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trak180 180SX redemption

trak180 Redemption

Hello everyone, after the last few months of what seemed like never ending  building and tuning I am finally able to detail the specifics of the v2.0 build of trak180. There has been plenty of negative outcomes with this  build, which came as a surprise as I thought with the combined knowledge and experience of both Greaser and Trak-Life, we would knock off the build in little time and be ready to race for the 2016 season.

As I  outlined in my first article, the main reason for updating the car with a massive array of new parts was to better enhance areas that were lacking around the car and to make the setup more suited towards my driving style. What started off as an idea to improve response and power through a turbo upgrade ended up as a complete overhaul of many components of the car. I guess in hindsight it was inevitable as most of the old mechanical parts were tired and holding back the car’s performance.


We started off with the engine bay mods. The car came equipped with a rebuilt Forced Motorworx high compression SR20DET with many desirable bolt on mods. There was little concern with the motor pushing more boost but response was a key area in deciding the upgraded turbo. With the idea of future proofing the setup, this would allow for the procedure to be done properly and last the life of the motor. A Garrett GTX3071 0.83 divided housing accompanied with a 6Boost twinscroll high mounted manifold and Turbosmart 45mm external gate hanging off the merged collectors was an exciting combo which would offer the much needed response with the top end power to match (250-350kw). To gain the most from the set up the fuel system was beefed up to use “jungle juice” E85 through a larger Walbro 460 fuel pump, Bosch 1250cc injectors, Zeitronix flex fuel sensor and gauge, Turbosmart FPR1200 fuel pressure regulator and an expensive list of Aeroflow fittings and braided lines.


Off the bat we hit a brick wall with the manifold positioning the turbo too high and angling it awkwardly towards the rocker cover. This would make the fabwork of the dump pipe extremely difficult as the position would require at least 100x lobster bends for the dump pipe to clear (note sarcasm). A wait time of 3 weeks ensued and during that time the fuel system was carefully laid in the engine bay with the only issue being the fitment of the injectors underneath the fuel rail (solved by cutting it down the injector rail spacers to suit the injector length).


Once the exhaust manifold was returned to us, the much needed clearances allowed for the turbo to mounted and all accompanying lines and v bands fixed ready for the fabricators to work their magic with the new dump pipe and intake. During this time, the 300ZX Z32 gearbox which sat dormant in my garage for the past 2 years was stripped down and had the custom made adapter plate, tailshaft and shifter setup all mocked up to be mated to the clutch and motor.


The Z32 gearbox conversion was a crucial component in the build as I knew from research that the standard SR20DET box would not last with the upgraded power. It would be the torque from the E85 loaded into the gearbox that would grenade the internals, so a proven Z32 gearset (same as RB25DET) was going to take the abuse and last. What the team didn’t realise was how troublesome such a conversion would be as issues unknown to us kept hampering progress. The most obvious was the required engine mount height needed to make the custom driveshaft sit at a safe operational angle. Along with a new set of polyurethane engine and gearbox mount set, an N/A Z32 speed sensor was required for the speedometer to work. While the sensor is still off in terms of accuracy, we had no reverse signal or lights and the new shifting of the Z32 box took some getting use to as it differs from the traditional H pattern gate.

After multiple installs of the Z32 box, the car was loaded and headed off to the fabricators. Here the work that was required was merging the collectors to meet the single external gate, a new 4 inch intake pipe with new pod filter setup and a stainless steel 3 inch dump pipe with everything sealed by V bands to allow for ease of access and removal.

A short stint of downtime followed with the team pleased to leave the work to the professionals and thankfully no dreadful phone calls came through.

Arriving back at Greaser headquarters, the next step was the final assembly of all engine bay turbo components and fuel system. During this time I was able to order the new ignition system from ECK which comprised of Toyota Yaris coil packs which had inbuilt ignitors, replacing the ageing technology of the oem coil packs (with external ignitor setup). The new turbo setup would take up so much space at the back end of the bay that the existing catch can was deemed unusable so the solution was to create a frankenstein S13.4 rocker cover which had internal baffles preventing oil and vapours to vent (a common problem with S13/180sx rocker covers). At the same time a rerouted smaller catch can was mounted over the radiator.


