Thread: Turbo charging your KA

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  1. #1 Turbo charging your KA 
    Zippy69's Avatar
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    This is to help dispel some of the myths with a KA-T set up.
    There is tons of info on the interwebs, so I will not be linking to other sites or pasting pages from other sites and ask that no one else waste the bandwidth either.
    Ok, now to the business at hand.
    All of the information I will relay is from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE , not hearsay or what I heard from Fred's third cousin's best friends ex-girlfriends brother's best friend. I counted it up and I have personally built 7 KA-T set ups and have helped with countless others. I'm not an expert, but I have been around the block and have gotten my hands dirty. I'm not a "keyboard" mechanic, I have actually done it.
    The KA is a very tough, reliable engine that can made into a powerful performer with the addition of a turbo charger.
    On that same note, it can be made into a huge headache if done poorly.
    We have all heard how the KA is a huge piece of junk that should be scrapped as soon as you have an opportunity to swap it out. This is not true.
    Of all the failed attempts at a KA-T set up, all I have seen personally were due to poor tuning or builder error.
    The first step for a turbo set up is to decide on your power goal and what you are going to use the car for. For drag and a fast street car, the KA is full of potential waiting to be unleashed by a good turbo set up. Personally, I don't like a KA for drifting due to the fact that it just wasn't built for high rpm's. This is not a flaw in the KA design, just a difference in what it was made for.
    There are several set ups that work well for a KA-T, but they all require proper tuning. Any engine will blow without proper tuning, even a normally aspirated engine.
    The first set up I will talk about is an FMU. This uses a Fuel Management Unit which simply raises the fuel pressure as boost is applied. As boost increases, the fuel pressure is raised at a set ratio. 8:1 is what works for a KA.
    This set up is my favorite to get a good 50-75hp increase on a stock KA.
    I like it for the fact that you have ZERO tuning issues. You retain the stock injectors and stock mass air flow sensor, so your ecu thinks all is the same. The factory tune on the ecu will compensate for about 6psi of boost with fuel and spark, but that is pushing it past my comfort level. The fuel will be maxed out and outside air temp and humidity can affect the air/fuel ratio enough to cause a problem. So the FMU overrides the factory injectors to keep the air/fuel ratio a little on the fat side. This set up will allow you to run up to 8psi but that is the limit, so if you want to run more boost, you will need to go with a different tuning set up.
    This is a great starter set up that can be put together for around $500-$600 if you shop smart. Even if you buy all new components, you will still come in under $2k.
    If you will notice, I haven't said anything about rebuilding the engine with forged components or anything like that. You can reliably make 300 plus hp on a stock KA, even if it has 200k miles on it. My first KA-T was over 180k miles with no internal mods to the engine. It ran strong and pulled hard. I have never dyno'ed one of my set ups, but a friend with a duplicate set up made 334 hp. I feel confident in saying I have been over 350hp, maybe even close to 400.
    The next type of set up is a tuned set up. It requires some type of tuning.
    In my opinion, the best way to go is a tuned ecu or a standalone system. I am not a fan of an air-fuel controller due to the fact that it does not control timing. An AFC can be used in conjunction with a tuned ecu to fine tune, but I won't use them for tuning alone.
    A t3/4 turbo will get you plenty of hp with the right combo of injectors and tuning.
    At this level you should upgrade your mafs to a unit like an N-60, or an N-62. The N-60's came off Maxima's and N/A 300z's and will flow enough air to make 400 plus hp. The N-62 is the better choice but it is more expensive and a little harder to find.
    There are several places to get your ecu tuned. Jim Wolf Technologies and Enthalpy are two of the top tuners. E-mance is also an ecu tuner but just not as well know. They will all give you a safe tune. Safe being the keyword. They will tune your ecu so that it will always be a little rich to make sure you don't lean out. I have seen them be dead on, but most of the time it will be rich. This is where you can add a SAFC unit to fine tune the fuel, but only for fine tuning. That way the ecu still controls the timing advance.
    There are a few tuners on here. Spooled240 can tune. I've never had anything tuned by him, but he knows his stuff so I would have no qualms about letting him tune my ecu.
    Anything above 350hp would require a rebuild in my opinion. And if you are going to build a high hp engine you may as well put in the good stuff. Forged pistons alone will go a long way in having a strong rliable bottom end. The redesigned ring lands make the piston much stronger, plus the lower compression choices will let you run more boost safer.
    AS far as head work goes, the stock KA heads actually flow really well and have made over 450 hp in stock form. If you plan on having 400 plus then you may want to go with a cam swap, but for less than 400hp cams are kind of a waste. The KA is no high winder so you won't see much hp gains over 6k rpm.



    EDIT:
    The first thing you should do is to give your engine a full evaluation including a compression check. The compression should be 160psi or better with no more than +/- 10 psi variance between cylinders. For example if you have 165, 170, 170 and 175, that would be acceptable. However, if you had 165, 180, 185, and 170, then you may want to look a little further into the condition of your engine. I wouldn't turbo the second one.
    This is far from a complete turbo guide for KA's, but I will keep adding info as time and my memory allows. Like I said, this info is from my knowledge and experience with KA-T's.


