Mister Make It Fit: Equal Length Manifolds & Borg Warner EFR Turbos.

A couple years back I had the opportunity to attend SEMA. That year the Borg Warner EFR series turbos were all the buzz around the industry. I only had about a half day there so I knew I had to make a stop at the Full-Race/Borg Warner Booth to check them out in person.

These are my friends from Red Lion Motorsports @ the Full-Race Booth.

A closer look at the EFR off-set WG setup

This a locals R34 V-SPEC2, legal & running a single EFR

The famed S2E Time Attack Car running an EFR

Maybe it was seeing them in person, but I believed the hype. The Compressor map seems far better than the Garrett GT28rs.

I was starting to crave more power than my stock turbos could muster & the time seemed fitting. Luckily for me Full-Race is “local” so I could make the occasional stop by their shop to check in on supply, since they are very rare. I also started to look at the few results that had been posted on the inter-web. Here are some very loose number on a dyno mocked up dyno graph that I came up with.

This one simply cuts off the top to focus on the spool up of the lighter EFR wheels.

Greg @ SZ had been interested in the turbos as well, he & I had sent a few email back and forth about them & since I could get my hands on some of the first ones produced. Greg was kind enough to ship out a set of MS manifolds that SZ had on their mock up motor for clocking turbos. This way I could “test fit” & see if the MS manifolds could be modified or an adapter plate could be made to attach the two. Unfortunately they do not fit, not even close. The turbo appears to come close to fitting on one side , but defiantly not the other. The picture is deceiving because the turbos are clocked for on of Full-Races Honda kits & I could not adjust that in the shop.

Additionally the flange location would make the turbo hit the block on both sides, even if the turbo did mount to the manifold. I was discouraged with the results of my trial test & didn’t know how to proceed.

You can see just how much larger the EFR turbos are! This is not Apples to Apples, but here are the next size bigger.

Down the street from Full-Race is another local shop, Future Fabrication. The owner & single employee are incredibly humble people that are some of the most talented fabricators I have ever seen.

They do not wear their accomplishments on their shoulder, but here are a few thing that they created both while working @ Full-Race from the beginning & since starting their own shop: Designing manifolds that are still in current production today, Creating some 800 manifolds from scratch, of those less than 1% has ever returned with a defect, Designing & Creating the R-14 AWD S14/Skyline conversion ([ http://www.full-race.com/r14/ ]), Building the cage for FX Motorsports Time Attack NSX, Building the cage & much more for both of Bob Bondurant’s Cameros that he currently races in SCCA
, Build the cage for the K-Sport Drift Car, Design & build the Compound Turbo setup on John’s personal S14 with RB26 Drift Car. The list goes on & on.

Of the custom projects I have created, these guys have often been involved. I knew their quality was some of the best around from first hand experience. Anyone that’s been around me knows I like to tell stories & these two guy have heard them all from the times I’ve been over at the shop. One story was about how I wanted to fit the new BW-EFR turbos in my Z32. Once I knew there was no way to fit the turbos with out creating some crazy custom manifold, I knew it was no longer a story of what I wanted to do, but rather what I was going to do.

The manifolds started off with me CAD drafting a custom flange. I’m not a fan of having the gasket scanned creating a file from that.

I went from scratch, increased the width around where the tubes would be welded to the flange, enlarged the mounting the holes for the studs & made a happy medium from the stock exhaust port oval to the runner tube that’s round. The exhaust port is also larger than the heads/stock manifolds, but smaller than the MS manifolds. The manifolds took about 9 months to create. We used my complete Z with full AC, minus turbos, manifolds, etc. & a spare complete motor with an alt, AC compressor, TT PS pump, Front cross member & steering rack. It was a complete PITA! But it was also an incredible learning experience for me. I was at the shop 3-5 days a week for months, even if it was a half day. I have so much more respect for someone like Mike Smith who created a product from scratch. From the idea I originally drafted out. we went in a very different direction after getting all of the pieces in place.

And here they are all welded up. Fully Back Purged. John also has multiple certificates & credits from different types of welding, including passing the X-Ray Penetration test. THis IMHO is the best that has ever been created for the VG30DETT. Equal length with in about 3/16″ on CLR as well.

They finally came together nicely & the rest of the parts could be created: Inlet, Coned outlet, Down pipe, Drain lines, Feed lines, etc.

Then of coarse the intercooler piping needed to be adjusted slightly.

With the help of Nick (Stadzsport) it started for the first time in March of 2012 the day before the Modified Magazine event that was @ one of the local track Firebird raceway, the same location ZCON 2012 was held at.

