Frank H. Cicerale
October 1, 2007
We decided it was time for the Fridge to get healthy, so we cruised down to JDM Engineering with our Nitrous Express nitrous kit in hand.

If you're like us here at MM&FF headquarters, when you were a kid your parents told you to eat your vegetables and drink healthy things like milk and orange juice, as these foods were supposed to make you grow big and strong. While most of the MM&FF staff aren't all that big (except for around the middle), we like having strong things, like our resident project Lightning, the Fridge.

When done the right way, adding a nitrous-oxide kit to your romping Ford adds a measured amount of horsepower with just the flick of a wide-open-throttle switch. The question remains as to just how much the sauce can help a car-or, in this case, a truck-with as many bolt-ons that the Fridge has on it already. Is the juice really worth the squeeze? We set out to see by installing a Nitrous Express Ford EFI nitrous kit and accompanying GenX-2 accessory kit on the in-house SVT special.

Before we started drilling and cutting, we looked around the truck to see where the best possible spot was to mount the bottle. Nitrous Express shipped us its Ford EFI kit with a 15-pound bottle, so we needed a decent-sized area to fit it. Putting it in the cab is not recommended, so the back left area of the bed was the spot of choice for the bottle.

Before we get into the meat of the dyno runs, let's review a bit. The Fridge features a Whipple blower, a JDM engine, a JDM exhaust system, and a custom tune that allows the SVT special to crank out 670 rwhp in race trim. Instead of going for the super-extreme horsepower number, we decided to go down a different road with this install. We wanted to showcase what the Fridge would do with the street tune. Rather than jacking up the boost and timing and loading the tank with C116 race gas, we ran the truck the way we would run it on a normal test-and-tune night at the local track. We came in with 93-octane high-test gasoline in the tank, drained it, added 100-octane race gas, hooked up the nitrous kit, and let her rip on the dyno. To say we were astounded with the results would be an understatement. The truck was run with 9 degrees of timing at the start, and the Whipple blower was pushing in 14 pounds of boost. The combination of no nitrous and 93-octane gas was good for a 565-rwhp baseline pull. More importantly, the air/fuel ratio was perfect throughout the run, so we knew that running the nitrous would not be a problem.

Take a look at the dash of the Fridge. By the time we got done installing the kit, the needed switches for the kit would be cleanly mounted. The goal with this installation was to keep the truck as clean and as factory looking as possible.

We started off with a 50 shot of the juice and were rewarded with a rear-wheel-horsepower figure of 643. The air/fuel ratio measured 11.3:1 throughout the pull. According to Jim D'Amore of JDM Engineering, however, the 11.3 was a bit richer than he normally runs with a nitrous system. He usually likes to see the air/fuel ratio between 11.7 and 12.0. He also noted that upon tip-in, the engine was running quite rich. In an effort to lean it out while not changing anything within the tune itself, we switched to a leaner fuel jet when we stepped up to the 75 shot.

The 75hp dyno run netted a peak power number of 675 rwhp, but in looking at the curves for both horsepower and torque, D'Amore noticed that the truck was begging for more timing. Any change in adding timing to the engine would undoubtedly add power, but we also added in timing to increase reliability when we would spray the truck with the 100 shot. It's common knowledge that you can have too much timing and hurt the engine, but by the same token, not having enough timing can do damage to the powerplant as well. With that in mind, D'Amore added 1 degree of timing, and we stepped on it again. This time with the 75 shot, the truck turned the dyno rollers to 683 rwhp. The added degree of timing allowed the truck to pick up 8 hp.

"The truck wanted more timing, but with the street tune we kept the timing on the conservative side to accommodate for the varying quality of pump gas," D'Amore says. "With pump gas, 12 degrees of timing is on the ragged edge of detonation and reliability, and above 12 degrees is problematic. We could have run 11 degrees, but I didn't want to push things. Ten degrees as opposed to the 9 degrees will still be streetable with pump gas, but as you can see, it made a difference in the peak power numbers. Overall, though, with this combination, an everyday truck will make between 550 and 575 rwhp without the nitrous."

Once we picked the spot where we wanted the bottle to be located, we mocked up all that we could to get a general idea where we needed to drill holes, run lines, and install items. We got under the truck and double-checked our point of installation, making sure it would be easy to access the bottle bracket bolts from underneath. We also eyed up how we would be running the nitrous feed lines and bottle heater wires from the bed to the front of the truck. Once we had everything mocked up, it was time to get cracking. The first thing we did was take out the nitrous bottle and wrap it with the bottle brackets so we could mark off where the bottle would go in the bed.

