Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

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Phlebmaster
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Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

Hey there, I wanted to get a thread started for my project.

This has been my work truck for the past two years. I work in construction so my truck has been indispensable. However the miles have started to catch up with it so there were some things that I needed to decide to do. I could’ve purchased another vehicle and use that or the second option was to modify the hell out of this truck and make it something fun and worth having. I definitely can tell you it was not cheaper because a car payment probably would’ve cost less in the amount of work and money spent on this so far. It is not quite finished but I’ll start this thread out by catching everybody up with what I have done so far.

Vehicle: 1998 Nissan Frontier
Engine: original ka24de 260,000 miles now has a few modifications (spoiler) it has a turbo, intercooler, wastegate, bov, Altima cams, NPR 240sx pistons and Nippon rings, bearings, valves and seals all new, ARP head studs, 3” down pipe and 2.5” straight pipe exhaust with a side exit so I can hear that turbo spooling. Stage 3- 6 puck clutch that grabs hard. Electronic boost controller/ gauge and a few other things I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Not yet complete- upgrading the fuel/injection system, tuning system, wide band O2 and meter, 240sx intake/ Z32 MAF swap eventually.

I would like to start out by saying I know I have made a few errors during this process but I believe those are part of the education and I don’t mind paying for my education. So hopefully I can help others with outlining some of the pitfalls that I had to deal with and possibly support anybody else doing this to a Frontier. This was my first time turbocharging a non-turbo vehicle. If you have the time to look at some of my other projects I have done things with supercharged vehicles but most of them have been naturally aspirated. By far the turbo is the most exciting for many reasons but just for the sound alone is worth it.

Here are the pictures of my truck when I first got it and also a picture of the engine bay as it sits now so you can kind of get an idea of where it started and where I’m going. This thread will be picture heavy. I’m having a little bit of an issue with embedding the pictures but the links below will take you directly to my project image host. The image code is not working for these links.

Stock
https://ibb.co/4dMZkxj

https://ibb.co/qdmMfcp

https://ibb.co/RgKYPjn

Now
https://ibb.co/rwxPcK3

https://ibb.co/KLnhD0T
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p00t
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by p00t »

That is a pretty clean engine bay for a work truck with 200k+ on it!

I caught the stove piping on the intake... Project Stovepipe maybe? I would replace that with a real pipe at some point because that pipe is not airtight and you will get unfiltered stuff through to the turbo.
Current Experiment: Project Twin-Charge 2022
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

p00t wrote: Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:23 pm That is a pretty clean engine bay for a work truck with 200k+ on it!

I caught the stove piping on the intake... Project Stovepipe maybe? I would replace that with a real pipe at some point because that pipe is not airtight and you will get unfiltered stuff through to the turbo.
Hey, you didn’t know that Home Depot sold cold air intakes?

Haha, yes it was a temp solution to prevent debris from the turbo and get the right angles. I appreciate your attention to detail, which is why I am here.

I am purchasing these items for the next step before the dyno tuner can do his magic. Please let me know if you see anything I should reconsider.

1. 340lph fuel pump
2. 500cc injectors
3. Manual fuel pressure regulator with gauge
4. AEM afr wideband with obd2 pass through
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

For anyone thinking that they can do a turbo build on the cheap side listen to those who tell you it is not possible. If you spend your money on a cheap turbo or cheap components you will be spending money on engine parts or downtime. Which started out as a $1500 investment has turned into well over $3000. But I’m finally getting it done right and that’s what matters. Basically what I’m saying is you’re better off to spend the money on the good parts to start with and you won’t have to redo things and nickel and dime yourself to death. That is good advice that I have read on this forum and others.

Anyway now that that is out-of-the-way, I’ve made a few changes to my next stage which will get me closer to where I want to be and make my truck more reliable until I can afford the stand alone ecu and a dyno tune.

I’ve decided to pick up an adjustable FMU rather than just getting a pressure regulator for my fuel. This will allow me to utilize the fuel pump and the bigger injectors in the interim. I have to replace the pistons because the compression ratio is a little higher than I expected since they were 240SX pistons and not the stock frontier pistons. So I will be replacing those when I put in the FMU and injectors. I will also hardwire my fuel pump so that there won’t be an issue with low voltage. I’ll take pictures of all of those items even though there’s lots of that on the Internet just so that anybody reading this can just do a one stop shop.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

Pitfalls of my build

Here are a few things that I did wrong as a cocky noob. I mean what could go wrong? eBay turbo is cheap and if I do it right it should last…. Right? Might want to read on…..

