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twin turbo 4x4 hardbody (vg30dett into D21)


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Oil Pan update #3: The Z31 pan wont work either, it is deeper in the front than the truck pan. So this leaves me cutting the truck pan, and adding metal to fill in the gap.


The engine is pretty much buttoned up, other than the pan, and I am waiting on the turbos to come back. Then it will be a matter of weather, and finances. I was going to do the swap over 'Xmas break', but I realized that I could not afford certin things that still need to be paid for, like exhaust, oil cooler, intercooler piping, gauges, engine mounts, etc. Now I am waiting for the threat of snow to leave, and hopefully by then I will have the finances and final parts set aside I can start the actual swapping, which will probably be around 'spring break' time...


Hey, its great to see someone else doing this conversion. You are at almost the exact place I am on my project. I am doing the VG30DETT swap into a 1995 Pathfinder. I have my pan almost finished and found a relocating kit from Trans-Adapt so I can just move my oil filter away from the oil pan sump. I have my transmission finished and am working on the mount issue right now and hope to be ready for a trial drop of the engine within the next couple weeks to see what all I need to modify in the engine bay and mounts. .... By the way, the oil pan fabrication is a real pain in the rear!!

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Both Nismo and AMS Oil makes a smaller filter that will work just fine with this setup. I am not sure of the exact dimensions but visually it looks like it would fit. Maybe you should try that before continuing to modify the oil pan. Awesome project by the way! I would love to try this one day, after I learn to weld that is.


Latest pan issue... So after installing the filter tree I realized that the pan bulges right over the top of where the filter goes. Great... So I grabbed my pan, and purchased a filter, and put the two on and look at what happened! Ya, more pan modification to come...


This angle shows everything the best. Here you can see the filter is actually holding up the pan from sitting on the block. Also you might notice that I made some changes to the filter tree, by moving the sending unit. The brass plug is where the sending unit used to be, and it would be pointing out straight into a frame rail or inner fender, so I needed to move it. Lucky I found another spot on the filter tree, which was 3/8npt, so I threw a 3/8x1/8npt bushing in there and relocated the sending unit and put a 1/8"npt plug in the other hole. I also cleaned out some sort of pressure regulator that controls oil flow to the oil cooler. Lots of junk in there. It is behind the large hexagon nut on the left of the tree and was really in there, I thought I might break it taking it out...



Here shows the actual filter/pan interference... But luckily it doesn't look like I will have to take much off the pan to make this work.



So off to fabrication land! That and I am installing injectors today...


Cheers :)

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Thanks for the input guys! As far as the oil filter clearance goes, I am considering using a relocation adapter on the block, running a remote oil filter and then through the oil cooler and back to the block. Anyone have a source for those sandwich plates that go on the block?


Well, the oil pan progress has gone well, as soon as I finally got around to doing something with it. We had a problem regarding the 'stretching' of the pan, since the pan only had to be lengthened 1/4". Our problem with that gap is that it was to wide a gap to weld and to narrow to cut a piece of 16ga steel, as the heat would nuke the narrow strip.


After cutting the pan on the band saw, we ended up with a 1/4" gap. Our original solution to this was to cut a wider piece of metal and lap weld on both sides. Our final solution was to use a 1/4" solid rod to fill the gap. This kept us from having to do a bunch of extra lap welding, and the 1/4" rod would take the heat.


Problem 2 was keeping the pan square and keep it from warping. We did this by bolting the two pans together and used several finger clamps. I still have the 300zx pan, and so the front bolt holes line up, along with the rear two, so we bolted them together. This did two things, kept the pan from wanting to warp, and let us use the 300zx pan as a "jig" for making sure the other pan was being lengthened the right amount.


Here is the pan all welded up. And you can see the plate welded on the side where I needed clearance for the filter, which may or may not be necessary anymore.



Here is a closer look at the front part, where we added the rod and tried our best at keeping it square and from warping. I still have a bit of cleaning up to do to the pan/block surface.



There is still some fabrication left. I still need to put in the drain lines for the turbo's into the pan. And I have to work on the oil pump sump modifications.


Well, off to get more parts!






