24 Feb

A lot has been going on, mostly reading and talking to knowledgeable engine people. One engine guy says the plugs absolutely show signs of detonation, one said maybe, and one said no… nice. The pictures are the best I could do with my cellphone (my good camera doesn’t have a macro lens yet) so sorry for the slightly blurry pictures. While I feel compelled to point out that the tuner set up the timing tables, it was my responsibility to keep a close eye on the plugs.

I’ve been wavering back and forth between building another turbo engine and “bowing out gracefully”, resigning myself to a less-powerful normally aspirated (NA) engine, but one presumably more reliable – maybe. The “problem” is that I won’t be happy with 200 hp, or even 300. While the Honda K-series engine can indeed produce 350 hp NA, it’s not rocket science how it’s done. A CNC-ported head, over-bored, sometimes with a stroker crank, and then spun like hell. I don’t mean 8000 rpm, or 9000, it’s often 10,000+ rpm. That seems bad to me for reliability, never mind being many $1000s more than a turbo engine. Such an engine is probably awesome for drag racing where it’s run hard for 10 seconds then cools for many minutes. On the other hand, drive 20-30 minutes on a road course and I just can’t see how it’ll last long. Would it last longer at 10,000 rpm than a turbo engine would at 200 kpa and 7000 rpm? I think I’d bet – no. Many people will say that turbo cars are unreliable and a big pain in the neck at the track, and while they aren’t wrong, I also feel many of those cars cut corners. I’m convinced it can be done and I’m willing to give it another try.

Things I plan to do differently:
1. Install a much larger intercooler across the rear of the car*
2. Have my ECU calibration and protection setup professionally reviewed
3. Run less boost at track events (though the intercooler may allow more)
4. Inspect plugs after every session
5. Work out some sort of protection deal with God

*For some time I’ve been thinking of moving the turbo over to behind the engine near the exhaust ports – there’s space. It would free up a lot of space around where it is now and no longer bake everything in the area. It would also place the compressor outlet close to the new intercooler, the air filter assembly would have to move as well, to “somewhere”, and the intercooler-to-inlet distance would increase, but it’s probably a net gain overall.

The fun pictures and video will come later, too much going on right now.