Monday, August 6, 2007

#580 is now SUPERCHARGED!

OK - it's official - my proton is now Supercharged!

I was part of the original 10 who bought the Alpine kit from Tone Monday off the old ClubVMag forum - it's been sitting in the box in my basement until recently. I just never had the time for the install. I finally had some time this weekend and took the opportunity to head up to John Schellenberg's place on Saturday to begin the install - the timing was good for us both since school doesn't start for him until today. It took all day Saturday and most of Sunday to get everything right.

Some notes and suggestions on the install:

  1. Prior Engine Bay Cleaning - I suggest to anyone thinking of installing the SC to clean the engine bay well - There was a lot of sand and debris that we had to remove from surfaces - especially the cylinder heads, once the old Intake Manifold was removed. We wiped out the gunk in the ports using rags soaked in brake cleaner, the vacuumed out the debris using a tiny vacuum attachment bought at Lowes. Then did more wiping until it was spotless. It's amazing how dirty the original manifold was - literally caked in greasy gunk.
  2. Photos and Labeling - take photos of everything before you take a piece off the motor - then label every connector and hose before moving aside. We missed a couple and spent a lot of head-scratching time figuring things out.
  3. Poor directions - as stated before the Alpine directions are a joke. They don't even approximate what's needed for this install. The most useful document for us was the vacuum hose diagram that came from the Supercharger 101 thread. The next SC John installs I plan to take step-by-step photos and detail everything. There were a lot of questions about how the parts fit together - also things could have been a lot smoother if the assembly order was changed a bit.
  4. Fuel Injectors and "0" Rings - Everything went together smoothly - if you use some silicon spray (apply to finger then to the "O" ring), everything pops right in - the only issue we had was that one didn't seat right and you can't tell until the system is pressurized - fixing the issue required dissembly - and once the "O" rings get fuel on them they swell - this was a real PITA and took probably the most time out of the whole install.
  5. ECU Codes - I came prepared with a OBD II meter to clear codes - remarkably we didn't have a single engine code. I think this can be attributed to hooking up all the electronics and vacuum lines before turning over the ignition. We did have one puzzling problem with the Fuel Pump relay - it would rapidly click and flash the interior trouble lights - we figured out that it was the engine ground - we had it in a valve cover bolt (the valve covers must either be made of a non-conductive alloy or the coating prevents metal contact) - moving the grounds to the fuel rail (something we really didn't want to do), corrected the issue.
  6. Cruise Control Bracket and Cable - I found a cable and "bracket" in the box and forgotten than they were sent to me early on - the elongated cable would work, but the bracket sent to me was a joke - it's the same as the throttle bracket only bent in and I'm guessing designed to fit on the end of the throttle bracket supplied with the SC - if that's what's shipping now I may just design something else to as one piece for them both. As it is, the supplied throttle bracket had to be straighted quite a bit, and the angle altered to work.
  7. Extra Parts - something you never want on an assembly like this are inexplicable parts - there were several "weird" parts that presumably were for a Trooper install (one 2" air duct extension looks like it's supposed to be added to the bottom of the OEM air filter canister - seen from one of the Alpine photos). I'm guessing that the kit I have is basically a Trooper kit with different instructions - it also came with a square-faced throttle body adapter and other bits and pieces that weren't used. It would be good to compile a list with pictures of what is used and not - same goes for the vacuum tubing instructions - the diagram helped but some things aren't used (the evap canister for instance) and it's not exactly obvious. It took a bit of research on all the SC threads on the info site to figure things out.

Impressions? It's really amazing the amount of throttle response and torque I'm now getting - even with the AC blasting full force. Passing is a breeze and now effortless, even at speed. I'm very pleased. I decided to put the stock kit on but will eventually go with the 5 lb. pulley and machined aluminum nose - I want to get some dyno numbers before doing so (I had went with Dave Sirkin 2 years ago and got dyno numbers of the nearly stock Proton - I want to see what the improvement of the basic kit is to nearly stock, then with the smaller pulley).

I've still got to work out the intake (doing a hybrid of the supplied piping and a cone filter) and create a cold air box - once I have those and dress up the bay a bit I'll post some pics. John's already looking at the possibility of making some real headers for it - I'm not sure if there's enough tube length, but opening up the overall size to the tail pipe should help out a lot (there's a restrictive part in there that reduces the exhaust to about 1.5 inches in the OEM config).

-- John