My Nitrous project is under way...
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, My Nitrous project is under way... in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I have decided to spray my 2001 STS with wet nitrous that I am assembling from component parts rather than ...
  1. #1
    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Post My Nitrous project is under way...

    I have decided to spray my 2001 STS with wet nitrous that I am assembling from component parts rather than using a kit. I will post the details of the installation process, along with photos, as soon as I have collected all of the parts. So far, I have aquired the following components:

    1 10 lb NOS Bottle
    14 ft. Steel Braided Supply line
    1 Inline Nitrous Filter Fitting
    1 NOS No. 16080 Fuel Powershot Solonoid with Fuel Filter
    1 NOS No. 16000 Nitrous Cheater Solonoid
    1 NOS No. 16050 Fuel Solonoid
    2 24" Steel Braided Supply lines
    1 Power Wing Wet Fogger Nozzle

    I will need to collect the following components in order to begin the project:

    1 Purge solonoid
    1 or Two Purge Nozzles
    1 Purge Tee Fitting
    1 RPM Window Switch
    1 Fuel Pressure Switch
    1 Nitrous pressure switch
    1 Arming Switch
    1 WOT Switch
    1 Pressure triggered Bottle Warmer
    1 Blowoff Safety Adapter
    1 Remote Bottle Opener
    1 Fuel Rail Test Port Adapter Fitting
    1 Bottle Mounting Kit
    3 Fuel Jets, .020, .023, .028
    3 Nitrous Jets .034, .040, .048
    1 24" Steel Braided supply line
    1 Bottle Adapter with Guage
    1 Digital Cockpit Guage
    1 System Armed LED (Yellow)
    1 N2O "Pressure Good" LED (Blue)
    1 RPM Window Active LED (Green)
    1 "Nitrous Flowing" LED (Flashing Green)
    1 "Bottle Open" LED (Green)
    1 Solonoid Relay
    Various Fittings/Wire

    I will be working from basic instructions given by John Williamson at http://www.dynopower.freeserve.co.uk/nitrous_oxide/, including the technique of jetting the nitrous and fuel at the solonoids rather than at the nozzle. Mr. Williamson describes some very good reasons for doing this, and also describes his method of modifying industrial gas solonoids for nitrous use, and making his own jets.
    I will be using commercially available NOS solonoids and jets since they can be found reasonably priced on eBay.

    My first task is to collect all of the parts, of course, and then figure out where to mount the cockpit controls without damaging the stock interior. I am examining the space with the flip-up door beneath the radio as a possible
    place to mount the arming switch, bottle opener switch, digital pressure guage, purge button, and diagnostic/status LED's. I have an OBDII scan tool for my laptop (ELM Scanner) and software that will allow me to balance the fuel/nitrous jets by monitoring the O2 sensors and ignition advance.

    I will be installing redundant safety systems to protect the engine, and will inhibit the operation of the solonoids if either the fuel/nitrous pressures are out of range, or when the RPM window is below 3000 RPM, or above 7000, if the ECU cuts the fuel at RPM limit, or if excessive knock is detected.

    After installing the system, I intend to begin adding power starting with the .020 fuel jet, and the .034 nitrous jet which, at 43 psi fuel pressure, should give me around 50 BHP.

    I will be running on 5 gallons of 97 octane unleaded, with 1 1/2 quarts of toluene to bring the octane up to around 100.

    My scanner software includes a drag timer, and rudementary dyno screens. I will make base runs after measuring ambient temp, track temp, and barometeric pressure without the system armed, and then comparison runs with the system armed. Don't expect to see great reaction times; I am not very experienced at drag racing so I expect to see some rather below-average 0-60 times at the track. I do hope there are some ricers there that day.

    After verifying performance improvements with the 50 shot, I will install the 75 HP jets, re-run the tests, and then jet up to 100.

    Well, back to the parts hunt. Wish me luck.

