DIY Turbo Discussion greddy on a 1.8? homebrew kit?
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DIY time investment really worth it?

 
Old 01-21-2019, 06:23 PM
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Alright guys, I suppose once I actually start collecting things I can start a build thread, in the meantime I figure I'll start here. I've been through a good number of threads and most of the stickies, but I've realized as I got older less and less sticks with me if it's not all in the same place. So forgive me if I noob something... cliffnotes at the end as I tend to be wordy.

My 2002 LS is a daily driver, but I bought it because it's fun. I'm very interested in making it "more fun". That being said, this is my "cheap" commuter, so I'm not interested in spending $10k in upgrades (or it would get an LS V8 conversion). I'm frugal, but only to a point. Many of the DIY threads I've read through seem to be "used this, that, and the other thing" and end up still close to $3k, when some of the assembled "new" kits aren't really all that much more than that. So the main question is, if you spend 50 hours of searching to save $1000, not only did you only pay yourself $20/hour (that may be good or bad for some), but you ended up with used parts. Was it really worth it?

2nd question: of the DIY parts, some appear to be more generally accepted as "cheap is ok", whereas others tend to be poo-poo'd if searched for on the cheap. As an example, it appears that Ebay manifolds, in particular the custom tubulars, appear to be complete crap no matter the source. However, ebay intercoolers and piping appear to be rather well accepted. This is only from a generic sense after reading numerous threads that span a decade or more.... which means naturally that these feelings could have changed. So what are the current thoughts out there?

1. Tuning - MSPNP appears to be the go to for my year model, as well as potentially the most costly part of the project. I custom tune using HPTuners and have for over a decade, but haven't played with piggyback or stand-alones before. Best sources? They come up used frequently?
2. Turbo itself - Wide range available, choose to suit, T25/28 very popular. "Chinachargers" appear to be generally acceptable at minimum, cost to replace a huge factor. Needs to have matching downpipe. Seeing that some may need wastegate porting to prevent boost creep (but which ones??)
3. Manifold - Ebay items crap, FM highly regarded, tubular generally avoided. Concerns should focus on fitment w/chosen turbo.
4. Injectors - 400cc+ for typical applications, Force Flow appears to be highly regarded. I recall some discussions on stock from various vehicles, RX8?
5. Intercooler/piping - Ebay ok, several threads here, so unless something new in the past few years...
6. Exhaust - other than 2.5-3" being good, not a lot of discussion of this portion... so I'm assuming any ol' system or custom is fine.
7. Clutch - sadly I just put in a new clutch, but since $140 was the total cost, I'll try not to cry too much. Then maybe I can figure out what I greased that I wasn't supposed to O.o Go for the glory here, something 250+ft-lbs just in case I want to get goofy in the future.
8. Heat shielding, oil/cooling lines, oil drain connection drill/tap, cooling shrouds. - other than needing them.... doesn't seem to be much here. Perhaps upgrade the radiator if it's not keeping up, but doesn't sound like it's a "have to" unless it's going to be tracked.

Some of the minor stuff is what makes me really wonder if the DIY is all that cost effective... you can eat up a lot of time and effort getting all the little pieces and parts right (or wrong first, and THEN right).

TL;DR:
Toying with DIY, but is it cost-effective? DIYers - would you do again, for any reason other than to save a few bucks and the learning? If you would, which parts would you shy away from going cheap on/have you had bad experiences with?
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:34 AM
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Have you read this thread?
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:53 AM
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There are 3 levels of diy.
But any way you slice it, for a decent reliable setup you are looking at minimum $3-4k.

cheapest: weld your own manifold/downpipe/exhaust. + ms3, flowforce injectors, Ebay oil/water lines, Ebay intercooler and universal piping, Ebay turbo, FM level 1 clutch.

mid level: get a matched manifold+downpipe set from FM or kraken. + all the same items above.

high end: get a complete kit from a reputable company, FM or MKTURBO.

the most cost effective complete setup would be MKTURBO, lots of members here have it with great results.
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Old 01-22-2019, 09:00 AM
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I agree with a lot of this, but want to touch it up a bit..

Originally Posted by borka View Post
There are 3 levels of diy.
But any way you slice it, for a decent reliable setup you are looking at minimum $3-4k. YES

cheapest: weld your own manifold/downpipe/exhaust. Not really, by the time parts, weld consumables etc, you are looking close to $250 + ms3, flowforce injectors, Ebay oil/water lines, Ebay intercooler and universal piping, Ebay turbo, FM level 1 clutch. YES

mid level: get a matched manifold+downpipe set from FM or kraken. + all the same items above.

high end: get a complete kit from a reputable company, FM or MKTURBO.

the most cost effective complete setup would be MKTURBO, lots of members here have it with great results.
Yes


or bite the bullet and TSE kit.

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Old 01-22-2019, 09:44 AM
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I'd say it's worth it as a lot of people probably would, but that's coming from a toy car person. I don't have to drive the car every day, and I can shove it on a lift for a day or two at a time if need be.