With the laptop hooked up & gauges mounted we took the car for a drive. Everything seemed good, no leaks, no smoke. The only thing was the amount of heat the engine bay sees without having a heat shield. After talking to the guys @ the shop who have much more experience with long tube manifolds we pressed on, continually checking everything.

100+ miles of driving to check things over @ no load & no boost we headed to one of the local DynoJet dynos on the other side of town. Using Nistune & my Ostrich2 we made some 16 pulls on 91 octane fuel only. We pulled out timing all around, corrected the AF & added fuel to the top end to be on the uber conservative & safe side, since power was not going to be a problem. On only 14.5 PSI of boost it made 482whp (with less timing than before). The conditions read 92*F, 28.75In-Hg, 4% Humidity & 1.04 SAE correction. Since the tune was rough & very safe I’m not going to post a dyno graph until I have had time to really ring out the system.

I can tell you that the off throttle response is better than my stock turbos were with all the bells & whistles attached. The car pulls & recovers from shifting like its almost an automatic.

The next day I ran in the HPDE series during the Modified Magazine Event. The car was the fastest on the back straight, beating out a Z06 Vette & a 450whp Subie.

Before the end of the day there was a fellow Z32 racer that had an off track excursion, resulting in rolling his Z 3.5 times. Fortunately he practically “walked away” from the wreck because he has had a well done weld in roll bar installed. That was enough to make me finally pull the trigger on a second Z32 that I could commit to the track & not have any compromises any more. The EFRs were removed in preparation for the new track Z project & haven’t been run since. More on that chapter later.

I have many more pictures, however they are taking forever to upload & I have things to do. Sorry for the quality of the pictures, many of them were taken on my cell phone.


A Head of the Game: Part III

Airflow = Power.  With more air entering the combustion chamber we need to be able to make sure that air is able to escape as well. With the turbos being capable of producing over 40+PSI of boost the exhaust volume was enlarged slightly more than the intake side, to ensure that exhaust back pressures would not reach detonation prone levels. Volume was increased by equally enlarging the circumference of the ports throughout.  However, the walls were only slightly enlarged to aid in maintaining velocity to help spool the turbos.  Further volume was gained by removing rough castings, any hooks or seams & the bosses that protrude into ports surrounding the valve guide. The “Race Version” of AMPCO 45 Bronze Valve Guides were used to keep all of the valves in check. I was fortunate that Concept Z Performance had some in stock at the time of the re-build http://www.czp.us/Cart/description.php?II=2559&Car_Type=300&UID=2013020600360968.228.235.195. Finally the cast in separator was kept near stock configuration, accept for being ground down to a finer point on the fin. The surface finish was created as smooth as possible to benefit the flow as well. The final blend was matched to an extra set of custom designed manifold flanges I had originally created for the equal length manifolds. In addition to all of this work being done, a local head shop also performed a radius valve job & de-schrouding for the valve in the combustion chamber & final assembly. With all of these techniques being employed to the design a good set of road race heads will emerge as the final product.

Here is the un-modified stock exhaust port. You can see there is a lot of work that is needed to be performed.


The amount of casting flash near the valves is surprising! The protrusion around the valve guides are generically marked for removal.


The basic shape has been started here, leaving only the valve guides to enter the port later on down the line when assembled.


Further smoothing the the shape is being worked over here.


This is the custom exhaust manifold flange hung on the head studs.  I drafted 9 revised versions of this design in CAD before being totally satisfied with the outcome.


All lines are smoothed out for maximum flow.


The final surface treatment is fully blended to the port of the flange.Image

These heads will flow the exhaust gasses into the equal length manifolds  & then into the Borg Warner EFR turbos rather well. Stay tuned for the next installment to see the turbo system go from dream to reality.

A Head of the Game: Part II

The continuation of flow through the upper intake manifold finds its way into both heads on the intake path prior to the valves.  The intake side of the VG30deTT is pretty straight shot with descent volume.  The focus of modifications to the intake side include: Shortening the intake splitter, removing casting flashing, gasket matching, smoothing out all edges & increasing the radius on the down turn to the valves.

The VG30DE is the foundation of the newer VQ35DE which lead the way to the newest VQ37VHR.  Where all three motors are different you can easily see the evolution from one to the next.  A major difference is the continual shortening of the intake splitter wall.  The benefits of this are improved flow with out compromise to velocity & reduced surface area to diminish port wall wetting.

VQ37VHR intake splitter

VQ35DE intake splitter

My porting followed this trend, however not to such an extreme degree.

VG30DE intake port, modified

VG30DE Intake port, un-modified

Beyond Nissan I looked to the famous Cosworth for further inspiration as to how they modify the VQ heads to increase performance.  I found that the intake nozzle canal was widened & that the walls had larger radius when transiting to the floor of the port shape its self.  Since I have upgraded from a side feed Nismo 740cc to Injector Dynamics 2000 injectors with a broader spray pattern I feel port shape adjustment will benefit the over all performance.

