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MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/5/20 11:48 a.m.

Hello GRM!

Back in 2009 my friend was invited by another friend to race an MR2 at a new series called "Chumpcar" in a 24 hour race at Portland International Raceway.  I have always been a die hard car guy.  When my friend told me what he was going to do, having no money, I decided to volunteer.  My brother and I volunteered for the race and worked probably 16 hours of it, and I was ruined for life.  I have always loved cars, and racing to me is the absolute pinnacle of my car interests. 

Due to some serious life happening (married, 3 kids, changed careers, couple of moves), I wasn't able to get on track until 2016.  Due to some divine intervention by God, I landed in my new career with co-workers that race Spec Miata, 24HOL, and Chumpcar.  Turns out they were even at the race I volunteered at in 2009 in a Mazda Protege.  With their help, I was able to get a couple track days under my belt in their chump Miata.  At this point I don't think I'll ever be able to autocross again, I'm totally ruined.  In 2016 we raced the Miata and Protege in the Oct PIR race (last chump race in the PNW), and I was further ruined for life.  My wife was even able to drive the protege in a sprint!  We raced the Miata together in Oct 2016, June 2017 with Lucky Dog Racing League, and then again in Oct 2018 & 2019. 

After graduating from engineering school, it was time for me to buy my own racecar.  I don't have a lot of money to dedicate to racing. As you can see it's only 1 race a year.  But with these new budget endurance racing series, this was really my opportunity to achieve racing glory.  These cars don't need to be nice, and a DIY'er on a budget can actually participate.  I have little time, and even less money.  Maybe my only redeeming qualities are: I was a mechanic for 10 years, former ASE and Nissan master technician, unwavering persistence, and I want this way badder than anyone else. 

Since everything I write takes forever, I'm going to start with introducing the car and recap it's debut race.  Maybe at a later date I'll come back and post a bit of build history when I have more time.  

My first car was a 91 240sx that I bought in 2002.  That would have been preferred, but man, the market for those cars is not good.  A 240 in my budget looked like this: No title, no front end, abandoned drift project with hacked up suspension, no engine/trans, bring your own wheels and flat bed. Moved on to the next cars on the list Z31, Z32, G35 sedan (hilariously these seem to be cheaper than 240's). Every z32 or g35 I found was automatic, or had rod knock, or were automatics WITH rod knock. I really wanted to have a running/driving car to start with, and focus on the actual race car building things (roll cage, etc). Z31's seemed to be in my budget and plentiful, running with 5 speeds and titles.  I found one that I wanted to look at, and added an s12 200sx V6 to the list as it is very similar to the z31 but combined with a bit of S-chassis nostalgia. Never made it to see the Z31, because I came home with this bad boy after the first look.  $1000, SE V6, 5 speed, clean title, so many small problems its not even funny.  Fun fact: this car was produced 87-88 and received FIA homologation for competition in the WRC, and is the last RWD rally car to win a WRC Stage (Ivory Coast 1988).  Bonus '84 turbo hood! Its actually a very rare car, so why not cut it up and make it a race car?

Took about 18 months for me to build the car in my garage, in about 30 minute increments after the kids went to bed, trying not to make any noise. Again, I will add more about the car build later when I have time. 

After many track days canceled due to corona virus, I finally got the car on track for the first time (July 2020).  Since the car had a clean title, I registered it as a race car which allows me to drive 30 miles from my home for "testing" aka commuting to work, and 90 miles to the race track.  So I drove the car to work, then to the track, then drove it for 60 minutes on track and drove home.  Total success!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7y04sxifzg&t=2s

Only notable issue during the track night was the PS fluid boiling over.  Afterwards I made a list of things that needed to be fixed/modified before race day. *Barely* finished the list in time.  New clutch, new trans mount, PS cooler, JAWS hazard light, LED aux lights, solid subframe and diff bushings, new tires, etc. 

FIRST RACE!  Lucky Dog Racing League, Oct 2020, Portland International Raceway. The weekend consisted of an 8 hour enduro, 45 minute night sprint, and a 7 hour enduro. 

Strategy was pretty simple for Saturday's 8 hour enduro, as I knew the odds of things going as planned were slim to none. I wanted to get all my drivers seat time before I got in the car. Just in case there was any incidents that kept us off track, I didn't want them to miss out. I asked them to stay out as long as possible, basically until the car started to stumble from low fuel.  I was pretty sure that with a 14 gallon tank, the car would only go about 1 hour 40 minutes. So with any luck we could get it done in 5 stints. 

 

Qualifying:

I put my friend who'd never driven a race car before in for qualifying, to hopefully work out some novice jitters.  This worked! One spin by himself in the chicane, but otherwise trouble free. 