Mistake 1. I did my research and due diligence to see what it would take to turbo my NA truck. However I ignored a few key points because, hey I know what I’m doing. Well, you “can” turbo your car on the cheap but don’t count on it lasting for long. My eBay emusa turbo was great for about a month and I even closely followed the instructions, but even with that said the turbine bearing was shot and started blowing oil. I’m not Saying that all of them are that way but I can tell you it is hit or miss and that is truth. I paid $120 for this one. There is one caveat to this turbo failure, detonation occurred which broke my first set of pistons because I ran too lean and over boosted. This likely contributed to the failure.

Fixed: replacement turbo was a dual ball bearing and spools much better but also a more reliable option. I paid $325 for this one which is still half of what a Garrett will cost you. I am sure that I will be replacing this one again with a Garrett eventually but just be aware that quality matters when it comes to this. stay tuned for how this one works.

Mistake 2. A $10 manual boost controller is fine. Hey it’s cheap and what could go wrong? I mean I’ve got a wastegate and bov so this should work. Well, I am here to tell you that it is a critical piece of this set up. This thing did nothing and my turbo overspooled. This caused me to get lean and BOOM I was rolling coal down the road. My ring lands broke and I had to replace my first set of broken pistons.

Fixed: I learned alot and got a reputed digital version and set it up for adjustment in the cab. Now I know where it is and if I’m overdoing the boost for my engine.

Mistake 3. Now let’s discuss the wastegate and cheap bov. Those are just safety nets and I can’t understand how good ones cost so much. I’ll just get the less expensive stuff and save money, right? Wrong!! The bov got stuck closed and I didn’t know the wastegate wasn’t set up correctly. This mistake contributed to my second set of broken pistons. On a good note: ARP head studs are worth the price. I can tear down my engine in about 2 hours at this point (valve cover to oil pan) pistons out.

Fixed: I did more research and learned how to set up the wastegate properly with my digital boost controller and purchased a greddy FV bov. I also learned how to set up the bov properly and the best port on my throttle body to use. Don’t just use any old vacuumed port. I used one at the base of my throttle body just past the butterfly.

Mistake 3. I can get by with stock injectors and if keep the boost down I’ll be okay. Well, that was pretty dumb and I even read lots of posts saying that was a bad idea. But hey, I know what I’m doing and I’ll be fine. Nope! I get anything above 2-3 lbs of boost and I go lean. The ecu is pretty good with the stock injectors but doesn’t know what to do above 2-3 lbs of boost.

Fixed: I am installing an AEM wideband O2, bigger fuel pump (hardwired) and high ohm 550cc injectors. But that’s not going to work without ecu programs for that. Thank goodness for the Adjustable FMU. This will help but still not the perfect answer. The FMU is adjustable from 1:1 to 14:1 boost preference controls. This means the fuel injectors will get better pressure based on the boost level and increase the amount of fuel as the boost increases hopefully keeping it in the Goldilocks zone for AFR. I believe it is around 12-12.5 for 10lbs of boost. Not sure on that yet.

I’ll make sure I report what it takes to make it work properly and tell you if it doesn’t. The last thing will be the ecu and tuning which is not easily available for the Frontier. I may have to swap out my intake and sensors to a 240sx and then I can get a programmed ecu for it.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from wanting to do this to their vehicle.
I hope this helps with anyone who wants to know what happens when you get cheap stuff. In the end I will have to spend just as much as I would have for quality parts the first time. I love the turbo sound and all of the things I’ve learned about this process. It would have been better if I listened to the good advice from those who said get the good stuff.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

It’s been a busy weekend. I finally started getting my new parts for the fuel system upgrade so I have some things to share.

First thing, I replaced the 240sx pistons yesterday with stock frontier pistons. The 240 pistons were not damaged but it looks like they drop a little lower than the stock pistons inside the cylinder so the oil rings are scuffed and that’s what caused the smoke from oil. This is specifically why you need to properly prepare your cylinder walls and make sure you do not have any ridges when you are installing a different set of pistons. It’s always best to cylinder bore rather than just hauling honing done.

