Project 200SX - Track Ready?

By Wes Dumalski 

It's no secret that driving your car at speed on a road course will bring to light all of the car's weaknesses. After sorting the motor and suspension we decided to take Project 200SX to a few track day events to put the car through its paces. While the car has proven dead reliable we certainly found its shortcomings. The 20-30 minute sessions revealed water temps. that would spike over 200 degrees,  oil temps. that would approach 270 degrees, and brakes that fell short...... We knew that if we are going to take this project through the N.A.S.A. H.P.D.E ranks to run Time Trials we would have to make these issues disappear. 

First we sorted the water temp. issues. To be honest we were somewhat surprised that we had water temp. issues at all. While the car was not overheating, peaking over 200 degree's is too hot for our liking. We already had a Koyo radiator on the car, and the only thing we could think of to make it more efficient was to fabricate ducting. The logic here is to take all of the air entering the front of the car and force it to go through the radiator.



Here you can see the large gaps around the radiator allowing air to flow around the radiator rather than through it. 



To do this we used some sheet metal stock (think HVAC section of your favorite home improvement store), a bench vice, and some tin snips. We fabricated the top panel first, we removed our hood latch (as we previously had installed hood pins) so that we could use one continuous panel across the top of the radiator that contained no holes. The top panel extends down from the radiator core support and then bends up to meet our Stillen grill.  We spent a lot of time test fitting and trimming but the end result is a panel that fits flush on the inside of the grill forcing all entering air through the radiator. We then fabricated the side panels. They took a LOT more time as we wanted them to contour to the bumper core support. It was important that the side panels seal tightly to the radiator itself and then extend to the front facia of the car. Again we wanted ALL incoming air to make it's way through the radiator. After MUCH test fitting and trimming the side panels were riveted to the end of the radiator and then the top panel was riveted to the side panels. 



The completed ducting ensures all air flowing in through the front bumper opening and the grill will go through the radiator. These simple panels decreased water temps. by 20 degrees. 




The result? Our temps. before the ducting would reach over 200 degrees half way through a 20 minute track session forcing us to take cool down laps. With no other changes and nearly identical weather conditions our water temps. have yet to get over 183 degrees. Even during full 30 minute sessions with ZERO cool down laps and 90 degree heat! We were amazed with these results from this simple modification. This means you need to run out to your nearest home improvement store and buy some sheet metal!!!!!!!



Our trusty oil temp. gauge also told us that if we valued our motor we needed to get the temps. down. Prolonged exposure to temps. above 260 degrees can lead to bearing failure and is HELL on engine oil so an oil cooler was called in to order. Because there is no off the shelf kit we had to turn to our friends at B.A.T. Inc. to source our parts. First and foremost if you need anything plumbing, especially oil cooler related, related British American Transfer (B.A.T. Inc.) is the first and only place you will need.



Our oil temp gauge uses a probe that we put in the oil pan.  The gauge is easy to see while on the track.



After consulting with Eric  we determined that a full size Setrab 19 row oil cooler would do the trick, we coupled that with a Mocal thermostatic sandwich plate adapter and -10 lines. To obtain clean airflow for the cooler we mounted it behind the passenger side fog light opening, this location also provided shorter line runs as the oil filter is also towards the passenger side. We ran the lines up through the engine bay to keep as much of them out of harms way as possible. For lines we used aeroquip push lock hose and fittings, we were impressed with the strength of the hose and its ease of assembly! We used a braided wrap over the lines to offer additional abrasion resistance should something come in contact with the lines.



The Mocal sandwich plate has a 160 degree thermostat to facilitate quicker oil warm up.


Even with the Mocal adapter in place the oil filter is still easy to access. 





