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Old 10-10-2002, 11:43 PM   #1
Austin
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Default Two Bad VF34ís? (long)

Did I Get Two Bad VF34ís?

Iíll tell the whole story Ė

About a week ago the car started smoking badly under any load. Blue/Gray smoke. Thinking I might've pushed my VF29 too hard (too much boost), I pulled it out. Compressor side, I/C y-pipe, intercooler, intake manifold were spotless. I clean them regularly. Top of uppipe was clean (blackened like any exhaust pipe, but powdery black). Inlet of turbine side was clean, outlet of turbine side was nasty with burnt oil. Downpipe was nasty with burnt oil. The VF29 had a slight amount of play end to end on the shaft, so I definitely munched the bushings, and was leaking/burning oil. I took the turbo to a local shop to have it rebuilt. Compression tests showed great numbers - 167, 164, 167, 162.

So I installed a VF34 (new). Took it for a drive and started smoking like a banshee. Real Spy Hunter smoke screen. Same color smoke, same acrid odor. Crap. I pulled the intercooler off, and found the y-pipe full of oil Ė it was dripping out. The induction pipe was clean, and the compressor inlet was clean. To my thinking then, the only thing that could cause this is a bad oil seal on the compressor side of the VF34. Compression test showed great numbers - Cylinder #1 166#, Cylinder #2 170#, Cylinder #3 164#, Cylinder #4 172#.

Pulled the VF34 out, cleaned everything up. Installed the stock turbo. Started the car up, sucked several different cleaning solutions through a vacuum hose on the intake manifold to clean all the deposits and burnt oil from the valves, exhuast pipes, and anywhere else it built up. Smoke like a crack whore while I was cleaning it out, and stopped smoking when I was done. Reached 15psi a number of times with the stock turbo, didnít smoke once.

My 2nd VF34 came. I pulled the stock turbo, installed the 2nd VF34. Went on a 20 mile drive, no smoke. Went on another 20 mile drive, no smoke. About 5 miles into my 3rd drive, started smoking like a wh0r3 again.

Got home and ripped everything apart. Again, the compressor inlet and induction pipe are clean as a whistle, and the compressor outlet and y-pipe are dripping oil... When I removed the intercooler, oil actually gushed onto the block from the y-pipe and the outlet of the compressor.

I pulled the turbo from the car, laid it on a clean shop towel on the floor, and (I'm not exaggerating) at least 4 ounces of oil poured out of the compressor outlet. Not cool.



The compressor inlet is clean



Thinking that there would be no way to get two bad VF34's in a row, something is causing oil to be pushed from the center section into the compressor side of the turbo.

Since I have an oil pressure guage and have had completely normal pressures, it's not excessive system pressureÖ
The VF34 has an oil inlet restrictor (approximately same size as the stock turbo - really damn small), so it's not excessive oil flow intoÖ
That means it must be excessive pressure inside the turbo - the drain line must be clogged. I drained the oil, and found out the drain line is definitely not plugged. With the oil pan drain plug out, oil will drain thru the drain pipe and out the oil pan just as fast as I can pour it in. Spraying brake cleaner into the drain pipe had no effect... not that I thought it would - there's nothing to unplug.

I do have a catch can, with both valve cover vents and the crankcase vent going to the catch can. I just emptied it a week ago. Yesterday it was still empty. I have clear tubing running from the valve cover vents and the crankcase vent to the catch can, and clear tubing running back to the induction pipe. The clear tubing still has no oil in it, either to the catch can, or to the induction pipe.

Did I just get two bad VF34ís in a row?

Thanks for your insight.
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:26 AM   #2
phxscooby101
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This dosen't help , but did you get the orignal vf34 rebuilt after
it crapped out the first time? maybe it's the same turbo and
re-assmbled incorrectly? just a thought. later
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:39 AM   #3
David@Vishnu
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dont think you can rebuild a 34 could be wrong though
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Old 10-11-2002, 02:34 AM   #4
DarthChicken
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Should have thought of this earlier Austin - what does the drain line on the turbo itself look like? Does it have oil on it, or is it dry? I'm assuming it has oil as well... or does it.

I'm still leaning towards the thought of a batch problem with the VF34. Same problem on both turbos.... but did not occur on stock turbo.