With the 75 shot in the books, we switched the jets for the 100hp shot, once again keeping the fuel jets leaner than recommended to make up for the rich condition. Even though the truck was still looking for more timing, it was able to dial up 720 rwhp. To solidify the fact that this was a take-it-to-the-track-and-run-it tune, we pulled the truck off the rollers, turned off the nitrous system, filled the gas tank with 93-octane pump gas, and cruised home without any difficulties.

If you run the numbers yourself, you'll find out as we did that while the kit advertised each shot as a 50, 75, and 100hp increase, each nitrous pull showed a higher-than-advertised horsepower figure. "You will make more power putting nitrous on a supercharged engine because the nitrous has a cooling effect, leading to a denser air charge," D'Amore says. "If we had run the truck on C116 race gas and increased the boost to 20 pounds and the timing to 14 degrees, the truck would have easily made 880-890 rwhp with the 100hp shot."

In addition, we kept the bottle pressure at an ideal 1,050 psi by using Carnivore's new Nitrousaurus-X nitrous oxide pressure-control system. This innovative new product is a bottle heater and cooler in one package.

"I have raced using nitrous, and the more I raced, the more I saw a need for a system like this," says Carnivore's founder, Dennis Clarke. "The Nitrousaurus-X helps the nitrous stay at a consistent pressure, which leads to more consistent performances.

With the bottle shroud in the bottle brackets, Shaun Lacko of JDM carefully situated the bottle in the bed, moving it around until he found the mounting point he liked best. Once he had the bottle in the correct spot, he took a Sharpie marker, marked where he needed to drill the holes for the bottle brackets, and then proceeded to drill in the bed. To access the bed and make drilling easier, remove the tailgate. Drill a small pilot hole first before drilling the hole to the correct size. In addition to drilling the holes for brackets, Lacko also drilled holes for the nitrous line and bottle heater wires to go through.

"I found that one battery was having a hard time between rounds handling the draw of the bottle heater, making it difficult to start the car. To combat that, you have to add a second battery, and it's like a domino effect. Also, I race my car at Los Angeles County Raceway, where in the summertime it gets around a 100 degrees or so. In those temperatures, you need to cool the bottle down to the proper pressure. The Nitrousaurus-X adequately keeps the pressure the same by heating or cooling the bottle as needed."

The Nitrousaurus-X completely encases a 10-pound bottle, with the top of the bottle poking through the top of the casing, allowing you to turn the bottle on or off. The casing can mount in the vehicle and plugs into the cigarette lighter. Pressure is measured through a sensor wire, and using a set-it-and-forget-it system, you set the pressure at the desired level, and the Nitrousaurus-X will either heat the bottle to the desired pressure or switch on the cooling fan to lower the pressure.

"As of now, this version can handle up to a 150hp to 175hp system," Clarke says. "Addition-ally, the system needs only 15 minutes or so to regenerate the pressure to where it is set at.

"Right now, we are working on the next generation of this system. It will feature newer electronics that will enable the system to monitor pressure drop, temperature, and pressure. We're slimming down the case so it isn't as bulky and adding an interface that will allow users to data log a pass, download it to a laptop, and plot the run. In addition, we're adding a second cooling fan, which will increase efficiency by 120 percent while drawing less than 10 amps."

A good item to put in when you do a nitrous install is a nitrous controller, such as the one we got from Nitrous Express. If you plan on running your nitrous-snorting Ford on the strip, then a nitrous controller will help you use the extra power instead of boiling the hides.

"A nitrous controller can help out with many aspects of nitrous tuning," says Nitrous Express' Marketing Director Randell Mathis. "One of the main things a controller can be used for is to help in a limited traction situation. Bringing the nitrous on progressively will allow for less tire spin and strain on drivetrain components."

Nitrous Express' Boost Reference controller is a step ahead of those previously produced. According to Mathis, it's a set-it-and-forget-it controller, though to program it you will need use of a laptop. "Once the controller is programmed, nothing else is needed for it to function," he says. "The laptop is only needed in the programming of the box."

The use of a laptop makes this controller the first of its kind. Instead of being based on time or rpm, the Nitrous Express controller uses a MAP sensor to gradually bring in the nitrous. "All controllers beforehand have been time, or time and rpm, based," Mathis explains. "The new Boost Reference controller uses a MAP sensor integrated into the box to adjust the ramp according to boost pressures. This allows for boosted vehicles to use the nitrous to spool their turbo, while limiting high nitrous along with high-boost scenarios. It also includes a multi-ramp, which allows you to adjust the percentage ramp along multiple points in reference to boost."

Who says being healthy isn't fun?