Project Drift Chick – Part 4


In part 4 we cover the installation and assembly of the Ford Supercharged Aluminator engine and drivetrain in the car. From drivetrain components to cooling to exhaust, this chapter provides some interesting insights regarding the work tasks required for success.  Read on!


Clutch and Bellhousing

A Quicktime bell housing was procured to mate the G-Force GSR transmission to the engine. To assure proper alignment, a dial indicator was mounted to the flywheel and rotated around the bell housing opening to check alignment to the crankshaft centerline. Everything checked out so the team was good for clutch install.

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The massive 11 inch diameter ACT twin disc clutch with ACT flywheel was then installed. The clutch used is rated to hold 1120 ft-lbs and should work flawlessly in this application.



A Tilton release bearing was then installed in the bell housing and shimmed for proper clutch release and engagement. This set up is nice in that the release bearing comes off with the bell housing.

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The team also removed the Ford pilot bearing and replaced it with a bushing that would properly fit both the Aluminator crankshaft and the input shaft of the G-Force transmission.


Ford Performance Parts Supercharger

The Ford Racing / Roush Performance supercharger kit  comes neatly packaged and was quickly installed on the engine.

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A few modifications of the block and front cover were required to provide clearance for the supercharger assembly and the 8 rib belt and pulley set up which runs much closer to the block.


The Roush/Ford Performance Parts instruction set provides excellent step by step instructions with plenty of photos to guide the installation using the 6 rib belt system provided with the kit. The upgrade to the 8 rib set up was to minimize possible slippage with the smaller 69mm drive pulley under the rigors of drifting.

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To help keep vibrations and harmonics in check the an ATI Super Damper was installed at the crank.

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With the intercooler and compressor set in place and bolted down…


The belt and pulley system could be installed. The pulleys supplied with the Ford kit were all replaced with the 8 rib parts

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To achieve 16 to 17 pounds of boost, a 69mm supercharger pulley was used along with a 5% overdrive crankshaft pulley. 

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To support the 8 rib set up, the power steering pump was also fitted with an 8 rib pulley and mounted to the block using a Ford Performance Parts pump bracket.  The pump pulley was carefully aligned and overall pulley alignment checked before final installation of all components.


The Ford Racing supercharger kit provided a supercharger coolant pump and heat exchanger.

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While the pump was deemed good for the application, Dan evaluated a larger heat exchanger to battle heat soak at higher boost levels.  Ultimately, the kit heat exchanger was used given budget and time constraints, but was modified by the team to add a 16 inch high flow slim line fan to help keep the system cool while under duress. The team will evaluate the need for a possible upgrade for next season.

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Canton provided a variety of cools products for the car including a sweet supercharger coolant tank and catch can which rounded out the super charger cooling system.

Canton Parts

The cold air intake provided with the system to feed the supercharger could not be used as is under the hood of Kelsey’s 240sx as it was physically too big and used a MAF as part of the system which adapted two different sized connections so Dan came up with a minor modifications.  Starting with the MAF that would not be used in this application, Dan cut the MAF apart to fabricate an adapter that shortened the intake so the massive air filter could be retained, mated to the throttle body and located, mostly, under the hood. Essentially, the middle section of the MAF was removed and the two ends pressed together to make an adapter.

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Making progress!

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Cooling 101

Keeping a high powered drift car cool is a challenge for most teams and Team Driftchick wanted to get it right.  After realizing a rear mounted radiator was the only option, Dan set out to find a radiator capable of cooling the car that would also fit in the rear of the car without major modification.  A Mishimoto radiator was chosen and then modified to accommodate the -20AN hose and fitting to be used for the coolant.

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A shroud was modified to accept larger high flow fans to aid in cooling,

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Mishimoto X-Line race fans were used to assure a high volume of air flow through the radiator to keep the Aluminator cool under the harshest of conditions.

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The stock Ford Coyote mechanical water pump was determined to be sufficient to move the coolant from front to back.

Since the radiator was designed to fit a Toyota Supra, Dan devised a mounting scheme modeled after the approach used in the Supra. The team implemented the design perfectly.

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Surprises do come in big packages….

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At this point the team received a very important and timely delivery from Vibrant Performance whose hoses, fittings, aluminum and stainless bends, weld rod and fabrication hardware would be used throughout the build. Vibrant Performance products were described as the glue that held all the systems together.

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To allow use of AN hoses and fittings at the engine, the team fabricated an aluminum tube “T” fitting which was welded to the outlet of thermostat housing.

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An AN fitting was also welded to the inlet side of the housing to accommodate the Vibrant Performance hoses and fittings that would carry the coolant.

Since the hoses would be routed through the cabin of the car, Formula Drift rules required an enclosure for the hoses to help prevent driver injury in the unlikely event of a leak.  The team chose to run the hose through Vibrant Performance aluminum tube which was assembled by welding and using silicone couplers to allow for disassembly and removal.

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The hoses and tubes can be fully removed from the car quite quickly, if needed.

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The tubes were placed to run under the passenger seat and the interior cross brace was cut and welded to allow passage.

