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SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/21/18 3:01 p.m.

This project will appear to be underwhelming. It will be slow, not filled with much content, be drawn out for many years, and might include missing goals and not meeting expectations. 

That being said, this project could not be more important to me! I've been a long time Nissan guy.  It began in 2003 when I bought my first car, a 1991 240sx.  I spent many years modifying all sorts of Nissans from the 80's and 90's.  I turned wrenches professionally for 10 years, mostly with Nissan, and became a Nissan Master and ASE Master Tech. In 2017 I completed a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering that took 7 years of night school.  In that time I've grown a family and sold off all my fun car toys in pursuit of more important things. 

This project marks the end of making those tough sacrifices.  Sure family will still always take time and financial priority, but I no longer have to put the car hobby on hold.  I finally have the garage space, the extra parking, all my tools at home, a tow vehicle, a reliable daily driver, and sometimes I have some extra time and money to throw at a car.  If there's no money or time, the car will sit and not hurt anything.  What may seem impossibly low budget, and little to no time to invest, means that I have hope of hitting the track in my own car someday.

My interest in cars is pretty broad, but mostly centered around Japanese imports.  I love turbos, drag racing, time attack, autocross, road racing and rally.  I've only participated in drag and autox up until 2016 when I got to turn my first wheel in anger, wheel-to-wheel in a chumpcar race at PIR. 

We returned in 2017 with Lucky Dog Racing League in the same car/same team and managed a 1st place in B-class, 4th overall in an 80 car field for the 7 hour enduro.  We claimed 2nd place the next day in an 8 hour. 

So I had to choose the motorsport I wanted to compete in.  After this recent racing experience, the choice became clear.  I decided that cheap endurance racing was the best value, and I like road racing more than anything anyway.  Will have to sacrifice big HP and big turbos, but that's OK!

After graduating in spring it was time to buy a car.  This is not going to be a dream car, or the best car or maybe not even a good car! But that's not important to me.  I want a car that gets me to the track.  If I've learned anything from years of modifying cars, its that you can modify cars to death and they never get any closer to the track.   So making sure whatever i'm doing to the car, is done to get to the track asap is priority #1.  It also had to be a Nissan, and a 4 cylinder was preferred to keep consumable costs low. 240sx was top choice, but is prohibitively expensive due to heavy drift taxes.  All signs were pointing towards one of the many 4 cyl fwd Nissans.  I would have purchased any B13, B14, B15 or P10, that was a good deal and could get me to my goal quickest.  These cars were all reasonable candidates for caging and hitting the track. 

I checked out a $600 b13 SE-R shell that was rusty, in horrible condition, and needed an absolute ton of crap before even thinking about making it a racecar.  PASS

Next was a $400 1995 200sx with a GA16de.  Nothing wrong with this one other than being garden-hose green and 1.6 powered.  I'm sorry, this car would need a swap before being up to speed.  PASS

Next was a $600 5-speed, 1993.5 G20.  This checked all the boxes.  Unfortunately the p10 was the heaviest and slowest of the fwd sr20de powered cars.  However, It has a special place in my heart because A) I think they look cool B) they have a racing history C) Excellent suspension, sufficient brakes, long wheelbase might make this car good in the rain D) They have a fuel tank that will go 2 hours.  This last item is pretty significant.  In order to be competitive in the even hour races, your car should go the maximum stint length in order to minimize pit stops.  Otherwise you take 1 more stop than other cars, which is a 5 minute minimum.  We lost our 8 hour enduro by 50 seconds in the miata because we had to take a 4th stop in the last 30 minutes of the race.  A fuel cell is expensive, so this big tank is a huge asset.  There was enough good in this car that it had to come home with me. 

I only drove the car a couple miles on the test drive.  The guy had just "put in a new alternator" in the car, and the battery light was on.  I didn't want to drive it very far, because I didn't want the battery to die and get stuck.  There was a concerning engine rattle in the car, but I figured that there was enough there to justify the sales price anyway even if the engine was bad. 

I got it home and put it on jack stands to give it a good look.  This is the SR20de which has seen some success in chumpcar, although never in this chassis.  Compression test was good, a quick look under the valve cover showed a significant amount of sludge. This was troubling because the engine is not known for developing sludge. My own personal SR20's have gone beyond 250,000 miles without any serious engine problems. I found that the battery light was due to a broken alternator connector. 

