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May 4, 2020

KISS : Keep It Simple, Stupid

Double 044 pumps Nitrous
Two examples of making something more complicated than it needs to be. 

  • Keep
  • It
  • Simple,
  • Stupid
This is what you should always be saying to yourself, whenever building or designing parts for cars.  The more simple it is, the less likely for failure.  My background comes from the US Navy, and then working on, and eventually racing professionally as crew/crew chief in World Challenge GT, and TC

World Challenge Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 at Long Beach
World Challenge Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 at Long Beach. Headed up Pine Avenue

Now this can often go at odds with other things.  I like twin turbos on a Nissan Skyline GT-R, because I have never seen the cast exhaust manifolds fail (Never in 20+ years, hundreds of cars, forums for that long. Never seen a picture) I had someone tell me that they failed some on a road racing car in Australia, but that is it. The R34 N1 had cast manifolds with a couple mods, and road raced at 450 hp for 24 hours at a time. Cast parts can fail, like the R35 exhaust housings/manifolds crack around the wastegates, but R32, R33, R34 GT-R cast manifolds none. Send me a picture if you have a failed one. 

 However with two of everything, the likelihood of finding that one single part that will fail, is twice as much as if you had a single part.  In this case for me, because of my experiences with single turbo manifolds failing, cracking, and causing other issues, from fitment to melting wiring harnesses, I take the non KISS route.  Your experiences may vary. 

Then the whole Nissan Skyline GT-R itself is a complicated car. Lots of things in it that can be eliminated or made more simple.  All wheel drive, four wheel steering, individual throttle bodies.   With a street car, you are always going to have some compromises. If its an all out race car, then you ditch nearly everything you can get away with under the rules.  KISS

Do you see what is wrong here? If you lose the line to the FPR, you lose boost reference. Instead of two failure points, you now have six failure points. 

Every single coupler you add to the intercooler piping, every single fitting, line, oil cooler fitting, water hose you add is several other points you can have a failure.  But I know what you are saying, you are perfect. You make no mistakes ever.  No part you ever have installed has been incorrectly installed, or failed.   I am sure that is the way it is, for you.  I have had lots of errors, mistakes, bolts being left loose, parts failures in my 30 years of working on cars.   In the example above, putting a T in the fuel pressure line, has meant that you have gone from two potential points of failure, to six points of failure.  

If you lose this line for whatever reason, then you lose boost referenced fuel pressure. If you don't notice it, the likely hood of the car going lean and blowing up, is very high. Wouldn't you rather have 2 potential points of failure than 6?   There are two easy to access spots where you can get a boost/vacuum reading on an RB26, and not tap into this point.  IDGAF what the instructions say, or what you always did, KISS.

ARC Grille Mount Oil Cooler
ARC Grille Mount Oil cooler, and auxiliary cooler. Look at all those lines and fittings. Again a KISS compromise

OEM parts, are probably better built, and will last longer than most of the aftermarket parts you will buy. They are better engineered, and are designed to last on a street car, not some part designed by some 22 year old wanna be engineer, that has little to no real world experience with cars, racing, or failures.  Then if those parts are Chinese knock offs of some properly designed part, you have really helped to set yourself up for failure.  Suspension parts guys, and "manufacturers" I am looking at you.  Spherical rod ends/bearings are made for race cars.  That means they get replaced often. Maybe once a race, maybe a few times in a year.  They really aren't that great for a street car that you daily drive. Rubber is a great material as it dampens noise, vibration, but it squirms around. This is one of those compromises that you have to decide in your life. I've worked on cars with suspension so worn out, I have no idea how the owner can drive it. When brought up to them "its fine." is the answer we get.   It is things like this, that make me skeptical of what most people have to say.    R34 N1 Super Taikyu maintenance schedule as recommended by Shift Japan.     KISS

Wheel Spacers
Please don't do this. I mean you can, but don't. For the sake of the rest of us that drive on the roads.

