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The Merkur Club of America Forums • So, maybe turbo time...
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So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:58 pm
by thesameguy
First there was this:

http://forum.merkurclub.com/forum/viewt ... 30&t=32524

which in retrospect was probably not primarily a vacuum problem but primarily a physical turbo problem in early failure mode.

Then there was this:

http://forum.merkurclub.com/forum/viewt ... 30&t=32840

which in retrospect was definitely not valve stem seals, but turbo in early failure.

So now I'm at full turbo failure without a real explanation. The turbo is a genuine Turbonetics T3/T4 .63 trim that has not really done much. It's maybe five years old, with a cumulative 10,000 miles max on it. They do good stuff, so I'm surprised it'd fail so young and it makes me think there is an external cause...

By the same token, I'm pretty confident it's not an oil feed problem... I am running the factory steel line, but the original turbo did ~200k (it was replaced at ~90k) without issue... the only reason I replaced it was moar boost. Still a possibility. Same goes for the drain tube... What are the chances two parts would become unusable after ~10k with nothing but synthetic oil running through them? I think low. I've read that a bad PCV system can pressurize the crankcase to the point oil has a hard time returning, but the PCV system seems very healthy and while the engine does have 300k on it, I've not observed any symptoms of blow-by.

All this stuff is worth a check. I'll pull off the turbo oil drain this weekend. I am 99% sure I'm going to replace the oil feed with -4 AN hose. I'll do a 1/4" NPT to -4 AN adapter at the head and stick one of these on it:


Just a -4 AN male to female with a 1/8" NPT port in it. The factory oil pressure sensor is 1/4" NPT, but since it's a simple open/close switch it's easy enough to replace. The factory switch opens at ~6psi, and an Airtex 1S6707 does the same thing with a smaller thread. Good enough. T3 oil feeds with AN threads are easy enough to find. I do realize there are prefab options (Stinger, etc.) but I just have a really hard time putting brass plumbing fittings under my hood. I don't go in for bling, but I draw the line at household plumbing.

That leaves only the turbo... unfortunately the only local speed shop I'd trust for turbos packed it up a long time ago, so it's going to be mail order. The place I used to go - Performance Techniques - hasn't updated their website in 10 years, and that's not reassuring. I'll keep poking around, see what I find.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:30 pm
by Ed Lijewski
Instsll a turbo reseal ('rebuild") kit yourself.


Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:39 pm
by thesameguy
Yeah, I'm taking the opportunity to downsize. This turbo is really too big for the car - I'm gonna try either a large T3 or a smaller hybrid. I'm not going for giant hp numbers and would like to reduce lag. :) I can keep the turbo, rebuild it and maybe use it somewhere else down the road.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:21 pm
by thesameguy
Did some more research over the weekend, and I found that my favorite turbo shop - ATP Turbo - sells a GT28 with a T3 5-bolt flange. It seems like an awesome match, and with journal bearings (vs ball bearings) it's priced in line with other similar-power turbo options.


Has anyone ever seen or heard of anyone putting this turbo on an XR4Ti?

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:14 pm
by thesameguy
I'm just gonna keep talking to myself. I don't mind, and years later I know I can search the board and remember what I did. :D

I spoke to the folks at ATP Turbo, and their recommendation was a GT3071R, also available in Ford 5-bolt configurations. They feel it's better suited to T3 replacement.

However I think I'm going to cheap out on this, because the money I'd be buying a turbo with was for other projects, and I don't want to hold them up. Instead, I'll invent a bunch of work.

I'm going to pull the too-big hybrid turbo off my SPG and put it on the XR4Ti, then put a ball bearing T3 Super60 I have in the garage on the SPG. Not fun work, but it'll save $600-$800 and get two cars turbos that are better suited for them. Plus, it's stuff out of the garage, and I really gotta focus on that. ;)

Ordered new hardware last night, so hopefully next week and I can get to some inane parts swapping.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:36 pm
by rommaster2
Just wanted to say your story sounds so similar to mine though mine ended with a lot more smoke. I had issues for months and months where mine would just stop boosting for a couple days and have a noise also but would then randomly just start working fine again. Then it started randomly fogging when I'd be idling sitting at a light which would stop and not return for months. I parked it cause I had gotten a different daily and then let it sit when I started it up the next time it was always smoking like you could follow me wherever I went.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:05 pm
by thesameguy
I have had that failure on a Saab - I think that's a common type of failure. I have never had a turbo fail exclusively to the outside like this one did... there isn't even much sign of a leak into the fresh air side, no oil in the intake plumbing. Really weird. I called the place who built the turbo (Performance Techniques in SoCal) and they offered to take a look at it once I get it off. I will be heading down there in the next couple months anyway, so I will drop it off and see what they say. Maybe it will be something obvious and I can have a spare again. ;)

In the interim, I have the other hybrid off my Saab and the Super 60 is on. I am waiting on a couple other parts to finish that job (mission creep!) and then I will get back to the XR. Maybe once the turbo is off I will be able to see what went wrong.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:42 pm
by thesameguy
I finished the work on the Saab's turbo over the weekend, and it's a much happier car as a result. I think whatever this hybrid turbo is was just too big for a little 2.0l. Hopefully it's a better match for the big, manly 2.3l. ;)

I started getting the Saab's old turbo prepped for the XR, and in doing so ganked the really expensive offset wastegate actuator from the existing hybrid turbo.... I figured the XR was not going to need a functioning wastegate to get up the driveway. ;) When I removed the two bottom bolts to free the actuator mount, oil came POURING out of the compressor housing. Hard to say how much, but it left a puddle on the ground. I suspect if I'd driven that car even a mile more it would have pumped a quart of oil into the intake.