Start:

For the start of the race I put our most experience driver in, who had campaigned an FC rx7 for about 8 years.  We lined up in 31st position (of 51 cars, 24 in our class) to start the race.  He kept us out of trouble for the start, and started to get comfortable in the car he'd never driven before.  Everything went to plan, but then it started to mist pretty heavily.  About 30 minutes into the race and we see him coming down pit lane.  He informs us he had a huge spin in turn 11, which is a darn fast corner.  Luckily, after spinning a few 360's, he came to a stop without hitting anything. He pulled right into the pits and said he thinks something is wrong on the back end of the car. We checked it out and couldn't find anything, sent him back out and told him to take it slow.  Ok, first unscheduled pit stop, but hey we know we're not going to win today.  We drop back to 42nd place overall, and we've got our work cut out for us! He keeps the rest of his stint clean and consistent, and works his way back up to 37th overall. About 1:35 into the race, he comes in for the end of his stint. Fast lap 1:46.1, half stint was in the wet.

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First fuel & driver change:

Got our 1st driver out of the car, and I started fueling.  Holy crap it's taking fuel slow.  I need to modify my filler neck to make these hunsakers dump faster.  Car took just over 10 gallons, not good in a 14 gal tank.  Driver reported about 6 laps of sputtering in the tight right hand corners.  Put our next driver in, the rookie.  Also went from our biggest driver to our smallest driver, and this was challenging with a fixed mounted seat.  I need to relocate my lap belt mounting point on the door side, as it was dang near impossible to tighten without hurting yourself. 

IMG_4319.thumb.JPG.8691244361278145b61606829b5704d4.JPG

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Second stint:

Uneventful!!! My buddy who had never driven a race car stayed out of trouble, kept it on track, and brought it home for the next driver.  He went from 37th place up to 31st overall! Slow and steady but we're moving up the order!  No rain thankfully. He lasted an hour and fifty minutes before sputtering, was not as fast as the first driver but got close with a few 1:46's.  Learning how to go fast can come later, I think he learned a lot about managing traffic and driving predictably.  Two criticism's I have are that he left the popups up the whole time, and put the steering wheel on crooked.  The ONLY video that worked all day was 50 minutes of this stint. I guess it's good that we got video for the new guy!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/zPNAfm0JLGk?start=5&feature=oembed

 

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Second fuel & driver change:

Same deal but smoother than before.  I put another 10 gallons in or so.  3rd driver is in (former e30 team owner), and off. 

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Third Stint:

We started this stint in 31st overall.  Everything was going smooth, and our lap times started to come down.  The track was still dry, and she was able to set a few times in the 1:45's.  After about 15 minutes the driver comes in for an unscheduled pit, and said the rear brakes are howling.  I asked if the brakes are still working, and she said yes.  I explained I think this is just the pads.  I don't know why they're howling but I suspect that there's too much rear bias, and the rear brakes are working too hard and getting too hot.  I used hawk blue front and rear, and I'm kind of thinking I should have staggered compounds and run a less aggressive pad like HP+ or HPS in the rear.  I told her to go back out and be careful in the braking zones if she felt comfortable.  She said she's having fun and wants to keep going. Alright!  Hour and a half total stint time and she comes in saying it just started to sputter. More steady progress, up to 25th overall!

Third fuel & driver change:

O

M

The car made it this far, every driver has had a full stint.  I can get in the car worry free now, just icing on the cake from here on out.  The stress is melted away and it's time to really enjoy the fruit of all this. No idea how fueling went, this was all a blur. 

Fourth Stint:

I've been waiting for this moment for my entire life!!!!  In July I did a track night and was able to do a 1:41.8 on some older RS4's.  I have new one's today, and improved some bushings, new clutch, and cut the rear springs more, so hopefully I can be faster.  Basically we started from the back of the pack at the beginning of the day (50 cars or so total) after our spin & unscheduled pit stop.  Every driver moved us up a couple of spots and we were sitting 25th overall by the time I got in.  I start getting settled in to the car, and lap times start dropping.  The body roll is still horrendous, but if you're patient with the weight transfer the car actually has some good mechanical grip. Pretty soon I'm beating my times in the 1:41's, 1:40's, and then a 139.9 and our fastest lap of the race. 

I keep this up for a while but keep getting caught up in full course yellows, including one for an e46 that went into the wall right in front of me.  For some reason the car doesn't seem very fast to me despite burning off fuel weight, and running the engine up around redline causes a feeling of power surging.  Pretty soon I started to see my tachometer wigging out and flickering, and I'm suspecting an ignition problem, like a plug wire or something coming loose.  It seems like randomly the engine is down a cylinder.  About an hour twenty in to my stint, another full course yellow.  I'm in 22nd position overall at this point.  I putt around in 5th trying to save fuel as it basically reads empty, but no sputtering yet.  Green flag drops and I'm battling to keep some cars behind me, one specifically that I know is in my class. I actually want to race even though I might be battling for a position in the teens. Things went well for half a lap until we get to the hairpin, turn 7, which leads to the back straight.  I manage to stay ahead of about 3 cars setting up for turn 7, point the car and lay into the throttle...  All three of the cars fly by me on either side like I'm not moving.  I pump the throttle and just hear a really loud rattle.  Wot only results in me maintaining speed, but almost no accel.  I limp to the pits and inform the team that we lost the engine, suspected spun rod bearing.  Turned the car off and we pushed it into the cold pits.  After that, we tried to restart the car and it wouldn't fire.  Ultimately, I spent an hour testing to find out that the electrical problem I was experiencing was a battery cable crimp that was coming loose at the battery under the shrink wrap. Found out my battery mount was inadequate, and probably stressed that crimp until it failed.  Fixed that, fired the car while we were all listening... pretty obvious rod knock.


