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Old 05-10-2005, 10:51 AM   #1
annointed
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Default Cost of porting/working EJ205 heads?

It occurred to me that a lot of people who frequent this forum can give me some insight on this...I want to know the cost of a decent port job and valvetrain upgrade on EJ205 heads. I'm looking into a couple local shops that do this sort of work, getting quotes, etc.

Right now, I have stock WRX heads w/STi cams, mated to an EJ257 shortblock. I already have a ported intake mani and throttle body, along w/elec cutout downpipe, so the potential is there to really flow some air. Turbo is an FP Green, so I'd like to upgrade the stock WRX heads to maximize my set up.

So if you've had your heads professionally worked, please post w/what you had done, and how much $$$ it ran you. If you happen to know before/after power outputs via dyno or even butt-dyno, that would also be interesting

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:00 AM   #2
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From what I have heard the numbers seem to be in the 1200.00ish range. Though this is just what I have "heard".

FWIW I think a set of V8 heads would be a better bang for the buck, then again you already have the cams. (shrug)
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:10 AM   #3
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Buy a Bosch RotoZip and learn how to do it yourself if you feel up to it. Stay away from the Dremel as they're not designed for heavy work like this. The Rotozip has a powerful 5.0 amp motor and spins up to 30k rpms. Similar speed to the Dremel but has 3 times the power. It makes cutting, grinding, and smoothing easy. I even like it better than the air compressed die grinders.

As for cost, yeah it'll be expensive to pay a shop.
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarcel
Buy a Bosch RotoZip and learn how to do it yourself if you feel up to it.
Actually, I was considering trying it myself...I've NEVER done any porting, or even seen it done, though, which is my one reservation to giving it a go, considering how much $$$ I've invested in this set up already...I'd hate to screw something up due to inexperience.

Just out of curiosity, do you know which model of Bosch RotoZip you'd recommend? I did a google, and it looks like there are at least 2 models, if I'm not mistaken...

Thanks.
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:32 AM   #5
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There are atleast three that I know of currently. The first two have set 30k rpm speeds and the third more expensive one has variable speed. Honestly, youc an get away with the fixed speed one if you don't need the low speed attachements. Pricing for the first two models are like $59 then $99 and then $149 for the variable speed one at Home Depot. I'm sure you can find these things at many different places though so just check around.

You will not find flap wheels, sanding drums, etc for metal within the Rotozip brand though. However, this thing accepts 1/8" and 1/4" shank (shaft) sizes so any die grinder attachments will work. The nice thing about this tool is that it's designed to take the lateral loads that grinding creates. The Rotozip was originally designed for cutting drywall and ceramic tile. You it is tough and powerful.

As for experience, just get your hands on a junk head or simlar made of aluminum and you can get the feeling on that.
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annointed
Actually, I was considering trying it myself...I've NEVER done any porting, or even seen it done, though, which is my one reservation to giving it a go, considering how much $$$ I've invested in this set up already...I'd hate to screw something up due to inexperience.

Just out of curiosity, do you know which model of Bosch RotoZip you'd recommend? I did a google, and it looks like there are at least 2 models, if I'm not mistaken...

Thanks.

Bad idea. Back when I was a kid, I worked for a well-known SoCal guy (who now manages TRD's cylinder head shop). I learned alot. One of the most important things I learned was that making the ports pretty doesn't cut it, and quite frequently does more damage than good. Sure, some of the old-school guys can still port by memory, but most modern porters use semi-rigid molds developed by hundreds of R&D hours on the flowbench and dyno.

Take away a few thou here and there, and now you've got a head that won't flow as well as stock. One must really know what one is doing. Would I wager heavily that the before / after flow numbers at .250"-.400" would be fouled up? Yep. Can you learn? Sure. But I'd rather learn on a junk set.

FWIW, I let Quirt handle my porting ($1600, IIRC). It's expensive, but if you want a good job, go with the experts.

Good luck with your project, Mark!

S.
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:49 PM   #7
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Steve,

I disagree with part of that. Especially the part about not doing it yourself For example, I successully match ported the intake and exhaust ports, removed and smoothed the cast flashing from the runners, cleaned up the bolwes, cleaned and polished the combustion chambers and pretty much rounded out any obstructions. I didn't do much material removal at all. I did however (and this is pushing the envelope a little) was smooth down the splitter between the ports, i.e. like the Subaru big port heads. I smoothed down until each one was an identical depth, width, and contours. This part was pushing it without a flow bench but I had the heads completely disassembled and so I went for it. As soon as it's running again I don't expect any issues (and, if I do I won't tell you )

Also, I bet Quirt started somewhere himself. He probably started small and worked his way up with confidence.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarcel
Buy a Bosch RotoZip and learn how to do it yourself if you feel up to it. Stay away from the Dremel as they're not designed for heavy work like this. The Rotozip has a powerful 5.0 amp motor and spins up to 30k rpms. Similar speed to the Dremel but has 3 times the power. It makes cutting, grinding, and smoothing easy. I even like it better than the air compressed die grinders.

