IN CASE you missed the memo, I’ve been building a VL Commodore to take on this year’s Street Machine Drag Challenge.

The aim is to run low 10s (possibly high nines) reliably, with the good old Nissan dirty 30 boosted by a Turbonetics 64/65 billetwheel turbo. We’ll be running a Haltech Elite ECU, which will control the flex fuel system as well as the ICE Ignition coil-pack set-up.

We’re also using a full suite of goodies from Turbosmart, including a Race Port blow-off valve (yes, a VL with a blow-off valve – crazy, I know) and a Hypergate external wastegate.

Last time we checked in with my RB30 build at Powerhouse Engines we were machining the block ready to receive its new forged Spool rods and pistons. We started with a line-hone, then decked the block, gave it a bore and torque-plate hone, and then balanced the bottom-end rotating assembly.

We also gave the single-overhead-cam cylinder head a port and polish for improved air flow.

All that was left to do was put it all back together, which is what we’re doing this issue. Here you’ll see the steps taken to go from a bare block and a box of parts to a fully assembled engine.

The next step will be to get this thing on the engine dyno to see how much grunt we can squeeze out of the little RB30 before it goes into the car. We’ll have it set up exactly as it will be in the VL, with our Plazmaman intercooler all plumbed up, and we’ll be turning the wick up to around 30psi. The original power figure I had in mind for this thing was 600hp, so we’ll see if we achieve that – or go completely overboard, much like everything else with this build has!


We start with the bare block that you saw us machine up last issue. We gave it a line-hone to get our bearing clearances all spot-on, followed by a bore and torque-plate hone, as the new Spool CP pistons are 86.5mm compared to the RB30 bore of 86mm. Trevor is back again standard RB30 bore of 86mm. Trevor is back again to assemble the engine. First he seats the bearings, then fits the crank girdle using ARP main studs, and checks the clearances


Before the crankshaft goes into the engine, we give it a balance. This machine measures the weight at either end of the crank as it spins. Trevor takes small amounts of material off each end until it’s even.

Then we repeat the process, but with the Yella Terra flexplate on


Now that we’ve balanced the crank we can install it in the engine block for the final time. Trevor checks that it clears everything and turns smoothly


Here we’re preparing the cylinder head for its final assembly. We’re fitting the valve-stem seals, Manley stainless-steel valves and the Crow Cams double valve springs. On cylinder one we use two soft springs that can easily be pushed down to check valve-to-piston clearances later in the process


Last issue we balanced the bottom end, and because we’re using aftermarket rods, we had to allocate rods to their cylinders. With the piston rings fitted and gapped, rod number one is mated to its piston, and with a gentle tap of the hammer it slides into the block


WHILE the engine was at Powerhouse getting built, we fitted a dummy motor to the car so we could make up all of the intercooler piping, ready for the engine dyno. Adam Rogash and the boys at MPW in Dandenong mounted up the Plazmaman intercooler and then made the stainless pipes to suit my forward-facing plenum and exhaust manifold.

As you can see by the photos, we went through the guards on either side and down and around into either side of the ’cooler. With the way we’ve mounted the intercooler, it doesn’t hang down below the front bumper at all, so it’s pretty stealthy.

While we were on the tools, we also mounted the Turbosmart Race Port blow-off valve and 45mm Hypergate HP external wastegate. With this boost management hardware we can run north of 30psi, so I’m hanging out to see the whole thing together on the engine dyno and making power. 132


Before the rest of the pistons and rods are installed we have to check clearances with the cylinder head. The piston sits about 5thou proud of the block at top dead centre. We sit the cylinder head on and using the two soft valve springs we installed earlier, we’re able to easily check piston-tovalve clearance


While the cylinder head is on, we continue the head assembly by sliding in the camshaft. For this build I’ve gone with the Crow Cams Street Race cam (part no. 503TX2), which has 230 degrees duration at 0.050in lift on the intake and exhaust. This is a great cam for RB30s running over 20psi of boost and spinning up to 7000rpm, and it fits a standard cam tunnel


On goes the Nissan GT-R oil pump. This is a common upgrade for RB-series engines making significantly more power than standard, as the factory RB30 oil pump wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demands of this big-boost built motor. You can also get them with billet gears, but this will get the job done with my set-up


Now it’s time to install the rest of the Spool pistons and rods. John lines the cylinder walls with oil, then slides the piston-and-rod assembly into the block


With all the pistons in, it’s time to put the cylinder head back on the engine for the final time. But first the soft valve springs on cylinder one are swapped out for the Crow double valve springs


Here we’re finishing the engine assembly by installing the rocker gear. These RB30s are pretty indestructible, so we’re sticking with the factory gear


Finally we fit the ASR high-volume sump, rocker cover and intake and exhaust manifolds. Now we just have to wire up the Haltech Elite ECU with my Raceworks 1300cc injectors and ICE Ignition coil packs and we’ll be ready to rock ’n’ roll on the engine dyno s