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Old 03-24-2009, 06:35 PM   #1
sburck
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Lightbulb An idea about running the stock short block with built heads.

I have been thinking a lot about how one can build a very efficient setup that will attain high power levels without going to aggressive on the boost, timing, and air/fuel ratio. All of this is done in the pursuit of a reliable DD build.

By high power levels I mean about 350-400 WHP, depending on the dyno.

What I see a lot is people just putting forged pistons in a block and running a dom3 or rotated 30R. While this works, I usually see that people are running boost in the low 20's, and presumably these are not the most conservative of tunes.

My idea is to run the STOCK bottom end with a rotated 30R (leaning toward the p&l kit), and than to get some milling done to the heads, after which I would probably install new cams and have everything p&p'd and coated. Ideally the stock bottom end in a build like this would not be over stressed, because plenty of power could be attained without running too much boost or a very aggressive tune.

According to Unibombers piston FAQ:

"No aftermarket shop does as good a job on boring the cylinders as Subaru. That being said, if the block is new, this will be the best bore you can get. If you think there is a need to size the pistons to the bore, do it as Subaru does and make the pistons to fit the bore size. This will be necessary when using a cast OEM style piston."

I see many benefits from being able to safely use a stock short block, mainly being reduced wear due to the higher quality match between stock pistons and factory bore/hone, and the reliability, the smoothness, and the price of the factory unit.

I know that plenty of people push numbers like this on a completely stock long block, but I wouldn't feel comfortable doing so.

Am I completely wrong? (For every time somebody quotes that sentence and just says "yeah" or something along those lines, without explaining why my reasoning is flawed, I will kill and eat a puppy.)
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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350-400whp is easily attainable with stock heads. I don't see why you would need to do head work when your short block is going to remain stock. The way I see it and probably most people do is to build the short block and THEN do the heads or just do it at the same time.

You're going to have to pull the motor and pull the heads off to do the work so at least drop in some pistons and do a hone on the block.

Edit: If you think 20-22psi is not conservative then what is?
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:00 PM   #3
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people build motors so the can turn up the boost and not worry about breakage. if you only want to run 20psi install 30r and drive it.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:54 PM   #4
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I want to run under 20 psi and get 350-400 whp on a very conservative tune, the kind that will make the motor last longer than all the other crap that eventually breaks and makes the car not worth repairing.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:08 PM   #5
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people replace the pistons because they break sometimes even on the smallest amount of detonation, look at the stock engines failing

something to consider would be forged pistons in a stock block like a few places do, 30r sized turbo, e85 fuel if available (this has more detonation resistance and has lower EGTs), tuner is a big one

by all means head work will help, but you are taking a step backwards to do this work and not install forged pistons, now I am not a big believer in replacing the pistons unless they do break, IMO would be to put the turbo on you want and get it tuned and maybe it will last 10s of 1000s of miles or maybe it will pop pretty quickly. Subaru motors are a crap shoot
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:08 PM   #6
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just drop in pistons, it is sooooo easy when you already have the heads off.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:11 PM   #7
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just drop in pistons, it is sooooo easy when you already have the heads off.
Don't you have to bring the block to a machine shop, bring them the pistons, have them measure each piston, have them measure each cylinder, then have them re hone the cylinders to match the clearance?

I have heard over and over on this forum not to just drop them in.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:35 PM   #8
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stock sti pistons SUCK. I broke a ring land on #3 at around 15k miles with an OTS stg2 map on my car.

also, to install forged pistons you will need to have the block machined as forged pistons have different clearance values due to the expansion rate of the metal if you want it to last. it is also far easier to build a motor when you want to as opposed to doing it because you have to...
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:39 PM   #9
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stock sti pistons SUCK. I broke a ring land on #3 at around 15k miles with an OTS stg2 map on my car.

also, to install forged pistons you will need to have the block machined as forged pistons have different clearance values due to the expansion rate of the metal if you want it to last. it is also far easier to build a motor when you want to as opposed to doing it because you have to...

