Category Archives: Writeups

Brake Master Cylinder Heat Shield

So you upgraded your calipers, master cylinder, lines, and pads expecting your car to be able to handle the increased power. Driving around town they feel great and you can really feel the improvements. When you hit the track, something else happens. You’re heading down the straight over 130mph and when you go to hit the brakes into turn one your pedal just falls to the floor and your speed is not decreasing rapidly enough…

This is not the situation you want to find yourself in, and it’s not the appropriate time to be going over your checklist – did I bleed the brakes properly, are my brakes overheating, did a hose or line come loose?

If you’re like me and went with a top mounted turbo but you did nothing to shield the heat of that turbo from your brake master cylinder then you should probably read on before you find yourself in a situation where you may end up off track or worse, in a wall.

Very simply, the exhaust housing of the turbo gets really hot under normal use and extremely hot when doing lap after lap in the middle of the summer on a road course. If you don’t have a turbo blanket or ceramic coating on the housing then all of that heat is hanging out in the engine bay and saturating surrounding components. The closest thing in an S14 setup is going to be your brake master cylinder.  You’re basically boiling your brake fluid causing it to compress substantially before actually providing the stopping power to your brakes.

A heat shield is a relatively cheap solution that only takes a few minutes to install. It’s something you can buy online from companies like Circuit Sports or Megan Racing, or you can fabricate your own. I’ve seen some elaborate custom setups using gold plated tape to act as an improved heat reflector. How far you want to take this depends on your needs. Consider this a step in the right direction, but in extreme situations it may not be the final solution. I will be able to report more after my first track day of the season.

The concept here is the heat shield is a metal partition that separates the BMC from the turbo and downpipe. The heat is reflected off of the metal and does not get absorbed as easily into the BMC. The one I purchased was designed for an S13 but is easily adjusted to work with an S14. It simply bolts on to one of the BMC bolts, and the other one went where I believe my original power steering pump would have mounted. Two of three holes matched up on the S14 without any adjustments required. However, I did bend and hammer one of my corners down to get it off of and away from my downpipe. I also bent one of the top edges outward a bit to give extra clearance from my brake lines. I didn’t want the metal rubbing or touching for safety reasons and to allow the shield to do it’s job properly.

This installation took me less than 15 minutes, including my adjustments and I highly recommend it for those of you who do any serious driving in your modified S14.

The turbo is too close to the unprotected brake master cylinder
The turbo is too close to the unprotected brake master cylinder
An inexpensive heat shield will help protect the BMC
An inexpensive heat shield will help protect the BMC
A test fitting shows the heat shield will bolt up fine, but it touches the downpipe
A test fitting shows the heat shield will bolt up fine, but it touches the downpipe
closeup of the heat shield touching the downpipe
closeup of the heat shield touching the downpipe
I marked the shield and bent and hammered it to avoid touching the downpipe
I marked the shield and bent and hammered it to avoid touching the downpipe
I pulled the shield outward at the top, away from the brake lines
I pulled the shield outward at the top, away from the brake lines

Gauge Cluster Light Change

So I decided to change out my gauge cluster lights to some super bright white LED bulbs. It looked a bit sharper, that’s for sure. But then I decided that the light was a little too crisp so I instead went for the amber Sylvania bulbs (similar to what you would use in your side markers). I thought they looked neat but my wife thought they were generic looking. I’ll probably go back to the factory bulbs as a result.

The upgrade is super simple and only takes about 10 minutes. You simply unscrew your top cover of your steering wheel, then you unscrew two screws from the top of your dash hood that covers the cluster and pop off that piece carefully (where your light dimmer and cruise control switches are located). Undo the plug on your cruise control and swing it to the side. The dimmer needs to be plugged in to test your bulbs before re-assembly so you can keep that plugged in if you want.

Now you see 3 screws that hold your cluster in place (one on top and one on each lower side). Remove the cluster (don’t bother disconnecting the wiring). You can now swap out the three wedge style bulbs by half-turning them to unlock and voila…. you have new lights.

There are plenty of good write-ups on this.

IMG_3163 IMG_3164 IMG_3165 IMG_3166 IMG_3169 IMG_3170 IMG_3171

gauge cluster
gauge cluster

C-West Aero Kit

Last year I bought a C-West body kit for my S14. It arrived in two shipments due to some delays with Japan and the Tsunami that hit. My plan was originally to install it over the winter but we ended up moving. And then it was Spring and I didn’t want the downtime that may come from it since I had to do some modifications to make the kit fit.

C-West Aero Kit S14 240sx

Well, after several delays I finally got the kit installed. Installing a body kit can be relatively easy if you’ve done it before, but if it’s your first time it can be quite confusing. Let me explain a few of the steps that made my life a little easier the second time around.

First, make sure you test fit the kit before you paint it. You will most likely need to cut and sand the kit to get it to line up properly. The cheaper body kits will not match up very well at all without some work. They also don’t typically come with the holes drilled, so you’ll want to do your best to match those up with the OEM holes (and you’ll probably need to drill a few of your own as well). Go ahead and mount your lights in the front bumper to make sure they fit (they usually don’t). When you’re doing your front bumper, you may actually have to notch your bumper support depending on whether it’s USDM or JDM. The JDM vehicles don’t require the front crash bumper so you may run into fitment problems here. I used a circular saw to notch my bumper. It’s easier if you go ahead and remove your front headlights while mounting the bumper. You may also want to jack up one side at a time and remove your wheels for easy access to mount the side skirts. The C-West kit itself would have fit perfectly if I didn’t have a FMIC or USDM bumper support. The bolt holes were pre-drilled and everything lined up nearly perfect.
Once you have test fit everything and it matches up pretty good you’ll want to paint the kit. Make sure you sand and fill as needed, because most kits will have pin holes or seams from the molds used to create them. After the kit is painted you just reinstall it on the car very carefully. I like using a mixture of bolts and OEM style push plugs. The bolts are mounted in discrete locations but help keep it firmly attached, and the push pins are for more obvious locations that give it more of an OEM look. On the S14 you have some holes for mud flaps in the rear wheel well and you can use the fender cover screws in the front wheel well, but the side skirts will need two holes drilled in the rear wheel well closest to the front of the car. You’ll need to remove the wheel to do this of course. It’s also a good idea to use double sided tape along seams, but make sure that you position it so that it doesn’t show through when looking at the kit from above. You’ll want it off the edge just a bit.