Our race is over.  We loaded it on the trailer and loaded up our pits. Missed out on the night sprint, and the Sunday 7 hour enduro.  Honestly the whole week was a rollercoaster and highly stressful, and I left the track feeling really incredible about how it all turned out.  The team seemed to be in good spirits despite losing out on the rest of the weekend, but there was also some relief that the new car was a blast and we all drove a lot.  We were also freezing our butts off, so that could have contributed!

I also got a lot of love from the organization and other racers. Many compliments on the new build.  Some even called it "clean" but I would say they must not have looked very close.  Overall a really positive race weekend with a great group of racers. 


Takeaways:

The car lacked pace compared to the competition, and what moved us up the order was consistency.  Apart from that, the reliability took us out of course. So obviously I need a new motor.  Currently rebuilding a vg33e out of an Xterra.  Also need stiffer springs bad.  I think my cut springs are probably around 200 lb/in.  Will probably shoot for 350F300R. Hydramat or surge tank - We need to use more than 10 gallons of our 14 gallon tank. No money/time for a cell. Radios - They would just be really handy. Video - Would like more than 50 minutes of working video. Diff - Currently open, if budget allows I'll get an LSD.  If I'm feeling really brave & broke I'll weld my diff. 

I just can't wait to get back out there.  Thinking about doing both PIR events next year. 

More to come later!

75280z
75280z Reader
12/6/20 1:43 a.m.

Looks bad and awesome dude!

toonarmy
toonarmy New Reader
12/6/20 3:18 a.m.

This thing is awesome and can't wait to see how it develops! More 80s Nissan goodness on GRM is only a good thing. 

As far as the VG33 swap goes, are you going to keep the 200sx crank since the snout and belts differ between the two (iirc)? Also, are you planning to keep the stock (200sx)  intake plenum? If so, does it line up with the lower manifold for the 33? Curious to see how you're going to piece this together, but 10% more displacement and better flowing heads can only help!
 

 

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/6/20 4:42 p.m.
75280z said:

Looks bad and awesome dude!

Thanks dude! 

toonarmy said:

This thing is awesome and can't wait to see how it develops! More 80s Nissan goodness on GRM is only a good thing. 

As far as the VG33 swap goes, are you going to keep the 200sx crank since the snout and belts differ between the two (iirc)? Also, are you planning to keep the stock (200sx)  intake plenum? If so, does it line up with the lower manifold for the 33? Curious to see how you're going to piece this together, but 10% more displacement and better flowing heads can only help!
 

 

Thanks I appreciate it! OK so from my research (and I could be wrong), based on the limitations of what parts you have to use with other parts, my plan so far is:

Use the VG33e crank, oil pump, timing belt & gears, and all accessories. Use VG30e intake manifold and plenum, and exhaust manifolds.  

Using the VG30e crank would require the old timing gears & belt, old style oil pump, and old crank pulley & accessories.  First, I believe the 30e crank is ruined from the rod bearing damage, or at least it would need to be turned and have oversized bearings.  I'm not a huge fan of this idea.  Second, I'd really like to use the new style oil pump, and have the oil filter on the bottom front of the engine instead of the side of the block. The new style accessories are probably a bonus as well.

As far as I know, the intake manifolds will swap over.  That allows me to keep my original fuel injectors, rail, electronics, etc.  Old exhaust manifolds will bolt on, but might require some clearancing for the larger 10mm exhaust studs.  

My plan was to re-ring the 33e, new rod & main bearings, modify the oil pickup to work with the 30e oil pan, baffle and increase capacity of 30e oil pan, mild port & polish on 33e heads, send 33e cams to Isky for regrind (its only $185, can't not do this!).  My plan has halfway been derailed as I have discovered that this engine was a lot more worn out than I anticipated.

First of all, the piston to wall clearance is excessive - .006" when the limit was like .002".  I only did a few more measurements here, but I have to assume the taper and out-of-round is way out of spec as well.  The ridge on the top of the cylinder was huge. SO I'm going to have to send this block to the machine shop for bore & hone, along with some +.5mm pistons. NEXT blow was a call from Isky, who pointed out that there are grooves on the bearing surfaces on the cam, and they don't recommend regrinding that set. UGH! Having the big hit to the budget of boring the engine, and oversized pistons, I decided not to worry about the cam regrind at this time.  The truck cams were small, so the 30e cams are an upgrade anyway.  I will install the 30e cams in the 33e motor, and it should be good for now.  I'll keep an eye out for some other core's to send Isky in the future.  For reference, I asked Isky what cam they would grind me for a stockish engine, stock RPM and compression, for endurance racing.  I told them I want to emphasize reliability and good power and torque between 3500-6000.  They recommended a grind named H-606, 258 degree duration (advertised), .435" lift.  33e cams were somewhere in the 230's duration with .350" ish lift, 30e cams are 248 duration with .390" ish lift, and they'll have to do for now!