Okay so now the truck has a new 340lph fuel pump to supply the 555cc nismo injectors. The adjustable FMU and rail adapter will be installed once I have the liquid fuel pressure gauge. I am still waiting on that to arrive.

The AEM wideband O2 is installed so at least I can measure what the fuel ratio is with a stock injectors for now. I’m going to allow the new pistons and rings to break in properly before I run any boost. Probably about 500 miles before I start doing any modifications to up the power.

It is important this time around that I have my truck reliable so I’m going to do the fuel system one step at a time. Starting with the fuel pump this time and then when the fuel gauge shows up I will add the FMU. After that is completed and set up properly I will add the new injectors so I don’t run into a problem where some thing doesn’t work properly and I have no idea which item needs adjustment. It’s the old lesson of changing one thing at a time when you’re doing something new so you know what works and what doesn’t.

The AEM wideband has the obd2 connector for the ecu so if I upgraded it to a standalone I am set.

https://ibb.co/pxm2618

I have uploaded a whole bunch of pictures to the Image host. You’re welcome to browse what I have now and I will continue to upload more as I have time.
SlowSnailD22
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by SlowSnailD22 »

This truck is badass man. I’m In the process of installing a turbo on my truck also. Just a heads up though if you are going to keep the truck intake and fuel rail. Whenever you swap injectors, you will need to swap over those flat O-rings on the bottom of your original injectors to the new ones.

I found this out last night the hard way. I flooded the hell out of my engine as soon as the pump primed.

Keep up the good work man . 🤙🏽
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by SlowSnailD22 »

Also, how have you got your fuel tank ventilation set up? I considered running the lines to only the evap canister to where I didn’t smell like fuel as much and then maybe venting that to atmosphere. Also, I’ve also considered just venting the tank straight to atmosphere.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

SlowSnailD22 wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:14 am This truck is badass man. I’m In the process of installing a turbo on my truck also. Just a heads up though if you are going to keep the truck intake and fuel rail. Whenever you swap injectors, you will need to swap over those flat O-rings on the bottom of your original injectors to the new ones.

I found this out last night the hard way. I flooded the hell out of my engine as soon as the pump primed.

Keep up the good work man . 🤙🏽
Thank you! I learned that lesson too lol. Wish I read your post about this before but you are right!

Anyway the new fuel pump was overwhelming the stock fuel pressure regulator so I swapped in the adjustable FMU (fuel management unit). I’m still waiting on the fuel pressure gauge so I purchased pressure test kit for now so I could get it going. What I’ve read is the pressure should be around 33psi at idle with no vacuum and 43.5psi on vacuum. However the FMU doesn’t use vacuum, but it uses boost pressure to adjust the psi. Just something to be aware of in case you have a regular FPR.

The AEM O2 is working properly and I’m around 14.5-7 at idle. Unfortunately my oil pump has had enough so I swapped it out for a new one and added a small washer to increase the oil pressure just a tad. Make sure you always prime your oil feeder line before you start the engine especially with a new turbo.

I’m swapping out the ar63 turbine 50 trim turbo with an ar48 50 trim to get better spooling at lower RPMs. The ar63 works great but doesn’t really spool until around 32-3500 rpms. The 48 should spool 1000 rpm sooner. Since it’s a work truck I spend most of the time under 4000 rpms. I should have it in about a week or so and I’ll report my findings. I looked at the different turbine ar and there are a couple of decent options like the ar57 but I haven’t seen many good reports about this one. I may just test it out later for fun.
SlowSnailD22
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by SlowSnailD22 »

😂 I didn’t think I would need the flat o rings at first but I guess they are needed. I’ve got everything Installed. It’s a .60 AR and 48 trim eBay T28 knock off but it works good and gets into boost very quickly, it feels perfect. AEM FIC6 piggyback with stock fuel pump for now. I logged and mapped my throttle,RPM, and engine load and they’re all following each other perfectly it’s like a soon as you step on the gas it will spool and boost. I should probably install an oil pressure sensor as well.

