Unfortunately, I fucked something up when putting things back together (blocked oil passage, bad o-ring, lost o-ring, something) and after putting about 40 miles on the car after buying it, the intake cam seized up. Stupid me, but whatever, life goes on.

I’m willing to put about $2k into a replacement engine (ignoring incidental costs like timing belts or cam gears) but need some input from you guys.

I am unwilling to buy just a used head from an individual off of the internet and I don’t want to try fixing the existing head, so I feel like I have 4 viable options (for now, let’s assume there is no bottom end damage).

  1. $1300 New stock head/valvetrain from Acura + ? for used intake cam
    Stocky goodness maintained for “originality” as well as possible future autox-ing
    Stock performance

  2. $1700 New USDM Type R head (assembled with cams).
    Better valvetrain/cams than stock
    Slightly better performance.
    Fuel mixture issues?
    Minimal torque gains over stock

  3. $1200 JDM B16 Long Block, take the head off and use as replacement.
    Slightly better cams than stock
    Extra parts (dist, alternator, etc.)
    Used, unknown history/millage

  4. $1700 JDM B18C Long Block.
    Better overall performance
    Plug and play (OBD1)
    Undesirable intake design
    Have to pull entire engine.
    Have to buy a different new timing belt
    Have to buy a lift and borrow a friend’s garage

The unlisted option is: Spend more money and buy a used Type R engine instead.

I don’t have any grand plans or dreams of eventually building up an engine for the car, so whatever goes in there now is what will stay for the foreseeable future. My goal is just to have a fun driver on sunny days and to have a car that I can tinker with on the weekends and throw money at when I’m feeling an impulse to shop for something other than a copy of The Catcher in the Rye.

Any and all insights welcome.



Go with number 4. Also get a b16 cable tranny…

Here’s what you could do.

Find a bare B16 head (can be had for less than $500 if you look hard enough.)
Source an ITR valve-train (cams, etc.) (can be had for around $500-$700 depending on condition)

With your extra money, have the head ported and polished (around $200-$500 depending on shop, and the extent to which you go with the porting.)

With that setup, plus a “better than stock” header, and you will pretty much have an ITR head that will perform as good, or better than the “new” ITR head you mentioned before.

Will take a little more work, and time, but the results would be overall better. Of course, you’d need the miscellaneous goodies (timing belt, etc.) but that stuff just comes with the territory. Re-use your distributor, Intake Manifold, and throttle body, and you’re good. :up:

i have an extra b17 head (almost complete, minus distributor and valve cover only ) everything else is good, come with all sensors, etc.)

i was going to use it for a LS/Vtec for my mini cooper, but wife said “NO!,” if you want it, i can hook you up, or you can just check ebay this saturday, thats when i am planning to list it. contact me if you’re interested 3602657734.

I cant base this on experience but Number 4 doesnt sound like a bad option, ^^^^^^this also is not a bad option

personalty I would get B18c longblock and just swap IM’s

good used PR3 head complete < $500

first of all, what that you did would cause the intake cam to seize? are you sure you’re not referring to the exhaust cam? sustaining higher heat would cause it to seize first and it would most likely be due to oil starvation. are you sure this may not have been an existing problem? you should find out exactly what went wrong before you make any decisions. because if that cam seized due to lack of oil, who knows what hell the bottom end went through. if you’re not 100% sure of what exactly happened, or if it was in fact something you did, i’d maybe pull the pan and have a peek at the pick-up.
that is, unless you’re going to just replace the whole thing

hmmm. did you lose the little spring that wraps around the inner lip of the cam seal? always use a few dabs of assembly lube to keep it in place while you drive it in

for 1700 dollars you could get a used head off of someone thats been built more crazy than an OEM type-R head.
you could get a used semi-built motor for 2k, ive seen them all over.

my suggestion is to pull the motor and see what actually happened before you proceed.
if its something that didnt damage any of the actual head or block castings, just moving components, you can always just replace only what broke, inspect the whole thing and determine a game plan.

^^i’d listen to this guy right here.
-find the exact culprit
-assess the damage
-reevaluate your options
makes the most sense to me

Gosh, thanks for all the advice guys! I’m not sure why I’m not getting emails for this thread. My subscription says “Instant email notification” and there is nothing in my spam folder…

First: yes, I am jumping the gun a little bit. I do need to figure out exactly what happened before I actually make a purchase.

I know that a new head is not a good value, but I am leery of why anyone would be selling a head by itself. B16 bottom ends aren’t worth anything by themselves, so why separate to sell? I also got burned the last time I bought a used head so I’m hesitant to take that route. However, I will get in touch with Kimban to see what the story is on the head he has.

Also, I don’t know of any really solid machine shops in the area and there is always the possibility that $500 worth of head work could actually be very poorly done. Same goes for any ‘built’ engines I could find used. Engines aren’t just a sum of their parts…

I am assuming that it was not an existing condition because I drove the car home 100 miles or so after buying it and also to work one day (obviously I exaggerated a bit when I said I only drove it 40 miles) so probably closer to 200 before the ‘maintenance’ - including an extended spirited test drive before I bought it - and 15 after. I drove it around the block on two separate occasions after the maintenance and then the third time I drove it, it broke down 10 miles outside of town on the highway.