I ported the heads and resurfaced them, and will report back here with pictures later!

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
12/6/20 7:51 p.m.

I bought an '85 new and loved the 200SX.  That hatch is a heavy piece.  Keep us posted as I support this endeavor.

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/6/20 9:39 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

I bought an '85 new and loved the 200SX.  That hatch is a heavy piece.  Keep us posted as I support this endeavor.

It's definitely heavy.  I'd save a lot of weight by replacing the rear glass with lexan, but that's waaaaaay down the priority list.  That's awesome you bought a brand new one.  I'll keep you posted!

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/7/20 5:28 a.m.

Cool! I never knew these were available with a V6, here in Sweden we only got them with a 1.8 turbo engine (hence known as a 180SX).

I'm some kind of accidental Nissan fan, since we endurance race a Primera P11 (Infiniti G20) here in Sweden. Sometimes I play with the idea of building a rwd Nissan platform instead, since I am very much more comfortable working on rwd stuff. Most series here that are in reach financially say no forced induction and that really means we need to do a motor swap if we look at the S chassis. Thoughts of an S13 with a NA SR20VE or some VQ have circulated...

Gustaf

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/7/20 10:20 a.m.
therealpinto said:

Cool! I never knew these were available with a V6, here in Sweden we only got them with a 1.8 turbo engine (hence known as a 180SX).

I'm some kind of accidental Nissan fan, since we endurance race a Primera P11 (Infiniti G20) here in Sweden. Sometimes I play with the idea of building a rwd Nissan platform instead, since I am very much more comfortable working on rwd stuff. Most series here that are in reach financially say no forced induction and that really means we need to do a motor swap if we look at the S chassis. Thoughts of an S13 with a NA SR20VE or some VQ have circulated...

Gustaf

Gustaf, I followed your Primera racing thread, and had one of my own on here a couple years ago (new username now).  For some reason I lost interest and sold that car, and replaced it with this one.  I've never been a huge FWD fan, and the series I race in is getting faster (unfortunately). RWD is easier for me to stay interested in and has more potential IMO. Obviously I've gotten a lot farther with this project so it was a good move. Still like P10's though! 

In Sweden do you ONLY have the 1.8 turbo? We have a 2.0 NA, a 1.8T, and the 3.0 V6 in the s12 chassis.  The 2.0 NA is pretty pathetic  unfortunately, a healthy one might make 100hp. I believe the V6 was only sold in the states, and only 5500 or so made per year to qualify for FIA homologation. The V6 is not a power house, but it's not super heavy and has some potential.  

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/7/20 10:01 p.m.

Taking a look back at the build.  The first thing I did when i got the car home was start stripping it down for the cage.  The seat and cage were the most expensive and time consuming parts, so I wanted to knock them out first and foremost. 

I began removing the interior (trying to sell, to help fund the project, which is STILL going on), and getting the sound deadening off with dry ice and isopropyl alcohol.  This was extremely satisfying!

I though since this car was a hatchback, it would be easier to cage than, say, a 300zx or other sports car.  While it might still be, there was VERY little head room.  The catalytic converter sits directly below the drivers seat, and the floor has a huge bump in it.  First thing I did was cut this out and lower the floor. 

It turned out pretty good, and the car fits me.  Going lower than this would have been a lot more complicated because the driveshaft carrier bearing mount is in the way.  Also, the crossmember directly forward of this could have been removed to allow the seat to go farther forward.  Of course, everything fit me just fine being 6'3 and having abnormally long legs and a short torso.  When my teammate got in the car a year later who is precisely opposite proportions.... well you learn something for the next race car you build I guess!

Brand new Ultrashield spec miata seat.  Scored this, never mounted, from ebay for just over $100.  Had to find deals like this if I was going to make this build happen on my budget!

More on the cage next!

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/8/20 1:43 a.m.
MaxC said:

Gustaf, I followed your Primera racing thread, and had one of my own on here a couple years ago (new username now).  For some reason I lost interest and sold that car, and replaced it with this one.  I've never been a huge FWD fan, and the series I race in is getting faster (unfortunately). RWD is easier for me to stay interested in and has more potential IMO. Obviously I've gotten a lot farther with this project so it was a good move. Still like P10's though! 

In Sweden do you ONLY have the 1.8 turbo? We have a 2.0 NA, a 1.8T, and the 3.0 V6 in the s12 chassis.  The 2.0 NA is pretty pathetic  unfortunately, a healthy one might make 100hp. I believe the V6 was only sold in the states, and only 5500 or so made per year to qualify for FIA homologation. The V6 is not a power house, but it's not super heavy and has some potential.  