What is your oil pressure at after you installed a new pump and a washer shim?
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

SlowSnailD22 wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 1:18 pm 😂 I didn’t think I would need the flat o rings at first but I guess they are needed. I’ve got everything Installed. It’s a .60 AR and 48 trim eBay T28 knock off but it works good and gets into boost very quickly, it feels perfect. AEM FIC6 piggyback with stock fuel pump for now. I logged and mapped my throttle,RPM, and engine load and they’re all following each other perfectly it’s like a soon as you step on the gas it will spool and boost. I should probably install an oil pressure sensor as well.

What is your oil pressure at after you installed a new pump and a washer shim?
I’m working on the new turbo installation today and have fuel pressure and oil pressure gauge hardware in place. As far as I have read the washer shim (I only added one for now) gives me a small bump in psi. After priming the turbo oil feeder line it definitely looks better. I’ll post my findings as soon as possible.

I’m almost done with infrastructure and next will be a piggyback of some type. I will look at what you have and compare with the apexi neo to compare costs and functionality difference.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

Okay so I just wanted to update you on my experience with the A/R 48 small turbine turbo. It’s actually pretty fun and it’s about as close to a supercharger that you can get in a turbo. The one drawback of course is that you reach higher boost level sooner so if your system is not set up for that it can wreck havoc. Anyway I am also in the process of purchasing a different type of turbo something along the lines of the GT 35 with the more typical A/R 63 turbine and A/R 70 compressor. I have tried two out of the three that I have wanted to so this will give me the full experience and then I can choose which one to spend the real money on when I get ready to buy a real turbo.

The boost controlled fuel management seems to work pretty well. I haven’t been able to get the digital meter connected yet for the oil pressure or the fuel pressure but I have a manual fuel pressure gauge. When I add boost to the FMU it does increase it by about 20 psi depending on how much boost is available.

I’m just happy to have my truck back on the road again and I will report my findings as soon as I get the bigger turbo so that there’s a comparison of all three on the KA24DET.

The main thing I’m having trouble with now is with the boost showing up sooner I am not into the throttle as much as I used to be so the throttle plate I think deflects the air a little bit so I have to make sure that if I get on it I have to really open the throttle to make sure I don’t stumble.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

I have some updates. I typically don’t post until I have something of value to share.

Anyway, I finally found my Goldilocks turbo after trying a few different configuration options. Here are my observations for each of the 3 I have tried. Keep in mind, this was my experience and opinion with my specific setup so take it as such.
These are all fleabay turbos
Turbo #1- Turbocharger T3/T4
3" Inlet and 2" Outlet
Hybrid Journal Bearing
Oil Cooling
up to 450hp
T3 Flange
0.50 A/R Compressor Wheel (Cold Side)
EXD: 3" (73.55MM)
IND: 1.99" (57.75MM)
Trim 48.9
0.63 A/R Turbine Wheel (Hot Side)
EXD: 2.2" (75.46MM)
IND 2.56" (52.76mm)
Trim 61.9
5 Bolt Standard Hot Side
25-35 PSI Peak Power Performance Output Capability

This was a great option for my truck with spool starting around 2200rpm and good boost around 4500rpm give or take. This one would have been my favorite but….. read on. It failed due to a lack of oil because I didn’t use a 90 degree oil feed and developed a kink in the line. This has been corrected.

Turbo #2- T3/T4 T04E
Inlet 3” outlet 2”
Compressor trim 57 a/r .60
Compressor inducer 48.5mm exducer 64mm
Turbine inducer 59.50mm exducer 48.90 a/r 48
T3 5 bolt

This was a test of concept and a lot of fun! This tiny thing spools up quickly getting good boost around 2700rpm. It was almost like having constant boost, like a supercharger. However, it’s best for a track day and not the best for daily driving. The small exhaust outlet and tight turbine housing generated a lot of heat!! I pulled this off because I’m driving 90-100 miles a day for work. You have to make sure you have some way to mitigate the temperatures but it’s great for a track day.