I'll put the XR in the garage this evening and maybe get to work... at least drain the fluids. I know I still need a couple parts so I'd like to get the turbo off ASAP so I can see exactly what my parts list looks like and get it in the pipe. Maybe have it back on the road this weekend - finally!

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:51 pm
by thesameguy
I was able to get a fair amount done yesterday - turns out it was well worth my while to put $1/ea nuts on everything. Four years later, it all came apart with hand tools and no cursing. Absolutely worth the $15 or whatever it cost in total.


I had some questions, none of which I really remember now but will hopefully come back to me. :)

I didn't do any close inspections, but I don't immediately see anything wrong - the oil feed was clean & clear as was the drain, so whatever went wrong apparently went wrong internally. I will probably send the CHRA back to its source for an evaluation, but I'm not positive yet... I don't really anticipate a need for a T3/T4 in the future. It's a dead frame. IDK.

I tested out my planned oil pressure sensor replacement and it's not quite what I expected, but I think it'll work:


It's an NPT to AN adapter, then an inline AN/NPT sensor fitting, then an AN right angle. I'll use -4 AN hose with an inline restrictor for the turbo's oil feed. The sensor is a VDO 360009, which has a 7psi warning light and an 80psi sensor sender. Should work perfectly.

I'll get my shopping list together tonight, then wait for stuff to show up so I can put it back together again.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:53 pm
by thesameguy
There is definitely no obstruction in the oil feed or return, looks brand new. I didn't initially notice this, however:


That is exciting.

I have no idea what would have caused this. The compressor housing looks like new, so I don't think it's a foreign object. Plus, the chances of something making it past the VAM without leaving a mark is unlikely. *Possibly* something came through the bypass valve or PCV, but how it got *to* the BPV or through the PCV breather filter? IDK. I'm inclined to blame internal failure - perhaps it got off balance and ate itself. There is epic shaft play now, but of course that'd be obvious given all the other destruction. ;)

I'll take it apart further this evening and see if there is anything else noteworthy.

25 years of turbo cars and I've never actually seen a destroyed turbo like this!

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:55 pm
by Matt01
thats surprising, looks like a defective turbo, or as you suggested a lack of lubrication to it.

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:42 pm
by thesameguy
Well, the feed and drain are good and the car has no oil pressure issues so I can rule out a lubrication problem. There is wear on the back of the compressor and the backing plate, so clearly it was very off balance. There are no signs of stress on the compressor so I doubt it was an overspeed issue... and really this monster should be good for way more than I was asking from it anyway. I honestly wouldn't know how to tell long-term bearing failure from sudden bearing failure, so I'm really just left with a mystery. C'est la vie.

This evening's lack of accomplishment is that the exhaust side of the turbo coming off the Saab is clocked wrong, and I don't have a way to reclock it. Doing so requires basically completely dismantling the thing and I don't have the tools to do it... this is a newer turbo with fancier hardware on it. :( Not sure what I'm doing now, but this is definitely a road block. :)

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:26 am
by lowered86
You have to wonder if any of that aluminum made it into your engine?


Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:31 pm
by thesameguy
No, not wonder - it definitely did. There would be nowhere else for it to go.

Even though it's catastrophic compressor damage, it doesn't represent a huge amount of debris and that metal is very fine and very fragile. The hope would be that failure occurred slowly and that the pieces were small enough to pass through without hurting anything.

I wasn't having running problems, just an oil leak and there is no damage to the turbine. So either they're still in there, or they are long gone and passed through with little to no damage.

Fingers crossed!

Re: So, maybe turbo time...

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:37 pm
by thesameguy
Forgot to post what I came to post! :)

I went by Diamond Diesel, which is a west coast diesel & turbo service operation. It's one of two licensed Garrett shops in the greater Sacramento area - that I'm aware of, anyway. The other is Turbo Power and it's quite a haul into the foothills. Anyway, lovely lady there told me they won't work on Turbonetics custom builds because if something goes wrong they have no way to fix the problem. Buuuut.... she pointed me in the right direction. And that direction is loosen the center section bolts, soak the turbine housing in Kroil (both of which I'd already done) and then hit it really hard with a brass drift. So I took it home, clamped it in a vice, and hit it really hard with a ball peen hammer and a brass drift. After a few minutes of whacking it back it forth, it started to move. DOPE.

So the turbo is now properly clocked and my next mission is replacing the water lines. I'm not positive how I'm gonna do that, but the Ford fittings are old and crusty, the double rubber hose + pipe solution is four hose clamps that are waiting to betray me, and the inlet side really obstructs the nut on the manifold. I'm going to do something here, I'm just not sure what.

Happily, it's just details now... all the "big" mechanical issues are in the past. :)