    I will add more to this post when I have more time.
    I ask that if you post here, please keep it to either questions or information to KA-T.
    I am the KA-T SUPER FAN, if you will. I love the fact that I can get a lot of horsepower from a cheap set up and put lots of hard miles on it without any problems.


    Parts list for an FMU set up:
    Turbo. I recommend a t25/28. You can use a t3/4, but remember that you will be moving more air. You can use an ebay turbo, just make certain that you use the oil restrictor mentioned later.
    Turbo elbow. If you use a t25/28 from an sr, then any elbow for a t25/28 will bolt directly to your stock down pipe. Or you can us an aftermarket one from ebay.
    Manifold. A cheap ebay manifold is fine but you can also contact me about modifying a stock manifold. FMU. An 8:1 ratio is what you need. They can be found on ebay for less than $100 shipped.
    Oil line kit. This can be bought from ebay or make one yourself.
    Oil sandwich adapter. I like this because it is easy to add and gives you up to 4 ports to use for oil feed or gauges etc.
    Oil restrictor. A .063 size orifice is just right. KA's can push upwards of 80psi of oil pressure and that will blow the seals.
    Oil drain. You have to tap the oil pan for a drain. There are several kits that you can use or you can do it the right way and weld a bung in the pan. Some people have used JB Weld with decent results, but I will always weld mine and recommend the same.
    If you bring me your oil pan, I will weld in a bung for free. I think it is that important that I wouldn't charge for that.
    Boost gauge. This is another area you want to have a quality part in. Cheap boost gauges are not as accurate or as responsive to changes, so you may over boost before you realize it.
    Blow off valve. I recommend a quality bov like HKS, greddy, Blitz etc.
    Walbro fuel pump. The stock pump will supply enough fuel, but a walbro can be had for less than $100 shipped, so it is just good insurance. Beside you will need it when you upgrade later anyway, and you will want to upgrade. Once bitten by the boost bug, there is no cure, but you can keep it in check with more and more boost.
    Clutch. A stock clutch with 70k miles on it will not last long , so go ahead and get a quality clutch from ACT or Competition Clutch, etc. You don't have to get a stage III race only clutch, just a quality clutch. No sense in making power that you can't get to the ground due to clutch slippage.
    Inter cooler with piping. Buy a kit from ebay, plain and simple. Anything for an sr will fit the KA set up.
    I always run a blow-though mafs set up. IMHO, it is the best way to go. You don't need to recirculate your blow off valve, and if your I/C pipe comes apart or you blow a coupling, then you can drive home like you were N/A. Just make sure to mount the mafs right before the throttle body.


    PARTS LIST FOR A TUNED SET UP:

    The basic parts remain the same except you remove the FMU and add:
    Larger injectors. There are many brands of injectors to choose from here. You can get new, used or reworked injectors. New ones are going to cost a pretty penny, but would be the absolute best way to go if you have the money. Next is used. This is almost like buying a used engine, you really need to see them in action in order to make sure they are in good working order, plus it is important to know for sure the actual flow rate of the injector. So be very cautious when buying used injectors. The third choice is a set of reworked injectors. There are several companies who take factory injectors and redrill them in order to increase flow. The only company I will buy from is Deatschwerks. Their quality is superb and they stand behind their injectors. They flow test each injector and they match them up in a set. They send a flow chart on the injectors you buy so you can see the actual flow of your set. There
    are a few more companies that do this also, but I have heard bad things about some of them and since I haven't personally dealt with them, I won't mention them here.
    Some type of tuning. Here is where you are going to spend some money. There are many choices to go with here also.
    the first is a tuned ECU. The three main ECU tuners are Enthalpy, Jim Wolf Technologies, and E~mance.
    They will take your ECU and tune it for your set up. You will need to tell them your injector size, the mafs you are using, turbo etc.
    This is probably the safest way to go. Your ECU not only controls your injectors, but it also controls timing, and will advance or retard timing as required. They will tune it to be a little on the rich side to make sure you don't run lean and blow your engine. A tuned ECU is a true plu and play set up and is definitely the easiest. Jim Wolf runs around $600, Enthalpy about $500 and E~mance around $300. E~mance is the new kid on the block and the jury is still out on them. I am running an E~mance ECU on my coupe and it seems ok. I really want to get it on a dyno with a wideband in order to see the results.
    Next is an Air/ fuel controller or SAFC. This is used with a stock ECU and modifies the signal to the injectors to increase or decrease flow. This set up can only be tuned on a dyno with a wideband to actually measure the air/fuel ratio at all rpm's. The problem with a SAFC is that they only control the injector pulse and timing is not affected. I will not run a SAFC alone. I will run one in conjunction with another set up, but never alone.
    The next is a stand alone system. I have never personally used one. I have driven cars with a good set up and was impressed with the adjustable control and frightened by the same. This is a very complicated system and should only be tuned by an experienced tuner on a dyno with a wide band.


