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Old 10-11-2009, 02:11 PM   #1
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Default Feedback on TDR Intercooler Installation.

Rotornut and myself assisted a friend installing a TDR intercooler system on his 99 miata. The miata had a previously installed Moss MP62 4-rib hotside with a few TDR upgrades.

Comments:
The installation instructions are on a CD. For $1100, you'd think you could get something on paper. Very inconvenient when you don't have a computer, or if you don't want to have to operate a computer with dirty hands.

The instructions seem like they came from several different versions stitched together, without proof reading. There are errors in referencing pictures (IE the picture would have nothing to do with the step you are on), and they sometimes would jump around.

There were formatting errors on a couple pages of the instructions were the words don't wrap to the next line. So you get the first sentence of each paragraph, then have to guess the rest. NICE!

The instructions denote on the first page that installation time is "approximately one afternoon." On the second page, installation time is listed as "approximately one day." Neither is accurate, unless perhaps you've done the job before. We installed the kit on a lift with airtools, with 3 total people, and worked from noon to 2:30am, with minimal break time for food and beverage. I'd feel bad for the average guy doing this in the driveway.

The "custom radiator brackets" are nothing more than the stock brackets with the bolt holes sloppily elongated into a horizontal slot and powder coated. We had to clean up the bolt holes because they weren't even with each other.

You relocate the stock, oh I'm sorry, I mean "custom" radiator brackets into different holes already existing on the body. We had to massage the body with a cut off wheel and hammer to get the brackets to lay flat against the body. The kit should actually come with real custom brackets that fit, not this ghetto crap.

Power steering lines are a big PITA to overcome. The instructions say the kit was supposed to include a pipe bender to modify the routing of the steering lines. It did not include the pipe bender, and by the time we got to that step, Harbor Freight was closed. We worked them by hand until we had an acceptable solution and secured them with zip ties.

You will need to rivet or weld the intercooler support plates to the car. If you don't own a rivet gun or welder, you're screwed.

The new plastic air guide panels included with the kit all were "close" but not "right". They require minimal massaging, and a few had screw holes either drilled incorrectly or not drilled at all. Neither of the air guides on the sides of the mouth extend forward all the way, allowing passages for air to escape. I was expecting better fitment.

The instructions advise removing a huge strip of steel off the radiator support. We could not figure out why, so we mock installed the kit. You only have to remove material to notch the radiator support area for the charge pipes, so that's what we did. WTF?

The intercooler itself arrived with damage. There was cosmetic damage to the core in about a half dozen places, where maybe someone burned it or melted something on it? Luckily, it was on the side of the core that faces the rear. Also one of its charge pipes had a big dent in it, which I massaged out with some pliers. Not hugely terrible things in the grand scheme, but you'd hope a $1100 kit would have better quality control. Ebay intercoolers from China arrive in better shape.

One of the silicone charge pipe couplers arrived with a gash in it. Again, an $1100 kit should have better QC.

Kit comes with worm clamps. T-bolt clamps would be nice.

The charge pipes themselves are very nice, especially the compound mandrel bent hot side pipe. No bead on the charge pipes though for some reason which I thought was odd. The intercooler, s/c outlet, and dummy t/b all have bead rolled lips.

The intercooler looks bad *** in the mouth of the car once installed.

The new aluminum bracket which holds the radiator down is too thin and flimsy. You can bend the bracket up enough with 1 finger to allow the radiator so come out of position. We're not real happy with that, and are going to address it with our own brackets.

The instructions had us remove the lip off the bumper, but looking back I don't know why we had to.

Overall impression: My friend bought the kit because he thought that it would be simpler to install than doing something custom. After finishing this, we agree that spending much less to DIY a similar set up probably would have been a better idea.

Last edited by Ben; 10-11-2009 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:48 AM   #2
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For $1100, they should throw in a netbook, projector and a naked chick to read the instructions to you.
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fmowry View Post
For $1100, they should throw in a netbook, projector and a naked chick to read the instructions to you.

^ maybe a manifold and turbo as well.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
The instructions advise removing a huge strip of steel off the radiator support. We could not figure out why, so we mock installed the kit. You only have to remove material to notch the radiator support area for the charge pipes, so that's what we did. WTF?
If you notch the support more than the min. required to fit the charge pipes, it's easier to reach down (with the radiator panel/cover removed) to loosen/tighten the couplings on both sides.

