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Not a car guy builds R34 GTT


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Hi guys, 
As mentioned in introduction thread, my name is Alex and I am planning to do few mods to my 98 R34 GTT. Car is currently dead stock, only and 3” catback exhaust installed. I have very little experience with cars or engines, so if I will manage to do it, anyone can. There is also a chance that I will fail miserably and run away crying.
 
Ive rented shed for 2 months and currently cleaning it after work. Ordered few basic things today, engine crane and stand, proper socket set, work lights as my shed has none and some miscellaneous items. Will be buying rest when they are needed. Really hope I will have enough light to do some work on weekdays. Otherwise, its Saturdays and Sundays if my wife permits. So overall plan is to take engine out next weekend, strip it and drop to machine shop. Ive booked with Thornleigh Cylinder Heads. Did research on SAU and have not found anything bad about them. However, most posts are really outdated, hopefully nothing changed. Let me know if you know otherwise. Over the phone, it felt like they really know what they are doing and gave me confidence when we were discussing works to be done.
So, when engine is out I am planning to clean up engine bay. Tidy up wiring harness and rewrap it. 
Was considering cleaning/degreasing and spray painting it. My car is black and was resprayed 2 years ago with closed doors. So engine bay is showing its age. Please let me know if anyone did it and how it looked. 
Then I am planning to sort my suspension, already got Tein flex coilovers and will probably buy a set of adjustable arms with rubber bushes, haven’t decided on brand yet. Also, will replace stock rotors and paint brake callipers. 
Hopefully by that time my engine will be back and ready for assembly. When its back in the car I will get new clutch installed, already have nismo sports clutch with new fly wheel. Will get new intercooler, injectors, fuel pump and all usual mods. Will check with gcg on turbo options and act depending on leftover budget. If not much left, will just go with hypergear 45sat. Also, exhaust needs to be replaced, it is 3” cat back at the moment. Turbo will be low mounter with wastegate welded onto stock manifold. 
My overall budget is around 20-23k excluding coilovers and clutch as its already purchased and will need approximately 3-4k for ecu and tune. Obviously, trying to get the most value parts without any sacrifices. So money and time are working against me. Ive decided to buy parts for next stage while starting previous, that should give them 1-2weeks to arrive. However, it appears that general stock for some items in the country is low and I might be screwed over. I can prolong my 2 months rent, but really dont want to. 
 
So, not to bombard you with information and questions ahead of time lets start with step 1. Engine
 
 

Bottom

engine gaskets - 300
Engine rebuild kit-2700
Cp pistons/spool h rods/
main and rod bearings/cometic gasket
Arp head studs - 320
Arp rod bolts 400
 
There is another kit which might be a better value, it includes all of the above and N1 oil pump/water pump/timing belt priced at 4900
 
Head
Need help as Valve train is complete mystery to me. I know what that is and how it works, just dont know components all that well.
 
Option 1. Brand new Ferrea set excluding lifters will be around 3500 from NZ. So, add gst and import tax
 
Option 2. Oem spring set is around 500.
 
Option 3. Supertech set, not sure if they have complete set for NEO head, need to call. But same $3500 based on quick website check.
 
Please let me know what parts in the head are prone to failure and should be swapped. I might potentially go for aftermarket cams as well. Which I assume only changes spring selection. Any suggestions on parts or good suppliers are welcomed. I do feel like replacing every single moving part in the engine with high end aftermarket part is an overkill, but dont know where the balance is. Definitely dont want to build engine and open it again next year, I would rather be over cautious 
My list of brands is generally guided by SAU members and their experience. So, general logic is if everyone goes for CP pistons, so should I 😔
Did my best not to write a poem, sorry if it is too long. Could have been 3 times longer if I was not holding myself. I have 500000 questions. Trying to search and read as much as I can prior to asking
sorry for any spelling and grammar mistakes
🥸
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Hi, 

if anyone will read this, I survived day 1. Spent 3 hours setting up. And 5 hours pulling car apart. Going pretty slow, since I have to figure everything out first. Trying to label everything that does not make sense and be as rational as possible. Most of the bolts are really tight and hoses are impossible to undo. Worst so far is a rubber intake on turbo side. 

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Good work. For lighting get a decent head torch. They absolutely rule.then you don't need any other lighting at all! Even though the halogens do a good job keeping you warm with the amount of heat they put out.

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Posting to follow progress, I feel I'm going to like this build. 

Don't be scared to write posts as long as you want and ask any questions you want to ask, this is your build thread and this forum is an absolutely filthy wealth of knowledge. 

Head wise, it sort of depends what your goals of the build are as well as what condition your engine is currently in. If you're looking at a power level around the Hypergear 45SAT territory, I would say springs are a must, and probably guides just while you're in there. But if your stock valves are looking good, I probably wouldn't bother going to aftermarket valves. Cams I would say are a good idea, but if it's a street car then don't go crazy and just get something that can bolt in without head modifications, you dont need crazy lift and massive duration.