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  3. #2
    danbuc's Avatar
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Sounds liek you got quite the project going here. Be sure to let us know when you get everything together. If you can, take some pictures of the install too.

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    weister42 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    WOW you might wanna get some better rubber for the extra 100+HP to the front wheels...I suppose this do not apply to earlier N* with higher compression ratio?

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    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Quote Originally Posted by weister42
    WOW you might wanna get some better rubber for the extra 100+HP to the front wheels...I suppose this do not apply to earlier N* with higher compression ratio?
    You actually have an advantage if you own an earlier OBDI system, since you have control over your ignition advance curve using aftermarket performance chips. The 10.3:1 compression of the earlier northstars merely will require you to retard your timing a few degrees to avoid knock when using above a 50 shot. And you certainly will want to run the highest octane fuel available to you. A wet nitrous system appears to be the safest and simplest since it provides its own fuel. Dry systems can be limited by the stock injectors, and the inability of the stock ECU to compensate with enough fuel at higher nitrous injection rates. I decided not to modify my stock injectors or fuel pressure, since doing so would mess up the driveability of my car when not running nitrous, especially since I have no way the change the maps in my ECU.

    Does anyone know if the stock Northstar pistons are forged aluminum?

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    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Arrow Re: My Nitrous project is under way...Update

    Some of the little expenses that can add up real quickly are the fittings needed to connect the steel braided hoses to the system. NOS is asking for between $9.00 and $19.00 for simple flared Tee's, couplings, and NPT/Flare fittings. A little research discovers that these fittings ar no more than brake line fittings, many of which come in blue anodized aluminum, exactly like the NOS fittings, for less than 1/3 of the price. Typically the threads in a fuel or nitrous solonoid are 1/8" or 1/4" N.P.T., depending on the flow, and the flares are simply AN3 or AN4, the "3" designation meaning 3/16", and the "4" designation meaning 1/4". So, an AN3 to AN3 to 1/8" NPT Tee costs a mere $6.00 or less when bought as a brake part, and the smaller fittings cost between $3.00 and $4.00.

    I am working out the electrical schematic for the system, simple as it is, but I intend to include all of the engine protection devices possible. The first device in the circuit will be the arming switch.

    All nitrous systems I have ever seen are series wired, meaning that any safety device in the circuit can open the circuit and stop the flow of nitrous and fuel, as when the driver releases the throttle, or fuel pressure drops below a set point, or the RPM limit is about to cut fuel.

    The problem is, these same devices can re-establish the circuit and resume the flow if an error condition clears itself, such as can happen if a fuel pressure switch begins to fail, or the window switch shorts internally. One of the worst scenarios I can imagine (besides an extreme lean condition caused by lack of fuel) is if the nitrous and fuel flow became "stuck" on because of a failed closed switch.

    This is why I am debating whether or not to use a latch circuit for control over the system power. This would mean that the arming switch supplies power to the system, and a pushbutton "engages" the system, truly arming for action. Any number of events could break the latch, shutting down the system, including tapping the brakes.

    I know what you're thinking; if I wire the system to shut down when the brake pedal is depressed, how will I power brake to get off the line, and have the nitrous kick in at WOT above 3000 RPM? Using relay ladder logic, I can have the brake switch checked when the system is engaged, if the brake is on, the system will engage, likewise if the brake is off. But if the brake transitions from off to on, it will disengage the system.

    This will allow me to depress the brake when the car is staged, and engage the nitrous, release the brakes, launch at WOT, nitrous kicks in around 3000 RPM via the window switch, and nitrous kicks off if either I release the accelerator, or hit the brakes.

