Asking for a little wisdom on my next steps - Pontiac Solstice Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Asking for a little wisdom on my next steps

Back in December, I tracked down and fixed the boost leak in my GXP just in time for some bad piston rings and neglect from previous owners to grenade my engine. I opted for the LDK upgrade from ZZP for both power and price reasons over a used LNF, but I got my baby back with a worse boost leak than before. I see three options here:

1) try to fix the stock charge system again (cheapest)

2) replace the whole system with RPM Stage 3 kit + intercooler (cost effective)

3) build a custom solution with a Precision turbo + BOV + intercooler from Hahn/RPM charge piping + downpipe + intake. (Best performance)

Any advice to offer? I'd like to sit around the 400 HP mark at least. Clutch was replaced with the engine, and I bought her with the Solo street race exhaust kit installed. Would I need to upgrade anything else for either option? If I went with number 3 I would need a separate tune, since I wouldn't be getting the stage 3 kit. Would it be a good idea to dyno it and send the results to someone with experience at that point, Westers or Hahn or RPM, or have it done in house at the dyno regardless of experience with the platform?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 06:45 AM
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What? Your new LDK that was just built has developed a boost leak already? If so, I'd go w/option 1.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChopTop View Post
What? Your new LDK that was just built has developed a boost leak already? If so, I'd go w/option 1.
It's less that it's developed one and more that the shop that did the work had no experience with the Kappa platform and didn't seem to know it wasn't right. Tracking the leak down in the first place was a hassle, I don't have a leak tester so it was all trial and error and came down to the passenger side IC coupler having a T-bolt clamp that was 1/4" too big, so it would "burp" at 18 PSI. But since the shop took the system apart to replace the block, when they put it all back together they reopened all the leaks I'd fixed before. It's not a burp anymore, just a slow leak that leaves max pressure at 6 PSI and gives me no top end at all.

I don't really want to fix it because the previous owner curbed the front and bent the IC, and for some reason broke the airbox off, so I had plans to upgrade the system anyway and it seemed prudent to get it done before I drive myself nuts trying to fix these broken components again.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 07:38 PM
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Why not check out DDMWorks? You could replace your IC and piping for around $800. I have several of their products on my car and all of their stuff is high quality. If you ever replace/upgrade the turbo later you'd still be able to use the same IC and piping.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CRiggleman View Post
Why not check out DDMWorks? You could replace your IC and piping for around $800. I have several of their products on my car and all of their stuff is high quality. If you ever replace/upgrade the turbo later you'd still be able to use the same IC and piping.
After I posted my thread here I looked into DDM and Werks some more, and I'm seeing a whole lot of options.. I like the Hahn intercooler for aesthetic reasons, and I'd like to have a BOV for show basically, but beyond that I'm not sure what the best value is, especially if I'm going to have to upgrade things like rods, cams and valve springs, or if my block can even handle the load. Do you have a turbo upgrade done?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 05:58 AM
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Boost leaks are a common problem.
Were it me, I would make the car run the way it is by cleaning up the intake. T clamps, good rubber, verify that the PCV nipple is not broken and leaking air, make sure the IC is not leaking etc. Once you have it running correctly then you have a good baseline to start from with your new engine.

Rob the Elder

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Green Dragon's chief mechanic
Carol's husband for 48 years

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azithoth View Post
It's less that it's developed one and more that the shop that did the work had no experience with the Kappa platform and didn't seem to know it wasn't right. Tracking the leak down in the first place was a hassle, I don't have a leak tester so it was all trial and error and came down to the passenger side IC coupler having a T-bolt clamp that was 1/4" too big, so it would "burp" at 18 PSI. But since the shop took the system apart to replace the block, when they put it all back together they reopened all the leaks I'd fixed before. It's not a burp anymore, just a slow leak that leaves max pressure at 6 PSI and gives me no top end at all.