It is definitely the Intake cam. I can actually see little splotches of melted alloy that splashed a few spots and the cam cap rail thing over there has turned a nice brown due to the heat. Also, part of the casting cracked off of the head near that same spot (I’m assuming as it cooled)…so I’m pretty sure the head is trash. I assume that it was oil starvation caused by negligence on my part; there are several ways to keep oil from getting to that cam and I am assuming I inadvertently caused one of them to happen. Or maybe I got some hondabond on the cam or something… There is no other evidence of extreme heat anywhere else in the head so I don’t think it would be a pickup/oil pump issue? The spring was def. in the cam seal.

The bottom end will definitely need to be checked out to make sure there wasn’t significant damage to the rods or pistons.

That actually leads me to another a question: if there is damage (bend) in a rod, it will be obvious once the head is off, right? I’ve been assuming that the piston would not reach as high as the others, but could there be damage that wouldn’t be visibly obvious in this way? Most of my experience with cars is diagnosing drivability issues, rebuilding or replacing parts and assemblies; stuff like that, not actually assessing condition of components…

When you pull the head off, all you will see is the pistons. You have to take the oil pan off to see the rods. There is a good chance that the bottom end is fine but you can’t guarantee that. I bought an engine for dirt cheap from a guy and dropped it in and it wouldnt crank. Come to find out, one of the valves was bent on the number one cylinder. I bought another head for $60 and didn’t even get have it resurfaced(which is dumb) and installed it and the car ran great with not damage to the bottom end. I even did a compression and leak down test and got 190 on all 4 cylinders and got 1% leakage on two of the cylinders and 0 leakage on the other 2. But I got really lucky

unless its substantial damage, a slightly bent rod wont be apparently obvious, if you have a set of calipers to measure with you might be able to tell, but looking up from the bottom is way easier.

also, your inquiry as to why people would seperate heads from bottoms is either A: they blew something up down below. just have the head inspected before purchasing. or B: they are going a different route. could be other reasons, these are just something to think about

i bought my lightly built-for-turbo B20 for 300 dollars because the seller was going K-series and needed quick money to finish the swap before the weekend.
its got about 15k miles on it and runs flawlessly. its not even boosted; it has low compression pistons with no turbo setup on it, and it still hangs with LS integras and civics with bolt ons.

you gotta be patient. i bought a transmission from a road racing team in canada with two races on it for my last car, rules changed and they had to go back to an OEM based motor/trans, so i got a pretty bulletproof transmission for relatively cheap. it took me 6 months to get it but when the ad went up, i knew i needed to act.

good luck.

But I should be able to visually see any damage to the rods from the bottom that would lead to a serious issue further down the road, right (without having to remove them)?

My question about heads was kind of rhetorical as I would assume most of the (B16) heads out there for sale individually came from problem engines and they may or may not be in the best of shape. I’m much more willing to buy a B17 head used because there is actually a demand for the bottom end.

I hear you about waiting. I am just trying to think about what direction would be the most logical at this point. I’ll get that oil pan off and check out the rods and get a better idea of what I may be dealing with.

Oh, and sportsman1539, why in the world would I want a B16 cable tranny? I already have a short geared YS1 that I can drop almost any 92+ internals into (like a Type R LSD or any number of aftermarket gear sets).

Kimban, I am going to text you right now (actually, I’ll wait until it isn’t stupid early in CA)…

Thanks to everyone for your comments and well wishes. I was really fearing that someone would step in and tell me what a tool I am for fucking up a perfectly good B17 (because I certainly feel like one). I should have left the damn cam seals alone unless they were leaking…


The only thing that i can think of that would have caused the head to do that is over tightening of the cam cap bolts. That or possibly the one O ring on the center cam holder.

I think you are probably right about the o-ring. I did use a torque wrench on the caps, so that probably wasn’t it.

have you had your wrench calibrated in the last two years? i broke some header studs right off because my wrench had been slowly reading less and less over time. its a manual craftsman wrench, and its never been dropped or anything. sometimes they just come out of calibration. its one of those things you should just check out to make sure you dont do it again.

It was a gift around a year ago. Frankly, this is the first time I had had a chance to use this particular one (3/8"). It is also the manual click style craftsman one. Do you put yours down to 10-20 ft. lb setting when you store it?

I vote to start fresh (ie new complete motor). Buy a JDM GSR swap so you have at least 1.8. You can also buy the innovative mount to retain the hydraulic transmission. You won’t need to pull the head off or anything. Just a few maintenance items such as timing belt & water pump is recommended. Most of the times, you never have any problems with a JDM swap. I prefer to be able to go to an importer and see the motor for myself as opposed to buying it online. All you need is an SUV or pick up truck since they’ll likely have a forklift to put it in your vehicle and if you have an engine hoist, you can easily remove the motor at home.

From there on, as you have time and money, pull the OEM b17 apart and rebuild it if you like just so you have the OEM goodness. You can always easily sell the JDM GSR swap. It’ll be easy to sell too since you can have the buyer see it run in your car.

mine is more OG than yours man, mine is the lever style that flexes a bit and has no moving parts.
looks like this:

got it like 5 or 6 years ago

ive noticed that mine sometimes doesnt return to zero, to be honest, ive never actually had mine calibrated, i just went back to sears and showed them that it was off and they replaced it