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Originally Posted by Ben View Post
Kit comes with worm clamps. T-bolt clamps would be nice.
I don't think Gary has problems running worm clamps on his setup (>12 psi IIRC).



On the QC problems, that's pretty unusual from TDR. Gary is normally pretty good with fixing issues that his customers have.

Chris
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:21 PM   #5
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worm clamps are like $5 for 30. t-bolt at least make sense when you're spending $1000 on some aluminum and silicone.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Miatamaniac92 View Post
If you notch the support more than the min. required to fit the charge pipes, it's easier to reach down (with the radiator panel/cover removed) to loosen/tighten the couplings on both sides.
No, there's more than enough room. It's completely unnecessary.

Quote:
I don't think Gary has problems running worm clamps on his setup (>12 psi IIRC).
Not the point. With the price of the kit + the "required" hood lifts + freight it was over $1200. For $1200 it should come with t-bolt clamps. The charge pipes should have also been bead rolled.


Quote:
On the QC problems, that's pretty unusual from TDR. Gary is normally pretty good with fixing issues that his customers have.
Dunno.
A disappointing experience. Seemed awful sloppy for the price.
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:10 PM   #7
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What a waste with that amount of money you could've done about 7 ebay-coolers
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by fmowry View Post
For $1100, they should throw in a netbook, projector and a naked chick to read the instructions to you.
I remember someone at an event giving me a ballpark range on TDR's total cost on those kits - it's a lot of very, very high-quality components. $1100 is fair, probably even a touch low.

Nice things cost money.
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savington View Post
I remember someone at an event giving me a ballpark range on TDR's total cost on those kits - it's a lot of very, very high-quality components. $1100 is fair, probably even a touch low.

Nice things cost money.
I was joking but $1100+ gets you t-bolt clamps with any FMIC kit on the market worth a damn for any other application. Ben's review would indicate the kit isn't a "Nice thing".

BEGI Intercooler # 1 & Tubes BEGi

Even if the TDR core is $500, the pipes, hoses and clamps are another $150. I'm all for a guy making money and the R/D going into stuff, but this kit is a rip any way you slice it.

Frank
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by fmowry View Post
I was joking but $1100+ gets you t-bolt clamps with any FMIC kit on the market worth a damn for any other application. Ben's review would indicate the kit isn't a "Nice thing".

BEGI Intercooler # 1 & Tubes BEGi

Even if the TDR core is $500, the pipes, hoses and clamps are another $150. I'm all for a guy making money and the R/D going into stuff, but this kit is a rip any way you slice it.

Frank
This is one review by one person, take it for what it's worth.

It is one of the more expensive kits on the market and almost anything offered by a vendor can be done for cheaper. I'm not condoning some of the mistakes that Sam's friend experienced, only that TDR has excellent Customer Service and will go out of their way to fix most problems.

An example of an installed kit (mine):
Name:  DSC02640.jpg
Views: 31
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:08 PM   #11
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Looks like you have a kit for an NA6. My friend has a first gen NB. All of the "custom" parts are going to be different. Maybe the NA6 kit fits great. The NB1 kit does not. There were problems with every air guide piece, the "custom" radiator brackets are a joke--and they were modified incorrectly, the intercooler had damage, etc. Serious QC issues. On top of that, for such an expensive kit, it should come with well written instructions, t-bolt clamps, and bead rolled pipes.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:15 PM   #12
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I lucked out, and found a guy who had bought the TDR, and was upgrading to an LSx I believe.

Got the TDR for less than street price with minimal use, and more importantly no UPS crap coming across the border, etc....

The M1's are a little different, since you drill out the rad mounts, vs, new mounting brackets....

I found the install, just took a lot of time, with all the bending of brackets, and such like to get crap to fit.

I've also found the top panel, does bend easily, and it seems at least on my car to get the bolt loosing a little at the front.

The cuts into the rad support could be smaller, but they definately help you get your arms down there for doing the clamps up. The worms' haven't been a problem around here, although some constant would definately be a much better idea.

The plastics were a pretty good match on mine, although, I don't know if they were trimmed at all on the original install or not. Don't think so....

