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  • 88sinZ
    started a topic The VG33E information thread

    The VG33E information thread

    Maybe the time is right, i've seen quite a few vg33 threads popping up in the past few months. How about we get this going?

    The official unofficial VG33E information.

    This was created to solve the problem of little information and many myths regarding the SOHC VG33E. As many are still unaware of all the differences this motor has compared to other variations in the VG engine line up, this thread and following post will build on the growing knowledge of understanding differences and modifying the VG33E. The following is to my current knowledge, over time I hope the forum members and moderators can both add to, and help keep this in order while simple to read.


    To start lets cover the models and years this engine was avaliable in. In some vehicles the 3.3L was an option.
    In the USDM vehicles:
    '96-'00 Nissan Pathfinder
    '97-'00 infinity QX4
    '99-'04 Nissan Frontier, '01-'04 supercharged avaliable
    '99-'02 Nissan Quest & Mercury villager
    '00-'04 Nissan Xterra, '01-'04 supercharged avaliable

    Visually the VG33E besides a few components is idential to a VG30E. There are mostly minor location differences of components, routing of lines, and electronic components that visually set the VG33E apart, though these minor differences can be worked around by using parts from other VG's.






    Basic information, intake manifold down to the heads:

    Getting a little more in depth lets talk about the intake and fuel related pieces, the VG33E uses the upper intake manifold found on earlier pathfinders and quest that used the VG30E. The lower intake manifold is similar to the VG30E's as well being able to use most of the 3.0's upper intake manifolds, the coolant neck found on the 3.3's lower intake houses two sensors though it is similar to some of the 3.0's does not function as a filling location like some 3.0 designs, but it shares the same flange design and bolt pattern so it is able to use many variations. The fuel system is similar to the later +'87 3.0's using side feed injectors, though the seals are of larger diameter and different design. The injector design found on the 3.3's are junk and impossible to find high flow rate injectors for, you might as well junk them.
    (NOTE: the VG33ER injectors are rated around 320cc, which is a little step up from the 260cc found on VG30ET making them useful, this requires use of the 3.3 lower intake manifold.)
    The locations to bolt the fuel injectors down is much lower on the 3.3's lower intake manifold, other differences are the 3.3's intake manifold lacks a coolant temp gauge sensor and coolant tube on the rear passenger side some of the 3.0's used, the rear coolant tube has different routing than most 3.0's, again the flange and bolt pattern is similar to the 3.0's so swapping tubes is simple. Port diameters (~36mm) are similar as well as head to manifold coolant passages, and will line up with any VG30 head casting. Worth noting is the thermostat housing is angled slightly differently, while using the same diameter thermostat as 3.0 housings.

    The heads specific to the 3.3 are known by casting reference "OWO". Visually they are very similar to the 3.0's head using 13 head bolts, the main difference being the 10mm exhaust studs. The exhaust studs can easily be rearranged to suit your header choice using a TORX socket.

    Internally they share parts with the 3.0 specifically the rockers, lifters, lifter guide, valve and valve spring locks, retainers, valve stem diameter, height, and ultimately - layout. The 3.3's valves can be identified by their casting "EF-3". The valve stem diameters, guide diameters, and seat angles are the same between the 3.3 and 3.0. Both the intake and exhaust ports have a much smoother casting than the 3.0's V52, 21V, and 85E heads. Head bolt locations, water passages, and oil galleys are similar though there are slight differences in the water passages they will not interfere with swapping 3.3/3.0 heads to ether block though I would advise against 85E or 21V heads onto a 3.3 block due to the water passage being close to the combustion chamber more so than the V52. A major difference is in the camshaft found in the 3.3, the 240/244 .354"/.354" cam is good for low end grunt but not that great for high RPM power. The 3.3's camshaft is commonly swapped out for 3.0's camshafts for better high RPM performance, aftermarket 3.0 cams will also work. Another difference that is very important to note is the camshaft sprockets, the 3.3's sprockets use a round tooth style compared to the 3.0's more squared tooth style, the matching crank gear must be used.