Did you overboost? I have never heard stories like that except for the 07's on their factory tune. I do want a motor that can take it, this thread is about an idea for how to build one that doesn't create enough stress to merit changing the pistons.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:45 PM   #10
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Did you overboost? I have never heard stories like that except for the 07's on their factory tune. I do want a motor that can take it, this thread is about an idea for how to build one that doesn't create enough stress to merit changing the pistons.

nope, not at all. like I said, it was a super safe OTS map on pump gas. It took me 5 trips to the dealer and me telling them to check it after they said nothing is wrong. 2 days later I get a phone call...."ya, #3 has 62 psi." I also know a guy that just did a motor with forged pistons and bearings.... his vacuum line fell off and he over boosted 10+psi more than his tune was set for. The motor lived, while the 3rd gear fell victim to the problem on his 06. fixed the trans and the hose, and the car runs like a champ.

For the $ you are gonna spend on head work and cams, you could get a sick meth/water injection kit and yield the same result with a ton of money left over.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:57 PM   #11
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I don't like how complicated water/meth is.

My real concern with forged pistons is that the motor will wear out from all of the cold starts. How long do you see peoples built short blocks going for if they run them on a conservative tune?
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:03 AM   #12
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I don't like how complicated water/meth is.

My real concern with forged pistons is that the motor will wear out from all of the cold starts. How long do you see peoples built short blocks going for if they run them on a conservative tune?

you can have the motor done with different tolerances.... I had mine done tight, i.e. min tolerances. You can only ever hear slight piston slap in my car when it is real cold and it goes away by the time the needle starts to move on the temp gauge, if you know what to listen for. If not, most people wouldn't ever even know.
If the car is tuned and maintained well, they will last a long time
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:28 AM   #13
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What kind of pistons are they. What alloy, 4032 or 2618? Are they coated? Who did your machining?
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:39 AM   #14
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What kind of pistons are they. What alloy, 4032 or 2618? Are they coated? Who did your machining?
I used CP 99.5mm pistons. I had the machine work done at LMS here in Vegas. The guy that actually built my short block used to build race motors for Cosworth. This same machine shop is where almost all of Flat4 takes there stuff to. They just did another one for my shop and are doing another this week. They do good work
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:57 AM   #15
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400whp produces the same cylinder pressures whether you do it with 18psi and ported heads + cams or stock heads/cams @22+ psi. It doesn't matter to your pistons or rods. One benefit though is you turbo doesn't have to work as hard because your VE went up so charge temps would be lower and you would theoretically be further from knock.

I'd still throw some pistons in there though. I don't buy that nobody hones a block as good as Subaru crap.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:00 AM   #16
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I don't buy that nobody hones a block as good as Subaru crap.

+1
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:00 AM   #17
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400whp produces the same cylinder pressures whether you do it with 18psi and ported heads + cams or stock heads/cams @22+ psi. It doesn't matter to your pistons or rods. One benefit though is you turbo doesn't have to work as hard because your VE went up so charge temps would be lower and you would theoretically be further from knock.

I'd still throw some pistons in there though. I don't buy that nobody hones a block as good as Subaru crap.
I am no expert and probably don't know nearly as much as you, but from my standpoint it seems that the cylinder pressures indeed vary from case to case. This would be because an engine (or rather whole power train) needs to be optimized to work in a given power range efficiently. That means that if the parts being used are not optimized to run at a certain power level (and work together) be it 400 whp instead of 230, they will not run as efficient at those power levels as a properly optimized/setup engine would.

In effect, energy is being wasted in the engine and is not being sent out through the crank. Therefore excess energy must be generated in the engine to make up for the power loss and still put out the target hp.

The engine is now working harder to make up for things that it cannot do efficiently. Things like exhaust getting "backed up" in the heads because they are not designed to flow that much, and the valves not being open long enough any more, due to the cam profile not being designed to release the now greater mass/volume of exhaust (the valves also may not be big enough). Same with the intake/exhaust creating choke points.

Similar things happen when running really high boost from a turbo set up that is not optimized, because the engine has to work to compress air that is at a higher boost level to make up for its lower density.

Following this logic, you would have higher pressure in the cylinders, but that pressure would be countered by the excess pressure that is getting "backed up" in the cylinders on the exhaust stroke so the engine is still putting out only 400whp. Similar things may happen on the intake stroke because the stock heads/valve/timing combo are too measly to flow as much air into the cylinders, so in turn the boost gets turned up to get the desired amount of air into the engine. This heats up the air both from pushing the boost itself, as well as heating up the air by forcing it through the now puny valves which are acting as a choke point because they are not optimized to flow the amount that is being demanded of them.