 

Ah, yes, that's the downside of being such a small market. Especially evident up until around 1998 when the EU type approvals came along. Before that each model basically needed a Swedish type approval, so for lower volume cars that meant keeping versions down to a minimum. Today our register shows around 110 S12s still registered in Sweden...the S13 was immensly more popular, the data says we have over 1100 of those left.

I would like to explore the path of an endurance racer with a bias towards midrange torque, I get a feeling that it would suit my driving style and our track.

Gustaf

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/8/20 9:23 a.m.
therealpinto said:
MaxC said:

Gustaf, I followed your Primera racing thread, and had one of my own on here a couple years ago (new username now).  For some reason I lost interest and sold that car, and replaced it with this one.  I've never been a huge FWD fan, and the series I race in is getting faster (unfortunately). RWD is easier for me to stay interested in and has more potential IMO. Obviously I've gotten a lot farther with this project so it was a good move. Still like P10's though! 

In Sweden do you ONLY have the 1.8 turbo? We have a 2.0 NA, a 1.8T, and the 3.0 V6 in the s12 chassis.  The 2.0 NA is pretty pathetic  unfortunately, a healthy one might make 100hp. I believe the V6 was only sold in the states, and only 5500 or so made per year to qualify for FIA homologation. The V6 is not a power house, but it's not super heavy and has some potential.  

 

Ah, yes, that's the downside of being such a small market. Especially evident up until around 1998 when the EU type approvals came along. Before that each model basically needed a Swedish type approval, so for lower volume cars that meant keeping versions down to a minimum. Today our register shows around 110 S12s still registered in Sweden...the S13 was immensly more popular, the data says we have over 1100 of those left.

I would like to explore the path of an endurance racer with a bias towards midrange torque, I get a feeling that it would suit my driving style and our track.

Gustaf

Interesting! That's not many S12's.  One thing I've learned, is that building a rare car has some challenges... Little too late to help that now, but that is a downside.  You simply won't have the same issues finding common replacement parts or upgrades if you're building a civic vs an S12. 

If I remember correctly you guys race on some pretty short, lower speed circuits.  That being said, midrange seems like a good focus. 

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/8/20 5:41 p.m.

Now for the cage!!

I'm cursed/blessed with the desire and ability (debatable) to do things myself.  For example: I would rather buy the tools and materials to build an exhaust system, than buy one. Its been this way since I was a kid.  Maybe because I was totally broke when I was younger, and a decent welder and the materials were cheaper than the $500 exhaust system.  Since a decent tubing bender costs $1000, that's out the window!! A pre-bent/notched cage kit is cheaper than that! And unfortunately no one makes a cage kit for this car, there's another great thing about choosing a rare car frown

Not to worry! I contacted Russ at Racetech in Portland, and he offered to bend the main hoop and pillar bars for me if I provided him with measurements.  He had hookups on well priced DOM 1.75" x .095" tube, so I bought that through him as well. 

And I gotta say, his instructions were spot on, because this turned out pretty well. 

Then, he lent me some bend templates to lock down for the pillar bars (no idea if he lends these out to every customer, so don't get your hopes up!). First time I've done this, and in hindsight I could have done a better job... But hey! This worked really well!

Started to mock everything up/tack it in.  Cut 3" holes in the floor below the main hoop, and put the cage pads over the top of them (more on this later). Dash bar and windshield bar installed.  Dash bar ruined the location of the stock gauge cluster, but Russ urged me to put it above the column.  It was a PITA, but glad I did that... Below the column comes with plenty of other issues (proximity to shins).  Wish I would have bent my windshield bar up closer to the roof, but oh well.  

No tube notcher, just an angle grinder with flap disks by hand. 

Took the main hoop out and had enough room to rock the pillar bars, windshield bar, and dash bar back to finish the welds away from the body. 

Felt guilty not having a roof bar in, and thought if I bent it up toward the roof, it would give my head some more protection by keeping the cage even higher above my helmet.  Again went to Russ to bend the roof bar 20 degrees.  Then when everything was tacked and I was happy with it, I pulled the plates out from under the main hoop and dropped it through the floor.  

This allowed me some room to finish the welds without cutting into the roof. 

... have to find more pictures now.  More on the cage to come!

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/9/20 3:19 a.m.

Looks like a nice cage build there!

One of the reasons for sticking to a Primera is that at least in theory, body parts like wings/fenders, doors, lights and stuff is the same for all P11's. I see the issues my friend running a Civic CRX has in finding parts. 

We are racing the bigger track now (or, we did three races in 2019 and hope to be back 2021) but I still feel torque may be a nice thing. That said the SR20DE is not bad in any way.

Gustaf

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/9/20 8:33 a.m.

So you're still racing the P11 then? And are you planning a new build, or going to keep racing the P11 for the time being? I need to read up on your thread. 