    The nitrous and fuel would also kick off if a number of other things happen, like the WOT switch transitions from on to off, or if the window switch sees the RPM getting above or below to its limit, or if the fuel flow to the fogger begins to fail, and it would not kick back in unless the error is cleared, and the engage button is pressed again. Redundant devices would further prevent disasters caused by stuck switches; dual fuel pressure switches before and after the fuel solonoid, wired in series, the second one ignored like the brake pedal when the system is engaged, becoming active when the fuel pressure checks good by the first switch. Dual WOT switches, wired in series. Perhaps even an O2 monitor that shuts the system down if it detects a lean condition for any reason (clogged fogger nozzle?) And no devices would be activated by connecting any part of the circuit to ground as I have seen in some other systems; this is a recipe for disaster. The system I am considering would require a minorly complex set of relays, or I might go as far as wiring together a solid-state controller using a few logic gates, but a fail-safe system is worth having to protect this expensive engine.

  7. #6
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bunds
    Does anyone know if the stock Northstar pistons are forged aluminum?
    I believe the 2004-up Northstars do use forged pistons.

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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    *blinks*

    I think I'll just get a kit. Maybe you should write a book or something Mark.

  9. #8
    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    I have found the perfect controller. This device, the Automation Direct DL-05 is a full-featured industrial programmable logic controller. It comes in several configurations that allow a choice of power supplies, AC or DC inputs/outputs, etc. The particular model I have chosen will operate on 12 VDC, and uses 8 DC inputs, and 6 DC or Relay outputs, depending on the 12 V model chosen.

    This device is as capable as any nitrous controller around, and only costs $112.00. The downside is that it will require special programming software and a cable which adds another $75.00 to the price, but I already have those because I program units like this at work.

    The unit is small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, but it has 2 RS-232 ports, 2 high-speed counter inputs good to 5 khz, and it does interger math.

    It will work as a window switch if I can get the engine speed pulses into the high-speed counter input, and then activate the outputs connected to the fuel and nitrous solonoids based on a certain RPM range programmed into memory. It is also the perfect solution to my latched system, and will handle power braking via programming. It can output messages like RPM's and system status to an LCD display, and at the same time with the help of an ELM scan it might be able to monitor the OBDII system for oxygen sensor readings or other useful data for program processing or data display.

    It has enough inputs to handle all of the safety devices and control switches, and enough outputs to control fuel, nitrous, bottle heat, bottle opening, bottle closing, and status lights. And it has a single expansion slot if I need to add more I/O. The model with DC outputs could even toggle the solonoids fast enough for multi-staged nitrous feeding using a PID loop based on O2 readings!

    The downside to the outputs is that the relay types will only handle 2 amps, and the DC type will only handle 1/2 amp, meaning that I will have to drive a larger current source like another relay or solid-state switch to control the high current devices like the solonoids, heater, and bottle opener. Also, the relay type outputs could not be used reliably to pulse the solonoids for stage control, however the DC output type would be perfect for this, when driving a solid-state relay.

    This will be my system controller. It is cheap, powerful, and I will have complete control over its functions.
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    lry99eldo is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Just a note on Mark Bunds suggestion on brake line fittings and AN fittings. Although they can work together their is a possible leak source in mating a SAE 45 deg flair to an AN 37 deg flair. Also, brake fittings are SAE steel/stainless as opposed to most aftermarket AN fuel fittings being aluminum. True, they do manufacture in brass, steel, stainless, and aluminum, just try not to mix them. Steel to aluminum will seal only once in most cases and the aluminum part will need at least inspection before refastening.
    AN = 37 deg flare, SAE (brake line fittings) = 45 deg flare. Use steel to steel or aluminum to aluminum where ever possible and don't over tighten either one, that's the concept of the flare is to easily mate and seal.
    Have fun and remember to never arm system BEFORE you start the engine! KABOOM!
    lry99eldo

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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    How's the project going?

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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    I have collected the Nitrous Valve and a spare fuel valve, and ordered the PLC that I will use as a controller. I decided to use an Automation Direct DL-06 instead of the 05 because it is a much more capable unit.

    It will do floating-point math as well as PID which should make metering a lot more accurate.