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I almost forgot. I ordered some 2-1/16" gauges for monitoring oil, water, and boost pressure. These are Speedhut gauges, which I like better than the Autometers. They also allow you to customize the gauges when you order them. I picked this setup since it matches the factory gauges the closest. I will be trying to get these into an A pillar for mounting them. I found somewhere that a Civic A-pillar is a pretty close fit to the D21 pillar. We will see. I still need to order that...


Oil pressure and Water temp gauges.



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  • 1 month later...

I got the "new" fuel pump installed. This involved taking the bed off the truck to gain access to the tank. It is easier to take the six bolts off and lift the bed then trying to drop the tank from the truck. And other than two bolts that protested, the bed came off without to much trouble. That is where the real fun started...




I found out why you should wash off all the mud off your truck after wheeling. After it has sat on the top of the tank for umteen years, it will rot and freeze all the fuel pump access bolts and break them all when you try to remove them. Huh... I only had a short time in this shop, so I decided to get another tank than try and deal with broken bolts.


And this is what the old tank looked like...



After getting what I will call the "fuel pump tree" out and dismantled, I started on how I was going to attach the newer, larger pump... Here you can see the difference between the D21(smaller) and Q45 pumps.



The pickup screens on the bottom of the pumps were quite different from each other. I really didn't have any room to spare so I opted to attach the D21 screen (black) onto the big pump. The Q45 screen was just too tall(white) and was meant to have a small length of hose in between it and the pump.



After it's all said and done, and some wiring was completed, this is how the new setup looks. Special care was taken to make sure the bottom of the pump was in the same approximate location as the old one.



Here it is after some testing to make sure it works, and painted some of the rust on top of the "tree", also new clamps and hoses.



I will say that after I have been driving the truck, still with the KA, it runs fine(any excess volume/pressure is regulated back to the tank). However, the pump makes quite a bit of noise, which has me wondering if there is something wrong with it or if it will leave me on the side of the road. I guess that is a likely with a junkyard part. I had also purchased a Walbro, but opted not to install it BECAUSE it is a noisy pump. Basically it sounds like it has air in it or it is cavitating, and I tried my best to prime and purge all the air out of it before buttoning up the tank. Well there is irony for ya. I need to run some fuel pressure and volume tests to see if this pump is where it is sapose to be, and I may end up installing another Q45 or a Z32 n/a pump later.

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  • 4 months later...

Latest update will come in a few installments. First off by the finalization of the oil pan.


Here is the pan in it's infinite glory, the final version, before I stuck it on the engine. In this you can see where both the drain back tubes for the turbo's have been located, the stretch of the front to clear the oil pump, and in the top right corner is the return from the oil cooler which I welded on a -6 AN bung. This is the V6 truck pan, and I had to stretch it 1/4" to clear the pump. I used a 1/4 solid rod to fill the gap and then welded both sides of the rod onto the corresponding parts of the pan. I actually bolted the pan to the Z32 pan to keep it straight and minimize warping, and to make sure my bolt holes for in front of the oil pump lined up. The lower corner of the pan had to be "nipped" to clear the filter and allow me to take it off. The inside area in the front had to be ground down where my 1/4" rod stuck through to clear the oil pick up tube...



For the time being, and that time being the trail fitment stage in the truck, I am using and older model GM engine mount. They only have one hole in the center, and are only about an 1" thick. They still have the three bolt holes that would normally bolt to a SBC 350, but I am planning on trying these upside down, using the center hole to bolt to the VG motormounts, and make a plate to adapt them to the frame somehow.


In these two photos you can see the mount, and how I had to modify it to clear the intake pipe for the turbo on the driver side.




Next up, KA removal and trial fitting...

Edited by sweetride2go
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FINALLY!!! Down to the nitty gritty! Some of these are self explanatory...


Here it is in it's KA attire. :P



Engine out, time to get the old trans out...



Here is the KA and the VG sitting side by side. I measured the two and from front-to-back the KA is actually about 1" longer. Later I found out that this space wasn't goin to do me any favors, as the transmission/transfer-case for the VG is also 1" longer from the front of the bell-housing to the transmission mount.



And WALA! We have VG in D21! Not quite, but nice to see where my attention needs to be directed to next. It fits quite nice.



Here is a bunch of pics, showing tight locations, and areas I thought I would have problems, or areas others had clearance issues. Also, from my measurements the engine needs to be shifted to the passenger side about 1". So clearances in some areas will actually be better, and others slightly tighter. :P


First off is the valve cover area in relation to the vacuum booster. It is tight, but it clears.



