** This was sent in by Perry W... Thanks Perry! **
Gotta send a big thanks to Scott and the guys at King for their help picking out new rims for my 2002 Civic Si hatchback (EP3).
Because the 02-03 model Si has a 4x100 bolt pattern, wheel options are limited. Scott pointed me to Volk and Enkei -- but ultimately I had my heart set on the rarity and heritage of the forged Mugen rims.
My ideal Mugen rim (for my bolt pattern) was long out of stock: the Mugen MF-8. Those would have been awesome. But just as ideal would be the MF-8's big brother: the Mugen MF-10 (10 spokes instead of 8, with a deeper "webbing" where the spokes converge around the center). King has limited number of these -- in stock and on sale -- so I snatched a set up.
But there was a catch. In order to mount these beautiful new rims, I would have to convert my Si from a 4-lug bolt pattern to a 5-lug bolt pattern (the MF-10s are a 5x114 bolt pattern). More on this later.
First let's talk about these magestic MF-10s.
The set of MF-10s arrived a few days later from King: 16"x7" +43, in bronze, complete with valve stems and black center caps. They look terrific and have a semi-machined lip that reminds me of the fine workmanship that goes into the Mugen shift knobs. The spokes of the MF-10 have a matte texture that offset the lip. These rims are a work of art and perfection. You can fall into a JDM-induced trance staring into the rich bronze color. I love these rims so much I even recorded The World's First Mugen MF-10 Unboxing Video for YouTube.
I couldn't wait to get these on my car. But I would have to. I had to do that 5-lug conversion, all by myself. In my garage. I live roughly 2000 miles from King's shop. So driving out there wasn't an option. I don't really trust any of the shops out here yet. So it was up to me.
At this point I should stop to say that I have absolutely ZERO experience with suspensions. I think I might have rotated tires once. The most technical thing I ever did to the exterior was install side skirts, a wing, a short-ram air intake. Easy stuff.
I kept replaying the two comments Scott had given me:
The encouraging: "Just do a 5-lug conversion. It's not that bad."
Then the more ominous: "There's definitely a lot involved for the conversion. It's not for the faint of heart."
So I started by planning. I bought myself a shop manual, read every forum thread I could find about the 5-lug swap. I bought a bunch of tools, a breaker bar, fluids, ball joint puller etc. I was stocking up and studying nearly every night!
The 5-lug came from a donor car in Tennessee -- a 2003 RSX Type-S (DC5). The DC5 shares many of the same parts as my EP3, so the swap is possible and has been done by many EP3 owners. Because the donor car was a Type-S (not the base model), I had the benefit of getting much larger front calipers & rotors as a bonus. But that bonus was offset by the need for new axles (to fit the larger Type-S splines).
Here's a picture of the donor RSX parts before they were shipped to me:
Assembling all my tools and parts took about 3 weeks. Lots of mail order, and help from Big Mike and Jude. Jude's advice was something about using beer and copious amounts of swearing. That turned out to be good advice.
The actual install happened over 2 weeks, nights and weekends... I lost half a week when I realized the ball joint puller I had purchased was inadequate for the job. And had to hire a mobile mechanic to help me with a stuck axle (lesson learned: get a "BFH," bigger floor jack, bigger jack stands).
Picture of the work in progress. You can see the original 4-lug assemblies still on the car. On the floor is the new 5-lug, a fresh socket set, and an old rim (bronze C8).
A picture of the stock EP3 front rotor next to the larger RSX Type-S replacement:
New replacement axles from an RSX Type-S:
My tires are dismounted from my C8's and re-mounted to the MF-10 set! The de-throned old rims shrink back in shame.
Conversion is complete now, and my shiny MF-10s finally mounted on the car. Look closely to see my smiling face in the reflections!!