Here's a thought. Put the VF34 back on, but instead of putting the oil return line back into the hose, hook a seperate hose up to drain it into a pan. Just fire the car up for a few seconds, see if oil is actually leaving the turbo. Don't even hook your intercooler up to it though, it'll just fill back up
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Old 10-11-2002, 02:47 AM   #5
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I dont see how it could be anything but a bunk vf34 again, the stock turbo pushing fine is a pretty good clue that everythings ok.

Maybe its a sign austin, like a person rejecting an organ transplant, your car is saying no to vf34's. Might as well just scrap that idea and go with an externally gated big garret, listen to the car
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Old 10-11-2002, 02:52 AM   #6
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Do you know what failed for sure on your VF29? It would seem very strange that the 29 and both 34's would fail in the same fashion as they have nothing in common, but the car. Are you able to tell if both VF34's are from the same manufacturing lot? It would possibly make some sense if the turbo's are experiencing an intermittent oil starvation, but the stock turbo should suffer the same fait after enough usage. Maybe you should sell me your VF29 after it is rebuilt and you should keep yours stock.
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Old 10-11-2002, 03:50 AM   #7
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I'm really sorry to hear your problems, but it could still be a clogged return line...just because oil flows, doesn't mean enough oil flows.

I have a question for you too, since you have used both the VF29 and the VF34 - which do you like better? Why? What is spool up on each?

Thanks!
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Old 10-11-2002, 03:55 AM   #8
teiva-boy
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Austin is a big auto-x'er so the VF29 was a good solution to keep the spoolup low.
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Old 10-11-2002, 04:01 AM   #9
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Something is going on. The chances of THREE turbos leaking out of the oil seal is just out of this world. I would check oil pressure. Check the cooling system for oil. Check the oil for gas or coolant ect.. A blockage in the drain line would do this and you where on the right track when you checked it. The only odd thing is that the stock turbo works perfect. Thats the trump card in this.

I hate problems like this because you end up working to fix them for weeks. Like Steves car that ate the instruction manual. We find out after 2 weeks of messing with it that the cam timming is off.

Check that oil pressure Austin.. Your pump pressure relief valve could in fact be stuck.


CT
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Old 10-11-2002, 07:19 AM   #10
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hes gotta oil pressure gauge thats reading normal, thats one thing that lead me to think that its just unlucky turbos.
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:24 AM   #11
Austin
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Quote:
Originally posted by AZScoobie
Something is going on. The chances of THREE turbos leaking out of the oil seal is just out of this world.
Remember that the VF29 didn't fill the intercooler and intake manifold with oil. I too have a very hard time believing that three turbos in a row could go... but the VF29 shaft moved end to end, so that's a pretty good indication to me that I pushed it too hard. Turbo shafts ain't supposed to wiggle.

Quote:
Originally posted by AZScoobie
I would check oil pressure. Check the cooling system for oil. Check the oil for gas or coolant ect.. A blockage in the drain line would do this and you where on the right track when you checked it. The only odd thing is that the stock turbo works perfect. Thats the trump card in this.
I have a Greddy oil pressure meter, and I've been seeing the exact same oil pressures in the last two weeks as I've seen in the last year. About 7 bar cold, 2 bar warm idle, 6-6.2 bar at anything over 2k rpm.

I've drained a gallon of coolant everytime I've changed a turbo - my coolant is not contaminated. If I was trying to be cheap I could re-use the drained coolant - it's that clean.

My oil had zero contaminants. I poured it through a strainer. I'm going to rip open the oil filter tonight and check the element... not that I expect to find anything.

My oil drain line drained every bit as fast as oil would flow into it. I don't see how it could be blocked, or not flowing enough.
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:35 AM   #12
Austin
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sordid Philosopher
I'm really sorry to hear your problems, but it could still be a clogged return line...just because oil flows, doesn't mean enough oil flows.

I have a question for you too, since you have used both the VF29 and the VF34 - which do you like better? Why? What is spool up on each?
Can you think of a better way to check the return line than to pour oil in?

As for the spool up... Keep in mind this is with very little 34 experience, and I have no datalogs with exact numbers to back me up. Just eyeballing guages.

With my setup, the stock turbo will spool to 15psi by 2400 rpm in 4th on a level road.
The VF29 will spool to 15psi by 2900 rpm in 4th on a level road. 18psi by 3000 rpm.
The VF34 will spool to 15psi by 2900 rpm in 4th on a level road.