    Basic information, bottom end and rotating assembly:

    Lets start with the engine block. Again the 3.3's block can be identified by an "OWO" casting on the front driver side. Many of the locations to bolt up engine brackets, and accessory brackets are predrilled and tapped making the use of other 3.0 pieces an easy affair. The block to bell housing pattern is also the same as 3.0's making many transmissions available. What makes the 3.3 a 3.3 is the bore of 91.5mm, the stroke length is shared with the 3.0 at 83mm. The pistons are cast like other VG's having a compression ratio of 8.9 (non-SC) and 8.4 (SC):1 they also have the OWO imprint along with valve reliefs and a slight bowl to the center. The connecting rods, again stamped with "OWO" are similar to a 3.0's the difference being the notches at the bottom. The 3.3 rods are also similar to the later 3.0's floating wrist pins found in the "W" series engines.

    The crankshaft is cast sharing the same main and connecting rod journal sizing system as the 3.0's. The crankshaft also shares the six bolt flywheel pattern found on 3.0's making many quality clutches available. The major difference between the 3.3's and 3.0's crankshaft is the snout, the 3.3's has a larger diameter and must be used with the matching 3.3 oil pump and pulley. The 3.3's oil pump also is the mounting location for the oil filter and oil pressure sensor, the pumps pickup is also closer to the center line and has a taller mounting location than 3.0's pick up location this may require modifying the oil pan per-application. A common discussion is drilling the block for an oil feed location when adding a turbo, the motor I picked up from a '96 Pathfinder did not require any drilling as it only has a plug. The oil filter location was rumored to not clear when mounted in a Z31, my set up with a 1" antiswaybar, z31parts.com poly engine mounts, and intact power steering lines clears with plenty of room for a larger filter.

    Accessories:

    The 3.3's crankshaft pulley is delicate, and prone to chipping/cracking use caution when removing and handling.

    The 3.3's pulley is special, it has a 32mm center bore, and has variations in belt style and routing per-model. Early pulleys use a rib-rib-V, late pulleys use rib-rib-rib belt routing. The easiest way to over come this issue is to keep or aquire the associated brackets and accessories that come with the engine, though this may interfere with simple intake and intercooler pipe routing on those who choose to use turbochargers. There is also the option to swap in a 3.0 crank and use the 3.0 pulley and accessories this also involves using the 3.0 oil pump and using the Quest style 3.0's oil pump that side mounts the oil filter like the 3.3's, or simply using the 3.0's oil filter stud from other variations to relocate the filter. That's the most of my knowledge concerning this topic, personally I'm still unfamiliar with mix matching brackets and pulleys, as I've previously sourced a setup from a Frontier.



    There is much more information and examples yet to be shared, the basic information posted is a start in the right direction to document the knowledge in an effort to centralize it. If you would like to add information your self please keep it organized and easy to read.

    If you're planning to swap a VG33E in place of a VG30E the swap is pretty straight forward as long as you keep an eye on the subtle differences and an open mind to solve simple problems. There are many others out there that know much more about this engine than myself, I am looking forward to any additional information, corrections, or pictures.



    I will be back to edit this I'm sure!

  • 88sinZ
    replied

    FrozenZ
    FrozenZ
    88sinZ, if you need 20w50 to hold upper 20s on a new oil pump it stands to reason that if you use the recommended 10w30 you're gonna be seeing substantially lower pressures. The FSM for the '96 Pathy (page LC-4) specifies 9PSI as the low end for idle oil pressure (!)

    you are correct to a point, my vehicle sits for moths at a time. Each run up has an extensive run up check per-fire. the high weight and zinc content is preference for higher temps with journal bearing turbos (poor life build)

    even with quality builds the bearing surfaces still contain zinc, so i'll do what i will

    Leave a comment:


  • Dunkine
    commented on 's reply
    That's what I started using a few months back. I can get a case of 6 x 1 gallon jugs at bj's wholesale for $80. Started using it in my Jeep too.

  • Billygoatninja
    commented on 's reply
    Well they were introduced, VG30E at least, in the 84 300zx so there's that. I bet the accountants decided the use it in a HUGE portion of vehicles after. I agree but not at the same time only because *generaly* they make more torqe the hp but not till 4500 give or take depending on the configuration of said engine.