VQ37VHR Cosworth port

VG30DE injection canal radius opened

VG30DE ceiling flattened out

VG30DE smoothing out the edges

VG30DE Blending into the pathway

This port is pretty much finished. I kept the roughest texture I could with out introducing more turbulence, yet still benefiting the tumble effect which aids the air & fuel mixing.

A Head of The Game

In my years working on Z32s I have been fortunate to work for, alongside of & to have meet a hand full of people that simply have more knowledge & experience than my self.  Anytime I have been around those people I try to soak up ans much information about anything that I can.  Some of the tricks of the trade I have gathered are is regards to porting the heads with what is actually effective.  Beyond those people that are specific to the Nissan community I have chatted up a variety of others from different platform to broaden my idea of “What Works…..”  Further more there is a wealth of information floating around the inter-web no a days.  Between all of these factors I made the decision to do the majority of the Porting, Polishing & Gasket Matching my self.

I figure that I will learn a good bit more about the engine configuration & when I build a much higher end component “Race Motor” down the road in the future I can migrate these heads to my “Stock Turbo Street Z” & the mild pocket port will really do well on a street car.  Then with what I have learned this time around will be able to be applied to my next set of heads.

Earlier on showed images of the lower intake starting off being gasket matched at the upper plenum side.  I had found that the transition from one part to another does not have a straight linear profile.  The smallest amount of removal of metal possible was preformed then blended to the scribed gasket line. A long tree shaped carbide bit aided in finding the straightest path of flow.

Then a series of flapper wheel sizes, shapes, grits & profiles were used to smooth out the surface to near mirror smooth.  I created a gradient of texture that progressed the further down towards the injector nozzle venturi.

From that venturi into the heads there remained texture to aid in disrupting the boundary lawyer to further resist fuel from wetting the cylinder walls.

To round out the lower intake plenum, the coolant passages were ported to the gasket landing & opened up as much as possible on the internal diameter. The short side radius were all reduced & an emphasis of gradual transition change was preformed. This will increase flow, create more surface area for thermal contact & evacuation of heat from the system overall will increase.

Diet Soda

Not quite a strict diet, but additional weight removal non the less.


Every pound counts, so the doors have had as much metal removed as possible since the cage has been built with safety in mind there is no fear.











You can see just how much sheet metal was removed & how much room the passenger side has as a crumple zone before hitting the X bar.

Image         Drivers side is the same as the passenger side. 

Just the skin & the doors original impact bar.


With the doors fully gutted, the remainder of the interior metal was wire wheeled & the now everything is fully painted.

The rear is awaiting the new Fuel Safe fuel cell that is FIA approved.  Safety is the key here.


Helping Hands

It’s damn near impossible to complete a projects like this one by your self, especially in the time frame I have.  But who would really want to all of that time cooped up in the garage by your self…..?

This past week brought about a new circumstance that I would have never seen coming or rather I really didn’t….  During a playoff ice hockey game I suffered a mild concussion & dislocated my left shoulder from a open ice hit from a former teammate of over a decade ago.

As if my time crunch wasn’t enough to begin with I would now have my left arm in a sling for an unknown amount of time.  Being far less mobile & in a good amount of pain I had to pull back from my efforts.  Stepping aside a bit, I was able to remove my “horse blinders” for a moment & realize all of the help I had long before my injury.

I’m going to take a moment to try to recall those that have helped me along the way~

The People: My roommate Chris T. for putting up with the build going on in his garage.  Sean S. for starting this blog, upgrading  My camera equipment, being my photographer & living vicariously though my sports cars.  Alex W. for everything, having more excitement for this project than me, putting in the long hours & giving great suggestions.  Nick S. tech support, tuning aid & comic relief.  John G. an inspiration out at the track, being the guy that makes you want to be a better person & for helping me keep hope alive.  TJ for kicking ass in a short amount of time.  Matt S. for being the guy that he is.  David S. for the hook up on a rolling chassis.  My Dad for bringing me up in racing of all sorts.  My Mom for always being there fro me.  My Brother Billy for toughing me up when we were younger, so that I can last through this crazy schedule.  My cousin Brian for his enthusiasm that helps keep mine alive.

The Shops:  John & Matty @ Future Fabrication, Coz @ Concept Z Performance, Anthony @ Z Dreams & Ken @ IO-Port Racing.

I’m sure there are many more that I have left out  I’m sorry for those that I missed listing.

The 2000HP Fuel System!

The stock fuel pump can only muster enough flow to support almost 700whp before it falls on it’s face.  Not to mention that I will be running an external fuel cell to aid in overall weight balance of the vehicle, which requires an external fuel pump.