If this thinking is correct then an engine that is optimized to run at say 400 whp efficiently will have lower cylinder pressures than a motor being forced to put out 400 whp when it is only happy putting out 400whp. This is because the latter motor has to create more cylinder pressure to fight the resistance caused by its not being optimized to run in that power band.

To make a motor that is completely optimized to run at a certain power band takes many millions of dollars, years and years, and hundreds of engineers (with that said those resources are also because other crap is needed like safety, emissions, and reliability). With that said there are still some simple things that can get me more then half way there.

P.S.--- I do overanalyze the crap out of everything and I may have just made up a completely fictional account of how engines and physics works, but I'm pretty sure that there is some truth to this logic.

Last edited by sburck; 03-25-2009 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:02 AM   #18
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I don't buy that nobody hones a block as good as Subaru crap.

+2


seriously, I love Ron, but he gets awful preachy and know-it-all-ly.

that being said, head work is where the power is. Block work is where the reliability is.

built heads make more power at lower boost levels which could theoretically help the block last longer... theoretically.

We have some killer head packages if you want to be the first to test it on a stock block! Otherwise, it's really easy to hone one or two thou off the factory walls to match "drop in" pistons properly.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:56 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by sburck View Post
I am no expert and probably don't know nearly as much as you, but from my standpoint it seems that the cylinder pressures indeed vary from case to case. This would be because an engine (or rather whole power train) needs to be optimized to work in a given power range efficiently. That means that if the parts being used are not optimized to run at a certain power level (and work together) be it 400 whp instead of 230, they will not run as efficient at those power levels as a properly optimized/setup engine would.

In effect, energy is being wasted in the engine and is not being sent out through the crank. Therefore excess energy must be generated in the engine to make up for the power loss and still put out the target hp.

The engine is now working harder to make up for things that it cannot do efficiently. Things like exhaust getting "backed up" in the heads because they are not designed to flow that much, and the valves not being open long enough any more, due to the cam profile not being designed to release the now greater mass/volume of exhaust (the valves also may not be big enough). Same with the intake/exhaust creating choke points.

Similar things happen when running really high boost from a turbo set up that is not optimized, because the engine has to work to compress air that is at a higher boost level to make up for its lower density.

Following this logic, you would have higher pressure in the cylinders, but that pressure would be countered by the excess pressure that is getting "backed up" in the cylinders on the exhaust stroke so the engine is still putting out only 400whp. Similar things may happen on the intake stroke because the stock heads/valve/timing combo are too measly to flow as much air into the cylinders, so in turn the boost gets turned up to get the desired amount of air into the engine. This heats up the air both from pushing the boost itself, as well as heating up the air by forcing it through the now puny valves which are acting as a choke point because they are not optimized to flow the amount that is being demanded of them.

If this thinking is correct then an engine that is optimized to run at say 400 whp efficiently will have lower cylinder pressures than a motor being forced to put out 400 whp when it is only happy putting out 400whp. This is because the latter motor has to create more cylinder pressure to fight the resistance caused by its not being optimized to run in that power band.

To make a motor that is completely optimized to run at a certain power band takes many millions of dollars, years and years, and hundreds of engineers (with that said those resources are also because other crap is needed like safety, emissions, and reliability). With that said there are still some simple things that can get me more then half way there.

P.S.--- I do over analyze the crap out of everything and I may have just made up a completely fictional account of how engines and physics works, but I'm pretty sure that there is some truth to this logic.

Its good that you over analyze and really think about how things work as a system. Most people don't but they should. When you compare the two motors above and you take a snapshot at a given rpm lets assume both are making the same torque at the crank. In order to get that equivalent torque at the crank you need the same average force on each cylinder which would be average cylinder pressure(psi) x cylinder area.

I do see the error in my ways though as the head/cam motor with equivalent peak HP won't have the same torque curve and would most likely make peak torque later and at a lower value if it still makes the same peak Hp (HP=Tq*rpm/5252). The head/cam motor of the same peak Hp would utilize more rpm than torque to make the same HP so cylinder pressures could be lower in that case.

One thing people confuse about boost levels though is the correlation between them and cylinder pressures. You're measuring boost in the manifold before it enters the heads. After headwork you remove a bit of restriction so its easier to fill the cylinders. Boost pressure is just a measure of that restriction. An example would be a garden house on full blast on one with the nozzle set to a trickle. Which case give you higher back pressure in the hose? That's what you see as indicated boost pressure.