My only racing experience before the 200sx was in a miata (slightly lower prep than Spec Miata in the US).  When choosing my car, first off it had to be a Nissan.  Second, it had to have a better power to weight ratio than the miata. I knew it would never be as fast as the miata in the corners (that thing is a weapon!), but hopefully it could be meant to keep up with wider rubber, careful setup, and weight reduction. It HAD to have more power.  Was tired of needing to drive perfectly to make a pass in the corners and having all my work undone as soon as we got on to a straight. The car was far from perfect and not as light as it should be yet, but it CAN barely out drag-race a stock miata on the straights... mission accomplished!

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/10/20 12:18 a.m.

Well, 2020 was a lost year, because of the pandemic but also some sanctioning body shenanigans... We did 1,5 practice sessions this year.

2021 is forming in the not so distant future and we plan on racing the P11 still. We'll see if there are updates coming but right now I just want to get back to racing. We are down on power (since we use a 130 bhp version motor instead of the 150 bhp we should have) but since we are in a power regulated series so far (max 150 bhp) it is pretty much OK anyway.

Back to the S12, around 15 years ago when they were cheap and plentiful here we once had a plan of building one as a lottery car to give away in a club I was working in. The idea was a cheap combo car that would to 12-13 second 1/4 miles, be able to drift and autocross with a smile. But we never went ahead...

Gustaf

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/10/20 9:44 a.m.
therealpinto said:

Well, 2020 was a lost year, because of the pandemic but also some sanctioning body shenanigans... We did 1,5 practice sessions this year.

2021 is forming in the not so distant future and we plan on racing the P11 still. We'll see if there are updates coming but right now I just want to get back to racing. We are down on power (since we use a 130 bhp version motor instead of the 150 bhp we should have) but since we are in a power regulated series so far (max 150 bhp) it is pretty much OK anyway.

Back to the S12, around 15 years ago when they were cheap and plentiful here we once had a plan of building one as a lottery car to give away in a club I was working in. The idea was a cheap combo car that would to 12-13 second 1/4 miles, be able to drift and autocross with a smile. But we never went ahead...

Gustaf

Sorry to hear about your race season.  Mine almost looked like that as well.  I had 2 track days canceled, and one race *relocated* to the next state over which I couldn't make.  Luckily I was still able to make one track day and a race. After building the car for about 20 months, I was very glad to have the chance to race it, even if we did lose an engine.  Your reasons for wanting to build an s12 is why I picked the s13 when I bought my very first car (2002).  I still think S-chassis are a versatile choice... wish they were as plentiful and affordable as they used to be!

Now to wrap up the cage saga... I did finish this over a year ago, so hope can tell the story accurately. 

Dropping the cage through the floor allows you to get these welds.  Once the cage is back in it's position, these areas are dang near touching the roof.  There is areas I could weld the cage directly to the roof actually... and I'm really happy I got the cage that close. 

Not all my welds are super pretty so I won't put close ups of everything, but I'm confident they're strong. 

Door bars - again, no bender. Decided to make the X-bar design after reading endless internet debates about NASCAR vs X-bar design.  The pro for the X bar design is that they're straight and when hit are immediately loaded in tension.  In tension the tubes are a lot stronger than being loaded in bending. By no means does that tell the whole story, but that's the rationale. I decided to add a sill bar as well, as my X-bar design is bisecting and therefore not two continuous tubes.  A way I could improve this is with gusseting, which I would like to do someday.

Cons of my door bar design are: I probably put them too high.  My reasoning was "higher will be safer", yeah but egress and ingress is a thing too.  So is having to weld the ends.  This was the hardest weld on the whole cage. 

Racetech advised me to do the horizontal support, harness bar, rear supports last.  This is so that you don't have to climb over them while doing the rest of the work, and all the welds were pretty easy to get to. 

And here the cage is all finished and covered with a light clear coat to keep from rusting. 

Also window net installed. 

That's all!  I'd like to improve the cage in the future by adding anti-intrusion bars, front strut tower supports, door bar gussets, and pillar bar to main hoop gussets. 

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/10/20 11:18 a.m.

Looks nice!

One thing we learnt from the cage build in the P10, that we did better on the P11, was the placement of the front hoop and the door bars. On the P10 we had them like you do, the front hoop/legs intrude into the door opening making it harder than necessary to get in and out. On the P11 we pushed that as far forwards as possible, much better.

With the Primeras being 4-doors, this is probably a bigger issue than an S12 that has longer door openings. Especially since we have the < shaped side bars. With an X like you have, it's another story (a safer one).

Gustaf

 

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/10/20 1:41 p.m.
therealpinto said:

Looks nice!

One thing we learnt from the cage build in the P10, that we did better on the P11, was the placement of the front hoop and the door bars. On the P10 we had them like you do, the front hoop/legs intrude into the door opening making it harder than necessary to get in and out. On the P11 we pushed that as far forwards as possible, much better.