I put the car back together and temporarily stuck the broken connector back in the alternator so it would make a connection, this will have to be fixed with a new connector in the future.  I then tried to drive the car to the closest scale (20 minutes away) to get a starting weight.  The rattle turned louder, and louder, and louder... It became clear that there was rod knock after I'd turned around to head home.  By the time I rolled into the driveway it was very bad.  Time to take the car apart.  I really wish I'd have gotten more use out of the thing before having to tear into the engine, but oh well.  Dropped the oil pan...

Spun rod bearing indeed.  In fact, all the bearings looked absolutely horrible.  This was the only journal with damage, but all the rods and mains, were in bad shape.  It appears that this thing never had oil changes. Pretty sad, lots of oiled surfaces show wear that really never happens on a well cared for SR20 regardless of the mileage.  Upon disassembly, more damage was found...

Just take a look at that grooved cam lobe!! To me that looks like the cam has lost a full millimeter of lift.  That right there should cause a considerable drop in power.  The rockers are also grooved, if you look closely the orifices in the cam oiling tubes are clogged with sludge.  At this point I fell into a deep hole of depression that lasted about a week.  The machine work to fix these parts and replace others would be more than the cost of buying a good condition long block... I didn't have the money for either option.  The list of bad parts was: Crankshaft, 1 rod, intake camshaft, 3 rockers, cam oiling tubes.  

In order to keep these posts a reasonable length I'm going to split them up a bit.  Stay tuned!!

 

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/21/18 3:31 p.m.

In reply to SuperTouring :

So stoked for this! 

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/21/18 10:00 p.m.

Pics fixed in the original post.  

After a week of moping around not knowing what to do on my small budget, I found a super cool local B13 guy who was willing to deliver his long block with a blown head gasket to me for $140.  My logic was that a blown headgasket is an engine failure that would not have any common failed parts with my spun rod bearing engine.  So I should be able to use the crank, cams, rockers, and cam oil tubes off the new motor.  Meanwhile, I had my daughter pull out the old engine from the G20.  She did a pretty good job. 

New engine arrived!

Blown headgasket indeed!!

Looks like chocolate milk, but the cam surfaces look clean.  Cam oil tubes flow correctly! Rockers are not grooved.

I finished disassembling the engine and concluded that this engine was way better than the engine out of my car in every way.  It was extremely clean, after the chocolate milk was cleaned up.  Everything looked way newer and wasn't a dark oil stained color and covered in sludge.  While I had some extra time, I ordered parts to rebuild: Hastings Piston rings, ACL race main rod and thrust bearings.  I couldn't help myself looking at the casting flaws in the ports when I was cleaning carbon off.  I decided to do a very light porting job on the intake and exhaust ports. I might have invested 5 hours in this, and used a carbide bit and sand paper, only going into the port less than an inch.  I figured cleaning up the casting flaws, and smoothing out the surface a bit was very unlikely to cause any problems, and might gain a few top end hp. Once I was finished I felt like it was a lot of work for probably little/no benefit.  This wasn't the first time I'd ported a head (4th time), but I have so little free time I probably could have spent it better elsewhere.  The head was then sent off to the machine shop.  

When I got a call back from the machine shop my fears were confirmed, I had wasted my time completely.  The machinist said the head would need to be milled .018" to be flat, which is way way over spec.  He also said that when pulling vacuum on the valves, they were not sealing well.  He said it'd probably have low compression and not run well without a valve job.  Further, he said he thought the head might have already been resurfaced in the past.  My super clean, ported head is a PAPER WEIGHT.

So I sent the machinist my other head, the one that I thought was crap.  100% better he says.  What a difference it makes whether your engine fails from a blown headgasket and overheating, or a spun rod bearing!  He took .005" off of the head and cleaned it up considerably. 

He also doesn't seem to have charged me for drilling out a broken exhaust stud! Awesome! And of course I couldn't sit still without cleaning up the exhaust ports just a touch.  I invested way less time in this, very minimal port work. 

At this point I was ready to assemble the engine.  I began assembling the bottom end when I did something I've never done before in all my 10 years of working on cars and assembling engines.  

I broke, a dang, PISTON RING!!! This happened while compressing the ring to install in the bore.  I think the edge of the ring got stuck on the side of the piston outside of the ringland, so when I clamped down the compressor it bent the ring until it snapped.  I FEEL SO STUPID! Oh well, another set of rings is on its way..... Crank is installed, and 3 pistons/rods. 

To be continuted!!!

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/22/18 1:41 p.m.
B13Birk said:

In reply to SuperTouring :

So stoked for this! 

