Minty Smash: VK56 S13 Build Update #9

Greg has been updating the progress of the VK56 S13 build on a few local and national forums, but it is high time to get the blog updated with the build as well! Things are really taking shape and many of the hurdles are getting ironed out. The goal from day one has been to produce a COMPLETE swap kit that will make the swap a bolt-on, drop-in affair…and I’m excited to say we are nearing that goal!

It feels like a double post kind of weekend. I have been wanting to get to the motor and trans mounts, but I needed to be 100 percent happy with them before doing a post on them. This is about the most basic part of any swap, but it sets up so much of what will occur in the future that you need to get it right the first time around.

Initially, I used the factory VK56 motor mounts to just set the motor on the front cross-member and a jack to hold the trans in place. I really wanted to use the factory motor mounts but just couldn’t do it. They would have set the motor too high after the necessary adapter brackets were made and in place. Idea-bubble popped.

Moving ahead I decided to make some plates for the engine and front cross-member that would be bridged by 3/8″ rod, or as I have been calling them “stick mounts”. This was, by far, the best use of material and time. It allowed me to quickly and cheaply shift the motor right or left, up or down. Followed up by a very crappy but functional trans mount made out of 1/4″x1.5″ flat bar. The motor has lived on this setup for the past 3-4 months until about 2 weeks ago. I finally got to a point where I was waiting for more material or parts to arrive. So I began thinking about how I wanted to build my mounts.

I decided solid bushings were out for me. I knew a polyurethane mount setup wouldn’t allow too much movement, but would also keep vibrations down a little. I also figured by adding the poly bushing this would allow the mounts to work on Steven’s S14 setup since there is a slight angle change between the S14 and S13 front cross-member “horns”. I ended up using 1/4″ flat bar for my bases and 1.5″ round stock for the posts and bushing. Next up Jigs.

I had really been putting this step off. I really didn’t want to invest the time in the jig, and then have to remake the motor mounts in some way. I knew the jigs would take some time, material and have some permanence about it. So in an effort to do it once, I procrastinated this until I couldn’t any longer. The jig was fashioned out of some old metal I had laying around- c-channel, 1×2″ rectangle and 1×1/4″ flat bar. This was followed by a jig for the trans mount which was made from more c-channel and 1.5″ square tube. The most challenging portion of this whole process was keeping things at correct angles and square. The last jig I had to make was more of a spacer. I needed a way to replace the polyurethane bushing during welding of the motor mounts. My solution came in the form of telescoping some round stock and welding a washer on either end. This solution took me far too long to come up with but in the end works amazing.

Words got me this far but picture tell the rest.

Motor and trans in – centered and level:
Centered and Level photo IMG_0540.jpg

Attempted to clear brake booster, but had no room for an oil pan and still wouldn’t clear:
Trying to clear brake booster photo IMG_0542.jpg

Radiator fits. I use some sort of Nissan e-fan setup and it clears, barely:
Rad fits photo IMG_0545.jpg

Driver and Passenger side stick mount v1. I wanted to use aftermarket 240sx motor and trans mounts, but they were just too large once the headers started getting built:
V1 motor mounts VK56 DS photo IMG_0546.jpg
V1 motor mount VK56 PS photo IMG_0547.jpg

V2 stick mounts just used to hold spacing:
V2 Stick mount DS photo IMG_0802.jpg
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The v2 stick mounts helped to create the jig below:
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Next up was a template for the “U” portion of the new motor mounts:
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Which allowed this:
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Then I needed a spacing solution for the poly mount sleeves. It came in the form of this telescoping setup:
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Which got me to a couple tacked up mounts:
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Followed up with some TIG welding. It felt good to final weld something. It was a since of accomplishment and progression:
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I wanted to poly mount the transmission too. I got a pretty decent idea one day and decided to see if the GM mount they sell at every O’reilly and Advance Auto Parts would work. Picture says it all, zero modding, bolted up no issue:
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Utilitarian (read Rough) transmission mount:
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Poly mount sorted. It was time for a real transmission mount bracket. So I put together a jig with the Utilitarian Mount:
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Which allowed this prototype. I am not satisfied with this mount. It is too large and bulky but was necessary as it tested fitment and tested my jig. I will be remaking from some 1×1.5″ rectangle and at the same time I will be raising the trans 3/8 of an inch:
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Sorry for the filter but it lightened this picture. Prototype mount installed:
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This is a fun picture to see where this has come from – v1, v2 with v3 on the way:
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And in all this I dropped the TIG torch and broke the cup. It halted progress until I came up with this – wrapped with cotton string and zip ties. The ties never melted until I tried to weld continuous, I was very happy to be able to continue:
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