Steering shaft and the waste-gate actuator want to mingle, but they clear.



These next two, you can see the GM mount and how it sits on the frame. There will need to be an adapter fabricated. The factory Nissan adapter plate fits nicely, which you will see on the passenger side. You can also see the AN fitting for the oil cooler return. Also notice that I am not running AC, cause these pictures would be taken mostly up by the compressor otherwise.



Footnote: I have a lot of oil pan clearance near the front diff, but this could be partly due to that this truck had the KA, which means that it only has a R180 front diff. The V6 trucks all came with the larger R200 front diffs. I actually aquired the larger unit, but since I only plan to use 4WD in snowy conditions, and not for all-wheel-drive burnouts, I think the R180 will hold up fine.


Alternator clearance. I thought for sure I was going to have a problem here since the alternator hangs so low on this. But I have room to spare, even if I shift it over a bit. It's hard to see but I have the Nissan VG adapter plate under the motor mount on this side, and the angles line up perfectly. All I need to do is some minor fabrication to enlarge the mounting point so I can bolt the GM mount to it.



Oil filter/Oil pressure sender clearance. Here was another concern area for me. I already modified the oil pressure sender with a 90 and you can see where the output for the oil cooler will be coming from. This is with the engine raised an inch or so off the mounts...



And finally, this is a shot down the back. I have lots of room here, but unfortunately I found that I still need to drop the torsion arm cross-member in order to get enough room to work the transmission around so I can line it up for the engine.




This is the latest update, and soon we will finish motor mount adapters, get the trans bolted up along with the rest of the drive-train, tackle intake plumbing, exhaust, wiring, etc., etc.... I would like to note that I would have been time and money ahead if I had tried a LS1 swap instead. :P


Cheers :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

This project is taking a lot more modification that I had anticipated. But finally some good progress to report. I believe the engine has made its final trip into the truck. Hopefully, cause I lost count how many times it has been in and out.


It is listing slightly to the passenger side. If I had more time in the shop I am at I would fix it, but I have to be out in a week, so onto other heavy fabrication that needs to be done in the meantime...



I made a handy lil bracket for moving the trans around on a floor jack. It's pretty well balanced and helped out a ton with that heavy trans/xcase...



The motor mounts were in question for some time. I ended up purchasing ford mounts, Chevy mounts, Nissan mounts, and ended up with these older Chevy mounts, which we turned 90*. There was also extensive frame clearanceing on the passenger side. This is because I dropped and shifted the engine to the passenger side from previous pictures to gain better clearances for exhaust, better fit for the trans, and hopefully a better drive with lower center of gravity. Right now the engine sits about one inch off of the steering, and I have just enough room to slide my fingers between the pan and axle tube. With this new position, we had to notch the frame rail considerably, clearancing for the alternator, motor mount, and turbo.



The compressor fits quite close to the frame. I had to relocate a breather tube that comes up from the front diff to the outside of the frame.



On the other side you can see the steering shaft is vary close to the compressor outlet. Through previous trial fittings we have been checking clearances, hence the scratch marks on the steering shaft. This is also why the engine has been massaged into the passenger side frame rail.



Exhaust clearance on the drivers side ended up better than I thought. I fitted up the Megan downpipes and they almost fit! The flange on the bottom hits against the drive shaft flange for the front diff...



Everything on the passenger side seems cramped. This is an early photo, but since then we have removed the slave bracket since it interfered with the starter. Fuel lines had to be moved as far to the right as possible, the speedo cable had to be loosened and moved to fallow. The upper left part of the cross-member will be removed for starter clearance. However, the starter does clear, it's just that I am concerned that the engine could torque over and the starter then could rub. So I am notching this as a precaution. There is a tab on the trans that is coming off, the one with the bolt in it towards the top of the photo. This will aid in exhaust clearances. I am afraid that I may have to massage the floor a bit for the exhaust as well, but I'm not sure yet...



A couple other unknowns right now is:

-Drive shaft length, it may need to be lengthened. I don't know if the six cylinder trucks have a longer shaft or not. Really wish I had kept that from the parts truck...


-Control sticks for the trans and transfer-case may have to be modified to fit in the original hole that Nissan provided.


