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Discussion Starter #1
I meant to start this build blog some time ago, shortly after buying the car, but life (and driving it instead of writing about it!) got in the way. So the starting point was a car I found and acquired from an owner on here - Johnny Usher.

An extremely clean MY2010 CBA black edition, with 34k on the clock and already Stage 4.25. It was (and still is) fitted with an extremely anti-social Meister R Drag exhaust system, which coupled with the downpipes, is enough to set the alarm off on the Renaultsport Megane that sits next to it in the garage! John decided to become a commercial pilot after meeting me (I lied through my teeth about the glamour and excitement of the job!) and is lucky to still have any hearing left after driving the car without earplugs! :chuckle:

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A huge step up from anything I'd driven before, and it put a grin on my face every time I got behind the wheel. Apart from rectifying a few small cosmetic gripes (the usual oxidisation bubble on the passenger and driver's door under the weather strip, rectified under warranty by Gold Motors :) ), and putting the car onto Michelin Pilot Super Sports to replace the awful Dunlop runflats, the car remained virtually untouched for 2 years.

In between visits to Litchfields for minor gearbox repairs and MOT's, the car was looked after by Sly at Kaizer. During the period of ownership so far, it has suffered just three minor failures - the usual rotated solenoid in the gearbox (fixed by fitting clips and Dodson magnets), the common ABS module failure, and a headlamp washer pump failure.

A previous MOT had identified a weeping rear shock, and not having the money to fit a new suspension setup at the time, I decided to fit a set of low mileage DBA dampers. A relatively simple job, and a very cheap fix to the tired rear shocks. The first proper 'upgrades' under my ownership were a visit to Kaizer to fit the stiffer Eibach anti-rollbars (supplied by Litchfield), and also the front handling (caster correction) kit. Both were fitted at the same time, so it's difficult to identify where the biggest change has come from, but it's by far the most significant handling change you can make in my view. The anti-roll bars are a relatively cheap upgrade, but the turn-in rate and steering detail mid corner are a huge step change with Litchfield's caster correction kit. You definitely need to recalibrate your steering inputs, but the feel is definitely more 'track car' - far more precise. (Not that the standard car is exactly lazy in corner entry...!)

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Further cosmetic and technical enhancements to the engine bay came in the form of a nice crackle black Forge header tank, and a complete set of Samco silicone hoses. A chance meeting of Mark Hale and Paul Hinder of Samco at SEMA in Las Vegas (after dodging a distracted security guard and getting in without a pass!) led to an early Christmas Present for the car in the form of a set of replacement hoses for the engine bay. I'm sure no-one here needs me to tell them, but Samco quality is second to none, and the quality is far beyond some of the cheap rubbish that can be found elsewhere. The silicone content of the hoses is extremely high in comparison with many cheap alternatives that use a huge amount of filler, and the thermal properties of the hoses undoubtedly help a lot in reducing the temperatures under the hood. Plus they look great! ;)

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As much as I loved driving the car, my natural mechanical sympathy was turning into paranoia with a stage 4.25 car with over 40,000 miles on the clock, and I found myself driving it with the boost turned down a little, and whinceing each time I went wide open throttle, fearing an unplanned visit from RODney the conrod, destroying the engine in the process and landing me with an eye watering repair bill just to put the car back to the same spec. Now I'm happy to admit I worry about 'what if's' too much (probably goes with my job!)... There's plenty of cars around like Barry P's that do a lot of track work and have twice the mileage of my car and are still very healthy. But I found myself reluctant to drive the car hard, or consider a long trip across Europe, through fear of it going 'pop' at an inopportune moment or place. And with that thought ever present, I decided there were only two real courses of action, either sell the car, or get the engine forged...

To be continued...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Forged Build

Finding a builder for the forged rebuild was narrowed down to two choices for me, based on a one stop shop, drop the car off, pick it up some time later... I spoke to both AC Speedtech and Iain Litchfield, and both were extremely helpful, spending a great deal of time talking through options, build specs, pro's and con's. In reality, I could put little between them in terms of choice, but I'd been reading here about Litchfield's log manifolds, pouring over photos and development blogs of these amazing bits of kit, and decided if I could raise the finances during the build, fitting a pair of EFR's on Litchfield's log manifolds would be my ultimate spec.

Choice of EFR's was simple for me... The 6758 is good for at least 850-900bhp, but moreover retains stock spool. I couldn't ever see myself wishing for more power, and besides, I was more interested in driveability on a track.

The car was dropped off at Litchfields in late autumn, and I then put my efforts into earning enough overtime to pay for it all! The man-maths had well and truly taken over, although to be fair the gap between fitting EFR's onto stock manifolds, or fitting the custom log manifolds, is not so great if you factor in resale of complete OEM turbos on stock manifolds with downpipes, and also consider the labour involved in removing and re-fitting the engine if the weak point in the chain (the stock manifold) ultimately cracks... :chuckle:

A few weeks after dropping the engine off, it was out and coming apart.

