RB25DET Into USDM S13 240sx: 05/25/2004
Part 1 - Engine Removal and Prep Work:
If your car has air conditioning, have the system evacuated before removing the engine. Venting Freon to the atmosphere is illegal and will give people in Australia sunburns. If you plan on keeping the A/C, it will be easiest to keep the Skyline pump and have the new hoses made to connect the pump to the 240SX air conditioning system. Any A/C shop should be able to handle this by simply crimping new hoses onto the fittings from the Skyline pump.
Next, remove the radiator, remove the entire engine wiring harness from the car, disconnect the fuel lines and unbolt the driveshaft. Your life will be easier if you also remove the hood. Disconnect the heater hoses from the engine and leave them in the car. They'll come pretty close to slipping onto the RB25.
The easiest way to remove the drive train is from below, cross members and all. To do this, remove the bolt holding the steering shaft U-joint in place, unbolt the lower control arms and swing them out of the way, remove the front anti-roll bar and support the car on something other than the cross member (the frame rails under the foot wells will work). Support the engine with an engine hoist and the transmission with a floor jack.
Now, unbolt the engine and transmission cross members from the car, and lower the driveline to the floor. If you have a low-profile furniture dolly, you may want to set the engine on that. Just remember, the KA24 driveline weighs about 540 pounds with cross members and steering rack attached.
Hook the engine hoist to the lower radiator core support and lift the nose of the car high enough that you can slide the engine out from below.
Now is a good time to clean the engine compartment and possibly even paint it. Check below the master cylinder for peeling paint and repair it now while you can get to it. This is also the time for new fuel hoses and a new 300ZX fuel filter. You should also consider upgrading the fuel pump. The stock fuel pump, if it's in good shape, may support the stock RB25 for a while, but a tired pump or an increase in boost could be trouble. A Q45 or 300ZX pump will do the job unless you have enormous power goals, in which case, you better be able to figure out fuel pumps on your own.
If you bought an entire front clip, you'll have to pull the RB25 from the clip as well. The belt-driven cooling fan from the Skyline won't fit the smaller 240SX engine compartment, so go ahead and remove it, along with the fan shroud. While you have the engine on the ground, this is a good time to consider replacing the clutch. The R33 Skyline GT-S 2.5t uses a 240-mm clutch with the same critical dimensions as the non-turbo Z32. A stock Z32 clutch will work, though it may be a little weak if you crank the boost. Jim Wolf Technology also has upgraded units that should handle more than 500 lb-ft of torque. The R34 versions of this engine used a pull-type clutch. You're on your own finding replacements for that one.
Part 2 - Mounting the Engine:
If you're eating rice and beans just to pay for the engine, you'll be glad to hear it will bolt in using the R33 cross member and fit well enough to get you on the road, but the engine will sit a little higher and a little farther forward than is ideal. Some of the hood bracing will have to be removed to clear the throttle body and blow-off valve flange and the shifter will sit about an inch and a half forward of the center of the shifter hole in the floor. The cast-iron downpipe will also interfere with the steering shaft, and the transmission cross member won't quite bolt in properly. The severity of the steering shaft interference varies from car to car, depending on how all the manufacturing tolerances stack up, how worn out the mounts are and how bent the car is. In some cases, you may simply need to notch the downpipe a bit, in others; you may need to fabricate a new one. Just remember, the engine will move around when it's making torque and from cornering loads, so give the steering shaft some room. You don't want the steering locking up in a moment of hard acceleration and cornering.
Both the Skyline and 240SX cross members are designed to accept left- or right-hand-drive steering racks, so putting your old rack on the Skyline cross member is simple. The power steering return line from the 240SX is aluminum and is designed to act as a power steering cooler by running back and forth across the front of the cross member before returning to the reservoir.
The front of the Skyline cross member is a different shape however, and the line won't fit. You have three choices here. Either skip the cooler and run a new piece of power-steering hose from the rack directly to the reservoir (not recommended), install a real cooler, or grab the old aluminum lines with both hands and bend them until they fit. You'll need to add some adell clamps, zip-ties, or bits of bailing wire to hold the lines in place if you take the third option.
The Skyline's transmission cross member is nearly identical to the one on the 240SX, but the transmission is longer, so it won't line up with the holes in the car. Again, you have options.
If this is just a show car, file the bolt holes on the transmission mount so it can slide forward on the transmission a half inch or so. Then shove on the flimsy, flexy transmission mount until the center hole on each side of the cross member (originally a drain hole, not a bolt hole, but it will work) lines up with the rearmost mounting hole on the car. Bolt it on with one bolt on each side (it's supposed to have two) and go polish something. Oh, sure, the top of the transmission will be jammed up into the top of the tunnel, but that won't really matter on a show car.
Now, if you actually intend to use that big turbo six to make power, two bolts aren't enough, and having the transmission hitting the tunnel won't do. Lying in a pool of sweat and gear oil assessing the situation with Brian Flynn of Super Tuner Motorsports (who was doing all the heavy lifting on this particular job), we realized both the height and mounting hole shortage could be addressed with a simple pair of billet-aluminum spacers designed to lower the transmission and relocate the holes simultaneously. He's going to make the spacers, we're going to tell you where to get them:
Finally, if you want the engine to sit low enough to clear the hood bracing, the shifter to sit where it used to, the steering shaft not to hit the downpipe and everything to bolt in properly, there's a third option. McKinney Motorsports in San Diego, Calif., unStable Hybrids in Conyers, Ga., and by the time you read this, probably Super Tuner Motorsports in Ridgecrest, Calif., all make engine mount kits that move the engine down and back about an inch and a half. In addition to making everything fit better, moving the drive train, which weighs about 650 pounds, shifts the center of gravity in exactly the right direction. This is also the ideal option if you have an engine, transmission, harness and ECU, but no front clip.