The system is supported by MagnaFuel & Injector Dynamics components.  The MagnaFuel hardware is rate by the manufacturer to handle Petroleum, Ethanol & Methanol fuels.  Additionally, even though I’m using a massive fuel pump to handle the potential 1,000WHP (1 Unicorn) there is no need for a fuel pump controller that other pump require to receive any amount of acceptable life span out of the pump.  Furthermore, because of its design it will be able to with stand the light loads of driving in traffic beyond it’s track duties.

The pump feeds the fuel up to a Y-Fitting, then into the Brett Dempsey Engineering top feed fuel injector fuel rails.  Typically I like to make most of the part Custom my self & with the help of some of the great fabricators in the area, however having dealt with the BDE furl rails prior I knew that I would be hard pressed to create a better product than what is currently on the market.  You will not hear me say that often.  Look at the detail of the design coupled with the quality of the machine work & you can easily see that this system is no cut & weld hack job.

From the rails, the fuel makes it’s way into the Injector Dynamics ID2000 injectors.  Fortunately the “top hats” to the ID injectors are machined right here in Arizona so I was able to get them anodized in black instead of the typical purple that everyone else receives.

A mild whine of the pump, the fluid to design of the fuel rails & a clean install of the lines will leave the competition oblivious to just how badly they are about to get beaten.



Porting but not Polishing…..

The VG30deTT suffers from poor flow around the rear most cylinders, which is a big part of their early demise.  The other part is the heightened back pressure from the stock “Log Style” turbo manifold (More on that in a later installment).  Because the VG block is cast from Iron it has a great deal of core shift, which can be seen at it’s worst in the blocks central cooling channel.  Or rather it can’t be seen….. There is not lite @ the end of the tunnel!Image

With the removal of the freeze plugs you can see the remainder of the coolant galleries.


The rear part of the block is even worse.


After the first 45 minutes…..


The second 45 minutes…..


And the final 45 minutes.  Between porting from the front where the water pump mounts, the rear where the central freeze plug is located & the top 3 freeze plugs you can get a great deal of flashing removed, with out compromising any structural integrity of the block it’s self.  In the future when a “No-Limits Race Engine” is built  The central gallery will be ported further & the floor will be filled about 2/5th full of a special epoxy that similarly matches the expansion ration of the iron in the block to increase the rigidness of the block with out inhibiting the nature of the cooling system.

There was a bit of further progress made in the while the porting tools were out.  With the use of the OEM upper to lower intake manifold gasket, the first step to port matching the intake can be taken.


Using a bolt & washer combo the hardware was torqued down to depict where the gasket will lay on the intake surface.  Then a scribe was used to etch out where the boundary laid. The scribed line will be used as a reference point of how much aluminum to grind away.  That amount will remain consistent down the runners so that the overall port shape is not lost or adjusted.


To not disrupt the overall shape of the OEM port design a heavy grit flapper wheel was chosen over carbide bits.  It takes a bit longer, but is has a greater ability of control.

The shape is roughed in one half of the runners.  You can really seen the difference between the roughed in ports & the stock rough casting.


Lighter Weight OEM Dash

In keeping with the beautiful lines of the Z car linage, I decided to keep the stock dash over creating a custom aluminum or carbon piece.  The stock dash has a great deal of glue adhesive holding a thick foe leather cover with a dense foam layer in between.  By stripping all of those layers off down to the base plastic you are left with a thin matte black plastic shell that retains the OEM mounting points.

You can seen here that it fits pretty well even after all of the obstructions from the roll cage.

With the small texture from the plastic mold & the matte black finish, reflections from the sun or lite will be minimal.


Things are starting to come into place & it’s starting to feel like a Z car again.




I was finally able to carve a couple hours out of an evening properly: sand, clean & paint the roll cage this evening.  It was a shame to paint such beautiful TIG welds.  The first coat is Rust-Oleum Dark Grey Industrial Primer. The next step in painting will be the remainder of the interior that will be the same Dark Primer Grey.  I’m still deciding on what color to paint the cage for its final stage to help offset it from the interior.  I’m leaning towards Satin Black…..

Check out the TIG welds Post-Cleaning, Pre-Painting.


Gusset from the uni-body to the forward facing bar on the passenger side.


Look at how perfect the gusset looks!  It extends all the way from the roof to the windshield.


Painting Progress:

Passenger side gusset, Post-Paint


You can almost see here that there are 18 connections to the main hoop!  There certainly
is safety in #s.


If you take a close look at the top, you will see just how far up the roof bars protrude towards the factory T-Tops to ensure maximum safety in the event of a roll over crash.