Headwork does make it easier for the turbo to fill the cylinders though so it works much more efficiently resulting in lower charge temps which make for safer tunes in the end.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:19 PM   #20
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-1, I don't agree at all with that. Subaru does their blocks very well- and able to achieve FAA certification. How many other production car motors share virtually the same tooling as a small plane motor? But that is besides the point.

Subaru has extremely consistent block performance and tolerances. Your local machine shop, may or may not be good, and probably not as consistent. Look at all the issues people have after they overbore the block, out of round, slightly off, dropped sleeves...

Sure some people might have great success, but the failures are also quite numerous. Its just something to keep in mind.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:49 PM   #21
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Its good that you over analyze and really think about how things work as a system. Most people don't but they should. When you compare the two motors above and you take a snapshot at a given rpm lets assume both are making the same torque at the crank. In order to get that equivalent torque at the crank you need the same average force on each cylinder which would be average cylinder pressure(psi) x cylinder area.

I do see the error in my ways though as the head/cam motor with equivalent peak HP won't have the same torque curve and would most likely make peak torque later and at a lower value if it still makes the same peak Hp (HP=Tq*rpm/5252). The head/cam motor of the same peak Hp would utilize more rpm than torque to make the same HP so cylinder pressures could be lower in that case.

One thing people confuse about boost levels though is the correlation between them and cylinder pressures. You're measuring boost in the manifold before it enters the heads. After headwork you remove a bit of restriction so its easier to fill the cylinders. Boost pressure is just a measure of that restriction. An example would be a garden house on full blast on one with the nozzle set to a trickle. Which case give you higher back pressure in the hose? That's what you see as indicated boost pressure.

Headwork does make it easier for the turbo to fill the cylinders though so it works much more efficiently resulting in lower charge temps which make for safer tunes in the end.
This is kind of hard for me to explain without a picture but I will try. In that snap shot, two of the cylinders are in their combustion stroke, and the other two are in their exhaust stroke.

In any motor the combustion stroke creates energy, so lets say it has a positive contribution of energy to the system as a whole. The exhaust stroke (as well as intake and compression but we won't worry too much about these) does not create energy, instead it consumes energy so lets say it has a negative contribution of energy to the system.

In the efficient engine, the exhaust stroke does not consume as much energy as the inefficient engine. This is because the back pressure varies between the two cases as their heads are each designed to flow different amounts of air.

We can say the total torque coming from the crank is the torque created by the combustion stroke, minus the torque absorbed by the three other strokes. Torque is the force X the moment arm(the radius from the center of the crank to the part where the rods attach). Lets say the moment arm is 1 to make it easy. Lets also forget whp and just make it chp.

In this example the efficient motor takes 50 lbs of force to evacuate the cylinders. Lets forget about the intake and compression stroke as they are not entirely necessary in this example.

Here is an inefficient engine:

-We want 400 chp. So:

400chp = x - 50 ft/lbs of torque absorbed in the exhaust stroke.

x=450

-Where x is the torque created during the combustion stroke.
-The 50 lb force for the exhaust stroke is 50 ft/lb because the moment arm is 1, so 1 ft * 50 lbs = 50 ft/lbs.

Now here is an efficient engine:

400chp = x-20 ft/lbs of torque absorbed in the exhaust stroke.

x=420




Since the x (the torque created by the combustion stroke) is less in the efficient motor, so is the average cylinder pressure in that motor.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:06 PM   #22
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^^^^

Good point. I don't know how much power is consumed due to pumping loses but I'll look into it.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:19 PM   #23
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-1, I don't agree at all with that. Subaru does their blocks very well- and able to achieve FAA certification.

Well that isn't true. If it was, I'd have a lot more Subaru engines in aircraft.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:34 PM   #24
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^^^^

Good point. I don't know how much power is consumed due to pumping loses but I'll look into it.

Yeah I was also wondering how significant those losses are, but coating and PnP'ing parts alone can add 5-15 hp per part in many cases as they keep the exhaust hot allowing it to flow smoothly (in the case of pnp, just smoothing out the path helps flow also). If doing something as measly as that to increase flow frees up that much power, I'd imagine getting rid of choke points in the engine itself would have a great effect.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:36 PM   #25
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Well that isn't true. If it was, I'd have a lot more Subaru engines in aircraft.

I'm pretty sure a lot of kit aircraft use subaru engines, but that would also be because they are cheap and have a compact footprint that fits nice in the body of an aircraft.
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