    It also has 4 expansion slots, two of which I filled with one 4 DC in/4 DC out I/O card, and one 8-point Relay output card. The unit already has 20 DC inputs, and 16 DC outputs, so now I have 24 in and 28 out, plus 2 slots left over.

    The DL-06 also has a real-time clock, and a place to plug in a 2-line by 16 character LCD display, which I also ordered.

    It has 4 high-speed counter inputs, one of which I will use to read engine RPM and program my window switch.

    It can pulse the DC outputs up to 500 HZ, which should be more than enough to meter fuel and nitrous using a programmed PWM scheme.

    I can vary parameters using a simple keypad strip mounted below the unit, and I should have plenty of outputs to use for indicator and system status lights. I plan to eventually install an analog card to read the O2 sensors and apply some PID routines to help balance the flow of fuel to nitrous.

    I am collecting the last of the plumbing components next week, and will begin installing and documenting the project the following week.

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    chevelle is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    FYI...none of the Northstars have forged pistons. All of the pistons in production engines are cast pistons almost without exception throughout the industry.


    You did not specifically mention spark plugs. DEFINITELY get colder plugs as the engine will need them for preignition protection at the higher power output levels. Reduce the spark plug gap to about .040 and shorten the ground electrodes considerably by clipping and filing smooth. The ground electrodes should project only enough to reach the side of the center electrode. You will have to forgo dual platinum plugs for the colder heat range and for modifying the ground electrodes.

    The colder and modified plugs are probably the most important "protection" for the engine that you can provide for this type of development project. The engine will tend to force the spark plugs to overheat simply by making more power so the colder plugs are necessary regardless. If the engine should lean out or make more power (due to lack/loss of nitrous control) the cold plugs may be the only thing preventing runaway detonation and resulting preignition that will destroy the engine.

    Anytime you dive into a project like this always start with the coldest plugs you can possibly find to provide insurance against preignition until you get the package sorted out. Then you can start easing up on the plugs and start to get a better read on the heat range. If the plugs are not fouling...leave the coldest possible plugs in it, period.

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    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Quote Originally Posted by chevelle
    FYI...none of the Northstars have forged pistons. All of the pistons in production engines are cast pistons almost without exception throughout the industry.


    You did not specifically mention spark plugs. DEFINITELY get colder plugs as the engine will need them for preignition protection at the higher power output levels. Reduce the spark plug gap to about .040 and shorten the ground electrodes considerably by clipping and filing smooth. The ground electrodes should project only enough to reach the side of the center electrode. You will have to forgo dual platinum plugs for the colder heat range and for modifying the ground electrodes.

    The colder and modified plugs are probably the most important "protection" for the engine that you can provide for this type of development project. The engine will tend to force the spark plugs to overheat simply by making more power so the colder plugs are necessary regardless. If the engine should lean out or make more power (due to lack/loss of nitrous control) the cold plugs may be the only thing preventing runaway detonation and resulting preignition that will destroy the engine.

    Anytime you dive into a project like this always start with the coldest plugs you can possibly find to provide insurance against preignition until you get the package sorted out. Then you can start easing up on the plugs and start to get a better read on the heat range. If the plugs are not fouling...leave the coldest possible plugs in it, period.
    Thank you very, very much for this information! And also to the reader who pointed out the specifics of the different AN fittings. I have read a little about modifying the spark plugs, and your information provides one less research step. Thanks again!

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    Mark Bunds's Avatar
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Here is a picture of the DL-06 PLC with the LCD installed on the unit. I will move the LCD to a panel beneath the "ash tray" door where it can display arming status, RPM, O2, etc., while allowing me to adjust the flow or window switch parameters with the buttons on the LCD panel. I can also use the RS-232 DB15 connector to communicate with a built-in ELM Scan if I wish. This will be a sweet setup.
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    Re: My Nitrous project is under way...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bunds
    This will be a sweet setup.
    Damn straight it will. I am in awe of your devotion to this project. I'd have given up and bought an off the shelf kit a long time ago in your position.


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