    The only reason why I rebuilt the pathfinder engine was because the oil pump exploded and thought it was a rod knock. Apon engine taredown the cylinder walls of like 3 cylinders were pretty scored and out of round and tapered and drivers side rear spark plug hole had like 1/4 of who know what of nasty were the spark plug stated that caused the sparkplug to only be half in the hole. So yeah even with neglect, which mine was before I had it, they will run. Mine ran responsibly well before I rebuilt it. For the record just because you can neglect the doesn't mean I condone it
    Last edited by Billygoatninja; 05-07-2019, 01:01 PM.

  • 88sinZ
    replied
    FrozenZ the only reason i run 20W-50 is because it's high zinc oil (VR-1) its becoming harder to find, so it's looking like 10W-30 pennzo dino juice is going to be the fall . back. If you want to pick hairs, the FSM calls for 7-9psi min, i read too. Besides, you must consider volume and weight - oil and viscosity is tricky like that.

    For billy, i'm still not convinced, these are truck motors, these are sedan motors, these and minivan motors. unless you really beat the piss out of em they *shouldnt* fail
    Last edited by 88sinZ; 05-05-2019, 09:40 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Billygoatninja
    replied
    Originally posted by FrozenZ View Post
    I had this in a comment above but according to the '96 Pathy service manual, page LC-4, minimum idle oil pressure is 9PSI. Z31 is 11. That's with 10w30. Just an FYI.
    I'm just gonna run rotella T4. If the oil is changed religiously at 5k (at least that's what I'm gonna do after this rebuild) the extra zinc shouldn't hurt the cat and if it does I have a welder......
    Last edited by Billygoatninja; 05-07-2019, 12:12 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • FrozenZ
    replied
    I had this in a comment above but according to the '96 Pathy service manual, page LC-4, minimum idle oil pressure is 9PSI. Z31 is 11. That's with 10w30. Just an FYI.

    Leave a comment:


  • FrozenZ
    commented on 's reply
    @88sin, if you need 20w50 to hold upper 20s on a new oil pump it stands to reason that if you use the recommended 10w30 you're gonna be seeing substantially lower pressures. The FSM for the '96 Pathy (page LC-4) specifies 9PSI as the low end for idle oil pressure (!)

  • Billygoatninja
    commented on 's reply
    Welp sounds like I'm gonna run a VG33. Crank, block, oil pump and accessories. Looking at the belt diagrams it will work out perfectly with a turbo and some realish headers pointed towards the front and the crossover pipe in front since they will sit low enough for the header (probably the collector) to pass over. Unfortunately pathfinders dont have the room in front of the engine like a z31 if I go that route (33 acc, headers/crossover towards the front) I'll have to put the turbo pretty much right were the air filter box goes. I'm trying to avoid going to a log manifold in an attempt to keep the exhaust flowing in the same direction (hot debate on the internet btw) albeit not equal langth because of space.

    So to conclude that ramble running a 33 (pretty much intire engine (with the exception of forged pistions z31 isky reground cams ferrera valves and schnider springs. Of course the works done the crank and rods (re nitride, shot peen, rust inhibitor in the oil passages I may be missing something but yeah))

    1. I think we can agree the 33 pump is better than the 30 (standard) and can be had any day from any auto parts retailer.
    2. Accories for space (and in think its easier to run a quest altinator)
    3. Apparently aftermarket harmonic balancers for the DETT will fit the 33 and probably a good idea to run one.
    4. A bump in displacement will help with the turbo some.

    I think we can also agree that what crank one decides to use is dependent on accessories and oil pump and there isn't any evidence showing one is inferior to the other generaly speaking. With the treatments to the 30 or 33 crank running a DETT crank probably isn't necessary and if you keep your rpms lower than 6800ish you should be good with your rod bearings not spinning.

    Does this count a a mini thread? Trying not to go off the rails here and not detract from the main thread.
    Last edited by Billygoatninja; 05-04-2019, 12:06 AM. Reason: Misspellings

  • 88sinZ
    commented on 's reply
    This is not true, its a safe wager those claims are high mileage vehicles, passed down, picked up for cheap, ran hard and hung up wet.

