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We do not do much in the way of bolt-on Turbo kits ( We are working on a bolt on basic kit for the Nissan 240SX as well as an Intercooler kit for the Nissan 240Z-280Z ) but we offer quite a few partial kits and many individual components for making up your own systems. We will custom make exhaust manifolds ( Yes, we have to have the car here to do that )We will be happy to build or design a custom Turbo system for any car. Street or race application.
If you have a factory Turbocharged car your job is much easier because the manufacturer
has designed in quite a bit of reliability and provided for proper boost, fuel, and
ignition control. Most stock turbo cars will readily and reliably be capable of 60-80 HP
above stock levels with little or no adverse effects.
If you are doing a normally aspirated to Turbocharged conversion there is plenty you need to know, and you will not find it in Turbo Magazine or any other magazine for that matter. The magazines are a great reference for suppliers and for keeping up on new products, BUT, DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT THEY PRINT. They are in business to sell magazines. They don't do this by telling you the truth behind all the cool pictures and outrageous HP claims. We believe an educated customer is a good customer and are confident that if you take the time to learn the basics of Turbo systems and conversions that you will become one of our customers. Many companies make outrageous HP claims and tell you everything is BOLT-ON. This only lasts until you either cannot install the system or once installed your normally aspirated engine dies a quick and ugly death at the hands of the Boost Gods. Based on our many years of experience and our many costly mistakes, here are the basics you need to know to perform a reliable Turbo conversion on a normally aspirated car.
The easiest thing to do when approaching a Normally Aspirated to Turbo Conversion is to look at a factory Turbocharged car. You can assume that the manufacturer designed the car to be safe and reliable for at least 100,000 miles of hard, if not brutal use. If you do not duplicate at least the level of modification that the factory did to make a Turbo car your project will not have a long and happy life. There are certain cars that we can say definitively Do NOT make good Turbo conversion Projects. These are usually the Non-Turbo versions of readily available Turbo Model. The most notable examples are...
This is not going to be lengthy or overly technical but we hope it gives you a bit of insight. Different approaches are required with different engines. If you have a Honda or Acura you will have to beef everything up more than someone with a Nissan 240SX or Toyota Supra. As with all things in print, this is our opinion. It is based on years of hands on experience and many, many Turbo projects. At least let it be food for thought.
|Normally aspirated engines are not happy with the heat and pressure of turbocharging. You need to lower the compression to a level manageable by the engine and ignition control you are using. Generally 7.5:1 to 8.0:1 will do what you want on today's terrible pump gas.|
|Pistons and Rings|
|Always use Forged Pistons that are properly designed for the engine you are building. We use JE Pistons and Total-Seal Rings in all our engines. If you cannot afford the forged pistons and you are building an engine that has a factory Turbocharged equivalent then use the factory Turbo pistons. They are never all that great for serious duty use but they are a good affordable alternative to normally aspirated high compression pistons. We use Total-Seal rings because they have proven to keep all the power in the cylinders and minimize blow by under hard boost conditions.|
|Generally the block is fine for streetable boost levels. Very high boost pressures or race applications are a different story. If a steel shim gasket is available for your particular application, use it. They are expensive but well worth the money.|
|Cylinder Head and Porting|
|Good quality valve jobs and Stainless Steel valves. If Stainless Steel valves are not available or not in your budget at least get the stock ones high heat coated. This is generally in-expensive and will extend the life of the valve considerably. Porting varies with the head and engine. Generally for most street applications a nice clean up port with most of the attention being paid to the bowl area around the head of the valve and good match porting of the manifold and head surfaces. We try to do a high polish on the exhaust port to promote exhaust flow and minimize buildup and a swirl finish on the intake for better fuel atomization.|
|Ignition Timing Control|
|This is the key to Turbo cars running on pump gas. You cannot use a normally aspirated ignition distributor or engine control for a Turbo application. You will detonate and hurt even the best of pistons and rings. Most factory Turbo cars have excellent ignition systems with very conservative timing curves which are great for higher boost applications. If you are doing a normally aspirated to Turbo conversion you need to either incorporate the ignition into your fuel injection or use a timing control such as an MSD or JACOBS to insure you have proper boost retard for the level of boost you are running.|
|We do not believe in Turbocharging any car without it being Fuel Injected first. Yeah, we know it's not impossible to have a carburetted Turbo system, we've even done it ourselves plenty of times, but it will have driveability and heat problems not to mention float and seal failures ( Just ask someone that owns a Maserati Biturbo ). Programmable management is really the answer to a simple and effective installation on a normally aspirated car. We use either the Electromotive TEC-II or the HALTECH F9A units. Retrofitting a factory F.I. system into a normally aspirated car or into a car with a different style of management is not impossible but it is very complicated, so be sure and have a very good working knowledge of the cars electrical system before undertaking such a task. We recommend an on-board air fuel ratio monitor in all applications to make sure you do not lean out the engine under boost and put big holes in things. We use the HALMETER AF/30. It is almost always necessary to install a larger volume high pressure fuel pump and some form of Boost Referenced Rising Rate Fuel Pressure Regulator to insure proper fuel delivery under boost.|
|Turbo System Components|
This is a somewhat abbreviated list of the components and services we offer for misc. turbo
projects. For specific fitment and application questions please contact us.
|Turbo Fuel System Components|
|Dial-A-Boost ( Manual Boost Controller or VBC ) Installation Diagrams|
The first thing to do when working with a manual boost controller is to understand how it
works. I get more questions from people asking how to hook up a dial-a-boost because they
do not understand what it is supposed to do or how it works. First, a VBC cannot raise the
boost level higher than the Turbo is capable of making with the wastegate actuator
disconnected. In other words, if your turbo only makes 12 psi wide open, a VBC will not allow
it to go to 14 psi. Second, a VBC is nothing more than a controlled boost leak ,albeit a
fairly accurate one. The way a VBC works is&
Your external wastegate or internal wastegate actuator has a base spring setting. For the
sake of description lets say it has a 5 psi spring. That means that when 5 psi boost hits
the diaphragm the wastegate opens. The VBC is installed inline with the hose that leads to
the pressure side of the wastegate and the other side of the VBC is a vent. When the VBC
is in the closed ( You cannot blow through it ) position, all the boost pressure goes to
the wastegate and you have a stock boost level. As you open the VBC boost pressure that
would have gone to the wastegate now diverts through the VBC. What this does is fool the
wastegate. If you bleed off 5 psi on a 5 psi system it will take 10 psi to open the
wastegate resulting in a 5 psi boost increase on your boost gauge and a lot more power
from the engine. This is the simple version and results vary with the system, the size of
the hose being used, the sensitivity of the wastegate spring. Manual boost controllers
are also very prone to boost spikes. This occurs when the VBC is open all the way and
small diameter hose is being used. The boost pressure builds faster than the hose can flow
which lets the turbo spike up big boost numbers until the pressure fights its way through
the small hose to the diaphragm, then the boost drops back down. This is a dangerous
situation since the spike can blow up your engine before you know what happened. The best
way to minimize spike is to keep the manual boost controller located under the hood with
as short a length of hose as is possible. This is easily demonstrated by you picking up a
piece of ¼" hose 4 feet long and trying to breath through it. Go ahead, try it. Pretty
tough isn't it. Now cut the hose in half and try it. Much easier. Your turbo and wastegate
feels the same way.