Both of these examples make it seem that the whole thing needs to be pulled back a bit... But then I would be right into my steering shaft and the back of the engine would be into the firewall. If I had more time I would consider hacking the steering and putting another u-joint into it for driver-side clearance, allowing me to put the engine back a tad. Hm, more time, lol....

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, no photo's to share. Actually I guess I could but they wouldn't show anymore than what you have seen already. Haha, I just scanned up top and realized I do have one to share! Got the intercoolers mounted and grill cleared for them. I moved my truck back to my home shop, so now that I am not under a deadline progress has slowed down. There seem to be roadblocks down every object I try and work with.


Good news! I picked up a great quality oil filter relocation kit from Mocal, and I won't be needing it cause I found a filter that will fit! I tried looking through Nismo and AMS and couldn't find any shorter filter than I could get from NAPA. But there are some great guys at my local NAPA and I ran through their books and found a filter almost 1" shorter than the OEM unit. It even has all the same specs as the original, same flow rate, same filtering ability, gasket the same. It fits a Nissan forklift, lol...


The heater core hoses have been acquired along with the lower radiator hose! I am waiting to install them till I get my wiring ran. The wiring harness doesn't fit quite right. I have some extra harness that will need a loop put into it here and some that is a lil short and I think will end up running across the driver-side of the engine. I ended up running the harness through the factory gromet in the firewall. However, now the ECU doesn't even reach the floor on the inside. I think I may just mount it high on the floor/firewall on the inside, out of kicking feet range.


I also got the booster plumbed. Had to modify the power-steering resivor a tad to pull it away from the passenger charge pipe. Found the hose that I will need for that as well. The PS return line doesn't need any modification. The pressure line for the PS is my latest hiccup. I'm ditching the old line all together, and trying to find someone who can fabricate a new one to go straight from the box.


I should be finishing up the fuel system today. The trans/transfer case should be wired up today, or at least up to the alternator. I am saving up some money for my drive-shafts to be modified, then saving up for exhaust/intercooler piping.


This is my last update pic from the old shop, with the intercoolers installed...


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  • 1 month later...

It's been a while so I thought I would share where I am at. WIRING!!! That and I fell short on money so the intake piping and the exhaust are on standby for the moment. I'm not going to go into detail with the wiring, if you have questions, PM me. But I would wait till I have it running to make sure that it runs, lol.


Here we are working under the hood. I purchased a small fuse block that runs partially off a key signal and partially constantly hot. This is what I am using to replace the factory Z32 fuse/relay block that sits under the hood, since I didn't have one...



This is a peek into wiring inside, where we are tying into the original ECU harness, dash/instrument cluster, and of course I had to wire in the new gauges, which were a pain...



Tada! So yea, I'm hoping to get the oil system primed and have the truck fired in a couple weeks. :P



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  • 2 months later...

Ya, it has been two months since my last update. Things have slowed down on my project due to life. One of them being that I lost my job, so the amount of money I can spend on this lil gem has been greatly reduced.


But this hasn't stopped me! The truck wiring is pretty much wrapped up. Tested the ECU the other day. Fuel system works, and without leaks! I had gotten a bad sending unit for my oil pressure gauge from Speedhut, but they replaced it quickly and this one works. I have my tax return coming, so that should allow me to drop the truck off at the exhaust shop.


I'd post a picture, but it doesn't look much different than the previous pics. Other than the dash is back in... :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

I made some great progress! Even though I don't have any money I have still been tinkering away. I fired it up yesterday and it runs! Mostly... lol. When I originally tried to start it, it would only pop on one cylinder. After some consulting with the local expert I found that after sitting for so long, even after the rebuild, that all but one of the injectors had seized up. I free'd all but one of them and it runs good, even though on five cylinders. I couldn't run it for long since I don't have any coolant in the engine, no oil in the trans, that, and there is no MAF or O2 hooked up and no charge piping. But it was good news none the less.


Other projects of late have been this, which is my little fuse block from painless that I am using to send power to the ECU/Engine harness since I don't have the original unit from the car. There was some considerable thinking involved in analyzing the schematic and making sure wires were in the right place.



