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Discussion Starter #1
I was reminded of a personal blunder recently when offering advice in a "tuning mistake" thread and thought it may be fun express some humility and share our failure stories. At the very least, maybe somebody else could learn from our mistakes. Mine will mostly be tuning related being as that is where I've made most of my mistakes, but engine building, transmission building, suspenion, etc. are all areas where expertise is needed and often times not employed. :)

Background about myself: I'm a professional mechanical engineer and now enjoy engineering management and directing. Almost every decision I make in work/life is strategic, thought-out, and in the best interest of mine or my company's future. This tidbit of information makes my #1 blunder all the more "facepalm-y".

Fail #1 : Tuning - It's 2013 and I buy a nice daily drivable 1990 5.0 coupe. A/C works, I daily drive it for months and plan a "budget turbo build" on the stock motor so I can have some fun driving to work and on weekends (the mistake of budget turbocharging a daily fox is an entirely different story). I grind every day for great deals on new and used parts, get everything I need together and have the entire build done in just a few weekends. I think "Screw buying a chip/piggyback and paying a tuner! I'll just tune it myself!" so I buy a standalone ECU, get the software going, do all of the base calibrating and have the car running shortly after. Within a few tuning sessions, a combination of over-confidence and impatience led my foot straight to the floor. The euphoria of turbo spooling, engine roar, and warp-speed kept my foot down and presented thoughts of tuning prowess and RvW championships through in my mind as my boost gauge blew past it's 20psi limit. Within 3 seconds, a gut-wrenching "POP" echoed through my soul and I let off the pedal, watching my tach fall to 0 and leaving a trail of smoke about 1/8th of a mile until the car finally came to a stop. I knew it was over. I pushed the car another 1/4 mile home by myself, up hill, around midnight, left the keys in the ignition with doors unlocked, and went to sleep wondering how this entire project escaped my normal planning/resarch/learning practices. Miraculously, I only popped a head gasket. I was able to re-gasket the motor, take a step back, and begin properly studying engine tuning, which I regularly practice nowadays. My Fuel, AFR, and Ignition tables were scaled for an N/A engine so I was giving it full timing at 20+PSI with a lean AFR on gasoline, and also wasn't adding any more fuel once it got in to boost. Oh yeah, and my wastegate boost signal was plumbed to the top of the gate instead of bottom, forcing it shut under boost....... Such absurd mistakes, it's embarrassing to admit but I learned a lot from it and after years of learning, now comfortably tune all sorts of combinations.

Lessons learned:
  • Take it slow. If you can't look at every number, variable, unit, parameter in your tuning software and understand what it means, you probably shouldn't run the car at full tilt.
  • If you can't take it slow, make sure you're not far from home, pay a professional, or make sure you have a trailer handy.
  • Bring a friend if possible safely. Much easier for you to adjust the tune while they drive, and they also help you push the car home. :)
  • Triple check your vacuum hose routing, especially to the wastegate. It's not good to smack 25psi when you're expecting it to stop at 10. Turbo's can spool too quickly to react oftentimes.

Fail #2 : Turbo Kits - A few years back, the budget turbo oil feed line I had sourced smoked a pricy ball bearing turbo. It was a nylon lined stainless braided hose. The nylon melted near the turbo and closed off the feed, starving my turbo and ruining the bearings and seals. I started hard-lining most of my critical stuff after this incident and vowed never to cheap out on the important stuff.

Lessons learned:
  • Ball bearing turbos aren't easily rebuildable. The manufacturer quoted me the cost of a new turbo just to rebuild my old one.
  • Don't cheap out on the important stuff. This includes oil feed lines and fuel injectors (cheapies can make for difficult tuning).
  • If you have to cheap out, check the condition of your parts regularly and heavily research the parts you're buying to source the best cheap stuff.
 

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After being out of the game for 20years and buying a car with an old 600hp+, I just was very rusty on my watch outs.

I went to change the oil and just threw some 10-30 in it instead of a very heavy 50w that it needed because of how loose and wore the motor was.

Oil pressure plummeted (remember me saying I was rusty on watch outs).
I wondered what the strange noise was.

Smoked a solid roller lifter, and busted a piston skirt with debris.

Ala, new motor for me.
I try to Uber careful now, with triple gauges and stuff now.





Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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After a rough night I decided I’d try to hunt down an electrical issue. Well I swapped to a known good battery that I had and in my condition never realized the posts were backwards.... I ended up with a nice burn, ruined alternator, and ten years later a fuel gauge I still haven’t got working. Tests point to the gauge or slosh meter. Either way it’s a good reminder but does irritate me.
 

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I was working on my 69 VW one day with a buddy and we were hovered over the engine compartment diagnosing something with the motor running. When it was time to kill the motor, I figured why walk all of the way to the front seat of the car when I can just pull the coil wire.


Oops.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I once tried to help a methanol turbo car start by spraying carb/choke cleaner in the turbo impeller with my face looking straight in. car backfired.

1053493
 
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