The ECU was one area which had always bugged me as the dinosaur Apexi Power FC – which although worked fine, did absolutely nothing to prevent knock or offer engine protection. With the prices of new modern ECU’s costing more than a decent home computer system it was hard to justify the cost at first. Luckily for me a used Adaptronic Select ECU which is referred to as a no frills Haltech (with a few idiosyncrasies) popped up on the forums one night and was snagged up the same week. With the ECU using an inbuilt map sensor much like the Power FC D Jetro, the setup would not need an air flow meter and allow the car to still run should a cooler pipe blow. The most important aspect of a modern ECU is the engine protection it offered which allowed for parameters to be set should something fail, the ECU essentially  reacts in real time to pull timing/fuel to save the motor. It was an insurance lifeline which i was happy to pay for as it would automatically override the car’s settings during hard driving to protect the engine/turbo setup.


The car fired to life after a long night of wiring by electrical guru Johnny and was ready for its initial base map tuning. The relief on everyone’s mind was evident as it took us so long to get to this point, but like any achievement  a setback quickly snapped those smiles to frown. We left the workshop that night puzzled as to why the injectors weren’t allowing the car to idle and the ECU leaning out the fuel mixture up top on boost. Later we found out that the braided lines used for the fuel reg had very noticeable vibrations and the dampening of the fuel coming into the motor was non existent and turbulent. Like common practice I didn’t care how much it costed, I just wanted the issues to be resolved and this resulted in the purchase of a Radium fuel dampener to smoothen out the fuel delivery.


D Day arrived shortly after the green lights were given by Johnny and the car made its appearance at the Dyno up at Castle Hill. The magic number was 300kW and anything above it would be a bonus, but it would take some time ironing out the driveability part of the tune before we started to “boogie”. With timing pushed through the motor we hit 300kW with ease and the power curve looked to be climbing even at redline. However regardless of what settings were played with, the car would not hold consistent boost above 20 psi. We left the dyno session with just under 320kW and figured we’d tackle the issue after the first track day.

The first track day in the early half of 2016 was a distant memory as the very first session of the day I knew something was terribly wrong with the car. On noise it would spike to over 30 psi and would cut out randomly on boost. Left stranded in the pits I made the most of the day steering the other trak-life stable cars.


Straight after, the car was loaded back at Greaser HQ for diagnostics to occur and the culprit ended up being the wastegate grub screws not being installed (a simple error given the stressful deadline to make the track day). What I took away from the dyno tuning session and track day was the familiar lag of the old turbo setup. While in denial that the BC 264 cams were not the cause of the issue, changing to a smaller cam would shift the powerband, but by how much no one knew. I didn’t come this far for it to feel the same response wise so a pair of Tomei Poncams 256 camshafts were ordered and fitted. With the rocker cover off, we made the effort to retorque the headstuds as it has been some years since it was built and it was a precautionary measure for intended boost we wanted to push.

Dyno Tuning session 2 went alot smoother than the first, with everything double checked to ensure a problem free run. With the change of cams we still needed two hours to complete the tune but the last 30 minutes had everyone grinning ear to ear as the car relentlessly pushed more power and responded to the timing very well. With 351kW made on close to 28 psi we decided that it was more than enough and exceeded our expectation by 20kW. Luckily for me, the next track day to test the new found power was only a few days after the tune. In this short time, we fitted the newly acquired MCA Red suspension, Voltex Type 2 Carbon Wing and had a 50mm front splitter and canards made up to complete the aero package.


The RS40 WRX Private track day that followed was the most unique but also disappointing day I had since embarking on v2 of the build. Going into the day I was just happy to have everything ready and working for a shakedown but that wasn’t to be. What plagued the car before with the overboosting and fuel cuts was still there and little could be done to test out the power as the track was completely wet making for some very hairy excursions on boost.


The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of a surge tank install, using one of Taarks newly released surge tank products. At this stage I was over spending money on the car and was starting to feel a lot of anxiety questioning if the setup would ever work. Praying to the SR20 gods we steadily chipped away leading to the final Yez Racing x trak-life track day and spanner checked the whole car making sure it would head down to Wakefield Park with the best chance possible to turn in some laps.


Finally I am able to say that the car works! The big weekend leading to the Monday trackday did wonders in distracting my mind from the paranoia, but it still lingered at the back of my mind. Monday rolled around and the clear skies and convoy of familiar faces and cars had me in a upbeat mood. A quick check from Johnny on track was greeted with an AOK for me to take her out for a shakedown. I can’t explain the elation I felt when I was able to give it WOT (wide open throttle) and have every gear rev to redline without any hesitation. With the car moving forward and feeling lively, I laid down a high 1:09 on the first session. With the car running gate pressure, I then started to fine tune the new suspension but was greeted many requests for passenger rides. I was happy to oblige and in turn churned out over 80 laps on the day.