On to other projects, like test mounting the fan. This is a Taurus fan, I love them, they have two speeds, are compact, move lots of air, and are cheap and readily available. However, they do pull a ton of amps on start-up which will require a high amp relay. The ECU has a fan relay wire that comes out to the fuse block in the previous pic. Talking to my local expert he says that one comes on to hot and is more like an emergency fan. So I will be wiring that to the Hi speed side. If you look at the upper radiator hose, I had made an adapter that goes from the D21 radiator fitting to the engine(1-3/8"x1-5/8") and it has a 1/8"npt hole in it for a sending unit. This is where I will mount my Low speed fan switch.



After taking measurements, I sketched this out to take to the shop. This will be my mounts for the Taurus fan. It will mount to the sides of the radiator. The section with the holes on it(left side) covers part of the radiator, so the holes are there for airflow, and also because that is where I will mount my oil cooler.



Wish I had more money... lol



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Hoses are done! Replace #6 injector and now runs smoooooooth. I finally got the money together for exhaust/intake, so I will be scheduling that in as soon as I can. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the fan mounts done. Need to do some touch painting before I reinstall the intercooler and radiator for the last time. Then I can fill it with coolant and take a long look at how it is running and fumigate myself in the process as it runs piggishly rich without the sensors hooked up. Still need to drop the driveshaft and have it lengthened. Clean up the interior and do final assembly. But it's coming along.


Yay, now time to install the fan!


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  • 3 weeks later...

Picked it up from the exhaust shop, more or less, but I'll get into the drama later. The guys at Nameless Performance here in the Pacific North West did a great job on my exhaust and intake piping! It is all stainless, so it will last longer than the truck. They use mandrel bends so it looks super clean and professional.


I ran over there today to do some final things and drive it home. They had to use the battery location for one of the intake filters, so I had to figure out what I was goin to do for my battery. Luckily, they had a couple of these compact, sealed batteries, I grabbed one and found it a home between the air cleaner and charge pipe. I still need to make a shelf for it to sit on and something to tied it down with. I hooked up the power steering and put oil in, it runs like it did before. Need to save up for a new steering box. :( But other than that, it works great, belt doesn't throw or squeal, and no leaks. Speaking of which, no leaks at all!


All of the charge piping done, HKS BOV's installed, 3" cone filters, etc etc...



After that we rolled it out of the shop and I took it on a test run. Runs soo good, and boost is strong!



I don't have pictures (yet) of the exhaust, which is dual stainless 2.5" pipe to just past the drivetrain where it collects into a Magnaflow muffler and runs out in a single 3" pipe and exits behind the drivers tire. They were able to salvage my Megan downpipes, but the passenger side needed considerable modification to be fitted properly. My clutch is super touchy, but I think I may have some air in the line, so I will try to bleed the system and see if I have any improvement.


Oh, so to the drama... When I left I only made it about a mile or two down the road where I notice my engine temp rising, and it reached 200 so I pulled over. After considerable deliberation we have the "overheating" issue narrowed down to either air in the system, a stuck thermostat, or a bad temp gauge sending unit. We are leaning to the latter, as engine and water temps measured by hand seemed far to cool for 200*.

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Got some exhaust pictures!


I think it's all self explanatory. This is the drivers side, not much done to the down pipe here other than changing the final bend on the Megan downpipes...



This is the passenger side, they had to pretty much rebuild the whole thing and it took a while. They also tried to keep it balanced.



These are both where it joins under the transfercase.





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  • 1 year later...

Time for an update: Crankcase breathing is done via one catch can.  It pulls fresh air from the passenger side intake into the engine.  From the other side it pulls crankcase gasses from the valve cover into a catch can, and from the catch can to a PCV valve on the drivers side of the plenum.  I had this running with out the catch can and the engine accumulates oil in the intake.  It's surprising how much oil and water the catch can accumulates, probably a pint in between oil changes.


I have 12,000 miles on it now and no real problems to report.  I did have to change the IAC valve, this fixed dieing issues when accelerating and idling issues.  Also had a dead short I couldn't find for a while and it ended up being the 'air meter', which is a cold start feature on the back of the intake that allows additional air to pass during cold start.  Apparently it was wired to a constant hot, fixed that and now it starts a lot easier and no more charging batteries. yay.   


The oil smoking went away, apparently just a break in issue.  Still running only 6lbs of boost, just haven't gotten to installing the boost controller.  The truck runs really strong!  Im actually hardly in the boost unless im passing someone or climbing a steep hill.  Average mileage is appx. 20mpg.

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