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Perhaps my caution had been repaid, as during the disassembly Steve had found one of the pistons displaying 'witness marks', possibly through conrod flex, and coupled with a head gasket in poor condition, thinks the engine was possibly not too far away from a failure.

I'd decided to wait in the queue for my own block to undergo the deck plate honing procedure that is a hallmark of Litchfield's builds, so nothing happened for a few weeks, but it allowed me to keep my original engine number. Meanwhile the external engine covers were sent away several times to be re-blasted as they had suffered quite a degree of oxidisation, and they wanted them to look perfect with the crackle black finish.

I'd also decided to fit a Quaife front LSD whilst the engine was out, as this saves substantially in labour costs, and would better suit the car when it eventually goes on track. At this point once again, the paranoia of suffering an uncontained front differential failure and the (very remote) chance of it punching a hole in the side of my newly rebuilt engine led me to investigate a billet differential housing, and it was added to the build spec, courtesy of a GTR cartel group buy.

Towards the end of November the engine re-assembly was well underway, with Sam at Litchfields regularly sending me photos as it came back together.

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The black timing and camshaft covers really looked the part, and they kindly threw in the powder coating of the intake pipes and inlet manifold for free.

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To be continued...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Turbo kit and reinstallation, running in and dyno.

As the engine build neared completion, I enquired about heat protection on the custom downpipes and turbos. If the car is eventually heading for the track, I didn't want further issues down the line with heat management in the engine bay, and besides, a hot turbine housing keeps the heat energy where it's needed. So I opted for a pair of Titanium T3 turbo blankets, and heat wrapped downpipes.

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I'd also heard that the stock recirculating BOV's could be a frustrating source of hard to trace boost leaks, so I also decided to fit a pair of after-market BOV's. Now at this point, as I was considering upgrading to the Litchfield Race Intercooler at some point in the future, I had intended to fit the larger Nuke BOV's, but on installation, the gaskets on the adapter kit did not seal, so instead we opted for the Turbosmart BOV's. As they are set 50% VTA, to avoid mapping issues, they also installed a speed density conversion.

The engine was now ready to go back in, and to be frank I think the turbocharger installation and log manifold is a work of automotive art! It's just a pity you can't see it once it's tucked away in the engine bay...

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Running in and power runs

I'd initially planned to collect the car during the Christmas break and run it in myself, but the freezing temperatures and generally appalling weather (what on earth was I thinking!?) put paid to that idea, and I left the car with Litchfields to be broken in / run in over 4 dyno sessions.

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Collection was finally this week, and with all road testing and running in complete, the car was washed and backed onto their Maha dyno! I'd missed it!

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With a still stock transmission (that's next on the job list!), it was decided to limit the torque and also to concentrate on a gentle ramp up of torque until I can at least get the transmission rebuilt with a 1st gear and input shaft / clutches / baskets fitted, if not a full gearset. Budget will dictate...

The first run yielded 750bhp at 1.2bar, whilst the second produced a very impressive 818bhp at 1.35bar. The car is now running ECUTEK version 7, and also the new series 2 Litchfield Superstock intercooler. Whilst the ambient temperatures of late won't really have placed too big a demand on the intercooler performance, the re-designed core (which I'm told uses the same manufacturing process as the race intercooler) has better flow characteristics.

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I believe it's one of the louder cars they've had on their dyno, evidenced by it vibrating tools off the bench in the video above! :D

The 3 hour drive home was completed in freezing rain, dark and by a cold ridden and jetlagged owner, so strictly no heroics! However, I've just finally had the chance to give the car a brief run in the dry, and :bowdown1: I am seriously impressed!

One forgets if you haven't driven a GTR for a few months just how quick these cars are... My regular driver these last few months has been a Renaultsport Megane Cup, which is certainly no slouch. But the car on EFR's, even running a supposedly conservative map and my self imposed limit of 1.2bar until I get used to it, is just astonishing! I was literally giggling all the way back home, shaking my head in amazement. :chuckle: On top of that, the engine is quiet! No piston slap or noises often associated with a 'built' engine.

Just a phenomenal upgrade and worth every penny, and I'm so pleased I went down this upgrade path! Stage 4.25 is seriously quick, but this is another level again.

A massive thanks to Iain, Steve, Ryan, Sam and all the lads at Litchfield that have done such a cracking job on the build, and a big thanks to Mark Hale and Paul Hinder at Samco for the silicone art! I still think red pipes look best on a black engine casing...

Next on the list in the future are to get the box built, and to swap that Meister R for something that gives me a fighting chance of getting on a track!
 

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Nice write up Derek. Good to see you there and as I said before always funny hearing people muttering about a full box build as they leave the office. I heard your car on the dyno as I was walking up from the car park so it must be loud!

Glad you're enjoying it. First gear, shaft, baskets and clutch (and syncros) should hopefully do you fine, although looking back I kinda wish I had just built my box to start with as in total doing bits here and there has cost me the same (and I just have the first and shaft and the other bits mentioned but oem 2 to 6).