And I'm stoked that there's others out there that still give a crap about this car!

So for a side-tangent-update or lack thereof.  I am going to share what I want the car to look like.  I am a huge fan of making the car look like a famous race car that I love.  Its very popular in the low budget endurance world.  When I volunteered at the first chumpcar race ever, there was a replica rally blue STi made out of a dumpy impreza wagon and a quattro with all the crazy aero made out of an audi 5000!  I thought that was totally cool! The track is where you can make your car look like a race car and not be called a ricer, because it's actually a race car that's racing!

And this guy ^^ (b13birk) will know just what I'm talking about.  In fact, I was a little bummed out to read in his thread that he wants to do the exact same livery as me!  If we did both do them, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  How many BRE themes do you see on Nissan/Datsun racecars these days anyway?  They're almost all that way! Plus the cars are an entire country away from each other. The livery in question is of course the Calsonic IMPUL car from JTCC. 

This one's kind of special to me ever since I was a teenager.  I swapped in an RB20det from a Skyline GTS-T in my 240sx, and the R32 skyline was my ultimate favorite car.  The Calsonic GT-R was by far the coolest.  Since I'm racing a G20, it seemed appropriate to use the livery from the Japanese super touring car.  If this doesn't work out there's many other good ones to choose from that raced with the BTCC. 

This last one looks great but I won't be doing it.  I believe that Keith O'Dor actually died in that car in the mid 90's.  

So there's just some thought's I've had about how the car will look. Likely I won't start any of the graphics until I have the first race on the calendar.  

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Reader
1/22/18 2:33 p.m.

Excellent choice for a car, daily or race car. Had a buddy who picked one of these up to daily and I was always amazed at how capable it felt.

grover
grover Reader
1/22/18 9:54 p.m.

looking forward to this, I think that I might like to try endurance stuff.  I'll have to look into it.  

therealpinto
therealpinto New Reader
1/23/18 6:26 a.m.

Hey, nice to see a thread on a fellow G20/Primera :-)

I might need to pick your brain when it comes to engine work on our P11, it needs a head gasket as the coolant pressurizes with combustion pressure (we think). The oil is still nice so I don't think it mixes oil and water, hopefully nothing else is bent.

We have a spare SR20DI (I think, the 116 bhp version from a SLX) and tomorrow we are bring a spare P11 (non-GT) with the 130 bhp SR20DE engine, so I hope we won't be stuck without parts.

Our P10 will do a bit over 2 hours of racing on one tank, usually we refill at the first stop after 2 hours. But there's not much to spare, we fill around 38 litres and that gets us to the 4 hour finish line but I doubt we have more than maybe 20 minutes of racing left after that.

As for decors, I would like to make our car look the the racing P11's. There is a sticker kit available online but I'm a bit hesitant to buy, and have no spares. Is there someway to find/get vector graphics or other image files to work from? I have a friend that runs an advertising business, he can probably print the vinyl but doesn't have the time to make the design from "scratch".

Endurance racing is great fun, I really like it. So give it a shot :-)

Gustaf

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/23/18 8:31 p.m.

In reply to SuperTouring :

You are moving in a great direction! It would be awesome to both be on the track at some point at a champcar race or WRL with both of our G20s. Let me know when you start needing parts and such. Ive got some good connections. There is a group buy going right now for the "factory"  Addco sway bar that you HAVE TO HAVE to make these cars handle well for 149 + shipping. The company is doing one last run of these and there are 10 that are a part of the group buy. 

Pull the trigger on the Calsonic Livery. We are going to be doing a more race version of this one. 

 

paul_s0
paul_s0 New Reader
1/24/18 7:38 a.m.

I'm loving these G20/P10/p11 threads, it's nice to see them getting some love.   I used to run a '92 P10 eGT Saloon back in the UK as daily driver for several years and occasional event car (autox type events and Targa rallies).  The upgraded rear sway bar was one of the best things I did to that, I went for the Addco bar.  Understeer was banished (photo by M & H Photography, awesome rally photographer in the UK, please do not reproduce without his permission):

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
1/24/18 8:22 a.m.

Hey, oversteering P10's unite!

We are limited to stock (standard) anti-roll bars or sway bars now, that's something I wanted to upgrade from the start. The oversteer above was mostly thanks to (or due to perhaps) someone spilling something.

Gustaf

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/24/18 9:24 a.m.