With the Primeras being 4-doors, this is probably a bigger issue than an S12 that has longer door openings. Especially since we have the < shaped side bars. With an X like you have, it's another story (a safer one).

Gustaf

 

I guess it's impossible not to learn how to do a better job next time on a roll cage (especially your first).  Unfortunately, things are very permanent! The S12 does have huge door openings.  I tried to keep the main hoop as far back as possible because I have really long legs... well that was unnecesary, but did make welding the door bars really hard.  The car has plenty of leg room, too much even.  I could have put the main hoop 1-2" forward and been fine, and made the welding easier.  Maybe on a sedan you can put the main hoop behind the B pillar, so that you can weld the door bars through the back door. 

All things that will look better on my next cage!

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/15/20 12:50 p.m.

The timeline in this thread is going to be all screwed up, so I apologize for that.  Right now I want to switch to current events while they're fresh in my mind.  

A week after the race, I had a guy deliver this vg33er to my house for $150... Steal of a deal. So I thought! The vg33er is a supercharged engine that came in Xterras and Frontiers around 01-04. The guy said it had low compression on cylinder 1 (70 psi), and so he bougt a vg33e from a junkyard and only used the long block.  So I got EVERYTHING from the junkyard vg33e, but with a worn out vg33er long block.  The only difference would be the compression is 8.3:1 instead of 8.9:1. 

OK so I pulled the thing apart thinking I would find a bad valve, or piston ringland or something.  But I didn't see anything obvious that would be causing low compression.  So I sent the heads out to the machine shop to be tested, and resurfaced. 

They checked out good and look great.   They machined off .004" so according to my guesstimate and absolutely no math that will increase my compression maybe .1. 

For some reason when I rebuild and engine I can't resist porting the heads.  I always look at this as "low hanging fruit" and "free upgrades", which is totally wrong.  The amount of labor is insane, and I have no idea how much this actually increases power... but I can't help it.  I only cleaned up the ports, and didn't do any work in the combustion chamber.  I don't have spare valves handy, and I don't know as much about what to do in the combustion chamber to improve flow.  Maybe next time.  The machining of the valve seats leaves a lot of issues on this head.  There is a mark in every intake valve as you can see, but what you cant see is a pretty huge step in the transition from the head casting to the valve seat.  I smoothed out this area, and generally smoothed out the casting imperfections.  The lower radius in the exhaust side is also a sharp 90 degrees, I smoothed that out as well.  I didn't remove a ton of material, just a good solid clean up.  I'm not wasting my time actually "polishing" these ports. 

I have hated every valve spring compressor I've ever used.  Didn't have one at all this time, and had no faith the ones I'd buy would be any good... So I made this one.  Drilled a hole in a huge line wrench I've never used, and used a brake caliper compressor to pull up on the other end of the wrench.  This worked extremely well, and it locked and kept both of my hands free to work. 

I felt really guilty upgrading to a 3.3L and downgrading in compression from 9:1 on the vg30e to 8.3:1, so I bought standard sized NA pistons to keep the NA compression. This was actually a big mistake.  Upon assembling the bottom end, the pistons seemed to rock a bit in the cylinder bores.  So I panicked and decided to check the piston to bore clearance... after buying tools to accomplish this, the block appears to be completely worn out.  If I remember correctly, the piston to bore clearance was about .006" and maximum spec was around .002".  So this is the first major setback.  Luckily rockauto took my pistons back for a full refund, and I ordered +.5mm pistons.  Dropped the block off at the machine shop last week and I'm moving on to other projects now. 

More on the engine rebuild when the block comes back!

Now I'm working on oiling mods.  As far as I'm concerned, 3 things individually would have saved my engine or delayed its failure in the race, and I want to improve on each of these things.

1. More capacity - the engine only holds 4 quarts, and at the rate my engine burned oil.. well.. it only took 6 hours to burn enough to kill the engine.

2. Stop burning oil - see engine rebuild above.

3. Oil pressure warning light - If I had one of these flashing in the high G corners, I at least would have known when the oil level was low enough that the pickup was sucking air.

While the engine rebuild is on hold, I'm working on fixing #1.  Stay tuned!

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/15/20 1:30 p.m.

The vg33e and vg30e have different crankshaft snouts, and so the oil pumps are not interchangeable.  The 33 crank and pump have to be used as a pair and same with the 30e. 

I wanted to increase oil capacity, as this engine seems to take about 3.9 quarts on an oil change.  I just don't think that's enough.  I started the race overfilled at 5 quarts, and added .5 quarts half way through.  After the engine failure, I drained the oil and only had 2 quarts left... so there was some pretty serious oil consumption.  But it would still make me feel a lot better to have a 5-6 quart capacity. 

I have to make a custom pickup anyway, because I HAVE to use the front sump 200sx oil pan. The pickup tube for the 33e is a for a rear sump, and the 30e pickup is located in a totally different place.  See below, 30e oil pump/pickup in stock location. The long pickup is the stock 33e pickup. 