 

Bottom end wise, I wouldn't necessarily be looking at full kits, they aren't always the best value. An OEM gasket kit from EFI Solutions is good value, sounds like you may have found that already. The Spool H-Beam rods come with ARP 2000 rod bolts as standard, and I would suggest you don't need to upgrade to 625+ rod bolts as the 2000's certainly won't be the weak point you find first, so you can save yourself some money on the rod bolts. CP Pistons are a great option and they're cheap enough, so stick with them. Are you planning to run E85? If so, don't drop your compression ratio with the pistons, either stay the same for ease or bump it up if you want performance, but this would mean custom pistons.

 

You haven't mentioned anything about oil control mods, which you are definitely going to want to do at this stage. Certainly get a crank collar for your crank as you have a short nose crank, you want to increase that contact patch with the oil pump drive. N1 oil pump with a billet gear set at a minimum, Nitto/HSE billet high flow oil pump if you're feeling fancy (for a street car, I would just run with an N1 pump and billet gears). Oil gallery restrictors are a must - leave the VCT feed as is, block the front feed entirely, 1.5mm restrictor for the rear feed.

 

Modify sump while it's out, baffles and trap doors are a good idea but perhaps not so necessary for a street car. Proper ventilation is essential - two fittings as high up as you can fit them on the passenger side of sump that vent crankcase pressure to a catch can. You can don't need an expensive rear head 'drain' kit, but they can help as an additional vent.

 

If you haven't heard of this before it may feel a little overwhelming, so I would recommend settling in with a 6-pack of beers (it's a lengthy read) and reading the RB oil control thread in the Forced Induction forum. The good stuff is from about page 30 onwards from memory.

 

Headgasket - don't just buy one, make sure you have a chat to your machinist about what thickness you need for your chosen compression ratio. Same with the engine bearings, have your machinist work out what sizes you need based one the condition of your crank and block.

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Also, agree with Ben about the head torch. Worklights are great for lighting up the area (and keeping you warm), but you will find you are constantly in the light and working in your shadow, making it virtually dark again. Head torch or a magnetic torch is the go.

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Hi guys,

Really appreciate your help. Head torch os already charged and in my backpack 😌 Complete plan is to go cp/spool combo and main/rod bearings for block after its machined and sizes advised my machine shop, keeping 9:1 compression and suitable head gasket. After head is pulled apart and inspected, I will swap springs and maybe drop kelford’s 244-a2 264/272 cams. Looks like these should give noticeable benefit without any further modifications. Will try to keep stock valves if they are good to use. Shall I swap guides while Im at it? 
Thank you for oil sump baffle idea as I never looked into it and thought its only for motorsports applications. Also, I found generic diy kit for $400, looks like 4 walls and doors, will that be ok?
 I was planning to go with nitto head oil drain, looks like it’s relatively straightforward to install. So, I will need 2 additional holes in sump, 1 for drain and 1 for oil catch can, definitely will install restrictors and new oil pump collar, Ive read that Neo might have N1 pump, is it possible to swap gears only in old pump considering its not damaged?
When engine is put together I was planning to get new belt/water pump and harmonic balancer. 
 
Update on my build, engine almost finished from engine bay side, forgot to drop fuel pressure before I started, so will go back today with small bottle and try to catch as much fuel as I can
Exhaust completely out and I found out I have Greedy turbo back exhaust and not cat back. Still have to take out transmission and starter motor. Hopefully I have not forgot anything and engine will be ready to come out. And once again guys, thanks for information
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The baffled sump possibly isn't necessary for a street car, it depends a little bit on how you drive it. But for me, it's a good idea, and it doesn't break the bank. Not sure on the DIY kit, haven't heard of it. 

Yes no problem to reuse your stock oil pump and just fit a billet gear set. Make sure you get a crank collar, that's critical. And personally I would get a billet backing plate as well, the cast oem plate is prone to flex so it's a decent improvement without going to a full billet pump. 

I wouldn't do the rear head drain, those kits are so expensive for what they are and they don't work as well as the manufacturers would have you believe. Of course they help a little bit, they are an extra vent, and I would do one on top of the 2 sump vents to the catch can to have 3 vents total, but especially for a street car it isn't necessary and you would get better bang for buck just doing the vents to the catch can.

Definitely new water pump and all new belts while the engine is out. New balancer is not a bad idea, for a street car I would look at just getting a brand new OEM one. 

