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Turbo F.A.Q.

Some scare mongers (competitors) will tell you that:-

 (a) Turbos don't work on the MINI One and MINI Cooper, and its not possible to get the type of power we achieve.
 All our conversions work. We hope to add video and pictures to the site just a soon as we get a spare moment to film at the rolling road. All conversions come with a power graph from a reliable rolling road to prove the point.

(b) If you can get it to work it will blow the engine.
The conversion we offer is a low boost conversion. The basic conversion boosts to very low levels and does not get the internals hot enough to melt pistons. The standard BMW ECU has excellent knock sensing (detects if the engine gets into a situation where it might get damaged) and retards the ignition a long time before damage become even remotely likely. This type of low boost conversion has been used since the 1960's in the USA as a normal part of modifying your car, and was fairly reliable in the time of carburettors. With the sophisticated engine management systems of today's cars, they are pretty much as reliable as any car on the market. The superbly strong BMW MINI engine is very reliable and can easily handle the extra power. It has strong pistons, rods, and crank, and the rings seal well against the bores. How many people do you know whom have managed to blow up one of these engines? How many people do you know whom have blown up any BMW engine on less than 200,000 miles? I don't. It's not scientific I know but it does show how reliable these engines are. This type on conversion has been used successfully for over 40 years - its not new.

(c) If you can get it to work and you can get it to work without blowing the engine you will blow the gearbox.
The gearboxes on early Mini One's and Cooper's have a reputation for failure. They have been changed on the later cars, and these are an improvement. Many of the problems with the early gearboxes are the result of "driving technique". Of the hundreds of customers we have with MINI's the only ones we know about with gearbox failures (its a talking point) have been driven in a very aggressive manner - load the engine to the rev limiter and drop the clutch!! Combine this with 18 inch wheels and regular treatment of this type and any gearbox would do well to cope. They certainly have less of a safety margin, but we have never had a gearbox failure on any of our test cars (which tend to run in more powerful setups), and on none of the customers cars on which we have installed these conversions. If you drag race the car then an up rated gearbox from Quaife or similar should be considered, but in normal road driving it simply is not a problem.

(d) If you can get it to work, and without blowing your engine, and without blowing your gearbox then you could have bought the Cooper S instead.
Possibly, but the standard Cooper S is no more powerful, no more reliable does not have the Turbo dump valve (smile valve), and is a heavier car. Also if you have the MINI One/Cooper then it might mean changing your existing car (which you may already have modified). The Cooper S does have more potential for future modifications, and if you are looking for 300 bhp then this is the way to go. If you want something faster than your existing ONE/Cooper, then you need a Turbo conversion. Insurance premiums for a converted car can also often be less than the Cooper S! Instead of swapping for a Cooper S spend the depreciation on the Turbo conversion making it almost free!

(e) The manifold always crack on these types of conversions.
The manifolds we use are high specification CAST steel ones, although we also use lightweight high flow stainless TIG welded ones for the MCT 300 and 400 Slipstream conversions.

A Cast manifold is more expensive in terms of set-up costs to manufacture and ultimately more reliable in use, but flows less and weighs about twice that of a tubular steel manifold. The weight of the manifolds we make are about 4.5 Kg. They are manufactured in a furnace and then ported to achieve best flow, and treated for stress relief. Our cast manifolds rely on Turbos with internal wastegates which again do not flow as well as external ones, but are simpler, cheaper and more compact. This system is more in line with that used by car manufacturers.

A Tubular Manifold is cheaper in terms of set-up costs to make, but far more labour intensive to actually manufacture. They are made by hand in Jigs which brings with it a large labour cost. Cheap foreign manufactured items can be a nightmare in terms of accuracy and quality of welds. Tubular manifold generally flow better for higher power, and are lighter at about 2.5Kg. Our manifolds are fully braced and because they are slightly more prone to cracking are mounted not only on the original manifold mounts but also on additional ones to support both the weight and also to account for expansion due to the intense heat. We tend to use external wastegates with tubular manifolds as external wastegates usually flow better for higher power applications. This set-up is more like Motorsport or Race applications, and certainly looks more stylish than the cast alternative.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD MANIFOLDS BE HEAT WRAPPED as this will simply destroy them.

All Manifolds are fully guaranteed under our limited liability guarantee. They are not guaranteed not to crack, but the manufacturing specs we use makes this far less likely than alternative products. Should your manifold crack within 5 years for cast or 2 years for tubular ones then simply remove and return the item and we will repair it for free. (Does not include the cost  of labour to remove or refit or carriage). We cannot say fairer than that!

(f) Several companies have tried turbo charging the MINI and failed to launch workable products, because they are unreliable.
Not so. Actually several companies have started to develop kits but given up when they realised selling heads, exhausts and other mods. (you often don't need) is more profitable. The main reason rumours are spread that turbos are not reliable is that we have heard of several companies having brand new Turbos repeatedly blow when carrying out early development work. They never could figure out why brand new turbos would cease up, and it makes testing difficult as they first loose boost and power before failing, so test results are not clear.
We know why they fail and although we have never experienced this problem ourselves it comes down to the oil return from the turbo to the sump. Most companies try to return the oil from the Turbo directly into the sump and experience one of two problems. Firstly the turbo is mounted at the back of the engine, and the sump is at an angle with the oil level right at the top of the sump at the back. They try to return oil to below the oil line in the sump, and therefore it does not drain out of the turbo correctly as the return must be above the oil level. It only takes a couple of power runs with this lack of lubrication and the turbo starts to cease. Secondly they try to return the oil correctly to above the oil level but this can only be done by running the drain round to the front of the engine. It is almost impossible to keep this line heading down all the way and the same problem causes the same result. I'm sorry - we could have told you if you asked!! Oh yes we do not use that type of drain system, and do not have that type of problem - ever.

(g) The head gasket will just blow as soon as it starts to boost.
 This is untrue - they do not. Indeed it would seem that the Cooper S uses the same gasket! This is a low boost conversion which only adds very slightly to the pressure within the cylinder. The head gaskets have proved very reliable so long as you control intake temperature. On the Cooper S the head gasket has proved reliable in excess of 20 psi of boost!

(h) Turbos suffer from "Turbo lag" and the Supercharger doesn't.
In the 1980's this was certainly true - but have you driven a modern Turbocharged car? Turbos do not suffer lag like they used to 20 years ago. This is due to many factors. The turbos we use on the Mini One and Cooper are small and spool up very quickly with very little lag. Indeed due to the higher compression of the engine there is almost no difference between the "lag" of the turbo and the "flat spot" in the normal low speed response of the standard low compression supercharged Cooper S.
This is really an old wives tale - superchargers do generate a linear boost curve, which is why they are so poor - low boost at low revs and high boost only at high revs - nothing else is available - you cannot have high boost at low revs - its a fixed ratio. Full boost is almost at the rev limiter.
A turbo on the other hand can generate full boost around the 3000-3700 rpm range on most installs - Turbo lag yes but not the boost lag you get with the supercharger.

(i) The Turbo will generate so much heat in the induction charge that it will melt or detonate the engine internals.
Due to the low boost operation of the Turbo, and very high efficiency of the turbo unit the induction charge temperature of the non-intercooled MCT170 conversion never exceeds the normal induction temperature of the intercooled supercharged Cooper S!!! That just shows how much better (more efficiant) a Turbo is than a supercharger.

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