Stu's BRM - Forged 1.8 VVC K-series turbo build - Page 6 - Forums
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post #101 of 120 (permalink) Old 20-02-2016, 19:20 Thread Starter
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Finally the beast is MOT'd, insured and taxed!

Got an amazing deal on insurance with Greenlight. Great cover. Really helpful and friendly service. Chris knott wouldn't even quote because the bhp has been increased by more than 100bhp over stock (modified car socialists?) Adrian flux came within 100 of Greenlight but only when pushed and were quite rude in the process.

Not much else to say really. Just going to drive it!
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post #102 of 120 (permalink) Old 21-02-2016, 17:24
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How odd when I tried greenlight once with the 160 they bluntly told me the ZR isn't a hot hatch and they won't cover it they'll only do stuff like a focus st or type r. So I said but you cover a 306 gti6 and the guy perked up and said "oh yeah we'll happily cover those *voice turns dull * but we won't do yours...."
Perhaps now I've got some more work done to it they'll consider which would be handy as always heard they give real good prices
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post #103 of 120 (permalink) Old 22-02-2016, 19:31
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Congrats mate!

Epic build. Must be glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel
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post #104 of 120 (permalink) Old 22-02-2016, 19:39 Thread Starter
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Gave her a proper trip out yesterday up to the MG Rover South East meet at the Halfway House in Essex. About a 100 miles round trip which gave me a chance to open the taps a bit and check handling, etc.

Despite the peak figures, the power delivery is quite sensible below 4k rpm even though the turbo spools well below that. It's a very linear power delivery and not the kick in the back you get from some turbo setups. It makes it very driveable. Above 4k rpm it comes alive. I'd describe it as like the 1.8 VVC on steroids. It's mental. The noise is immense and the power just keeps climbing. I dared not go anywhere near the redline in today's cold and slightly damp conditions. And this is only boosting to a mere 8psi! It'll be interesting to see how upping the boost with a boost controller affects the power delivery.

Handing is excellent. The MG ZR struts and x-power springs are a nice balance. It's compliant and grips very nicely. Slightly hard on really bumpy roads but that's the price you pay I suppose! The poly bushes provide a lot of feedback through the steering wheel which makes it a very involving drive. Couldn't push it too much obviously in these conditions. Despite initial indications, torque steer actually isn't too bad as long as there's good grip to both wheels. I had meant to take some videos but I forgot!

Things to do now:

-Sort tappy top end. Piper hydraulic followers need to come out!
-Poly bush engine mounts. It moves a lot in the bay and kicks back through the gear stick.
-Finish sound deadening in the back and install the rest of the audio.

I'm setting 600 miles as the run-in period. By then I need to upgrade the fuel pump. Then I'll ditch the running-in oil in favour of more slippery semi-synthetic and go for a full power map at 16psi.

Somewhere in there I'll also upgrade the front brakes. I have a kit that will allow me to use brembo 4-pots. I just need the calipers.

Longer term I'm still looking into resprays. Spoke to a classic car restoration guy this morning and waiting for a quote. My favourite so far of all I've spoken to. He actually took the time to talk through the details of the job (like will we take the windows out and doors off!) and he wasn't concerned at all by the rust (he's used to far worse!). Expect it'll be the most expensive of the lot so far too!

So, to summarise, I'm incredibly happy. I set out to build a hopped-up version of the original car that would at least keep up with modern performance production cars, but still be driveable every day, as well as turn heads.

And the best thing about it? I built it myself!
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post #105 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-03-2016, 12:30
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Damn shame I missed you on that one Stu. Would loved to have been at the Feb meetup knowing that monster was there.

Oh well hope to catch it the next one.
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post #106 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 14:59 Thread Starter
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Update time

Engine run in so time to up the boost and see what she's capable of. Back to Track N Road in Rainham.

But then something went very, very wrong and this shortly followed...

... Let me come back to that.

First I'll tell you about some other stuff that's been going on. A lot of this started some time ago and only recently got finished. Thought I'd share.


With great power comes a great need to be able to stop.

At the front we start with some fairly pathetic 282mm sliding calipers. they do the job, but I want more so I opted for "Brembodge" which is a kit available through Rovertech.