I don't really want to fix it because the previous owner curbed the front and bent the IC, and for some reason broke the airbox off, so I had plans to upgrade the system anyway and it seemed prudent to get it done before I drive myself nuts trying to fix these broken components again.
I'd still go w/option 1. Find the leak(s), and then replace the intercooler and associated hardware. BTW, are you using T bolt hose clamps? They are much better than the OEM worm style. Solstice/Sky T-bolt Clamp, 2.0L by DDMWorks

I'm not sure this OEM 2.0 intake ($40) is still available because it was posted two months ago: https://winstonsalem.craigslist.org/pts/5990416458.html
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azithoth View Post
After I posted my thread here I looked into DDM and Werks some more, and I'm seeing a whole lot of options.. I like the Hahn intercooler for aesthetic reasons, and I'd like to have a BOV for show basically, but beyond that I'm not sure what the best value is, especially if I'm going to have to upgrade things like rods, cams and valve springs, or if my block can even handle the load. Do you have a turbo upgrade done?
Lots of questions there and I'll do my best to answer and give my OPINIONS.

First, I am currently running the stock turbo although I am considering an upgrade. My current performance mods are a high flow cat, methanol injection and a custom tune. Those few items have me at a little over 310 hp at the wheels. I do have DDM's IC pipes but I consider those just an aesthetic item because I think they do little for power. I did get the T-bolts and I think those combined with the silicone connectors are much better than stock and may end your leak problems. I also mentioned an IC for you because of your current problems and the stock units have been known to fail. Also, you seem to be considering a new turbo and if you do that you'll probably also want to replace the IC at that time anyway.

As for when you need to start to upgrade engine internals, from what I have researched it looks like our engines are good to around 400 whp if properly tuned. Of course you could do it before then but unless you have a bad tune or are excessively abusive you should be good to at least that point.

Lastly, as for whether or not the mods you are considering are worth it, only you can decide that. It just depends on what you want to do. I wanted to capitalize hp when I was doing my mods so that's why I added the things I did. For about $1000 I have about 100 more hp at the wheels than a stock GXP does. There are certainly other things that you can do for looks and/or sound but those three simple mods are pretty much the fastest/cheapest way to the biggest hp gains.

Whatever mods you start out with, if you end up enjoying the car you'll probably end up making many more like lots of us on this forum.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 05:53 AM
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There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what mods add power and how they do it.

Without a tune nothing has a lasting impact.

With a tune the consensus seems to be
high flow cat = 16 HP plus or minus

The stock charge air cooler is fine for the factory tune unless you are using a lot of power in hot weather.

An after market charge air cooler does not add HP but also does not limit power so it allows the car to be driven harder on a hot day and enables other power adding components to do their job.

Cat back exhausts are mostly cosmetic. The factory exhaust system does not inhibit power until you see significant gains.

The factory charge tubes cause turbulence at higher RPMs which acts to limit power production at those same higher RPMs. After market charge tubes, in my experience, do not ADD power but they allow the tuned car to continue to produce peak power for a broader RPM range which translates to a lot more area under the power curve.

There are a few members who SWEAR that the after market charge tubes actually add power. I am not of that opinion but in the past they have been adamant in these claims.

There are a number of threads that suggest that at about 400 HP the manual transmissions start to have reliability issues. I recommend that you do some research and make up your own mind.

In response to the comment above about the IC failing, there are basically two failure modes. One is a manufacturing problem that resulted in ballooning of the intercooler due to improper manufacturing. The second failure was identified on cars that had the GMPP or an after market tune installed. The intercooler structure failed resulting in cracks and leaking. These were very difficult to find but caused a lot of issues on a very small number of cars. They were finally found by listening to the IC as the car was started when you could hear the leak during the first few seconds of the startup.

Rob the Elder

Punisher's Daddy
Green Dragon's chief mechanic
Carol's husband for 48 years

Secretary Rocky Mountain Solstice and Sky Club
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http://www.solsticeforum.com/forum/f62/punisher-65168/
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob the elder View Post
There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what mods add power and how they do it.

Without a tune nothing has a lasting impact.