When you’re all done and lowering your floor jacks, make sure you don’t crack your side skirts. If it’s going to hit the jack, just slide a piece of wood under your tire and then lower the car down.

There aren’t many tips on the web about installing custom body kits, but I found that it’s relatively easy once you’ve taken the time to learn how to do it yourself.

New Fuel Pump Install

Today I installed a new Walbro 400lph fuel pump, replacing my Walbro 255lph fuel pump.

Walbro 255 vs. 400 fuel pumps

This is a 30 minute upgrade if you know what you’re doing. It can take longer if you’re unfamiliar with the S14 fuel system. There are a few things to point out about my Walbro 400 fuel pump that cause me a slight delay:

  1. The plugs it came with do not match up to anything. It’s almost like I had a kit for another vehicle. Just clip the plug and crimp or solder the wires to the connector on the S14.
  2. The rubber isolator does not match up with the Walbro 400 bottom. You have to kind of cram it into place with the bracket. The 255lph fit like a glove, so this is unfortunate that the over-sized base made the isolator a funky fit.
  3. The S14 fuel sock/filter is a tight fit on the 400 but fit perfectly on the 255. You need to use a hammer and a small screwdriver and lightly tap it into place.
  4. Pay attention to the + and – symbols on the fuel pump. My 255 was wired backwards. The black was + and the – was red wire. I followed the wire colors instead of the terminal symbols and wired it backwards the first time, which wasted a lot of my time.

New Wiring Harness

For the past week I’ve been working on replacing my upper and lower wiring harnesses. While my original harness worked, there were a few items that I wanted to tidy up, and I always had a slight random hiccup with the vehicle. I could never determine if that was because of the AEM EMS not cooperating with my CAS wheel or if there was an electrical gremlin due to the hack job from an auto-5spd RB20 and then the RB25 swap.

I purchased a wiring harness with the ABS sub-harness and Auto->5spd from Wiring Specialties through RAW Brokerage. The harness arrived with an instruction manual, and it was super clean. All original plugs and wires, properly loomed, and basically ready to install.

They say this is a 15 minute job, and I think if you’ve done it a few times before then it quite possibly is a 15 minute job. My situation was a little different…

First I had to remove the original harness, which took longer than I had hoped, but that was simply because I was paying attention to where things were plugged in so that the install would be a bit easier. The original harness came off in about 30 minutes for me. pulling it through the firewall was surprisingly easy.

The new harness was a little more difficult. Various forums/posts on the internet suggest having two people work the harness plugs through the firewall and I can see why. That would have probably saved me 10-15 minutes easily because I had to keep going back and forth from under the dash to the engine bay to work the harness through. Where I started to run into trouble was matching up the plugs. Some of my OEM plugs have been removed, cut, spliced, changed, etc. and it wasn’t a direct fit. I expected this, and while I probably pestered RAW Brokerage, Wiring Specialties, and the various forums on the internet more than they would have liked, in the end we figured it out.



A quick list of my troubles:

  1. My OEM Oil Pressure Sensor used a different plug than the one provided. I probably don’t have the factory RB sensor. I just re-pinned the proper plug for the solution here.
  2. My ABS power plug was hidden in the wheel well and wasn’t where it should have been. It took me awhile to find this.
  3. My clutch switch (or Park/Neutral sensor)  was cut/removed and connected together so the vehicle would start after the auto to 5spd swap. I need to get a new plug for this to finish cleaning up.
  4. My S14 wiper amp is missing and I’ve been rolling with an R33 wiper amp for the past few years. I’m sourcing an S14 wiper amp just to be proper here.
  5. My fuel injectors are not OEM and I never knew that my injector subharness has been custom since day 1. The plugs didn’t match so I used my original harness here (It’s in fine shape).

Despite my few dilemmas here, the car is in surprisingly good shape having gone through 3 engines.


Here is the difference between my injector subharness plugs (Tomei plugs for Denso Injectors) and the OEM.

Wiring Specialties uses quality parts. Here is the main ECU plug.

New Harness

Old Harness

If you’re considering doing a swap and aren’t an electrical genius, do yourself a favor and buy the harness. You might also consider picking up a patch connector for the harness. It goes between the harness plug and the ECU (in my case the AEM EMS). You just find the wires you want to tap into and do it on the patch connector so you don’t damage your harness wiring in things like a boost solenoid or AFR sensor. It also lets you move your standalone a little further out of the way so it’s not right under your feet on the passenger side.


LS2 Truck Coil Pack Swap for S2 RB25DET

The factory coil packs, and the various generic replacements, have problems with higher hp applications. The problem seems to occur around 17psi and higher. The coil packs don’t generate enough spark for a good burn, and the only way to get your spark plugs to stay lit is to gap them extremely small. This, of course, reduces the quality of the burn and the overall performance of the vehicle can be compromised. Some solutions, including putting tape or liquid tape around the coil packs to prevent arcing do not solve this problem, as those are not true solutions for high HP applications. Instead of putting my faith in other replacement coil packs, such as the split fires, I have decided to upgrade to a significantly better coil pack… The LS2 Truck Coil.

Click Continue Reading to see the full write-up.

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