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Thank you, looked more into oil sump and all I could find were baffles for Rb26 which I assume are different. For 25 only found complete baffled sumps. 
Went back to my shed for few hours yesterday to disconnect fuel lines and remaining wiring from engine. Took driveshaft out and starter, so last thing to do is transmission, loosen all bit 2 top bolts, will need to get 14mm spanner and try to get there somehow. Hopefully engine will be out on Saturday morning and stripped during weekend. So, I will drop to machine shop on following Monday. 
Also, had to change few things due to budget limits. I had to choose plazmaman intercooler/plenum or suspension (controll arms/sway bars and rotors) both around 3k. Will most likely go with new plenum and intercooler. Suspension is still ok no issues, definitely want to remove Hicas. Spoke to GCG g25 and g30 series turbos are not due till at least August. So, I will go with hypergear or garret gtx3076 bolt on, plazmaman intercooler, 1000cc injectors to stock rail, walbro 460 and Link ecu mainly because I want to get rid of afm and get straight 3-4” intake pipe. Also, instead of separate gauges I was thinking about haltech ic7 dash screen. Will see when engine is assessed of what needs to be done, then check remaining budget

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Thanks guys, 

not sure why I have not checked other suppliers, Golebys are few hundreds cheaper as well 😊. I am hoping to keep low mount stock manifold and not sure if its possible to get t3 to V band adapter and still fit g30 in or do I need to cut T3 and weld v band. If i am welding then might go with external gate as well. I was after g30-770, it looks like g25-660 is good for around 300rwkw if I read compression maps correctly. I was hoping to get closer to 350-400rwkw. Ive checked sizes of g30 and gtx3076, they are pretty much identical. So hope g30 with adaptor will fit. Do you think $1000-1200 will be enough to modify manifold and make v band dump pipe? Have not been to any metal fabricators, so no idea how they price things. 
@dose at the moment I am considering new cams, will let you know as soon as Engine package is finalised. 

P.s looks like i will have to stay with stock wheels for few months if Im going G turbo 😞

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Quick update, gearbox is finally on the floor and looks like engine only have few last connectors attached on the bottom, which I am planning to undo when engine is lifted a bit higher. Dont think there is anything else left to remove before engine comes out. So, hoping to get it out on Friday and spend weekend stripping it. Last bolt on top of gearbox was a real pain, took me 2-2.5 hours to get to it.

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Finally engine is out, no major dramas. Wont recommend doing all of these alone, gearbox was really dodgy. So, i am planning to take break tomorrow and only buy few supplies. 

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Hi guys,

so finally engine is pulled apart and ready to go to machine shop tomorrow. Did few things in wrong order, which took few extra hours. Main problem was that I took all belts off and started to undo pulley bolts, when I should have loosened them first and then take belts off. That would save heaps of time. Inspected every single part and so far, everything looks ok. Leaking turbo was the only thing I could spot. 
Honestly, I was hoping to see damage to pistons or rings just to prove that engine rebuild was imminent. However, everything was sealed well and all rings are in ok condition. Not really sure how 20 year old good and bad piston should look like. 

Anyway, there is no going back at this stage 😀
Next week I will install new coilovers and start cleaning everything that came off engine. Ordered some spring clamps, radiator hose set, various vacuum hoses and fabric tape to rewrap wiring. 
Hopefully, i will know what parts and sizes to order for my engine and they will know exactly how much money left for all the bolt ons. 

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Good work.the bearing in the engine block should pretty much always look good as it does hardly any work. When the pistons are pushing down all the force is against the lower half in the main caps. How did they look?

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Bearings were in good condition, both sides of main and rod. Lower parts are pretty much same as top, was actually surprised to see how thick they are. Pistons were burnt, but evenly burnt and no damage or deformation. Not sure if low compression came from block, might have been head. Also, comp test results were suspicious 

1 - 150; 2-145; 3-140; 4-130; 5-120; 6-110.

what are the chances that reputable shop did simple test wrong? 

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Most probably something in the head. Probably a valve not sealing properly, etc. 

Good progress so far. Keep it up 👍

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi guys,

Just a small update. Haven't done much over last month, was mainly ordering parts. 

So, finally all engine parts are sorted, should receive them in a week or so, few items were out of stock and were ordered in. So, everything but crankshaft will be new. Went with CP/Spool combo and complete ferrea head with kelford cams. Meanwhile, I've installed new coilovers, stripped interior and cleaned/fixed few loose bits. 

Need to force myself to finally do all electrical works, battery relocation, fuel pump, boost controller (which I still need to buy) and efdc for my coilovers and also rewire few things.

Then, final engine bay wash and engine will be ready to go in. Hopefully, in 4-6 weeks everything will be done.  

last 3 things to order are injectors, intercooler and boost controller. Ordered Greddy intercooler originally, however current lead time was too long and earliest it might be delivered is late August. So, I will get just regular HDI or Just jap and swap with plazmaman sometime in the future. Any advice on Boost controller? I will put Link ECU, so not sure if there is any benefit of going Greddy profec over standard mac solenoid. Assume both options can be tuned for flex fuel and Hi/Low boost.

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Depends on your power goals, but the HDi GT2 cores are decent. Plazmaman, unless you're a workshop with good ties to Alex, you'll be waiting at least a month or two as well.

Run a 4-port solenoid off the Link ECU, these days standalone boost controllers are redundant. Good thing with using the ECU to control it is that you can shave duty cycle based on intake air temperature, engine temperature, engine oil temperature, fuel temperatures, fuel ethanol concentration, etc.

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