If it's your daily driver, how long are you willing/able to have the car laid up while you figure out how to mount part X or why the two things you bought from separate vendors don't get along well? That should be your real question.

I've probably saved myself 1-2k being frugal and waiting for good deals to pop up, and to me that's worth it. If you're worried about keeping your daily reliable and having a quick turnaround time on the project, that extra grand is definitely worth spending to get it all right in one shot.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:12 AM
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If its a daily driver start with buying another daily driver before even considering a turbo.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:32 AM
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And of course lost a post I had made due to a refresh...

Shuiend - Yes, I've read that, it's the basis for my outline. What I'm looking at is cost/benefit to piecemeal acquisition of parts, ideally from those that have done it both ways; or at least those who have ideas about how they might do it different if they bought individual parts. Also to see if there are updates to the historical issues (some posts about X product is crap are 5+ years old... it might no longer be true)

The rest - yes those are in line with what I wanted to know. JConn you suggest around $1000 in savings potential - if that's accurate I don't think hours and hours of searching and waiting are worth that to me.

I do not have to drive the car, although I do enjoy it. A fast turnaround is desirable not due to need, but due to my impatience.

Also, I tried to mess around on the Mkturbo site and was having trouble progressing past the generic description page (aka purchase button was not working)...

Jon
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:41 AM
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An alternative to MKTurbo would be Kraken (linked below). Me among a few others are running his kit but you'll have to source your own turbo. There's a t25 option or a efr option. The only difference in both kits is the downpipe.
https://kraken-mx5.eu/
  • You'll need a MS3Pro as you have a NB2 or get whatever your tuner reccomends. I see that you tune so this may not be applicable to you.
  • I reccomend you stick to the tried and proven Flow Force either 640cc or 960cc depending on power goals.
  • I've read that Ebay intercoolers are perfectly ok as well until you get to the much higher power levels
  • I dont' see the complete exhaust kit on Kraken's website so you may want to ask him. I'm running his complete kit from manifold to exhauast.
  • For the oil/water lines, I'd reccomend you make them yourself. Goes for a much cleaner look and it's not difficult making them.
  • Radiator, i'd suggest ebay aluminum at first and then upgrading if needed.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jonota View Post
And of course lost a post I had made due to a refresh...

Shuiend - Yes, I've read that, it's the basis for my outline. What I'm looking at is cost/benefit to piecemeal acquisition of parts, ideally from those that have done it both ways; or at least those who have ideas about how they might do it different if they bought individual parts. Also to see if there are updates to the historical issues (some posts about X product is crap are 5+ years old... it might no longer be true)

The rest - yes those are in line with what I wanted to know. JConn you suggest around $1000 in savings potential - if that's accurate I don't think hours and hours of searching and waiting are worth that to me.

I do not have to drive the car, although I do enjoy it. A fast turnaround is desirable not due to need, but due to my impatience.

Also, I tried to mess around on the Mkturbo site and was having trouble progressing past the generic description page (aka purchase button was not working)...

Jon
here's an Ebay breakdown

Ebay shiny manifolds. Hell no.
Ebay cast manifolds. Fine.
Ebay intercoolers, piping. Fine.
ebay stage what ever clutches. No
Ebay forged rods. Good.
Ebay oil/water lines. Fine.
Ebay radiator, fine.
Ebay turbos in proper size, fine.

anything else you need clarified?
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:01 AM
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I wouldn't stick kracken and mk on different cost tiers. As far as I can tell they are in the same ballpark. I ran the mk turbo kit with great results for a couple years before moving on to an engine swap.

As for the original question: is DIY worth it? As with all things, it depends. Here is what worked for me: pick a couple things to go deep on on the DIY realm, and buy the top recommended value choice for everything else. I was toying with welding my own manifold, DP and exhaust, and then decided to go MK instead. I opted for the DIY intercooler and tuning route for the first round. Now I know how to tune, and for my rebuild I'm welding my own DP and exhaust. This way the project doesn't get way out of hand, and you learn a lot.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jonota View Post
Also, I tried to mess around on the Mkturbo site and was having trouble progressing past the generic description page (aka purchase button was not working)...
You have to shoot me an email. Everything is hand built to order. So I don't allow direct purchasing through the site as ETA's vary greatly.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:03 PM
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I was an early buyer of the MKTurbo package. It fit perfectly and saved me a lot of time trying to get different pieces to fit together and have an exhaust built. At the time, I had an MS2 already in place and the intercooler as well (moved from an MP62 setup). All I had to have fabbed was the hot side pipe from the turbo to the intercooler (all it required was a slight change to the existing SC piping). I installed everything over a weekend and a couple evenings. Ran that for 2 years before selling the car to start on another NA with turbo. I did it that way more because I didn't have the wherewithal to do fab stuff (welder & place) at the time.

I don't put a time value on my hobbies. Which way to go, to me, is more one of convenience than money. The convenience of being able to place an order for a "kit" vs sourcing "parts" is something only you can decide.