New discs are 326mm:

They're big but the colour's all wrong!


Even better!

on with some nice new braided brake lines from Hel.

A nice snug fit behind the Superleggeras

At the back I'm using a ZR rear beam so have the 260mm discs. Nothing special but used refurbished calipers with braided lines here too:

Next job was to sort out some audio. I want this beast to also be a nice place to be on longer drives, so a decent sound system was essential. Nothing groundbreaking, just some mid-level equipment powered by an amp and a little sub for some bass-fill. I also thought I'd invest some time and money in sound deadening. Always money well spent.

I actually laid all the cables when I did the battery to boot conversion as I had the seats out and carpet out.

Nice meaty 0 Gauge cable running to the battery, which I terminated at the starter motor to avoid using any unsightly connector blocks in the engine bay.

Fuse holder and terminal block. excuse the cable tie - just a temporary measure because the bend is so tight and cable is very thick!

Something very satisfying about a pile of new audio equipment.

But first a bit of sound deadening. The R200 can be a rattly beast at the best of times so this is well worth doing. I opted for Silent Coat which is basically a 2mm thick foil-backed damping material. Similar to dynamat and works in the same way by mass-loading panels to reduce vibration and resonance. I used it to cover the holes - best practice would have been to first cover the larger holes with metal sheets secured with self-tapping screws but to be honest I couldn't be bothered! This will do for my modest install.

mids installed using spacers (required to clear window when it lowers)

Crossovers fitted behind the door cards.

managed to fit the tweeters in the stock housing for the standard look.

And onto the boot:

I'm hoping this also helps reduce some of the exhaust drone:

Amp installed on the back of the rear seats and sub slotted in. Amp has 4 channels so I'm using two to power the door speakers then bridging the 3rd and 4th channels to give me 180W to power the 10" sub. Again, not ground breaking but good enough for nice sound quality. I also installed some alpine co-axials in place of the stock speakers in the rear parcel shelf - just for a bit of rear-fill. The head unit is an Apline mechless unit (no CD). The bluetooth connectivity is great although I think the sound is richer when played on a USB stick.

(cables need tidying)

I'm very happy with the install. Considering it's a relatively budget setup it's actually very capable. The sub makes a massive difference and despite being quite low power, is surprisingly loud if you want it to be. I have the gain set fairly low though as I just want to add

And that brings me to the bad news.

So the mapping was going well and she'd been on the rollers for a few hours. As everything bedded in I found I had to add more fuel to the map. actually, it also turned out that my fuel pump had been dying. I upgraded to an in-tank Walbro 255 and that threw everything completely out. Anyway, once the chaps got everything running correctly again we started to engage the electronic boost controller through the Emerald in open loop.

Everything was looking good. We made small changes to see how they affected the top of the power curve. You will recall that at the top end we found the limit of the internal waste gate and so boost climbed from 7psi up to 10psi right at the top of the rev range. That can be mapped around with the controller but you have to make small changes to the solenoid duty and see what effect it has. It was looking good. Peak boost climbed to 12psi at the top, with about 10psi from 3rpm.

Then... Misfire

It happened at about 4k rpm. Everything was fine. I was sitting next to the guy with the laptop watching everything like a hawk at this stage. Temps and pressures bang on. AFR within range. Boost 10psi. Mapper immediately thought it sounded like head gasket failure between cylinders. I wasn't convinced.

We pulled the plugs to see how they looked. Plug 1 came out and the tip was smashed in. Not a good sign! My heart sank.

At this stage we think it must be a dropped valve, although peeking down the plug hole didn't show any debris or signed of damage. A compression test confirmed total loss of compression in cyl 1.

The rest of the plugs were fine. The colour indicated ideal combustion temperatures. So I called my breakdown cover and I waited dejectedly in the car park (for nearly 2 hours) for the recovery vehicle.

I wasted no time when I got home and whipped the head off. I expected to find a broken valve but as I put the head down I found this. My hear sank yet further as whilst there is obvious damage, it's not the source of the debris that's caused that patterning. It must be a piston.

