NX Vacuum

NX GTi-R: Vacuum Routing

by Frank Ewald

The advantage of living with five or so months of snow is that there is some time to work on your car to prepare for the next track season. This picture was taken during the first week of March, when the temperature actually rose above freezing for the first time since December. The weather has been awesome for the past week and with luck spring is literally just around the corner – and I am so tempted to post a pic of one of my Eibach springs peering around the corner of my garage! Where are those stick-on eyes?


This picture was taken with my iPhone just a week before the top photo; you can see how much snow has already melted. Once the warm weather was out, it was time for the NX to come out of storage.

Those of us who live in the snow belt love when we begin to see the edges of driveways, grass, and gardens beginning to peek through the snow cover. I do not want to know what people who live in year round seasonal weather do – because I am guessing that it is tracking year round – and that would make me quite envious. One of my tasks for this winter was to ensure that all of the vacuum lines on the  SR20DET were accurately connected. Small stuff but I have not been positive that it was completed properly. I have put off an accurate setup for too long. While I read tons about this on SR20-forum, I went to my buddy Will at PZ Tuning for the expert's touch. After all, if you miss the small stuff it may damage your car.


54C is the nomenclature that indicates this block came from the venerable Pulsar GTi-R.

If you have read my earlier articles about my car or are a Nissan fan, then you will realize that not all Nissan SR20DET engines are the same. My engine came from a Pulsar GTi-R and bears the 54C designation stamped on the block. Some suggest that this means that it has even more headaches but I optimistically view it as being the best SR20DET built by Nissan.  This engine was only used in the Pulsar GTi-R, a three door hatchback, in Japan and Europe. This car was Nissan’s World Rally Championship car in Class A – unfortunately it did not attain the victories that anyone associated with it expected. The headaches often referred to regarding this engine are simply due to the limited availability of parts. The 54C has a quad-throttle body setup, sodium filled valves, solid lifters, unique crank, wider rod bearings, thicker head bolts and flywheel bolts that means parts are not interchangeable. There is more, of course, as the engine was designed to withstand greater stresses that would be found in the WRC. Most notable is the Garret T28 turbo.  All in all, a very nice setup.


Silicone tubing was installed on the engine when it was pulled two years ago for a rebuild. I wouldn't want to consider replacing them in the car.

Mechanically I know that my engine is good to go. Where I had done some guessing in the past was in the area of the vacuum hoses. In 2012 when the engine was out I replaced all of the hoses with silicone hoses. I cannot even imagine doing this in the engine bay of the NX as there's simply not enough room. I purchased a hose replacement kit off of e-Bay, Autobahn88, which covered many of the hoses – including the rad hoses. Then I turned to my friend, Dave Schlueter, who in addition to being my engine builder also accessed silicone hoses that are used in the trucking industry to finish off the task. So you will see that I have different coloured hoses in my engine bay – but they work and often the ‘odd’ colour is even stronger than those that are matched. One of these hoses is the vacuum line that wraps around to the front of the engine and ties into the vacuum header.


In 2012 the engine was stock with upgraded hoses and a front mounted intercooler. The 350Z horns were moved into the nose of the NX when the oil cooler was installed.
Fast forward to 2013 and the most obvious addition is the oil cooler and the relocated oil filter kit which I purchased from Greg at G Spec Performance. Not visible is the Go Fast Bits Electronic Boost Controller (more about that in a future article); but if you look just behind the valve cover you will see that I have created a vacuum header arrangement. However, I did not fully understand how to plumb in all of the components and I made some errors. For a week or so I had the PCV valve blocked off while I sorted out how to hook it up to vacuum. For a year I did not have a proper catch can system. In simple terms, I was in over my head and there were too many potential answers. 2014 did not see any changes to the car's setup. It was a season to regroup, collect parts (and money), drive John Dattomo's Miata in ChumpCar, and then begin to rebuild the NX.

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