In reply to therealpinto :

Thats too bad they have to stay stock. My friends Joe and Chris as well as the MotoIQ guys all race their P10s and  Have mentioned over and over again how crucial that rear sway bar is. The Addco is the way to go and it still looks factory. 

Its so crazy that there are so many folks coming out of the wood works and tracking g20's.

Here are a few others who I am friends with and really know their stuff about these cars. 

Joe in ATL:

Chris who races Nasa Time trials: (this car hols tons of class records and is currently for sale)

And of course the INFAMOUS MotoIQ G20 in CALI:

 

I hope to keep in touch with al of you on your projects! Exciting stuff!

 

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 MegaDork
1/24/18 9:29 a.m.

Completely off topic: is there any more pictures, information, etc of the hardtop on that chumpcar miata? Or even an email of the owner? That looks almost exactly like what i am looking to build and i would love some details.

 

And im subscribing to the thread to learn about nissan. I know nothing about them.

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
1/24/18 9:48 a.m.

In reply to therealpinto :

Who would have thought that two separate P10 builds half a world apart would be running on the same discontinued type of wheel.

Loving this thread btw!

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/24/18 9:58 a.m.

In reply to 06HHR :

YOU HAVE ONE TOO!!!??? I Think that makes 4 or 5 on GRM alone! Pretty awesome. Do you have a build thread? Id love to see it! Mine is on here. Tons of Updates coming soon.

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
1/24/18 10:38 a.m.

In reply to B13Birk :

Unfortunately I don't, but I suffered through the same issues with rod bearings and borked heads that the OP did. SR's don't like being starved for oil or overheated at all.  My first engine spun the #1 rod bearing and dropped the #4 exhaust valve, both my fault i'm sure as that was my first engine teardown and rebuild. Took me 2 machine shops and a reman head out of california before I found a place that knew how to prep the heads correctly (Props to Southeast Cylinder Head in Orlando, FL).  Unfortunately mine is an Auto and not a 5 speed.  Hoping to get the parts to convert it one day, but they are thin on the ground in my neck of the woods (Florida Panhandle).

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/24/18 1:19 p.m.
therealpinto said:

Hey, nice to see a thread on a fellow G20/Primera :-)

I might need to pick your brain when it comes to engine work on our P11, it needs a head gasket as the coolant pressurizes with combustion pressure (we think). The oil is still nice so I don't think it mixes oil and water, hopefully nothing else is bent.

We have a spare SR20DI (I think, the 116 bhp version from a SLX) and tomorrow we are bring a spare P11 (non-GT) with the 130 bhp SR20DE engine, so I hope we won't be stuck without parts.

Our P10 will do a bit over 2 hours of racing on one tank, usually we refill at the first stop after 2 hours. But there's not much to spare, we fill around 38 litres and that gets us to the 4 hour finish line but I doubt we have more than maybe 20 minutes of racing left after that.

As for decors, I would like to make our car look the the racing P11's. There is a sticker kit available online but I'm a bit hesitant to buy, and have no spares. Is there someway to find/get vector graphics or other image files to work from? I have a friend that runs an advertising business, he can probably print the vinyl but doesn't have the time to make the design from "scratch".

Endurance racing is great fun, I really like it. So give it a shot :-)

Gustaf

Hopefully your head isn't warped like mine was.  I really didn't expect this at all. I've worked with a lot of nissan engines over the years including newer all aluminum motors (QR, QG, MR, RB, etc.) and never have I come across a head that was so warped.  However, it appears that its not uncommon for this to happen to Nissan engines.  On a number of QR25 engines I have replaced headgaskets without resurfacing the head or block, and they sealed fine (on my personal car I put 45k miles on it after the headgasket before i sold it).

My advice is to get a good straight edge, or just bring the cylinder head down to your machinist and ask him to check the surface of the cylinder head before making any decisions on it.  I believe the deflection limit on an SR20 head is .008", but check the FSM to be sure. I think how warped your head will be just depends on if and how bad it was overheated.   

Fuel capacity on this car is extremely valuable for me.  What I'll lack in pace compared to other cars, I'll be able to make up in fewer stops (thats the theory anyway).  Lots of cars these days have fuel cells though so the number of car's I'll be able to beat because of fuel is decreasing.  Oh well, I probably won't have to go through the expense of adding a fuel cell which plays nicely into the theme of this project: CHEAPNESS.