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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 10:42 PM
i liked the ducting on the radiator :) i did the same to my car
but i used carbon fiber
keep up the good work wes
Thursday, July 15, 2010 3:10 AM
I've got a kind of dumb question. Me and my friend are going to try building a ram air scoop for his car the same way you built the ducting for your oil cooler. Does the ducting ever have problems with water drainage or sucking up debris? Obviously we'd like to avoid hydrolock and since this is a lowered street car, that could be a problem. I remember seeing Mike's Sentra with the ram air duct and it seems like sucking up water might be a problem.
Miles (San Antonio)
Miles (San Antonio)link
Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:01 AM
Very nice ducting work. Sweet and simple install, or at least it seems at first glance. Wanted to ask your thoughts on mounting of relocated oil filters to high points rather than easily accesible lower areas.

I've heard arguments for both but wanted to get some professional pros and cons.


BTW, loving the build.
Bob Holmes
Bob Holmeslink
Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:18 AM
Interesting. Nice bit of fab work.

Stock, my SVO has a thermostat that doesn't open until 193 degrees. Every engine is different, what is your stock thermostat setting and rad cap psi? Is your cooler running causing any changes in your ECUs calibrations? Just curious.

Are you running the RA1s shaved?

Very nice job.
Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:09 AM
Outstanding work.
I am looking forward to seeing the 200SX out on the track more. Well done!
Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:11 AM
Great article! Can't wait for more!

8695Beaters if you are talking about putting your intake in the fender well you will suck some water if it is like how Wes's oil cooler is. You can work around it I did but it is a hassle some people don't like.
Thursday, July 15, 2010 10:41 AM
Miles: If you mount the filter high, all the oil drains out of it when you change your oil, which makes changing the filter a lot easier. When you relocate it, why bother with crawling under the car?

jere: I think we are going to build a duct and have the filter a bit higher then bumper level. If we think we need it, we will probably buy an AEM bypass valve.
Thursday, July 15, 2010 1:16 PM
8695Beaters I haven't seen the AEM bypass in person but it sounds promising. One more thing if you go ahead with it, if you have a MAF sensor in your car move it as far away from the filter as you can. Even the slightest mist can kill that thing or make it run crazy. The mist will just end up making the car run cooler aside from the MAF problems. Unless you suck up more than just mist of course ;)
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:17 PM
Anytime you duct something (provided you are doing it correctly) you need to worry about debris and or water. In the case of our oil cooler we made sure to protect it with stainless mesh. In the case of a cold air intake, if it is a street car I am not sure I would duct it the way the Dog car is ducted...

I am no expert on remote mount oil filters. I see many people mount them higher so they drain back and are easier and less messy to change. The other thing to consider is filter size, many people remote mount simply to utilize a larger filter. In my opinion I am not a fan of introducing more fittings and/or failure points. The GA16 uses a large oil filter and is easy to change, hence why I chose to leave it in the stock position.

Stock t-stat opens at 160-170, car starts to overheat at 205-210. Car loves the 180 temps. That is where the temps are when we drove it on the street 178-183 ish. The fact that we can keep them there on the track is awesome. This weekend is a NASA event and it is supposed to be 90 degree's, I am curious to see how it holds up.
I have a set of shaved RA1's for dry days and a full tread depth set for wet's. Do you run RA1's?
Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:58 PM
Wes, that's crazy results on the coolant temps! I may end up doing something similar soon....

Horsewidower, my Nissan 200sx had the t-stat wide open at 177F. My S2000, it's 88C-89C, so 190F-192F.

I have a track day coming up in a couple weeks at Buttonwillow in the desert. I'm pretty worried about the oil temps.... ambient temps are going to be 95F+ I think. I guess I'll find out.... I just need to determine at what temps I'll back off.
Bob Holmes
Bob Holmeslink
Friday, July 16, 2010 8:13 AM
Thanks guys, just wondering. We've had to add a thermostat back into the 2.3 Ford cause we over-radiatored the car. We actually have the temps drop so low that the gauge quits reading. I've taped up a bunch of the grill. I guess its a nice problem to have, but a pain in the butt. It kept dropping the engine calibration back into the warm-up mode. The warm-up has been changed to a timed mode instead of a temperature in order to fix the problem.

Wes: I've got a set of shaved for the dry and full tread for the wet also. Our class requires RA1s.
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