As for cost, yeah it'll be expensive to pay a shop.


The rotozip works great, but sooner or later u will encounter problems. I cheaped out when i first learned how to p&p. i even bout the 3 year warranty on the thing. In the first 3 months i replaced 5 of them. It's not the motor that is the problem, out of teh 5, i only managed to burn out 1. The problem is all the cheap plastic materials it uses and poor quality collets. I broke collets all day and in the end, it was a hassle to replace everything.

THat being said, i totally recogmend doin this yourself. Just find someone locally that has experiance and learn from them. I was fortunate enough to have an older cousin who does this for a living.

Keep us updated either way.

gluck
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:11 PM   #9
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I would never attempt to port heads myself. The reason is that I have no idea what I am doing. I once ported the intake ports slightly on my GSXR1100 years back. Mainly just matching work to the boots. It helped 3whp which was alot to gain on that motor. A good port job can give you 20whp on that motor though.

I agree with Steve in that its better left to someone that has experience but I want to add that since this is a turbo charged engine and the intake and exhaust flow is both pressurized things are a bit different. I do not believe that it makes as much difference on what is done and where. I would imagine it to be much more critical on an NA engine.

Port matching on the manifolds and porting of the TB does nothing. I have tested this back to back. The restriction is else where.

A customer of ours had a Crawford motor built recently. We installed the engine. He paid $1600 for port work to the V7 heads. The main work was done at the valve shroud. Crawford sent the heads out to another CA based shop for the work.

Clark
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:12 PM   #10
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and how were the results with this ported V7 heads ?
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarcel
Steve,

I disagree with part of that. Especially the part about not doing it yourself For example, I successully match ported the intake and exhaust ports, removed and smoothed the cast flashing from the runners, cleaned up the bolwes, cleaned and polished the combustion chambers and pretty much rounded out any obstructions. I didn't do much material removal at all. I did however (and this is pushing the envelope a little) was smooth down the splitter between the ports, i.e. like the Subaru big port heads. I smoothed down until each one was an identical depth, width, and contours. This part was pushing it without a flow bench but I had the heads completely disassembled and so I went for it. As soon as it's running again I don't expect any issues (and, if I do I won't tell you )

Also, I bet Quirt started somewhere himself. He probably started small and worked his way up with confidence.
Sure, I can agree and see the logic in that....but there is a substantial difference between a "port" job, and a "pocket port". If one is careful (and I feel reasonably certain that a intuitive person such as yourself is such), one can successfully clean / blend the ports to a small effect.

I also agree that porting has less of a positive effect on forced induction applications.

Quirt doesn't port the heads himself....he leaves it to the experts, as well.

Come on now....be sure and disclose
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:55 PM   #12
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Haha! We'll see. I really don't suspect there to be any complications as the work is clean. There are some things that I DO question but my work is completed now. I ported the exhaust ports to match the gasket and that was a lot of material removed. We will see though. Also, with the valves out, it was very easy to work the bowles and tracts. You would be surprised at how much cleaner you can make them (espeically right under the valve seats). So all in all, just doing port matching won't help too much on these FI'd engines but completely P&P'ing them I beg to differ with some of you guys on the gains Although at this point is only speculation on my part.
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:49 PM   #13
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at these DIY head port posts! Guys, head porting is an art. If you've never hard ported WRX heads on a flow bench (several different ones) then you shouldn't touch them. I could have an awesome Hondas porter touch my heads and get something that doesn't make power.

Porting isn't like bolting a motor together.

My $.02.
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Old 05-10-2005, 11:51 PM   #14
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Okay, so if I make good power when I get this rolling you'll be eating your words Are you CONFIDENT that my ported heads WILL suck? Come on man! Some of you guys are really funny sometimes when trying to make your opinion expressed.

Todd



P.S. Maybe I'm an artist (as in it's an art)
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Old 05-11-2005, 01:06 AM   #15
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Seat of the pants porting of a cylinder head is probably a 50/50 proposition, that you will make things worse rather than better. To do it with any real confidence that you are making things better you need some sort of flow bench to help you see whats going on. Pretty can be worse than stock!!!

You can actually make a port too big and ruin throttle response and or low / mid range torque. The stock WRX heads are actually pretty good, they flow about as well as high performance Chevy V8 cylinder heads.

You only need to take a very small amount out of the heads to improve them. Their minimum cross sectional area is a bit small for high rpm power numbers. The critical problem you can't address without some sort of flow test equipment is the short side radius where the port turns down into the valve pocket. muck that up and you can kill high rpm flow. It might flow even worse than the stock heads at high rpm and be too big for good mid range torque and sharp throttle response.