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High quality coolant surge tanks, both front and rear, were provided by Canton Racing products. While the rear surge serves as the high point of the system, the front tank provides the important and required bleed point for the engine itself to help prevent air in the system from reducing cooling system effectiveness. -20 AN male fittings were welded on the radiator to accommodate the Vibrant Performance fittings.

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Coolant lines were routed to the engine bay for final connection.  Also posing in the photo is the nice Canton catch can used by the team. Due to space limitations, only one catch can was used so an additional -12AN fitting was welded to the can to accept flow from both heads.


With coolant lines and fittings in place, Note the fabricated “T” fitting. The black tube was later replaced with an AN fitting and is the return line from the surge/swirl tank.


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Let the coyote breath – an exhausting process

One of the biggest and most time consuming challenges faced by the team was the modification of the stock Ford Coyote exhaust manifolds to fit the chassis. The team concluded this approach would be faster than a full custom exhaust manifold and, given the limited time available, chose this approach even though it would sacrifice some high end horsepower. The team tried to retain as much of the flange and tubing as possible while also reusing the stock Y collectors.

The passenger side manifold was nearly 3/4 of an inch too wide for the frame rail, and that was after the stock flange was removed. Bringing it closer to the block would have been simple if the manifold did not also need to clear the starter motor.  On the driver’s side, the manifold was too wide at the outlet flange and also had to be carefully modified to fit around the steering shaft previously installed by the team.

Work started by cutting off the offending parts of the manifolds and then carefully cutting and fitting tubes to reroute the manifolds

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Dan led an excellent team with Dan handling the measuring, cutting and fitting while Kaizen handled the TIG welding using Vibrant Performance stainless steel weld wire.  A combination of cut up manifold parts and Vibrant Performance stainless steel tube were used to make all the modifications.


As parts were cut, they were welded into place in a mostly step by step process to produce the finished manifolds. 

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Here are the completed modified manifolds….You could say…”Coyote Ugly” but very functional and actually a nice bit of fabrication work.

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Below you can see the fitment around the steering shaft and how little space the team had to fit the exhaust.

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And…Installed on the engine

The team then fabricated the exhaust system using Vibrant Performance V-Band clamps, flex couplings and tubing, including four inch oval tube.

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Vibrant flexible couplings were used to allow the exhaust system to move slightly with chassis flex to reduce stress on the system.

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The complete exhaust system can easily be removed for service and repairs when needed.

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The stock out of the box Aluminator comes with a nice small oil filter block with integrated oil cooler and a Ford Racing oil filter.  Unfortunately, the combination is too large for the Nissan chassis and filter relocation would be required.

Work started with a Ford Performance Parts Coyote oil line adapter to allow use of the remote filter and a much larger externally mounted oil cooler. Given the team slightly relocated the alternator, the adapter had to be “massaged” slightly to clear the bolt and nut now used to mount the alternator.

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Fed by Vibrant Performance hose and fittings, a Canton Racing Products remote oil filter mount and oil cooler were used in the system. Also shown below is the Canton power steering cooler.


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To help assure adequate oiling under the worst of conditions, a Canton Racing Products two quart Accusump was plumbed into the system.  A Vibrant Performance check valve assures emergency oil from the Accusump flows in the proper direction, if ever needed. 

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To help provide ventilation for the crankcase and to handle blow-off, Canton Racing Products provided an oil catch can for the car as noted above. 

Fuel system

Dan calculated that the Ford Coyote based supercharged Aluminator NA engine operating at high boost would consume mass quantities of Thunderbolt Racing Fuel’s E85. Working closely with Deatschwerks, a system was designed to handle all fueling needs. 

Starting with a custom FuelSafe fuel cell, a Deatschwerks DW300 in tank pump was used to feed a DW3.5L modular surge tank fitted with dual DW350iL fuel pumps and DW filters. A 100 micron inline filter was placed after the surge tank to filter the output of the dual DW350iL’s. Unfortunately, Deatschwerks released its slick new fuel pressure regulator after the car was built.  In the future, the team will be installing the Deatschwerks FPR ( the team has tested it, and it worked flawlessy, but some fuel line modifications will be required for the permanent installation).

Fuel safe created a new size cell for the car and supplied the custom powder coat worthy of a Drift Chick.

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Deatschwerks new in tank 100 micon filters and surge tank were installed in the car to create a robust and effective fuel system.

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DW 350iL Fuel pumps deliver the fuel through Vibrant Performance E85 rated hose and fittings!



Deatschwerks 1200cc DV2 Injectors were selected to handle the mass quantities of Thunderbolt E85 required the fuel the beast.

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A look at the very functional Vibrant Performance E85 compatible hose and fittings that carries fuel to the engine and injectors. 

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One of the final tasks in installing the engine and supercharger cooling systems was to locate the various reservoirs, catch cans and surge tanks required for successful operation.  And, the Coyote based engine, by design, requires a breather setup to eliminate air in the cooling system, a critical component.  With limited space available, the team came up with a nice grouping for the items.



All fluid lines were plumbed using Vibrant Performance hose and fittings. Assembling the hoses and hose ends is easy with Vibrant. Kelsey shows you how in this short video.  

We’ve covered quite a bit of ground here in Part 4.  Take a break and stay tuned for part 5!!

Project-DriftChick-part-5Click here to go to Part 5

Return to the Crew Chief’s Garage

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