I have a buddy in the states who makes custom graphics, I could talk to him about recreating some of those P11 race car decals if you'd like.  I plan on painting the car blue and then having him make me a bunch of white stickers like what's on the Calsonic Impul car. 

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/24/18 1:25 p.m.

In reply to 06HHR :

What a bummer.  Sounds like we're both going through the exact same thing.  I'm a little disappointed with the durability of this SR20.  In my experience Nissan engines have been much more durable than this.  However I've gotta believe that it comes down to good maintenance, because these engines have been heavily/successfully raced after all.  So far I've learned that blown head gaskets/warped heads, spun rod bearings, and clogged cam oil tubes are common failure points on this motor. 

Where did you get those wheels?  I looked for a good 4x114.3 option, but there seems to be very few that are still made.  I'm going to go with some OEM nissan wheels.  I'll get to that in an update soon. 

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/24/18 1:26 p.m.
Dusterbd13 said:

Completely off topic: is there any more pictures, information, etc of the hardtop on that chumpcar miata? Or even an email of the owner? That looks almost exactly like what i am looking to build and i would love some details.

 

And im subscribing to the thread to learn about nissan. I know nothing about them.

The owner is not on the forum, and possibly not on the internet very often.  I probably deal with this car as much as he does, although I did not build it.  I do know a great deal about it, so ask away!

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
1/24/18 1:30 p.m.

In reply to B13Birk :

Thats great news! That white car is very good looking.  Wish we had some footage of it!  I haven't had much luck with finding information on those old BTCC and JTCC cars unfortunately.  

Addco is on my list, don't know if I'll have one soon or not.  Trying to focus my money on getting the car running.  Although I did recently get distracted by the fact that I have no tires to even set the car down on once it runs again.... So I did a thing.  I'll post that in an update soon!

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/24/18 1:30 p.m.

In reply to 06HHR :

I lived in crestview for 2 years. I have connects. If you want to do a 5spd swap ill hook it up. Im in Gainesville FL. Shoot me a friend request on FB. My name is Jon Birkmire. Ill add you to the part pages. Im running the SR20 National Convention this year here in Florida. It will be in Gainesville at both Gainesville raceway and Florida international rally and Motorsports park. You should come down. It will be a great time. 

B13Birk
B13Birk Reader
1/24/18 1:32 p.m.

In reply to SuperTouring :

Awesome man! Can't wait to see the update. Let me know about the rear sway bar. I may be buying two so if you need one let me know. But either way. Shoot me a friend request on FB and Ill add you to the FWD SR20 parts pages. There are TONS of parts to be had for cheap as well as info. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
1/24/18 1:55 p.m.

This is a cool build. I love to see race cars come together in a garage. Lots of details and teething that you don't appreciate when you just see them on track. I'll be following along. 

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
1/24/18 2:38 p.m.

In reply to SuperTouring :

I bought them locally off Craigslist, got them cheap because one was heavily curbed and it broke the rim.  Took me months to find a replacement because they are no longer made, and shipping for the other set I found was more than I paid for the wheels themselves.  Pre 1998 Honda Accords have the same pattern but their centerbore is smaller, OEM nissan wheels are the easy button, IIRC 2002-2006 (B15?) Sentra SE-R wheels should fit.

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
1/24/18 2:40 p.m.

In reply to B13Birk :

Sweet! laugh

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
1/24/18 3:21 p.m.
SuperTouring said:

In reply to 06HHR :

What a bummer.  Sounds like we're both going through the exact same thing.  I'm a little disappointed with the durability of this SR20.  In my experience Nissan engines have been much more durable than this.  However I've gotta believe that it comes down to good maintenance, because these engines have been heavily/successfully raced after all.  So far I've learned that blown head gaskets/warped heads, spun rod bearings, and clogged cam oil tubes are common failure points on this motor. 

They are actually pretty durable, i think my problems were due to some bonehead things I did during the first time I put one together.  I honed the cylinders without removing the crankshaft and thought I cleaned everything up well enough.  And I sourced a reman head but did not adjust the valve clearances and probably reused some parts I shouldn't have.  Keep some good oil in them and pay attention to the cooling system (they don't eat water pumps but they have a lot of external cooling hoses that run behind and under the intake that get no service, so lots of potential failure points) and they will run a long time.  Sent my old head to a good machine shop for service and setup plus a $300 crankshaft later and I was back in business.  It's been my work beater for the last year or so.  Frankly ive had more issues with electronics than hard parts, finding a good ECM has been a challenge as i'm not ready to megasquirt it just yet.

 

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