I almost didn't want to walk back to the engine. But I did and this is what confronted me:

Ring land has broken away on 1/4 of the piston on the exhaust side. If you look at the inlet side, you can see where the very thin portion where the valve cutout is has started to bend in. this is obviously the original point of failure.

Whilst the other pistons appeared ok, closer inspection reveals that this is happening to all of them.

So, why did this happen?

No signs of detonation. The colours suggest the combustion temperatures were ok. Boost was only 10psi. I think it's a combination of two things.

Firstly, the piston is simply too thin by the valve cutouts. It's a weak point that fails easily if anything right. It also will become a hot-spot and a source of detonation because the lack of material can't dissipate the heat fast enough. However, given the other pistons haven't gone this way, and cyl 1 runs coolest of all, there's obviously something else going on.

So, secondly, there's some other problem specific to cylinder 1 that has contributed to this failure. I haven't found the answer yet. However, the cylinder wall has scoring all around, which I wouldn't have expected as a result of this failure. Especially when the engine was shut off immediately. Perhaps I got the ring-gaps wrong? Another possibility is that the injector went bad and cylinder 1 went lean. I need to get the engine out and try to get to the bottom of the issue.

The rebuild?

I'm probably going to go 1.9. This will allow me to run 82mm Arias pistons. They have a great reputation and I can also get them with ceramic coated crowns and moly coated skirts. The block will be modified to accept custom ductile liners that are the same thickness as the 80mm liners except where they meet each other where they are squared off. They are also pressed in whereas the standard liners are a slide-fit. This setup has been run successfully on race cars at over 400bhp.

I might also change the turbo for the smaller GT2554. Indeed, I may have to change the turbo since most of the piston debris appears to have made it out of the exhaust and may have clouted the turbine. I'll probably be limited to 250bhp at the wheels but spool would be instant. With the extra torque from the added 100cc it should be a real midrange monster!

Finally, the head will require attention. I think the head itself is ok and just had a light peppering from the debris. The two (standard) exhaust valves on cyl are very bent but the (Paul Ivey) inlet valves seem fine - hopefully they are ok because you can now only buy them in sets of 8! So I'll upgrade all 8 exhaust valves to Paul Ivey. I also want to get the combustion chamber fettled a bit more. If I can remove 5cc from each combustion chamber I can run slightly less dished pistons (meatier and therefore more resilient). Also, with the extra 1mm all-around from the 82mm liners, you can improve the shape of the combustion chamber for improved flow and power.

So, whilst it's not the outcome I wanted, I don't feel too bad. It's not as bad as it could have been. interim results? Peak power increased from 220bhp at the wheels at 10psi when first mapped to 252bhp at the wheels at 12psi. I would have expected some increase from having run the engine in and change the oil to semi-synthetic. But that's very promising! At 16psi we could have seen nearly 300bhp at the wheels.

Watch this space!
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post #107 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 20:09
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that really sucks mate but am sure you will sort it and i will be watching for your updates
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post #108 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 21:20
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This is going to sound a silly question probably, but with wet liners, do you need to hone the cylinders to reduce chances of this kind of thing happening?

As I've seen many people advise honing the cylinders to ensure the pistons don't overheat due to unequal oil distribution.

I DO NOT know however how it works for wet liners though.

Are you going to use the same liners that Geraint Williams used on his ZT?

I dunno how you find the willpower to keep going given the effort put in so far and the catastrophes that have occurred.

I guess maybe the rings were either weak for the compression or something and ended up with too much blowby after overheating?
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post #109 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 21:41 Thread Starter
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Liners come pre-honed. As far as I know you can't re-hone liners.

I wouldn't call this a catastrophe. A broken rod or crank would have been a catastrophe! Or a fire!

Realistically the bulk of the expense and work was in the top end (cams, head work, valvetrain) and everything outside of the engine (emerald, exhaust, intake, cooling). Replacing the pistons is a pain but actually not a major problem.

Setup will be very similar to Geraint now. Same liners and pistons.
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post #110 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 21:49
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Can I ask where you got your crank etc balanced, as I haven't been able to find anywhere local to the surrey/kent area.

From reading up though it seems the best option is to stick with the Rover cranks and have it balanced with new rods etc as aftermarket cranks are allegedly terrible for reliability in terms of tolerances.