I have a couple of the Kraken manifolds, a downpipe and waiting on another piece from him. The quality is great but my car is in pieces now, and it's too f*****g cold to work on it anyway and I have the luxury of a couple other vehicles to drive. So, my moral of the story... If time is of the essence, pick a kit and place an order for everything. Just my opinion.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bahurd View Post
I was an early buyer of the MKTurbo package. It fit perfectly and saved me a lot of time trying to get different pieces to fit together and have an exhaust built. At the time, I had an MS2 already in place and the intercooler as well (moved from an MP62 setup). All I had to have fabbed was the hot side pipe from the turbo to the intercooler (all it required was a slight change to the existing SC piping). I installed everything over a weekend and a couple evenings. Ran that for 2 years before selling the car to start on another NA with turbo. I did it that way more because I didn't have the wherewithal to do fab stuff (welder & place) at the time.

I don't put a time value on my hobbies. Which way to go, to me, is more one of convenience than money. The convenience of being able to place an order for a "kit" vs sourcing "parts" is something only you can decide.

I have a couple of the Kraken manifolds, a downpipe and waiting on another piece from him. The quality is great but my car is in pieces now, and it's too f*****g cold to work on it anyway and I have the luxury of a couple other vehicles to drive. So, my moral of the story... If time is of the essence, pick a kit and place an order for everything. Just my opinion.
Particularly appropriate when one has already installed MS and tuned N/A functionality. Then adding the kit should go smoothly.

Last edited by DNMakinson; 01-22-2019 at 12:13 PM. Reason: Adjusted "NA" to "N/A" to differentiate induction over Miata Model.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by borka View Post
here's an Ebay breakdown

Ebay shiny manifolds. Hell no.
Ebay cast manifolds. Fine.
Ebay intercoolers, piping. Fine.
ebay stage what ever clutches. No
Ebay forged rods. Good.
Ebay oil/water lines. Fine.
Ebay radiator, fine.
Ebay turbos in proper size, fine.

anything else you need clarified?
Good stuff. Question 1: oil/water lines I haven't noticed on ebay pre-made, and there seems to be many who like the kits available (mkturbo, FM, others)... is there a specific ebay source you approve of?
Question 2 (probably more suited to a different subforum):Have people actually spent time determining the proper turbo for the application desired? Or just used a generic that "tends to work well"? I have in the past spent some time in evaluating compressor maps for optimal performance, and having seen some demonstrations of improvements based on this I'm curious.

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Old 01-22-2019, 12:20 PM
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I'm particularly curious about the availability of used MSPNP out there... a quick search hasn't turned up much. A good place to source them, if they are available? Classifieds here? Craigslist/Facebook/Offerup?
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jonota View Post
Question 2 (probably more suited to a different subforum):Have people actually spent time determining the proper turbo for the application desired? Or just used a generic that "tends to work well"? I have in the past spent some time in evaluating compressor maps for optimal performance, and having seen some demonstrations of improvements based on this I'm curious.

Absolutely. Tons of time has been put into evaluating different setups. Check the dynos section to see how different setups perform, and the spool data thread to see specific data about different turbos.

For MSPNP, you can watch the classifieds section on this forum for used ones. They tend to hold their value quite well. For new, there are several vendors who sell them: Trackspeed, MK Turbo bundles it into a turbo kit, DIY Autotune, members Reverant and Brain on this forum, and FlowForce (that's me).
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Old 01-22-2019, 01:20 PM
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Shuiend is MKTurbo. He builds great parts. Sonofthehill has made 300whp and nearly a 10 second quarter mile with it. Look for his threads.
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Old 01-22-2019, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by nigelt View Post
Absolutely. Tons of time has been put into evaluating different setups. Check the dynos section to see how different setups perform, and the spool data thread to see specific data about different turbos.

For MSPNP, you can watch the classifieds section on this forum for used ones. They tend to hold their value quite well. For new, there are several vendors who sell them: Trackspeed, MK Turbo bundles it into a turbo kit, DIY Autotune, members Reverant and Brain on this forum, and FlowForce (that's me).
Fantastic. I did noob that one, but I can go nerd out on them whenever I want. Thanks!

I did realize that he was Mkturbo, which is why I brought up the issue. After going back, it appears the script to open an email isn't working or my computer has it blocked... I'll probably be in contact ;-)

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Old 01-22-2019, 08:16 PM
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MKTurbo customer here too. I purchased his kit before he offered the complete setup. Manifold, turbo, down pipe, full exhaust and oil lines. I got an MS3X and FF 640 injectors from the classifieds here. Got a bar and plate intercooler off Amazon and universal IC piping off eBay. Around $2500 at that point.
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jonota View Post
I'm particularly curious about the availability of used MSPNP out there... a quick search hasn't turned up much. A good place to source them, if they are available? Classifieds here? Craigslist/Facebook/Offerup?
Here and FB Marketplace. It'll be the same thing though...you want an MS - and you want it NOW or in the next week or so...and you wait...and you find the best deal at $xxx. Send the money, get tracking number, and a few days later another MS equivalent or better shows up at a decently lower price. Ask me how I know. Set a realistic budget for each piece or as a whole, and wait. A lower price will always show up, but you don't get the time back.
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