In the good old days the heads were so bad that almost anything was an improvement, modern 4 valve heads are very very good by the standards of 1960's and 1970's V8's. Even then folks ruined cylinder heads trying to improve them.

The stock WRX heads are probably all the head you need if your still running the OEM 2.0 L displacement and near stock red line. They are sized to hit ideal mixture velocities at about 7400 rpm on a 2.0 L engine. If, as in your case, you have more displacement or a higher red line limit like the JDM engines, you could use something close to the V7 - or - V8 heads. In the long run it would probably be cheaper to get a set of ported heads from Axis or Kingpin, or Crawford than it would to buy the grinders and spend the time doing the heads your self --- especially if you don't have any means to flow test them.

If you want to do your own I would only touch the valve bowl area, Subaru does very little finish work there, and get a 5 angle valve job. I'd stay away from mucking with the short turn of the intake port unless you're willing to spend time flow testing the heads, and are willing to risk ruining one or more $400 heads.

Larry
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Old 05-11-2005, 01:25 AM   #16
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Interesting feedback...thanks for all the time and thought in your replies, fellas.

I'm currently torn, since I'm making settlement on my first house on May 31st, and yet here I am, wanting to dump more $$$ into the project......good thing I'm not married, I'm sure this wouldn't fly w/a wife, lol!

Anyway, a local place called "Cylinder Head Services" (known more for muscle car work) quoted me $650-700 to port the two heads and upgrade the valvetrain w/ "competition level" components to let me rev to 7500-8000 rpm or so...somehow the pricing doesn't make sense compared to other Subaru head job prices, but then again, I'd bet that I'm the only Subaru person thats ever called him, so I'd suspect that he's never priced out any Subaru jobs before. The guy was pretty nice over the phone, and had a number of questions about my set up. Its definitely tempting at that price...
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Old 05-11-2005, 02:08 AM   #17
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I dont want to start any crap, so please do not take this in that manner.

I am not sure how you can go wrong with doing your own port job. As long as you make the ports the same size, you should see definate improvement. I would take your header gasket and outline it, then port the heads all the way to match the gasket. As long as the ports are even, there should be definate improvement. I am sure that a machine shop that can bench flow will do a better job than you can at home, but your DIY job will still be much better than stock.

As far as "sending them out to specialists" I sent a set of heads to DPR and it was the crappiest port job I have ever seen. He charged me $300 more than the originally quoted $1100, and just to make things better only did a "pocket port" I would take my chances porting them myself.

my recommendation is to go for it yourself!

best of luck
Ben
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Old 05-11-2005, 07:43 AM   #18
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Quote:
As far as "sending them out to specialists" I sent a set of heads to DPR and it was the crappiest port job I have ever seen. He charged me $300 more than the originally quoted $1100, and just to make things better only did a "pocket port" I would take my chances porting them myself.
He may have done a pocket port because that is all that he found it needed after doing a lot of testing ( where your extra money went).

How do you mean crappiest port job you'd ever seen? Porting has nothing to do with appearance. In fact a good port job leaves a rough surface to help resuspend fuel that comes out of the air stream ( more important on carburated wet manifolds but necessary for the last few inches in our heads), and also to help keep the flow attached.

Quote:
I am not sure how you can go wrong with doing your own port job. As long as you make the ports the same size, you should see definate improvement. I would take your header gasket and outline it, then port the heads all the way to match the gasket.
I've heard more than one professional head and engine builder (guys that build NHRA record holding engines) say the best way to lose power on a head port job is to just hog them out to the gaskets. It may improve low rpm flow capacity, but if you don't need, or are not even able to flow that much air on your engine it will kill performance. If you get the shape wrong at high mixture velocities and valve lifts it may actually flow less than a smaller properly shaped port. What usually happens is that you end up with a really pretty port that flows like crap for its size, with very high flow velocities in one part of the port, very low flow velocities in other parts of the port and the flow separating from the port walls at high flow and choking the port with turbulence. On a flow bench some of these ports will "scream" because the turbulence is so bad.

Your statement sounds logical but it is not a good idea if you want maximum performance.

I'm not saying an amateur cannot flow a port, but I am saying you need to take your time and do some detail study and then do the porting with some means to see what is happening to the air flow.

There is no point at all in opening up a port so it can flow 320 CFM if the engine on its best day cannot move that much air. Head porting is one of those areas where "A little is good --- more must be better" approach will burn you nearly every time. Do some research on head porting and you will see that as often as not, professionals actually make certain areas of the port smaller with epoxy or weld them up to get maximum performance. Shape is more important than port area!

If you want to spend money on your heads buy cams and a good valve spring set to bump up your max rpm!