If you're getting them balanced anyway it's rather a moot point but for me if I don't need to worry about getting a new one I won't.

I'll be doing the rather daring prospect of more stock internals than yours

"I wouldn't call this a catastrophe"

I'm a natural pessimist. I always expect things to go from bad to worse. It's like the Rover was calling to me from day 1
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post #111 of 120 (permalink) Old 16-04-2016, 21:53 Thread Starter
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Balancing at Vibration Free up near Oxford.

Good luck with your build!
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post #112 of 120 (permalink) Old 17-04-2016, 19:47
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If the liners are still in usable condition I wouldn't mind taking them off your hands if you're looking to recover some money at some point in the future.

Or at least the 3 that haven't failed if cylinder 1 is knackered.
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post #113 of 120 (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 08:41 Thread Starter
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Engine back out

And pistons removed for a closer look.

No signs of det damage anywhere else on the piston (and there also was nothing on the head or valves) Other than where that front edge had melted off. You can see where the inlet side has started to fail and crack.

The lower compression ring snapped when I tried to move it as it's wedged tight in the groove, presumably where that side of the piston deformed from heat. The liner is scored badly all around.

The other pistons look completely fine apart from cyl 2 that has a very slight bending in on the inlet side. No visible det though.

So, it looks like something went wrong specifically with cyl 1 causing it to overheat. It's got to be either the fuel system or ring related.

Rings: Did that ring bind in its groove first or as a result of overheating caused by something else? If it happened first this would have caused it to overheat and the gap to close up, further increasing friction and resulting in what happened.

Fuel: seeing as only cyl 1 was damaged, injector would be the likely culprit. Although cyl 1 is the last on the fuel rail before the fpr. I was never happy with the walbro install. Whilst it worked, it felt like a bit of a bodge up. Today's job is to see if I can rig something up to test the system as it sits on the car. Although even if it all works, I'll overhaul the system for the rebuild.

So what happens now?

- Arias pistons (82mm) are on order from Grant at gbe. Ceramic coated crowns and moly coated skirts.

- The block will be modified and fit with 82mm liners, increasing capacity to 1.9

Stock image:

- The head will also be modified to make the most of the added diameter and to help lower the cr a bit.

- I'll have to review the cams as I'm not sure they will clear these pistons, especially with the thinner elastomer gasket I'll have to use (the n-series is unsuitable for the 82mm bore).

- Exhaust manifold will be ditched in favour of an equal length tubular header. This may be overkill but having longer equal-length runners should eliminate exhaust reversion and help reduce cylinder temperature. Every little helps. It should also spool the turbo quicker.

- Fuel system will be upgraded. I'm going to go back to a standard in-tank pump and use that to feed a swirl pot and external pump and filter in the boot (in a vented enclosure to keep fumes out) or underneath if it will fit. From there, I'll have my own lines running to and from the stock fuel rail. I sourced an adapter allowing me to fit an-6 lines to the end of the stock rail. I'm also going to add a fuel pressure gauge in the cabin.


The waiting times alone for the pistons and block mean I'm not likely to see her running again until July at the earliest. Hopefully I can be up and running in time for the respray which is still booked for August.
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post #114 of 120 (permalink) Old 10-05-2016, 15:23
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Any idea what modifications to the block have to be done to fit the new liners?

Does it get bored out or do the liners just come thinner and strengthened?
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post #115 of 120 (permalink) Old 10-05-2016, 20:08
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Just a a quick cheers for sharing this great project pics and detailed info
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post #116 of 120 (permalink) Old 02-07-2016, 19:37 Thread Starter
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Rebuild is coming along. Dropped the block and head at Scholar Engines. They'll machine the block to accept their custom Westwood 82mm liners. Lead tine is a few weeks.

Unfortunately it turns out the head is det damaged. Mostly on and near the fire rings. They will see if this will skim out and if not the head is scrap. Annoying as I'd had it ported and good VVC heads are virtually impossible to find now. It took me a year of dealing with idiots selling me overheated, overskimmed junk before I found this one.

