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Message In A Bottle

One Plate + One Bottle = Fast Feast

Randy Fish Oct 23, 2003

Many years ago, I read an issue of CarToons magazine, featuring a series of cool hot rodding sketches entitled, "Claude Buster's Need for Speed." Well, many of us possess that very same need. And while we all tend to be experimental in nature, we've found several ways to achieve that desirable feeling associated with the experience of speed. Naturally, one way to get there is by cubic inches and monster torque. Another popular method of achieving greater terminal velocity is by way of bottled horsepower, better known as nitrous oxide. Choices abound, as there are several ways to apply this inert gas that aids combustion--plate systems, multi-nozzle fogger set-ups, and wet systems common on late-model EFI combinations.

Enter our friends at Edelbrock, known far and wide as the "Fun Team." And since we all have a passion for cars, as well as fun with cars, the Fun Team has agreed to enlighten us with yet another recipe for FUN. What's that you say? You like having a mild-mannered driver that's modified to your personal tastes? Well, how would you like that mild-mannered modified to turn into a tire-shredding animal at the flick of a switch? There is no other comparable product on the market today that'll set you back in the seat the way a nitrous oxide injection kit will. Read on. You may just need to rebuild the backrest of your driver's seat for optimum comfort!

As with any power-adder, there are a few tips you'll need to keep in mind.

Nitrous is instantaneous--activate the button and power is immediate. The bad rap nitrous has had over the years, is that it tends to cause broken parts. Well, that's only true if you don't follow the instructions. Nitrous can be both fun and trouble free, if you don't get greedy. Many feel it's your best bang for your performance buck--hands down! However, the number-one culprit that can cause nitrous to eat your motor is a sub-standard fuel system. You see, nitrous actually "supercharges" the incoming air, and makes it combust much better. And since it burns completely, it needs more fuel to go along with it.

The fuel also burns faster, and that's why you MUST retard your ignition timing, and remember this rule--the more nitrous, the less timing. Having too much timing would be the second type of mistake (beside a sub-standard fuel system) that could cause disaster. And what's also strongly recommended is to run a progressively colder spark plug as you add more nitrous. For the 100hp kit we're using here, that could be optional, depending, naturally, on the existing heat range being run.

Due to the wide variation of timing, compression ratio, fuel used, and general fuel system design, coupled with your camshaft, overall condition (and modification level) of your motor, all of these simple rules may apply differently to your exact combination. Bottom line--you need enough fuel to support the amount of nitrous you intend to apply, and you must be sure you avoid detonation. Okay, now you're asking, "How do I ensure that my combination is safe?" Here's the drill. Start out on the safe side (with regards to the amount of nitrous you apply to the motor). Also start out by taking out at least as much timing as the instructions indicate--we started at 6 degrees. Then, read your spark plugs carefully after each run. In our opinion, you can play safely with nitrous at this 100hp level (even on a used motor that's in good condition) for a long time.

Street systems (like we're installing here) generally don't put out more than 100 extra horsepower, but they still require a sufficient fuel delivery system. For this installation, we added an electric fuel pump back at the tank, in addition to our Edelbrock high-performance mechanical pump up front. The existing mechanical pump should be sufficient to support this system, but we opted for the overkill approach, in order to err of the side of caution. You'll note that drag cars set up to deliver more than a 150hp charge generally run a separate pickup, fuel line, and electric pump, just to properly support the Nitrous system (and enrich the mixture).

Looking towards companion items, nitrous likes a spilt-pattern camshaft, as well as one with a wider lobe center (much like a blower). With nitrous and superchargers, you want to minimize overlap to build cylinder pressure, rather than let it escape out the exhaust. Because the intake is, in effect, supercharged by the nitrous, it creates more exhaust to dispose of. That requires a longer exhaust event, because the exhaust isn't charged, or speeded up like the intake.

You'll find that most camshaft manufacturers offer special grinds designed to improve performance with the introduction of nitrous oxide. One thing you'll notice right away, after your installation, is that nitrous brings on horsepower and torque sooner--especially the torque. You don't need (or want) a low gear ratio with nitrous, as it thrives on short shifting, and subsequently, a higher rearend gear. If you add a 100hp shot of nitrous, you'll probably realize a 130-ft-lb jump in torque, and it's the torque that you feel. Now, a 300hp shot can easily increase torque by 400 ft-lb.

Once again, like any other power-adder, know what you're purchasing and follow the factory instructions carefully. With nitrous, you're always one wrong jet away from potential breakage. Go too far, and you'll suffer the consequences. A common rule of thumb says that applications of nitrous that are below 150 hp, you can use it without fear--as long as you follow the rules. Don't subscribe to the "more is better" theory, because you'll quickly learn that it's too easy to make power (with nitrous) and it's too hard to stop.

Here's one last word to the wise, before we start the install . . . If you decide to purchase a kit that produces higher than 150 hp, you'll need to start using better fuel, as nitrous also eats up octane. So, make sure you run colder plugs, retard the timing accordingly, and use better and better fuel as your need for more nitrous increases.

Then, like we keep promising--right here and now, we're gonna show you how easy it is to install one of Edelbrock's 100hp plate systems. But first, check out the stats to see how our donor vehicle (and its performance modifications) compares to yours.


The bottle comes with two mounting brackets that feature rubber insulating strips to hold it snug and absorb shock (on launch). The brackets position the bottle in a tilted, upright position so the siphon tube inside can drain all the horsepower the bottle will hold.

Once your bottle location is determined, mark for your holes (be sure nothing interferes underneath) and drill.

Due to the ribbed bed surface on our El Camino, we made four spacers from flat stock... the bottle and its brackets would sit flush to the surface.

In this case, running a QuadraJet carburetor, an open spacer plate was needed because nitrous delivery needs a non-divided area under the plate system.

Though not part of the Edelbrock kit, Randy picked up this cool accessory flange that bolts on under the plate system. If you also have room for this piece, it'll allow you clean mounting of the nitrous solenoids and activation switch.

However, clearance can be a problem on a street vehicle, as these are primarily used on drag cars, where less "stuff" is in the way.

As with any other new system, you'll be taking it on and off several times, checking for many different points where clearance is a concern.

Always remember, not only does your new power adder have to clear the distributor...

...carb linkage, and thermostat housing, it also needs to clear the air cleaner.

Likewise, you'll need to mock up the carb, nitrous plate, fuel lines, and solenoids on the bench. Fortunately, we had two pieces of rectangular aluminum that worked perfectly for a mock-up pedestal.

We used liquid thread sealer on all the fittings and tightened them in our bench vise, using care to properly align each outlet for optimum fitment.

All nitrous delivery lines must be checked for leaks, using a mild detergent.

Please note: The large, supply-line fitting that screws to the bottle's discharge valve is a critical concern.

It carries a nylon, disc-type washer to seal the connection, and needs to be tightened completely, but carefully.

More caution necessary here! Perhaps the most critical of all adjustments lies with the nitrous throttle switch, which mounts right by your carburetor linkage. You MUST ensure that this microswitch becomes fully engaged ONLY at wide-open throttle (WOT).

MSD's Digital 6-Plus-ignition controller is a great companion item for an install like this. With just a bit of programming, it retards the timing automatically, when nitrous is applied under WOT. And if you remember what we told you previously, NEVER introduce nitrous oxide under anything less than full throttle.

Randy positioned his in-car activation switch right behind his B&M shifter pedestal. It's right within easy reach when he's staged and ready to thunder down the quarter-mile.


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