Having driven all three within the past two weeks...
The VF34 feels faster at the same boost pressure. I blindly added quite a bit of fuel to my VF29 map to turn it into my VF34 map, and I most likely added too much. That means with a few hours of tuning the VF34 would feel even faster.
The VF29 gives more of a punch down low... it makes you think it's spooling faster compared to the 34.
The stock turbo is the quickest to come back on boost after a shift. It's the most fun driving around town.
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:38 AM   #13
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3 turbos, same problem.. has to be something other than the turbos. My first guess would be the oil drain from the turbo, blocked or not draining properly. Its gonna take the easiest path out and thats around the bearings..

guy i know used to build turbo kits always had extra big drain lines off the turbo and made sure that the point that the oild returned into the engine had plenty of clearance. the oil gets all bubbled up and hot as it passes thru the bearing and needs all the help it can get getting out of there and back into the main oil system.
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Old 10-11-2002, 09:41 AM   #14
Austin
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I think I'm going to drive over and pick up the VF29 tonight and put that back in the car. If it runs well with no leaking/smoking, that'll be proof enough for me that the two 34's were just bad...
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Old 10-11-2002, 10:15 AM   #15
NotoriousWRX
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Did you note the numbers stamped on the turbo after "VF34" and after "RHF5HB". The numbers on my yet to be installed vf34 are different from yours and may have indicate a manufacture date and batch ID numbers. If both turbos had the same #s, I would say that it's a bad batch of VF34s.

My turbo is stamped "VF34 0202" and "RHF5HB 28 179E", then the part number.
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Old 10-11-2002, 12:43 PM   #16
Jan Shim
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In light of the this tragic event (sigh!), I feel it is appropriate to share with you all information I picked up during my training at my turbo distributor's warehouse

Note the highlight in the yellow box!
http://www.janshim.com/turbo%20insta...structions.jpg

Turbo Damage Analysis
http://www.janshim.com/turbo%20damage%20analysis.jpg

Hope this is useful especially to those embarking on a turbo upgrade for the first time.


Jan Shim
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:20 PM   #17
Z1 Performance
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Austin: most likely cuplrit is blown rings..check compression ASAP

Adam
www.z1auto.com
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:22 PM   #18
Austin
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Jan, thanks for those instructions. I've sent the first VF34 back to the distributor for inspection.

To be honest, though, I take pretty good care of my car. I follow most every item on that list.

K&N cone filter, cleaned w/in the last 2k miles.
Oil and oil filter are changed every 2500-3000 miles with Redline synthetic 10w30, and a Purolator premium plus filter. Once I went about 3300 miles, I've only gone over 3000 miles that once.
I pre-lube the turbo, and I know I have good oil pressure.
I disconnect power to my ignition coils and crank the engine for 20 seconds each time I change the oil or put a new turbo on.
I have never lifted a turbo by the wastegate actuator rod.

Am I missing something?
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:26 PM   #19
Austin
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Quote:
Originally posted by Z1 Performance
Austin: most likely cuplrit is blown rings..check compression ASAP

Adam
www.z1auto.com
Adam -

Throughout this I've done multiple compression checks.

The high spec is like 166 or 168 - my last numbers were Cylinder #1 166#, Cylinder #2 170#, Cylinder #3 164#, Cylinder #4 172#, as I posted above.

Thanks, do you have other thoughts?
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Old 10-11-2002, 01:48 PM   #20
AZScoobie
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Quote:
Originally posted by Austin
Adam -

Throughout this I've done multiple compression checks.

The high spec is like 166 or 168 - my last numbers were Cylinder #1 166#, Cylinder #2 170#, Cylinder #3 164#, Cylinder #4 172#, as I posted above.

Thanks, do you have other thoughts?


Everything Checks out man. You must have bad turbos. Let us know what happends.

On a side note. 14 psi by 2900 rpm? Man I remember those days. Now I am luck if I break 4000 rpm. hehe.

CT
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Old 10-11-2002, 02:32 PM   #21
Funky
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Default Priming the Turbos?

Based on the amount of wrenching you are doing yourself, I'm going to assume you know what you are doing... but just incase... I figure I might post anyway.

You are priming the turbos with oil before you install them right? You need to make sure they have some oil in them, otherwise on the very first startup they spin with dry bearings (or bushings)... it's enough to scar the shaft and cause permanent damage.

I'm assuming you know that much, so otherwise I'm going to guess it was just a bad batch.
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Old 10-11-2002, 03:30 PM   #22
Austin
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Default Re: Priming the Turbos?