A few shots of the new and old pistons together. You can see how much more meat the Arias have on the ring land. Part off this is the lower ring pack. Part is the smaller dish - only 5cc vs 14cc I had on the Wossners, and smaller valve cutouts.

Meanwhile, I've been sorting out some other bits

First was getting the fuel system sorted. As I've said a few times, I wasn't 's at all happy with the Walbro 255 I'd installed right before the mapping when it blew up. The Walbro was not a direct fit and required more fettling than I expected to get it to fit in the stock housing. I also suspect the stock wiring struggled with the extra current. So my only real option was to fit an external pump fed by a swirl pot. Whilst this sort of setup is typically used for track and race cars to avoid fuel starvation under high G-loads, for my purposes it's just about having a reliable fuel supply.

The setup now runs the stock pump as a lift pump. That feeds a swirl pot. The bottom exit of the swirl pot goes to a Walbro external pump. That then goes trough a check valve and a filter before running via the AN-6 line up to the engine.

I mounted everything in the spare wheel well (who needs a spare?) on a perspex disc that I covered in carpet. Everything sits low enough that the boot carpet will still go in as before. The disc and everything on it are mounted via thick rubber washers to reduce vibration and noise. All the hoses are steel braided Teflon as rubber hoses can give off a fuel smell. Since this is in the boot I wanted to avoid the car smelling like petrol! The main external pump gets its power via a relay with a beefy 12v supply coming straight off the audio distribution block.

It doesn't like like much but it took bloody forever!

Got a fuel rail adapter that allows me to mate up to the main fuel supply with a tee for the fuel pressure gauge

Fixing the p-clips was fun since I had to take the passenger seat out and lift the carpet up for access. Didn't think cable ties would cut it though!!

Tested everything today and it seems to work perfectly. No leaks at least (and no fuel smell i the boot!). Maintains a nice steady 3 bar. Obviously will need a full going over once the engine's running again.

Meanwhile, I thought I might fettle the turbo's internal wastegate to see if I can eliminate the boost creep - with a 7psi spring the boost crept up to 10psi at the top of the rpm range. This is apparently quite common on the GT2560 and there's a lot of info on the web about guys doing this with success. Pretty annoying and for the rebuild I want to keep boost nice and low for the run-in. This basically involved enlarging the wastegate port and fettling the housing for better flow. Might not work but worth a try.

Before and after:

I've pretty much run out of things to do now so I'll be quiet for a while!
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post #117 of 120 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 12:21
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post #118 of 120 (permalink) Old 10-08-2016, 10:33 Thread Starter
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Time for a little update.

Picked the block and head up from scholar. The 1.9 conversion is nicely done. The liners are actually half a mm thicker than standard 1.8 liners, except where they abut. After being cooled and pressed into the heated block they are skimmed down to exactly 0.005" proud of the block. They are never coming out!

Regapping the rings. I'm giving myself a bigger safety margin with the ring gaps this time and using the top end of the range recommended by Arias. Top ring will be 0.020", second 0.017".

Fresh main bearings and balanced crankshaft back in:

Onto the pistons. As discussed previously, these Arias are clearly much meatier than the Wossner. Critically the ring lands are thicker and taller. They are also less dished than the old pistons - 5cc vs the 14cc I measured on the Wossners. So my compression will be higher. That said the deck height is slightly below the liner. I'll take some measurements and work out what my static cr will be with this setup.

The lower and more spaced ring pack is achieved by placing the oil control ring around the pin. A machined button holds the floating gudgeon pin in, and the rings and liner wall hold the button in place. Clever stuff. For added protection from heat and friction, I opted for ceramic coated crowns and moly coated skirts. The k-series does not have oil squirters so the pistons are vulnerable to overheating.

Fitted to the rods. Sticking with the Maxspeeding.

Fitting the pistons with fresh big end bearings.

All in!

Hopefully this weekend I'll get the head fitted and time the cams in. Then bolt everything on and get it back in the car.
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post #119 of 120 (permalink) Old 10-08-2016, 23:05
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Did you enjoy putting it together mate ?
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post #120 of 120 (permalink) Old 11-08-2016, 19:39
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great build thread and an interesting read too.
what compression did you end up having in the old engine with the vvc head?
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