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Author Topic: Rugged Rocks Pathfinder VG33 Engine Build  (Read 11468 times)
SteeevO
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« on: September 15, 2014, 10:46:29 PM »

The pathfinder has had a little bit of a rough year, but in the end has ended up being better than ever!
I'm hoping this story / build will actually help other people that are planning on rebuilding VG33E or VG30E engines.
If anyone has any questions along the way, please feel free to chime in and ask questions.

Back in Feb. we were out at the King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, CA like we do every year.
We had plenty of people gathered around at camp, a few short trail runs to do, and even a magazine shoot scheduled.

Leading up to going to KOH, I did notice that the pathfinder started to smell like it was starting to burn oil. it had been going on for a little while but it wasn't anything super concerning at the time. it was still running strong and I'd periodically check the oil level.
The second day in JV, I got up and met Ken Brubaker to shoot the Pathfinder for a magazine article. the shoot went great, and it was cool to meet Ken who was impressed with the build. Right around the time the shoot was done I noticed the burning oil smell was getting worse. I knew a new an engine build was in my future but I didn't think it would be quite this soon. The following night we were leaving camp to go run a trail called Elvis. It would be one of our last opportunities to run the trail since the 29 Palms Base would be expanding soon to encompass this area, therefore being shut off to wheeling forever. So we rounded up our friends and headed out. Before we even got to the nearest road, my friend michael pulled up next to me, signaled to roll down my window and then ask, "Does your truck always smoke like that when it's cold?!". Puzzled as to what we was talking about, I looked behind us and what I first thought was dust, was about 20% dust cloud and 80% smoke. I immediately turned off the rig, looked around underneath and saw oil actually dripping from an exhaust port. Needless to say at this point the rig barely started and had minimal power. I pulled it onto the trailer back at camp, rode with someone else the rest of the trip and then started the new build as soon as I got back home. After all, GoneMoab was only a few months away.



The hunt for a rebuildable engine started as soon as I got back home.
I actually had the original vg30E that came with the truck that I had been planning on rebuilding.
I originally thought it would be cool to have the origina motor back under the hood. but when it came down to it... I opted for the VG33.
I thought it would be nice to have a little bit more power. 
After a few days I had a vg33E that I was hoping would be rebuildable. the crank turned smooth so I took that as a good sign and picked it up for if I remember right... $350
It had a blown head gasket but figured the parts would all still be good after some machine work.

My goals for this eninge were simple, keep it a basic rebuild, rebuild it as a VG30E so it drops right back into the truck and make it reliable.
reliable as in, large overbore, heavy head work, and massive cams were out of the question. It also must pass smog and not get much worse gas mileage than what what the truck was getting with the 3.0.
I wanted this to be more or less a budget build.

so here was the plan:
-I wanted larger cams, but not super huge so I opted to use the 3.0 cams instead of the 3.3L cams because they are larger and I was able to source them from one of my old VG30 engines.
-Since the heads were going to be machined and taken apart I figured I'd take the opportunity to do some minor head work. just to smooth things out and make it more efficient but not do a full port job.
I want the torque to stay at lower RPM's since we won't be bouncing this thing off the rev limiter. I typically wheel / crawl at about 2000 RPM's
-have it look bone stock when it goes back together includig putting the oil filter on the side of the block rather than on the front like most vg33E engines.

so the adventure turning wrenches begins.
I pushed the old VG30E to the side and got the VG33 on the engine stand. I flipped it over and started taking it apart.
I needed to get down to the bare block.








I was going to need some part from the VG30 as well.
So I tore it down too:

It basically looks the same just.. older and stinkier.





Both cranks were sent out to the machine shop, the vg33 crank would get reground, balanced etc.. as well as some machine work to the snout to accomodate the VG30 oil pump. this is neccessary to relocate the oil filter to the side of the VG33 Block.



The 3.3 Heads and block were also sent out. (no pics of this drty stuff)




[To be continued]

This story can also be found on the followning forums: NPORA, SCCX, Xterra Nation, and ronin wheelers.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2014, 10:53:13 PM by SteeevO » Logged

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conor1123
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 08:31:57 AM »

How many miles were on it again?? 3XX,XXX something? I found out I didn't even blow a head gasket. It was just the lower intake gasket hah!

I actually just finished my VG34 this weekend Smiley It runs amazingly. I'll try to get a video eventually.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 08:35:57 AM by conor1123 » Logged

1993 Pathfinder 4x4
3" lift ~ 3" BL ~ 33's
Ready for SAS Smiley
SteeevO
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2014, 09:37:40 PM »

my original motor had 347,000, this one had about 300,000 and was a junk yard drop in just to hold me over at the time.

Good to hear that your VG34 has gone together well.
have you driven it yet?
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SteeevO
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2014, 10:53:39 PM »

OP Updated
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NissanNut
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2015, 12:00:59 PM »

Pretty cool. I just bought my 7th VG powered nissan. I plan to rebuild one day. I just want to upgrade exhaust studs and relocate oil filter. The oil filter up front is so awesome!

You only need a Quest 1st gen oil pump and d40 pickup tube and mount. 
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Barry
92 Pathy SAS 3link 35s
05 Armada SE-V8
04 Quest SE V6
SteeevO
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2015, 03:44:04 PM »

Right on! I just wanted to keep the engine looking at stock as physically possible.
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Nissan Off Road & 4x4 Forum
   

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