    EXHAUST:

    A better flowing exhaust is always better for performance. But it isn't mandatory for a basic turbo set up. But I will say I recomend at least a good flowing muffler. A 2.5" aftermarket system will be fine for most set ups, but a 3" will be better when you want a bigger set up. I ran a 3" full SS exhaust on mine and it isn't very loud at all. It has a nice deep rumble, but no annoying drone. I drove it N/A for about a week and it was loud and annoying, but after the turbo was installed, it calmed down to a nice deep note.
    There are many good exhaust systems out there, but I don't like paying $700 or more for an exhaust. I chose an ebay set up and it was @ $200 I think minus the down pipe which I got for $30.

    **** Make sure you get the right parts.****
    Don't take some ebay seller's word for it. They will always say it will fit or it works perfect. Do a little research on your own. This thread isn't to give every detail of turbo charging your engine, but to give some basic information on what is needed.
    Last edited by Zippy69; 06-08-2008 at 09:58 AM.
    It's not how fast you go, it's how fast you go fast!!!


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  2. #2  
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    what did you have done that you think you pushed out 400hp with?


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  3. #3  
    Zippy69's Avatar
    Zippy69 is offline vroom....whoosh!!! Men with guts attack those corners...
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    A T40e with 660cc's. Like I said, I feel that I was over 350, maybe close to 400.
    Please don't come in here and try to start a bunch of shit. I already said I never dyno'ed any of my set ups, so don't try to blast me about what I posted.
    It's not how fast you go, it's how fast you go fast!!!


    Everybody wants to party like a ROCKSTAR...
    I'd be happy just to mingle like a cover band.

    http://240atlanta.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18726

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Mah fo sale thread!!!

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    I did the SR swap, but I had a single slammer. Had it been a DOHC KA (and the motor hadn't already been rebuilt once before) I probably would have turbo'd it. Have you used the JGS set-up on any of your builds?
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    I dont think Q was trying to blast you, I think he was just curious. Way to be super defensive though

    BTW good info for someone wanting more details on turboing a KA.
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  6. #6  
    Zippy69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by homeslicej2 View Post
    I did the SR swap, but I had a single slammer. Had it been a DOHC KA (and the motor hadn't already been rebuilt once before) I probably would have turbo'd it. Have you used the JGS set-up on any of your builds?
    SOHC's work just as well, maybe even better than DOHC. I've never built one for myself but I've helped with a few. The condition is key.
    I never used the JGS kit. Too expensive for me. I can piece together much cheaper.

    Quote Originally Posted by skillzilla View Post
    I dont think Q was trying to blast you, I think he was just curious. Way to be super defensive though

    BTW good info for someone wanting more details on turboing a KA.
    Maybe you are right, DjQ, I apologize to you.
    Some folks spend their time surfing the net and posting someone else's ideas and accomplishments, instead of their own, then they jump in a thread and act like an expert when they have never turned a wrench on a project.
    Last edited by Zippy69; 05-22-2008 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    It's not how fast you go, it's how fast you go fast!!!


    Everybody wants to party like a ROCKSTAR...
    I'd be happy just to mingle like a cover band.

    http://240atlanta.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18726

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Mah fo sale thread!!!

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    If I'm not mistaken, Q's a fellow KA-T'er.

    I've been (very slowly) working on finishing up mine. I'll post details and numbers here when finished.
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    good read. im gonna save this thread.
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  9. #9  
    Memme's Avatar
    Memme is offline You can never be this cool. I made you a kouki but I eated it
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    Quote Originally Posted by zcrew View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, Q's a fellow KA-T'er.

    I've been (very slowly) working on finishing up mine. I'll post details and numbers here when finished.

    Yeah, you're right, and his motor is damn hot looking too.

    I'm a super fan too, but I'm only working on my first build. I'll be at the install day, you going to be there Zippy? I could use some tips and pointers on how to get things going for my build. It's about 80% complete. Couple more parts, (Custom DP, BOV, tapped pan, fuel pump) and I'm done. Would like to have someone with your expertise around when I get into it.

    Yeah KA-T's don't need to be rebuilt unless you blow them though, people have actually ran them over 500rwhp without destroying them. Running that reliably long term is a different story... but 300 rwhp or so... sure, why not.

    I need more info on this FMU. I plan on using the N60 + 370cc's combo to balance everything out and running 6.8psi or something like that. ~7 is where the internal gate is set. I have heard nothing but good things about that combo, but at some point I will want to raise the boost. Not sure if an FMU would help me there or not.

    Ultimately I plan on installing a Calum RT, but that's for later.
    Last edited by Memme; 05-22-2008 at 12:38 PM.
    Seriously looking for Kouki side skirts, and maybe an S15 steering wheel... I hate the S14 wheel.

    If you have S14 front mudflaps I'll take them. (I have rear.)

    Also needs: Aftermarket (eBay) SR down pipe to hack on for my KA-T project. Flex section is fine, or not.

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  10. #10  
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    yeah i wasnt blasting you i was just wondering

    i to have a KA-T


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