Now, this update wouldn’t fit the consistent negative vibe unless I mentioned something was amiss. Prior to the track day the gearbox was overhauled with a new unit after we found the gears on the old box to be rooted resulting in severe crunching in 3rd and 4th gear.

Running with the replacement gearbox,the only issue of the day was that I couldn’t find second gear given the mods to the shifter. It wasn’t that the fact that it was broken, more so the shortened shifter made finding the gate very difficult under load. I ended up totally disregarding that gear completely and told whoever that was piloting the car to do the same. I ended the day with a high 1:08 with no 2nd gear and running gate pressure. But the most important thing was that the car finally was singing it’s full song and was reliable all day. Knowing that we had the parts to fix the problem back at HQ I left the day feeling super relieved.

So how does the car feel? In every way better – the suspension, brakes, aero and power are still yet to be fine tuned but from what we could tweak on the day, the car is super balanced and is properly shaken down waiting for the upgrade of new tyres and the ability to turn up the wick (was running 18psi on the day with the 27psi setting waiting to be switched on).


I’d like to finish off this article by sending out a big thank you to the team at Greaser Co and trak-life for dealing with my shit and shitbox of a car (at least it’s a fast shitbox now).

The next plan of attack is to buy new proper semi slicks and go chase some times.

trak180sx Mod List:

1995 White 180sx

Resprayed OEM white
Type X Front bar with JSAI canards and 50mm front splitter
Type X Tail lights with CF Cover
Vertex Side and Rear Bar
Voltex Type 2 1600mm Carbon Wing
Nismo Replica Stickers

Bride Brix 1.5 Seats
Cusco Half Cage
Taarks Surge Tank
Personal 350mm Suede Steering Wheel
AEM Failsafe AFR Gauge
Defi Advanced ZD Guage
Apexi Boost Guage
Zeitronix Ethanol Gauge
Adaptronic Select ECU
Optima Yellow Cabin Mounted Battery

CP forged pistons
Brian crower billet conrods
Tomei Poncams 256 Duration
Brian crower valve springs
Brian crower titanium retainers
Cosworth multi layer metal head gasket
Vision vernier cam gears
CNR extended sump
King pro series big end bearings
King pro series Main bearings
Tahoo thrust bearings
GKteck rocker arm stoppers
ARP rod bolts
ARP head stud kit
ARP main stud kit
Nissan water pump
Nissan oil pump
Nissan crank gear
Nissan timing chain
Nissan metal back chain guides + bolts
Nissan s15 chain tensioner
Nissan thermostat
Nissan rocker arms
SR NRG gasket and seal kit
SR NRG hydraulic lifters
SR NRG gold rocker cover
SR NRG coil pack cover
SR NRG oil filler cap
SR NRG phenolic intake manifold gasket
Greddy Sump
Greddy Plenum
Greddy Top Fuel Rail
Bosch 1250cc Injectors
Zeitronix Ethanol Sensor
Turbosmart FPR1200 w/ gauge
S13.4 Rocker Cover
ECK Silvia Cop Kit
Garrett GTX3071 .83 Twinscroll Vband Housing
6Boost High Mount Vband Twinscroll Manifold
Turbosmart 45mm Progate External Gate
Goleby Turbo Beanie
Impossible Fab Stainless Steel V Band 3 inch Dump
Impossible Fab 4 inch Intake and Pod Filter
GKtech Oil Catch Can
Greddy 53mm Radiator
Greddy 13row Oil Cooler and Relocation Kit

Cusco Castor Rods
GKTech Power Brace
Poly LCA Bushes
27mm Whiteline Front Sway Bar
22mm Whiteline Rear Sway Bar
MCA Red 8kg 8kg F&R Coilovers
SPL Camber, Toe and Traction Rods
Kaaz SuperQ 1.5 LSD
Alloy Slip on Collars
Solid Subframe Bushes
R33 GT-R Brembo Calipers Front and Rears
Project Mu HC800 Front and Rear
Hels Braided Lines
RDA Rotors
ATE Blue Racing Fluid
De Cat
Apexi Catback
17×9+15 / 17×9+0 TE37 wrapped in 255 40 17 Nitto NT01 Semi slicks

Aeroflow Fittings and Braided Lines for Turbo, Fuel Lines and Surge Tank

Power: 351kw at 27psi
Fastest Time: 108:1 (2016)
PB at Wakefield : 107.8 (in Pearl S15) (2016)
Target : 1:04s

About Minh Tran

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One comment

  1. Hi , pretty build, I see you have to remove the 264/264 Cams, for a 256, the bottom and huge savings without losing too much upstairs? thank you

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