Frank H. Cicerale
April 1, 2008

Ask your wife or girlfriend what matters most to her, and she'll likely say it's the "little things." Take, for example, a marriage proposal. Sure, every girl loves receiving a diamond engage-ment ring, but what separates the experience from that of her friends is the manner in which the ring is presented. Take it from us: Proposing to your girl after a romantic ride through Central Park in New York City goes over a lot better than popping the question in the middle of the mall.

In a sense, the same thing can be said for running nitrous on your muscle Mustang or fast Ford. Sure, just about anyone with basic common mechanical knowledge can install a nitrous system over the course of a weekend and get it to function. The difficult part is getting the system to function correctly, keeping the bullet under the hood intact and running as well as it can while sipping from "the jug." The way to keep your powerplant safe and running the best it can while on the laughing gas is to select the proper accessories to go along with your kit.

Before delving into what you need to complement your nitrous kit, it first helps to have an understanding of what nitrous is and how it works. While we could spend almost a year's worth of issues on nitrous-the theories surrounding it, differences in the numerous types of kits out there, and much more-we'll simply break it down into something a fifth-grader could understand.

Prior to the combustion process in an internal combustion engine, air and fuel are mixed by either the carburetor or through the fuel-injection system. When compressed in the combustion chamber and lit by the spark from the spark plug, the oxygen and the fuel burn rapidly. The ensuing pressure created by the burning air/fuel mixture forces the piston downward at an extremely fast rate. When nitrous is introduced, there are extra oxygen molecules available for combustion. This extra oxygen creates additional power by allowing more fuel to be burned. In addition, nitrous acts to buffer, or damper, helping to cool the combustion process. All of this adds up to more power when the button on the system is pressed.

While in theory nitrous oxide is simple, it has its complications. For starters, the fuel system should be sufficient to provide enough fuel volume to match the amount of nitrous injected. At higher horsepower levels, the fuel system should be stepped up. The last thing you want is a fuel system that is inadequate for the amount of nitrous you're running. This will result in the engine going lean-after which, detonation and a big kaboom! follows.

We spent some time strolling around the Internet and burning up the phone lines with numerous aftermarket companies to get an idea of what accessories should be installed with a nitrous kit to maximize both performance and reliability. Tag along as we show you the ins and outs of the squeeze play.

Cometic Gasket
Largely known for its line of head gaskets, Cometic has stepped up to the plate in the nitrous arena with a pair of nitrous controllers: the NOX BOX-1 and the NOX BOX-2. Both units have identical features and capabilities, except the NOX BOX-2 can directly drive two nitrous stages with progressive control, also known as modulated flow. The NOX BOX-1 is limited to on/off control and requires external relays.

While the NOX BOX-1 requires the external relays to do what the NOX BOX-2 does independently, both are designed to drive two nitrous stages as well as a purge solenoid. Each stage is independently programmable based on throttle position, rpm, vehicle speed, time delay, and First-gear lockout. In addition, both boxes are dataloggers and come with a USB cable so you can download the logged data to a laptop for analysis.

Zex Nitrous
Zex came up with a few items worth noting, one being its new dual-outlet purge kit, pictured here. The dual-outlet kit creates a V-pattern nitrous cloud through the use of two discharge tubes to let you aim the nitrous purge. The kit utilizes the largest and highest-flowing purge solenoid on the market and comes with all of the parts needed for an easy installation. The purge kit allows you to rid the system of any air it might encounter upon activation, and is a must-have to keep the engine from feeling the effects of an air bubble when the nitrous is activated.

To help keep the tires planted when the nitrous kicks in, check out Zex's new traction-control window switch. It allows you to easily select the rpm range of nitrous activation.

The ability to set this window is critical to engine safety because hitting the juice below 2,500 rpm can cause detonation and engine damage. In addition, hitting the rev limiter at high rpm with the nitrous engaged causes the intake manifold to quickly exit the engine. The Zex unit is completely self-programmable and allows you to block off First-gear activation, so you don't blow the tires away.

Another notable item is Zex's V-8 Spark Plug Tuning Kit. Offered in two versions--400 hp and 700 hp--the kits come with a full set of Igniter Core technology plugs, a hard-side plug carrying case, a spark-plug gapping tool, an illuminated spark-plug magnifier, and a spark-plug tuning guide. This kit allows you to swap over to a colder set at the track, while running the normal plugs on the ride to and from. As you probably know, colder plugs are needed when running nitrous to stave off detonation.