Part 3 - Driveshaft, Cooling, and Intercooler:
The RB25's transmission is slightly longer, and the output shaft slightly larger than the 240SX, so a new driveshaft is needed. If the Skyline's driveshaft yoke was included in your clip, slide it into the transmission and shove it all the way forward. Then bolt the stock driveshaft to the differential and let it hang. Measure the distance from the center of the U-joint on the diff to the center of the U-joint on the back of the transmission and--this part is important--subtract 1 inch to allow for driveline movement. Take all the pieces to a driveline shop and tell them "I want this yoke (Skyline) and this rear U-joint (240SX) on a one-piece driveshaft this long (your measurement)." Then give them money (probably a few hundred bucks). If you don't have the Skyline yoke, you can use one from a twin-turbo Z.
If you try to shorten the stock two-piece driveshaft instead of making a new one-piece, it might work. Or the angle of the short front section of the driveshaft may get too steep, leading to a driveshaft failure. It's your choice. If you're using McKinney's mounts, the shop also offers a shortened one-piece driveshaft with larger U-joints that's ready to install.
An RB20DET uses the same size driveshaft yoke as the 240 SX, and is reported to accept the KA24 driveshaft without modification
Cooling: The stock 240SX radiator has nearly the same hose locations as the Skyline radiator, though the KA24DE uses a smaller hose than the RB25DET. Making it fit can be as simple as trimming a little from the ends of the Skyline hoses and using an adaptor to fit the 1.75-inch Skyline hose to the 1.75-inch 240SX radiator. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge, as the 240SX radiator was never intended for the thermal load a Skyline engine will put on it. In the long run, an upgrade, such as the Koyo aluminum radiator in our Project Silvia, may be in order.
If you got a front clip with an undamaged radiator, the much larger R33 radiator, according to unStable Hybrids, will just squeeze under the stock 240SX hood.
Depending on your mounting choice, the belt-driven fan may not fit, so you'll have to switch to electric fans. The Flex-a-lite Twin Line 320 dual 10-inch fans we used on our Project Silvia (June 2003) have been working well and would be a good choice for this application as well.
The S14 heater hoses are also a nearly perfect fit, sliding onto the RB25DET with only minor trimming.
Intercooler: The stock intercooler is a relatively small side-mount. Inlet and outlet plumbing is through the left front fender well. Holes will have to be drilled for the intercooler pipes and for the intercooler mounting bracket. This is not a direct bolt-on, but it's close. Of course, a front-mount is probably in the plans, so you could always just skip ahead to that.
Part 4 – Exhaust and Miscellaneous.
There are only two potential issues with the exhaust. First, the aforementioned clearance issues between the steering shaft and the downpipe casting. If this is a serious issue on your car, you may have to make a new downpipe.
Super Tuner Motorsports is also making one, so you can buy it from them. If the B-pipe that connects the downpipe casting to the catalytic converter came with your engine (sometimes it comes on front clips, sometimes it doesn't), it should bolt right up to the 240SX exhaust. You'll want a bigger exhaust, of course, but at least it won't have to be custom made. If this B-pipe is missing, Night7 offers a 3-inch B-pipe for about $250.
The throttle cable is long enough to reach the RB25DET throttle body, but it has less free cable at the end than the Skyline cable did. This can be remedied by moving the throttle cable mounting bracket closer to the throttle body with a simple sub-bracket.
Assuming you've already dealt with the power steering cooler on the return line, there are only two more power steering lines to deal with. Both the high and low-pressure lines from the KA24 power steering pump will bolt onto the Skyline pump. The high-pressure line will have to loop around on itself a bit, but just tell people it's a vibration isolation loop and they'll leave you alone.
If the Skyline cross member and engine mounts are used, you should also be prepared for interference between the front anti-roll bar and the oil pan. Small (3/4 to 1 inch) spacer blocks between the bar's pivot bushings and the frame rails should solve the problem.
Part 5 - Wiring:
You know all those wires in the Skyline clip? Get them. What you do with them depends on your comfort level with electronics. If you want the cleanest harness possible, send the Skyline and 240SX harnesses to McKinney Motorsports or unStable Hybrids, and they'll splice the two together, eliminating anything unnecessary and returning a working harness. If you don't have a harness at all, call McKinney and start crying. McKinney is working with Jim Wolf Technology to run the RB25DET on the VG30DETT ECU from a twin-turbo Z and a modified Z harness. As of this writing, that project is unfinished, but maybe your tears will motivate them to finish.
If you hate electronics and just want everything to work as quickly as possible, Night Szevyn Racing suggests removing your dash and transferring both the engine and dash harnesses from the Skyline. You can lay the Skyline dash harness right over the 240SX harness and power them both up with the ignition switch. The terminals on the back of the switch are all labeled with letters, just make sure the five ignition switch wires on the Skyline harness go to the same letters they originally went to.
This method will force you to use the Skyline instrument cluster, which sort of fits. It isn't really the right shape, and none of the mounting bolt holes actually line up, but it kinda wedges into the space allotted. Running two parallel dash wiring harnesses will leave you with a lot of extra wires and plugs, but at least it won't take much time.
Part 6 - The Moment of Truth:
This is when you think back to the last time you drove your KA24-powered 240 and wonder if you used premium fuel. You'll need it now. While you're thinking about that, call every car friend you have and get them to look at your installation and find your mistakes before you start the car.
Fire it up and go look for corners and Supras.
McKinney Motorsports: http://www.mckinneymotorsports.com
Super Tuner Motorsports: http://www.supertunermotorsports.co
How-To by rotory-lover