With a tune the consensus seems to be
high flow cat = 16 HP plus or minus

The stock charge air cooler is fine for the factory tune unless you are using a lot of power in hot weather.

An after market charge air cooler does not add HP but also does not limit power so it allows the car to be driven harder on a hot day and enables other power adding components to do their job.

Cat back exhausts are mostly cosmetic. The factory exhaust system does not inhibit power until you see significant gains.

The factory charge tubes cause turbulence at higher RPMs which acts to limit power production at those same higher RPMs. After market charge tubes, in my experience, do not ADD power but they allow the tuned car to continue to produce peak power for a broader RPM range which translates to a lot more area under the power curve.

There are a few members who SWEAR that the after market charge tubes actually add power. I am not of that opinion but in the past they have been adamant in these claims.

There are a number of threads that suggest that at about 400 HP the manual transmissions start to have reliability issues. I recommend that you do some research and make up your own mind.

In response to the comment above about the IC failing, there are basically two failure modes. One is a manufacturing problem that resulted in ballooning of the intercooler due to improper manufacturing. The second failure was identified on cars that had the GMPP or an after market tune installed. The intercooler structure failed resulting in cracks and leaking. These were very difficult to find but caused a lot of issues on a very small number of cars. They were finally found by listening to the IC as the car was started when you could hear the leak during the first few seconds of the startup.
I don't expect to see power gains from upgrading the tubing, it's just something that I think looks nice and future-proofs against any plans I have down the line. The intake I feel needs upgraded due to the plastic check valve, and since mine is trashed anyway I don't have a problem with it.

The intercooler needs replaced, it's not ballooned the way that I've seen pictures of, but it would not surprise me if it was cracked or holed. The entire piece is bent into an arc around the bottom bracket that holds the tube underneath it, like it was driven onto a rock or something. I'm definitely replacing that and ordering new couplers, since those were a failure point previously. Something weird though, I already have T-bolt clamps on the stock couplers, but some of them are too big, like they were ordered for an aftermarket cooler with 2.5" flanges. That's where I ran into problems last time.

I know I need a tune but I'm not really near any of the big names around the forum, is a canned tune worth it? Could I go to any old dyno shop in the area and get adequate results? Or is it worth making the time to take a trip out?

Lastly, I know my transmission is still a weak point, but I've looked around for an upgrade path and haven't seen one. Either there's the pricey T56 upgrade or a swap to an Aisin 6 speed, which I seem to understand is more of a sidegrade than anything and doesn't improve reliability. Am I missing a third option there?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 07:24 PM
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Regarding the tune, DDM will be in Lexington in June for the Annual Meet. There may be others here as well, but so far only DDM is confirmed.

John
Lexington, KY
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 05:12 AM
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So here's my take on tuning. I was dyno tuned by ZZP. At the time I was told that "IF" I had a HFC and AM intercooler(IC), I could have easily seen 325hp at the wheels. I wouldn't try just any tuner!!!! LNF/LDKs are very finicky motors. They must be tuned 100% correctly or it causes MAJOR issues. If you want an AM intercooler, stick with DDM, PAW or my favorite....Hahn. Take my advice for what it's worth!! If you have the LDK and you have the LDK injectors, then my understanding is you can go with an e85 tune that "should" give you closer to 375hp. The LDK injectors are the only ones that flow enough fuel for a true e85 tune. I know that if you had an LNF and you ordered the LDK from ZZP, and didn't specify to keep the LDK injectors, they swap them out because they flow 18% more fuel, which the LDK injectors would work for an e85 tune according to there website. How do I know all of this you ask? I'm chasing a p2188 code right now and I think I've finally narrowed it down to either the HPFP or the injectors. And ZZP has a complete rail and injectors on ebay for an extremely great price!! If you want HP out of a tune, you need a HFC and AM IC. You might have a bit of an issue getting a canned tune from anyone other then DDM for an LDK motor....You will definitely need to check before purchasing one. I would stick to canned unless you get the HFC and IC.

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ZZPerformance dyno tuned - 286HP, 317ft/lbs of torque at 23psi of boost.
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