Wheel spacers. I don't like them. I have used them, and still have to use them in some applications.  In the theory world, you would be able to find the exact right size wheel, with the right specifications, and backspacing to work for you.  It would be lightweight, cheap, and readily available in the color you want.  We rarely live in that world. You can get anything made/built to fit your specifications, but it isn't always realistic for most of us normal folks. When we raced the Scion, we experimented one weeked with widening the front wheel track with spacers. Since that was a FWD car, you can always use some help to get them to turn.  At St Petersburg, with the spacers on the car, we had to replace three wheel bearings on the car with spacers in a weekend.  The car with no spacers didn't use a single wheel bearing. Taking the spacers off the one car with them, dropped our wheel bearing replacement down to zero.  Wheel spacers and OEM wheel studs mean that you will probably have less engagement of the threads. It means if you do have an issue, you chance of losing a wheel is much higher.  Talking from experience, leaving them loose, will normally cause one, then all of them, to shear.  When we race or build a semi-serious car, we always replace the OEM wheel studs with ARP studs. In this case, the OEM part is not as good as the aftermarket. The ARP studs are normally about double the length, and often have guides on them to help guide the lugs on.  KISS

Overly complicated fuel systems.  This is for sure a pet peeve. An engine needs a certain amount of fuel to make power.  If you have no fuel it won't run. If you have too much fuel, you will flood the engine. In between there, you have blow it up lean, and black smoke rich for a gasoline engine.  Fuel pumps, fuel control, fuel pump relays, fuel lines, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulators are just some of the parts of the Fuel System.    It is important to understand that it is a fuel system. If you have the latest and greatest fuel pump that will supply 10,000 horsepower, and have a fuel injector fail, you will still probably be spitting parts out the side of your block.  Get your fuel injectors cleaned.  If the car has some little pops and stumbles at idle, clean the injectors. If you don't know the last time they were cleaned, get it done. Its cheap insurance.  

I didn't use to understand the Japanese fuel systems for Nissan Skylines. Multiple Bosch 044 pumps, surge tanks, etc. I do understand that the Bosch 044 is the GOAT of fuel pumps. That is a tough pump. Old as hell, but the mother just works. It has limited E85 life, and it is loud, old, but if you want something that will fail you much, much less than any other pump then that is it.  The truth is that there didn't used to be any great options in the fuel injected world, for fuel pumps that would support 800,1000, 1500 horsepower.  So guys in the Supra world, for example, would have these fuel hangers with two, three, or four fuel pumps to try and meet system demands.    The problem here being that if one of those pumps fails, when you need the fuel. You may go lean, and blow up. Not even the pump itself needs to fail. It could be the suction strainer, the line in the tank, the electrical connector on the tank, the pass through connector, the fuel pump relay, etc. As you can see each pump ups the level of failure points. Why run 2 sets of injectors, if you can get it done with one set? Why run three fuel pumps, if you can do it with one?  These days it is possible to have fuel pressure protection or A/F ratio protection, but you can still hurt an engine if you get outside of its range or it happens too quick.    KISS. 

Water methanol kit on an R33 GT-R
Water methanol kit on an R33 GT-R. This was around 2000-2001

Water methanol kits.  I have tried a number of them over the years. It all sounds great in theory. It does work. It does work for a lot of people. However in the olden days, there were little to no safeties. If you ran out of water or methanol, if your nozzle clogged, because methanol is nasty stuff, if your pump failed, then there was a good chance you would lose an engine.  I prefer to run good gas when I need to run good gas. If I need a band aid like water/methanol then I need to rethink my power goals, or engine build, to get me where I need to be.  You can take all that overly complicated stuff, and keep it.  I would neither recommend it to a customer, or install it on a customers car.  KISS

Twincharging.  Great in theory.  I actually worked on twincharged engines when I was in the Navy.   Detroit Diesel 16V149T.  16 cylinder - two V8 blocks put together, 149 cubic inches per cylinder - 2.44 liters, per cylinder, turbocharged.  They actually had two roots blowers in the valley, and four turbochargers. They put out about 1200 horsepower at 1800 rpm, and we used them to keep the lights on. Each one in theory could do 1000 kW, or 1 million watts.  Back to cars, it has been tried and ran in lots of cars over the years. You end up with double the parts, triple the complexity, and while if its all tuned right, you will end up with something cool, there are simpler and more effective ways to do it.   KISS.

Look how normal this looks underneath

Worlds quickest Nissan Skyline GT-R, has many, many stock parts under it.  If you aren't faster than this car, if you aren't making more power than this car, why are you trying to make your life more complicated?  KISS.

In the end, it isn't always practical or realistic to keep everything simple.  Some amounts of complexity come with the car.   It is just a mater of looking at systems, and seeing if there are things that you are going to change, that are going to make it easier or better for you, and if those things make sense to you. 

Plus eliminating parts makes them lighter, and everyone is all about eliminating parts, even ones they don't understand what they do.  KISS

  • Keep
  • It
  • Simple,
  • Stupid

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