Removed the stock baffle

I was kicking around Ideas for increasing oil capacity.  Simplest seemed to be to extend the sump lower.  

The problem with this is that the sump goes from being level with the crossmember to being the lowest part of the car.  I didn't love that idea, although it seemed the simplest. 

I decided to overcomplicate this significantly: Add tanks to the side of the pan (seemed to be ample room in the car).  Seemed like if I'm adding area for oil to slosh, then baffling was in order as well.  And why not make it a trap door baffle? Perfect! What could go wrong! Time for some CAD (Computer, and Cardboard aided design).

Spectacular precision built oil side tanks. 

Starting to fab/test the 33e oil pickup. 

The location isn't perfect yet, so I need to refine it a bit.  Yes the pan needs to be cleaned badly. Believe it or not this is after cleaning it heavily with degreaser.  The sludge is really baked on this oil pan.  So my plan is to locate the pickup pretty much dead center so I can fit a box around it with trap doors facing toward the pickup.  Then I will find a way to re-attach the factory baffle back on to the top of the box. I really hope this works. Starting to wish I'd gone a simpler route, but I'm halfway in now so there's no turning back. According to my calculations these tanks will add about 1.75 quarts of capacity. 

 

toonarmy
toonarmy New Reader
12/15/20 2:23 p.m.

I've read through other VG33 builds with aftermarket pistons and most decided to put relief cuts for the valves since this is an interference motor and the OEM pistons have relief cuts.  I've always thought this was an unnecessary step unless compression was bumped way up and/or new camshafts with higher lift/duration are utilized, and if the timing belt let's go you're going to have it go boom regardless of relief cuts.  You worried about this at all?

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/15/20 2:47 p.m.

The pistons I bought are just aftermarket replacements, so they already have valve reliefs in them.  They're not any kind of high performance part.  I did say I was raising compression with the new pistons, but that's only because they're stock NA pistons (8.9:1) that I'm using to replace the stock SC pistons (8.3:1).

I have seen a lot of people build a "VG34e" engine which typically utilizes a VH45DE piston from a Q45.  That bumps the bore from 91.5 to like 93.5mm or something, and 10:1 compression.  Those pistons have valve reliefs for 4 valve heads, but not for the 2 valve head of the 33e. That's probably why people cut in valve reliefs.  They also have to re-size the small end of the rod +1mm for the larger wrist pin. 

While this is a really great upgrade, I'm just not in it for that much custom work right now.   The added bump in HP isn't worth the extra money in machine work, cost to run premium fuel, and most important, the extra time.  And the 20 hp or whatever that it might give me is not going to be the difference in winning and losing... not yet anyway! Need to focus on finishing first. 

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/26/20 10:01 p.m.

Bit of progress on the oil pan. I'm feeling a bit of pressure because I know the block will be done at the machine shop any day now.  I'm supposed to have the oil pan done before it gets back to I can just start right away assembling the engine. So wasting a few weeks on this pan project doesn't exactly matter, but man is it taking a lot longer than I anticipated. I have to be careful biting off big projects like this. Being on my own and building this thing in my [very little] free time, picking projects that are custom and require planning/test/fab can really eat up a good chunk of the time I have left before the season. 

Welded up the oil tanks.  I'm an extremely okay welder.

Leak tested by letting them sit with soapy water in them.  Also poured the soapy water into a measuring cup, they each hold 3 cups... So 1.5qts added to the stock pan capacity.  No leaks!

Fabbed up the baffle box, and welded the oil pickup in the correct spot.  I'm actually really happy with how this turned out.  However there are a couple problems.... Not sure I'm that confident in these rivets.  I'm not much of a rivet guy.  My HF rivet tool is terrible, and I haven't done rivets very often. So I may try and find some screws with lock nuts to replace them. The company that sells the trap doors, Improved Racing, said to use aircraft rivets, pop rivets like I used, or screws with deformed thread locking nuts.  Haven't found that type of lock nut locally yet. The second issue I have with the baffle box is that the corners of the trap doors contact each other... poor planning on my part. However, I'm not sure that really matters if they contact each other.  I don't think they would hang open or anything.  These trapdoors are the type that limit motion to about 60 degrees of opening so that they can't be flipped upside down and get stuck. I may round off the corners of the trap doors so they can't touch each other.  I can probably take 1/4" off the corners and the doors will still cover the openings. 

OH and MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! My wife bought me the entire amazon list of race radio components found on the 24 hours of lemons forum.  Having coms will be a game changer, and would have saved us probably 10 minutes in unscheduled pit stops during the last race.  Now I just have to figure them out! So far I've been able to talk to my daughter on the other side of the house!

More to come!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/26/20 11:09 p.m.

Nice progress! Oil pan is looking good, but this is what I see when I look at your oil pan trapdoor:

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
12/27/20 9:04 a.m.

I did a great deal of research and many complex calculations to achieve precisely that result. You see, when the car is accelerating around a corner, one trap door is supposed to "omnomnom" oil (see your diagram above), while the other trap door is indecision

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