    Using a new oil pump, 20W-50, from a cold start it will hold upper 20's

    It should be noted the Xterra/frontier/pathfinder also had a much lower oil capacity than the Z31. You can also run two longer filters (using cross reference P/Ns) on a 33 to increase capacity by nearly 600cc. Sitting in SEUSA traffic, blazing sun and soft tarmac i have seen 220F oil temps, no cooler. Running hard through the mountains it never peaks 160F.

  • 88sinZ
    commented on 's reply
    1. yes, this decision should be made on the willingness and capability of adapting to the 33 and accessory mounting

    1. (sidenote) not really, going psuedo engineer i'd put my bottom dollar on old fashion 20W-50 high zinc for these iron blocks before i dropped a pennies worth of synth in it. There are more opinions on bearing gap but thats a whole 'nother animal

    2. yes, the 33 ports and gears are similar in dimension to a VG30ET A/T which flowed better and provided a more stable volume and pressure - sorry i can't reference the thread this was years, and years back.

    2. (side note) can't comment on that, dont know

    For your final thought - take the info with a grain of salt, everyone has an opinion, these motors are a dime a dozen and very reliable when cared for. Have fun.

  • Billygoatninja
    replied
    Edit: please bare with me I'm on my phone and isn't super user friendly.

    In case anyone is curious what a broken oil pump looks like. This my have been the culprit of my "rodknock" I thought I had. This is the exact reason the N1 BNR32/33 skylines had upgraded oil pump gears.

    They are indeed cast (iron? probably steel it's not aluminum). Any other type of metal forging doesn't brake like that. The N1 upgraded ones are probably machined from some type of billet. This is what happens when you put a fragile cast rotating thing in an aluminum case. I have my speculations why nissan would do that and I'll leave that up to your intrupritation, seems silly and all the over engineered /built nature that is nissan I would think they wouldn't overlook something like this. Remember there are TEAMS of engineers for stuff like this and not one thought of that? Hmmmmm....

    Anywho there there you have it. I bet this happens more often than what is documented on the internet. Someday I'll have a at home machine shop and I can make stronger gears.

    I know this doesn't have much to do with the 33 specifically but it seems most performance nissan engines (which is practically all of them) have this exact problem and all VGs are no different at least up until the VQ came out.
    Last edited by Billygoatninja; 12-11-2018, 01:49 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Billygoatninja
    commented on 's reply
    Hmmmm.... interesting. I'm not sure what the purpose behind that is but it would seem on purpose that nissan would do that. So maybe spinning rod bearings due to oil pressure (too high is my guess or lack thereof not due to the pickup sucking air) hence issues with oiling at high rpm higher than 6500 would be the culprit. The pathfinder isn't any more or may slightly have better in oil capacity. I am going to use an oil cooler and remote oil filter that allows a bigger filter. I had a 88 bronco 2 and its oil filter held a quart. A oil cooler is a must on a turbo car, it just irrespnonsable to not run one.

  • FrozenZ
    replied
    The VG33 stock pump, installed with factory tolerances, will sometimes give you shockingly low pressure (like 12PSI) at warm or hot idle. This is just a VG33 "thing" AFAIK, you see pathy guys complaining about it but it's within spec and driving pressures are fine. Personal opinion - the VG3x with a Z31 oil pan does not really have enough oil capacity for a turbo car without an oil cooler, maybe plan on doing one.

    Leave a comment:


  • Billygoatninja
    commented on 's reply
    Supposedly SATAN did once he got to 600hp. He was on the hunt for better oiling and ultimately swamped in a LS. I think it's a rpm thing. He was probably was pushing higher rpms than what these engines are designed to. There is a reason why the DETT (pretty much identical to ET)makes peak power at about 6500 and peak torque at around 4500. Its probably designed like that on purpose and that would suggest (if it is a rpm thing Nissan knew they didnt need to design an oil pump for high rpm) hence this is also why these engines respond so well to twin turbos, shoving as much air as soon as possible before 6500rpm.

    Side note: It seems the only advantage the DETT has over the ET is engine management.
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