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Book Review: The Nitrous Oxide High-Performance Manual

One long advertisement?

review by Julian Edgar

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Books on nitrous oxide are rare things indeed. Probably the best known is respected automotive journalist and author David Vizard’s book - Nitrous Oxide Injection (SA Design, 1988) - but there are also a few others of lesser depth. And now there’s another: newly published this year is The Nitrous Oxide High-Performance Manual by Trevor Langfield. It’s in full colour and is 112 pages long with fairly widely-spaced text.

Actually, the book isn’t credited to Trevor Langfield but instead to ‘Trevor "the Wizard of NOS" Langfield’. It appears that in the UK Mr Langfield is a big cheese in nitrous, manufacturing his own WON nitrous systems. (‘WON’ stands for Wizard of Nitrous... aaargghhhh.) Now there are absolutely no problems with someone with a finger in the commercial pie writing a book about nitrous but clearly, to have any degree of credibility with readers, the author must write in an utterly impartial style. (In many cases this is helped by having a good editor.) But this book doesn’t do that. Instead Mr Langfield is at pains – on nearly every page – to point out how good his systems are compared to, grrrr, that American competition.

And of course, he may be right. But with such huge bias evident throughout the book, the credibility of the author is low – at least to this reviewer.

After an introduction – written in the third person but presumably penned by Mr Langfield - where some pretty trivial (by world standards) nitrous-fuelled drag racing successes are listed, it’s into Chapter 1.

"My own first experiences of using early American-made [nitrous and fuel] solenoids were almost catastrophic," writes Mr Langfield somewhat redundantly (‘My’ and ‘own’...) Mr Langfield then developed his own solenoids, which produced "reliable and outstanding performances." Subsequent solenoid designs were "revolutionary in many ways and still far better than any products on the market today.... By the mid 1980s I had invented the world’s first pulsed nitrous control system and, soon after, I invented a smooth, un-pulsed progressive system which was far superior.... My desire to provide customers with the products they deserve drove me to develop my products to the advanced designs they are today...."

And so on and so on....

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Page after page comprises puff pieces on the author’s products, with somewhat laboured text ("I am going to start as I mean to continue by only filling the book with facts that ‘you’ in the 21st century will find useful") filling the gaps. The contrast with the first chapter of Vizard’s old book is extreme: one is a readable, well written background to the technology and the other an odd mixture of the technically suspect (according to the author, nitrous makes a good in-car fire extinguisher – trouble is, he doesn’t mention it must put out the flames before they take hold, otherwise....), self-promotion and in this chapter, perhaps three pages of pretty obvious stuff (question: ‘how long does nitrous last’, answer: ‘my standard reply is "not long enough"’).

To be honest, if I didn’t have a review to write I would have given up halfway through the next chapter: "A Basic ‘Wet’ Nitrous Oxide System". And the reason I would have given up? Again, the content is all just so biased to the author’s products. In his kits the Mr Langfield likes using nylon hose instead of braided line between the bottle and the solenoids (for those who don’t know, this line takes something like 1000 psi max...) That’s pretty radical, especially if the line rubs on something sharp or hot. "My research has proven that a constant bore nylon pipe has many advantages over the more commonly used braided pipe..." says the author. And the reasons? "I’ve done my best to give a fair and clear case for both in a later chapter."

The reader can be forgiven for laughing out loud when they reach that chapter – it’s entitled: "Brand/System Comparisons". Hell, we know which systems are going to come out on top here, don’t we?! And, in the opening lines: "...there are really only 2 types of most components – WON [Wizard of NOS] and the rest..."

Oh, spare me!

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It’s probably not worth even repeating here what the claimed advantages of nylon tube are for carrying 1000 psi of liquid nitrous around a car, but anyway one of them is that people are more careful of where they route the nylon in case it is melted by a hot engine component...To be fair, some of the other points in this chapter make much more sense, and the cutaway views of various manufacturers’ solenoids and injectors are interesting.

About this stage I started jumping through the book. My next step was to try to find the chapter on ‘dry’ nitrous systems (to match the one on ‘wet’ systems). But there isn’t one. Yes, that’s right, there’s no detailed coverage of using nitrous and adding the extra fuel through the existing injection system. Instead, in the chapter ‘Nitrous Oxide System Types & Variations’ there’s a discussion of dry systems. And what does Mr Langfield have to say about dry nitrous systems? Well, that basically they’re all no good. However, the author’s company is "currently involved in a research and development program to develop the ultimate dry system..."

Oh, forget it.

Click for larger image

If you’ve got a huge fascination with nitrous and want to look at quite a few interesting colour pics of WON nitrous systems, read some tips on fitting and get filled in a little on the background of nitrous, this book may be for you. But really, the majority of it is written in the form that would make it ideal as a WON company giveaway.

The tragedy is that many of the points that the author makes about his and other systems may well be right, but without an independent arbiter – as would have been the case if a professional writer had penned the book following a series of interviews with Mr Langfield and other nitrous experts – there’s simply no way of telling what is correct.

The Nitrous Oxide High-Performance Manual, Trevor Langfield, Veloce Publishing, ISBN 1904788890, www.veloce.co.uk

Review copy provided gratis by the publisher

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