Turbo #3- Rev9 TX-66-62 billet wheel/ basically GT35 ish
Inlet 4” outlet 2.5” anti surg
Compressor inducer 65mm exducer 91mm. Freaking huge!
Turbine inducer 70mm exducer 62mm a/r .63
Turbine outlet is 2.5”

I love the character of this one. It’s almost perfect for me even though it’s overkill for my setup. The larger inlet and outlet of the compressor reduces the drag on the intake at pre-boost and allows for a smoother transition from no boost to boost. The heat generated is much lower than the first two turbo options listed and you see a difference in the intake temperatures. This means better power at lower boost levels. Also less heat means the laws of turbo dynamics (thermodynamics) slow down. I probably won’t ever get to the power potential for this turbo but I got it if I need it. This is my daily turbo for work. Oh, and did I mention it sounds like a jet taking off? My truck is a sleeper and it’s funny when I step on it next to some unexpecting person. Especially when I have a ladder loaded up on the rack.

Next part of the process…..

I finally got the apexi neo. I will be installing it as soon as I learn to read Japanese lol. After I get this done I’ll install the 550cc injectors and work on the tuning.

One more thing…. I had an oil cooler from my motorcycle parts bin and installed it inline with the turbo oil feed line. This dropped the oil temperatures by a ton before going into the turbo. I checked pressure and it is constant with the rest of the system so the heat levels are even lower. The oil cools off the turbo faster and doesn’t degrade as quickly as it did before I installed the cooler. The engine temps are steady with before but the turbo is not as hot.
Phlebmaster
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Re: Phlebmaster’s 98 Frontier Evolution ka24det

Post by Phlebmaster »

I’ve been running the Apexi Neo for a little over a week and now I have some things to share. Keep in mind that what I am using isn’t the best setup for a turbo, however it is doing it’s job for the most part.

The ideal setup is to run a tuned stock ecu or a standalone. The other options are piggyback systems that control fuel and timing. The frontier doesn’t have much in the way of aftermarket support in this case. The Apexi doesn’t have timing control but seems to work well with the adjustable FMU and bigger injectors. Without timing management I will not have the best power possible for my Ka24det.

With that said, I have to say the real time adjustment is helpful with my system. My dash looks like a Christmas tree with all of the gauges and stuff. I also use a obd2 Bluetooth adapter for monitoring other engine aspects.

If you are considering going from NA to turbo, I recommend getting the support infrastructure first. Most of them can be installed prior to adding the turbo.

1. Wideband O2- this is nice to have even if NA.
2. Fuel pressure regulator. I recommend an adjustable FMU if you are going with larger injectors and pump. The adjustable option is great for your transition process.
3. Larger fuel pump- hard wired. Lots of write ups for how to do it. The FMU should be installed prior to installing the larger fuel pump.
4. Fuel and oil pressure gauges. Digital is a great option.
5. Sourced larger injectors. But hold off on installing them until you have the ecu modifications. Washing your cylinders with fuel sucks.
6. Sourced ecu tuning, standalone or piggyback. This is probably the most expensive item in the list but it’s the most important. Once you decide on your best option, have this available prior to adding your turbo and intercooler. If you don’t have any experience with tuning, find a trusted dyno expert. This is also important for getting the most from your turbo and reliability. Unless you enjoy rebuilding your engine every time you push the engine to far or miss a detail with your setup.
7. Sourced quality turbo. The options for your engine are tremendous and confusing. First decide on your power goals and what your engine can handle in stock form. Meaning if you are not upgrading your internals - be conservative. You can always tune for more power later.
8. Sourced turbo exhaust manifold. You have several options available. I went with the top forward mount because it was the best fit for my truck. Look at your engine bay and see where your A/C, steering and other potential obstacles are before deciding. I went with the cast iron log because it was inexpensive but I plan on getting a SS equal length manifold.
9. Turbo down pipe and exhaust system. This depends on what turbo you want and effects power and heat management. You want to have the largest diameter exhaust you can use. This reduces heat and back pressure which can kill your turbo if too restricted. There are lots of options, 5 bolt, 4 bolt, Vband etc… getting the right angles can be tricky because it is dependent on how the manifold and turbo down pipe bolts line up. Vband is the most flexible but harder to seal.
10. Sourced intercooler. This is mostly diy and the hardest thing to install because it requires trouble shooting the routing and mounting. Lots of options available but get the largest diameter tubing that works. Less restrictive is best just like the exhaust. Also the larger ones reduce intake temps and stress for your turbo.

All of those except the exhaust, injectors and ecu should/could be installed and sorted before installing the turbo and will make your life easier later. You will have your hands full with your intercooler and exhaust system.
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