Quote:
Originally posted by Funky
You are priming the turbos with oil before you install them right?
All the VF turbos have assembly lube in them when new. It truly isn't necessary to prime the turbos or to crank the engine w/o ignition after installing a new turbo.

That being said, yes, like I've said above, I prime the turbos with Redline 10w30, and I also crank the motor with the ignition coils disconnected before I actually start the car.
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Old 10-13-2002, 11:34 AM   #23
motoxphil
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Default Check your PCV valve

I've had some similar issues with my current setup and excessive oil in the intake system. I had vented all crankcase breathers but would still see substantial amounts of oil in the intake until I disconnected (pulled hoses) the PCV valve from the intake pipe.

Intake is now clean as a whistle. This valve is supposed to stay closed under positive manifold pressure and only open under vacum. It's located under the throttle body and next to the turbo. I believe it has a "T" like fitting with one hose attached to the throttle body (this is where the actual valve is located), one in the block, and the other going to the turbo inlet pipe.

When you disconnect it make sure you plug your intake hole or you will run lean.

I'm fairly confident this is your problem.

Good luck!

Phil
TurboXS
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Old 10-13-2002, 12:25 PM   #24
Austin
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You're right on Phil, that was my problem.

It sucks to have to admit what a dope I was, but it was my fault all along.

I thought it through again yesterday, and realized that could be my only possible problem. The crankcase was not being properly ventilated, causing some positive pressure buildup, preventing oil drain from the turbo.

I had the valve cover vents and crankcase vent all tee'd together, running into a catch can. Suction on the catch can was back to the induction pipe. The PCV valve was blanked off.

My thinking in this was that the induction pipe is better than a simple breather filter, as there's always a tiny bit of vacuum before the turbo. Even at an idle, there's a tiny bit of vacuum. Obviously, there is not as much vacuum in the induction pipe as there is in the intake manifold, but there is more vacuum in the induction pipe than I would get from a simple breather filter. I thought that as the amount of blow-by gasses introduced into the went up (due to throttle plate being open more), and the vacuum in the induction pipe gets stronger, it would be an ideal combination.

I was wrong, and my setup was flawed. There is just not enough vacuum in the induction pipe to pull the vapors from the crankcase to prevent pressurization of the crankcase.

I have now changed the suction on the catch can to mock the stock setup - the PCV valve and induction pipe are tee'd. Suction motive force at <101kpa manifold pressure is provided by the PCV valve, and suction force with positive manifold pressure is provided by the iduction pipe.

I picked up the VF29 Friday and dropped off the VF34 to be cleaned out. I put my car back together yesteday, and everything is good... except I feel like a dope. O'well.

All in all, it's a $250 mistake... cost me $125 to get the 29 cleaned out, and $125 to get the VF34 cleaned out. Live and learn.
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Old 10-13-2002, 10:29 PM   #25
Jan Shim
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I have some photos uploaded by a Subaru owner who used my method to plumb his oil breather. To the untrained eye, the photos are meaningless and I have to admit documentary none-existent. Apologies for that. However, I'll try to summarize the plumbing methodolody here

http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~gavinp/janshim.htm

NOTE: I later chose to dispose of the (Cusco) catch can as i found it to be inadequate. Quote a fair amount of oil fumes can be seen escaping from the tightly clamped vents. So if this can-less setup is considered politically unfriendly, please keep the remarks to yourself

The PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) vent is located underneath the throttle body (on GC8 models) and I have it completely blanked off with a rubber cap and clamped (it worked itself off once so now it's secured). The actual crankcase vents has two exits (one horizontal and one vertical) .. once again, using suitable rubber cap and clamp, I blanked off the horizontal and attached a hose to the vertical vent (on the logic that escaping gases find the quickest way out, this being the vertical vent). This lone hose is plumbed to and secured at the firewall, pointing towards the ground open.

Next are the head breathers (one on each side). The Left and Right vents are Tee'd then fitted with a small K&N [crankcase] filter. The vents on the inlet pipe are also blanked off using the same rubber caps and clamps procedure.

Now, i know after following many of the on-going discussions on this board that this setup is somewhat controversial (being totally vented and not 'closed circuit') .. it has to be said that this methodology has been copied by many others with no ill effects. I have run this setup for at least 60,000 kms. Besides, we copied this setup from JUN when S.Koyama was here preparing one of teir JUN 2.2L Stroked ver 4 WRX Wagon.
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