Dave,
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:23 PM   #13
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If they're so overpriced, why does nobody else make a competing kit? (over the rad pipes, good airflow for the radiator)
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelrat View Post
I lucked out, and found a guy who had bought the TDR, and was upgrading to an LSx I believe.

Got the TDR for less than street price with minimal use, and more importantly no UPS crap coming across the border, etc....

The M1's are a little different, since you drill out the rad mounts, vs, new mounting brackets....

I found the install, just took a lot of time, with all the bending of brackets, and such like to get crap to fit.

I've also found the top panel, does bend easily, and it seems at least on my car to get the bolt loosing a little at the front.

The cuts into the rad support could be smaller, but they definately help you get your arms down there for doing the clamps up. The worms' haven't been a problem around here, although some constant would definately be a much better idea.

The plastics were a pretty good match on mine, although, I don't know if they were trimmed at all on the original install or not. Don't think so....

Dave,
It sounds like the NA kit fits better than the NB kit. That's great for the NA folks.

Interesting that the NA kit has you redrill your stock brackets, while the NB kit comes with redrilled stock brackets. My problem with it was the redrilled brackets supplied with the kit (and called "custom") were re-drilled imprecisely, so we had to fix them ourselves.

Again, worm clamps should hold fine, just for the price it should be t-bolt clamps.

For the record, my BEGi kit, installed by BEGi, has a mix of t-bolt and worm clamps on the charge pipes. I think that was a poor judgement call, and I've never had a pipe blow off.


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Originally Posted by JasonC SBB View Post
If they're so overpriced, why does nobody else make a competing kit? (over the rad pipes, good airflow for the radiator)
The hotside pipe is the only tricky part. One would need access to a 3D bender to replicate. Otherwise, you could use a couple of bends and and extra coupler.
The rest of the kit is off the shelf hardware. It wouldn't be a hard kit to replicate at a substantially reduced cost.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by JasonC SBB View Post
If they're so overpriced, why does nobody else make a competing kit? (over the rad pipes, good airflow for the radiator)
becouse the supercharger market is mostly wine and cheesers that shell out the cash for the ridiculously expensive ****.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:51 PM   #16
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Honestly it's a nice concept. Now that I know all you have to do is re-drill and relocate a couple of stock brackets, it would be easy to follow suit with a turbo that has its outlet clocked up.
Nice short path for the charge and plenty of room for an oil cooler.

I would make my plastic air guide panels to fit correctly and secure the radiator with a stronger bracket. Not terribly tough stuff.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
Honestly it's a nice concept. Now that I know all you have to do is re-drill and relocate a couple of stock brackets, it would be easy to follow suit with a turbo that has its outlet clocked up.
Nice short path for the charge and plenty of room for an oil cooler.

I would make my plastic air guide panels to fit correctly and secure the radiator with a stronger bracket. Not terribly tough stuff.
Agreed.... If you could do the outlet pipe with the right bends, and now that the method of adjusting the rad placement, it's not that hard.

Upgrading to t-bolts would be a good....

And also the plastics are good, but I would make a few changes to the shape of the ones for the sides...

Agreed, I think the rad top needs a different mounting style.... the plate is OK, but I think some better brackets would be good as well.....

Dave,
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:28 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by fmowry View Post
For $1100, they should throw in a netbook, projector and a naked chick to read the instructions to you.
It's interesting to me how, in many ways, we have what I consider to be a somewhat distorted perception of money.

These aren't Chevy 350s or Honda B1s. A relatively small number of NA/NB Miatas exist, and among Miata owners, a relatively small number of us dabble in matters of serious performance.

From the standpoint of marketability, we have much in kin with, say, the BMW crowd. Has anyone here looked at the sort of money that the higher-end boutique shops charge for BMW performance parts? They certainly don't cost any more to build, but they easily fetch 2x to 3x the price.

If TDR were selling ten of these a day, then one might expect the price to drop to a more Honda-like level. As it is, I am sometimes surprised that we (the Miata performance community) spend enough to support the relatively few shops that do bother to focus exclusively or semi-exclusively on our cars.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:34 PM   #19
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Joe, I'm not objecting to an $1100 intercooler kit. I'm objecting to a poorly fitting $1100 intercooler kit.
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Old 10-17-2009, 01:27 AM   #20
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joe does have one very valid point though we are so DIY oreinted and cheap that it surprises me that we have so many companys viaing for our dollars.
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