I will be interested to see what your inlet temps do when you get a chance to pull a log and do a few harder runs.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Time for a quick update...

So, having enjoyed the car for a few months I found myself planning to move overseas to Portugal, and couldn't stand the thought of having to part with the car or leave it in storage in the UK, only driving it occasionally.

The next potential 'weak link' in the chain was obviously the stock gearbox and clutches / baskets, and the thought of getting stranded half way up a mountain with no drive and no GTR specialists to hand was enough to convince me to start looking at gearbox builds.

I went back to Litchfield again to look at options for running eventually up to 750lbft, and also to make the car more durable for track work (as the new house just happens to be next door to Estoril race track, a purely coincidental fact I managed to keep hidden from the missus until the contract was signed!) My initial plan was to install a Dodson 1st gear and input shaft, and clutch baskets with uprated synchros, then at a later date go for a full gearset. But after talking to Litchfield's, the folly of eventually having to fork out for two lots of labour when I eventually go for a full gear upgrade, combined with a decent price for an Albins gearset, meant it was worth stretching to the full gearset straight away. I'd blow the difference in cost just on labour anyway...

The choice between Dodson and Albins was partly dictated by price, and partly by noise. The Albins gears retain a substantial helix angle so are a lot quieter than full straight cut, but still more than up to the job, and I have no intention to end up building a huge power car. I was also concerned about gearbox cooling in the Portuguese heat on track, so opted to install the Litchfield billet sump pan and gearbox cooler at the same time, plus an Extreme 14 plate clutch and Dodson synchros. We also decided to replace all the failure prone line pressure sensors at the same time, 3 in total. And finally, a small but great mod - the new Litchfield fuel tank breather kit, which removes all the 'hiss' and backpressure build up when removing the fuel filler cap.

The car was fully decat'd with a Meister R Drag system, which meant I had two hopes of getting the car through a technical inspection! (One was Bob Hope, the other was 'No Hope') So Barry P recommended going to Russ Fellowes to look at getting a custom fabricated y-pipe made up with secondary cats and a small silencer to take away some of the drone. Russ really looked after me and did a fantastic job, and also replaced the damaged flexi's on the existing straight through y-pipe.

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Both Y-pipes were sent back to Litchfield with the cat'd version fitted for dyno testing. I also took the opportunity to re-powder coat the rear subframe whilst it was all apart. Yes it added labour to the bill, but if you don't do it then, then when would you? I also hate to see rust of any kind under a car, even superficial surface rust, and I want to gradually fix these little issues when the opportunity arises.

Unsurprisingly, the OEM cats made a huge difference and are very restrictive, and have robbed the EFR 6758's of their stock like spool, I'm guessing because the slower, more restricted exhaust gas velocity has taken energy away and it takes longer to accelerate the turbines. I'm guessing that's why it affects the spool more on a larger turbo setup than on a stock turbo. As this solution was just to get the car through technical inspections and for long road trips on the continent, it was mapped at 1 Bar (which yielded 730bhp) and left at that. For the track I will simply put the car in the air, swap out the Y-pipes and upload the other engine map.

Driving the car home I noticed the slight increased whine from the gearbox - not at all intrusive, and mostly coasting whilst decelerating. It sounds nice - a bit more 'race car' but not loud enough to be a nuisance on long journeys. Also under higher boost gearchanges there's definitely a more perceptible kick in the back with the newer clutches. The cat'd and silenced y-pipe has definitely taken away some of the drone and volume - it's still a loud car with the un-silenced back section, and it will be swapped for the full stock system from the downpipes back for the import technical inspection, but it will be a quick and easy job to just have to switch out Y-pipes for track days.

The car was driven safely from Bilbao to Lisbon the following week, soaking up 630miles in one go with just three fuel stops, and managing to resist every invitation to race from local Spaniards in lowered Seat Leon's!

And it wasn't until I finally got the car to it's new home that I spotted the new 'gearbox cooler outlet' duct behind the left rear wheel, very discreet! You can just see it in the photo below if you zoom in. I'm eager to get the car up in the air to see the installation...

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More photos to come once I get the lifters installed in the garage. The old gears are destined to become office paper weights!

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Lovely! And glad the trip across was uneventful. I'm liking the whine too and as you say not too intrusive.

Interested in what your inlet temps are and what torque you are making (particularly the non cat full power map)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Did you go for Albins too? Yep once I've got the cats off it again I'll do some more logs. In fact I'll do some logs with the cats on too just for comparison.

As I've got a decent map already for the decat'd setup, I just plan to reload that for the track once the y-pipe is back on, and I can get Litchfield to up the torque a bit. The cat'd map, they sensibly didn't bother chasing power figures, they're hugely restrictive and it's just a 'get past emissions test and long journeys" map. It's capped at about 620lbft and 730bhp on the cats. You really notice the slower spool with those restrictors sat in the y-pipe.
 
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