Swift-Honda Test Day

June 25, 2010


Took the Honda-Swift to Summit Point this past weekend for its first track outing. Son Sean, Mark Walthew and I would be doing the test day to shake down the car.  If the car ran well, Sean would run the MARRS races.  After his major motorcycle accident last August and LONG recovery, he was anxious to see if he was race ready.


At the mini-test at the local Langley Speedway last month, the brakes did not work properly.  So, I set aside the rebuilt brake calipers and installed new ones.  I was anxious to see if the brake problems had been resolved.   After the Langley test, I had also relocated the rather large Honda ECU so Sean could get into the car without removing his race booties.  We also adjusted the shift linkage to suit Sean’s limited arm motion particularly shifting into 4th gear.  


First session, car almost immediately began to run poorly and sounded even worse.  Sean was driving and stayed out for 13 minutes or so making sure the brakes, clutch and handling were in tolerate ranges.  They were, and Sean reported that the handling showed no “evil” tendencies.

We checked the plugs, and #4 indicated that it was not firing.  We changed the spark plug, but there was still no fire.  The plug was “wet” so we reasoned that it was getting fuel.  We tugged around on the wiring harness some, looking for a short.  Switched #3 and #4 coil packs.  Ah, #3 not firing now, SO coil pack BAD.  Not having a spare, we phoned ALL the local/semi-local Honda car dealers, none in stock.  Called Quicksilver RacEngines (about 60 miles away).  The Oseth conversion car was in their shop, having just missed being ready for the June Sprints.  They would lend me a coil pack.  Sean and Mark took the road trip while I fiddled with the AIM data system.

After the parts run and a new coil pack, the car ran fine in the paddock.  Sean suited up and went out.  By lap two, the engine was again running on 3 cylinders.  He came in.  We tried switching around everything.  No solution.  We even at one point got #3 to stop firing for a while.  We checked all the connectors/plugs on the Honda harness several times.  A guy, whose name I don't recall who said he was the head technician at a Honda dealer, stopped by and did "hands on" for a while.  He finally concluded "Wiring." 

Checking the continuity of the connector to the coil packs, #4 showed an open circuit.  At this point, we are thinking that the Honda supplied harness had a defect, so we packed up and headed home.  (Long day, leave for Summit at 0400, 200 miles one way, arrive home 2200)  Mark and I will have to wait for another test day before we get some seat time.  Boo Hissss.

Saturday (back home): Put the car up on the dolly and took off the body pieces to be able to inspect the entire harness.  There is a relatively big pulley/flywheel thing on the water pump, located engine left and bottom just below the alternator.  The harness was in the vicinity and could contact (especially in left hand turns) the rotating water pump pulley.  (I have to get over my aversion to large amounts of cable ties!!!)  The outer jacket to the harness was cut and five wires  (of the closely packed and wrapped group of maybe 40 wires) had their insulation cut away and where showing copper.  Three of the wires were severed but in close enough proximity to still be working some of the time. (At least until the exposed copper shorted out to the pulley at times)

I disconnected enough of the connectors to pull the harness partially out for repairs.  Knowing that a replacement harness from Honda had a price of $890, I was very careful and deliberate.  I cut and peeled back about 8 inches on the outer covering to get good access.  Two of the wires were 22 gage (quite small and delicate) and I had to crimp on a small addition to their length.  After reassembling all the wiring/connectors, the moment of truth presented itself.   The engine fired and ran well!  

Ah, for the want of a cable tie, the war was lost.  At least for this weekend.