Not your average joe.

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February 20

This is not your everyday turbo build. You see, it is not a big deal going to a tuner and getting him to do a turbo for you. Of course you need to pick a good tuner, but that aside, all you need is money, sometimes loads and loads of it. But building your own turbo set-up from takes a lot of skill, determination and patience. Running it reliably for year, takes all of that in bucketfuls.

Meet Mr. Joe. Having converted more than three cars to run on forced induction, he isn’t your average Joe. He is an enthusiast with the ability and knowledge to do something certain tuners aren’t confident about. Joe remembers his time in Michigan when his Volkswagen Corrado’s supercharger packed up all of a sudden. After giving it some thought, he successfully converted it to run on a turbo set-up and pretty soon he began his next project on a Swift GTi. The GTi he remembers was fun and cheap, running merrily on a T25 which he bought used.

As he got back to India, Joe settled down with a family and bought himself a brand new Zen. It remained untouched, but things were about to pick up speed when he got himself a clean, single owner Baleno. A Race Dynamics ECU was installed and Joe played around making the low rpm more stable and was soon able to make mild changes to the ignition timing while on the move. The idea had always been to go for forced induction. He picked up a ball-bearing TRD turbocharger & TRD manifold and some hardware including blow off valve, hoses etc on a trip abroad. They remained in boxes for a time till finally, Joe decided to take a break from work for couple of weeks and started the Baleno turbo build. His goal was set to make a low boost turbo build that works as a reliable daily driver.

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However ambitious it looks now, Joe wanted to fabricate intake and exhaust plumbing that’s capable of handling over 250-300 bhp. He knew his would help him to quickly upgrade to a larger turbo, bigger injectors, etc with stronger internals whenever he decides to go to the next stage without having to start all over again.

Although it doesn’t flow quite as well as custom turbo manifolds, Joe decided to have an adapter plate sandwitched between the Baleno and TRD manifold, just for ease. He also wanted the turbo set up to run acceptably (when not pushed hard) on factory ECU without depending on after market ECU. He got 3″ thick gauge MS pipes (bends) for the dump pipe and 2.5″ MS pipe for the exhaust and four sets of 2.5″ and two sets of 3″ flanges cut and surface finished. After the mock set up was done in the engine bay, the whole thing was TIG welded.

The build started sometime in 2008and continued for about 10-12 days and finally the basic turbo setup was ready. Joe said he was very eager to get it on the road and my patience was running out. So he slapped on few rubber hoses to do a shoddy intake plumbing without an intercooler. It cranked up and revved just fine. Very soon, a boost sensor was installed in the RD ECU to enable boost compensation while tuning. Engine completely stock and ran non-intecooled for about 6 months. The inlet air temperature would shoot up to around 80 degrees real quick and had to aggressively retard ignition with boost while also being liberal on fuel.

Finally he got the intercooler plumbing done and secured the intercooler on the right corner of the front bumper. That sorted out the inlet air temperature issue. The turbo is internally waste gated for 8psi. Pretty soon, Joe found his stock clutch was getting overwhelmed and had to upgrade to a Suzuki racing clutch. The injectors were quite close full duty cycle at the higher RPM/boost so a brand new fuel pressure regulator was in order.

In its present state, it is a fun car to drive with quick spool & ample torque though it runs out of steam in the higher revs. Joe says it provides him with good fuel efficiency and has been reliable for well over a year now. Its very lively now (and even more on 12psi setting), very nice to drive without the traction issues and extra torque steer. Joe might decide to go for a phase two of the upgrade which would be upgrading the G16 internals and the turbocharger simultaneously. But right now he is happy with the way it drives and is enjoying the fruits of his labour.

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