Larry
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Old 05-11-2005, 09:07 AM   #19
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Larry,

You make good points and are right. I also think doing it yourself, can also be 'right', if done carefully and move forward with caution. For me, I looked at it like this, I've got a true 2.5L engine. This engine needs more airflow than the EJ205 heads ever thought about flowing. On top of that, I've got a turbo with a large 64mm turbine wheel and .78AR coupled with a compressor that can support 640HP. I think my actions of completing the hear work was justified.

Something I've learned so far on head porting is that you want to:

1.) Remove cast flashing,
2.) Clean up the combustion area as clean and shiny as posssible so that carbon does not build up as it does with the rough surface
3.) Similar to number two, clean up the exhaust tracts as much as possible so carbon does not build up
4.) On the intake ports, you want them to be slightly rough but without any bumps or gouges, just like you used a 80 grit sand paper on them
5.) You want the exhaust ports smooth, and
6.) Match port

I think that's it. And, as I said this is what my reading over the past 3 three weeks has yielded. I didn't come up with this on my own.

Todd
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Old 05-11-2005, 12:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarcel
I successully match ported the intake and exhaust ports, removed and smoothed the cast flashing from the runners, cleaned up the bolwes, cleaned and polished the combustion chambers and pretty much rounded out any obstructions.
Now define "successfully"
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Old 05-11-2005, 12:46 PM   #21
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Fwiw, n2 and Larry are absolutely correct. Its actually easier to do more harm than good, especially as you begin working with castings that are better as-cast.

Tmarcel, respectfully, 1-5 will in most cases do nothing appreciable, and don't outweigh the risk one incurs in my experience. Port matching is actually a tricky proposition, and in most cases is not the proper thing to do. You also have to concede that its just as possible that without any real testing you made the existing ports match the worst existing port.

Surface finish is largely irrelevant, you'd be surprised how little difference it makes. On highly developed race engines we've seen no appreciable difference going from .010" to .070+" stepovers on cnc machined heads. Also consider that shops with millions of dollars in development run their heads unpolished - this includes cup and pro-stock shops currently winning and willing to do anything for another few hp. Porting isn't an art at all IMO, its a finite science, and as mentioned before, pretty asthetics may make $, but it won't get you down the track

Ultimately its like the 'cheap/fast/reliable' saying without the luxury of getting two of three. You can produce something that 'flows' well, dynos well, or actually runs well.

Beware the internet, 'porting' books & guides as they're about the easiest way to get started in the wrong direction. In the end no one is going to give away any real secrets for free

For the original poster, I would suggest asking for a list of all machinework etc that is to be performed and proposed components. Porting itself is the tip of the iceberg.

Good luck with your projects!


-Phil
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Old 05-11-2005, 01:25 PM   #22
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This is turning into a pretty good thread.
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Old 05-11-2005, 03:01 PM   #23
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Phil,

You're in Charlotte?? We'll have to meet up sometime then. What do you do here? I"ll PM you.

Todd
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Old 05-11-2005, 06:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annointed
Anyway, a local place called "Cylinder Head Services" (known more for muscle car work) quoted me $650-700 to port the two heads and upgrade the valvetrain w/ "competition level" components to let me rev to 7500-8000 rpm or so...somehow the pricing doesn't make sense compared to other Subaru head job prices.....Its definitely tempting at that price...


If it's the NE-based CHS, go with them, I've had experience with their work, and it's good. Talk to some local racers about them.

The pricing: Subaru owners are getting gouged, always have been. The super-duper titanium valvetrain that was selling for >$1500 dollars costs about $650 if you know what to look for...you're paying for someone else's 1 hour worth of research....see Ford Zetec


Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarcel
Okay, so if I make good power when I get this rolling you'll be eating your words Are you CONFIDENT that my ported heads WILL suck? Come on man! Some of you guys are really funny sometimes when trying to make your opinion expressed.

Todd
The only way I'd eat my words is if you did before and after testing on the same day with the same fuel....tough to do, I realize.

I'm not saying your heads' port job will suck, I'm just saying that maybe you should leave the porting to the guys that do it for a living. I've been building engines all my life, anywhere from <100hp Mazdas to 555 CID Alcohol-injected 14.5:1 compression, 400-shot nitrous Chevrolets....but I leave the porting to the guys with the equipment.
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Old 05-11-2005, 09:12 PM   #25
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Cool! I guess I'm just advantageous or maybe stupid And for the record, we've got an ultra gaye Mustang dyno that read like 160awhp for an AWD car that would normally put out like 290whp on a dynojet. Yeah I know, the guy is screwed up and when I take my cart to them I'll give Slorice (Tim) a call to get this fool straightened out. When I last had my car there, it knocked SO BADLY that I couldn't even baseline it. As soon as I left you could punch it in 4th at 2k rpms and zero knock through redline.
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