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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > N54 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications - 335i > Vishnu/FFTEC N54 Engine Development: Piston/Rod Comparison



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      03-20-2012, 05:52 PM   #1
shiv@vishnu
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Exclamation Vishnu/FFTEC N54 Engine Development: Piston/Rod Comparison

Hi guys,
Sean@FFTEC and I spent a good bit of time mulling over the internals of the stock (11/07 production) N54 that we tore down last week. We've already learned quite a bit in the process. But we also have many more questions that we are looking to get answered. But that is for another time

In the meantime, we wanted to compare the N54 piston/rod assembly with something that we are VERY familiar with, the Mitsu Evo 4G63! Both Sean and I have spent years tuning stock (and built) 4G63s. Often running the same exact turbocharger we are using in my single turbo 335. So comparing the design of the two piston/rod assemblies makes sense. Next to getting the parts stress tested and properly analyzed (which is in the works), this is a good approach to getting an idea of what is (and isn't) possible with a completely stock N54 engine.

A stock 4G63, for instance, can reliably (i.e., long term) support 450lbft of torque before the rods buckle/bend. Which is ~115lbft/rod. All other things equal, if it had 6 cylinders, it should be able to support well over 600lb-ft of torque. Of course, not all other things are equal (stroke, piston speed, max revs, etc,.) Nonetheless, this is a decent starting point since we don't have any reasons to think that the n54 isn't stronger than the 4G63, stock for stock. If that is the case, the BMW will enjoy a 50% output advantage due to 50% larger displacement and 50% more pistons/rods. But still, it's a good idea to exercise restraint when running high midrange boost/torque pressures. Those looking to run 3.5bar map sensors just so they can run 22+psi of boost at peak torque might want to think twice

N54 (Left) vs 4g63 (Right)

It's nice to see that the N54 rod is considerably thicker and wider than the 4G63. The caps are also cracked which means that they are forged with the rest of the rod and literally cracked apart into 2 pieces. Advantages of this approach is improved strength/rigidity.


One thing we found interesting is how tapered the N54 rod is at the small end where it mates with the wrist pin. Maybe this is done to save weigh or reduce friction. But it would be our first point of concern when running higher rev limits or mis-shifting.
It's also interesting to see the bearing width on the big end of the rod (where it connects to crankshaft). It's considerably narrower than that of the 4G63. Which, all things equal, would mean less of a hydraulic "buffer" during detonation events. However, this narrow bearing design seems to be common among newer engines such as the Evo X's 4B11T engine which, as many know, can hold BIG power. So this narrow bearing doesn't necessary mean a weaker engine. It's also worth noting at the N54 crankshaft bearing surface (not shown) is beautifully polished and machined. It looks like an Evo crankshaft AFTER it has been sent out to be polished! There is no doubt that the tolerance level and general fit/finish on the BMW engine is in a class by itself.


Nice to see the N54 use a snap ring on both sides of the wrist pin. Not so with the 4G63.


Another angle showing the rod taper at the wrist pin.


The N54 piston has a slightly smaller skirt. Likely for reducing friction/rotational weight.


Like the 4G63, the N54 piston has nice fat ring lands. This is typical of a solid motor built for big boost. The 4G63 runs ~20psi boost from the factory, btw.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be running some revealing tests on the stock pistons and rods. Tests that will give us a very clear indication of what kind of powers they can reliably support. We will run the same tests on the 4G63 piston/rods which will give us something to compare it to.

Very exciting times!

Cheers,
shiv

Some more pics/discussion on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vishn...33431676670350

Last edited by shiv@vishnu; 03-20-2012 at 06:02 PM.
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      03-20-2012, 06:00 PM   #2
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Hell yeah! You guys are awesome! Constantly pushing the capabilities of the n54 platform along with bringing loads of new information to the table.
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      03-20-2012, 06:05 PM   #3
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Amazing work!! Makes me not wanna sell my car
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      03-20-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Z3->WRX->335 View Post
Hell yeah! You guys are awesome! Constantly pushing the capabilities of the n54 platform along with bringing loads of new information to the table.
Thanks man. But there does come a time when one should see what is inside the engine before one keeps pushing it. We are relieved at what we found. And look forward to building it for some serious power goals.

Shiv
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      03-20-2012, 06:33 PM   #5
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Shiv,

How relevant is this info for those running stock turbos. Do you see much improvement for stock turbo runners?
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      03-20-2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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This is my 4th summer with my 335i and I can't believe the developments. This is amazing! I am really excited about going to a big single!

In the mean time I need to send my procede out a get the REV 3 update!!

Will
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      03-20-2012, 06:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv@vishnu View Post
Thanks man. But there does come a time when one should see what is inside the engine before one keeps pushing it. We are relieved at what we found. And look forward to building it for some serious power goals.

Shiv
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      03-20-2012, 06:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueLion View Post
Shiv,

How relevant is this info for those running stock turbos. Do you see much improvement for stock turbo runners?
Pretty much, stock turbos will go way way way way way way way way way( you get the idea) before the engine shows any signs of weakness.
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      03-20-2012, 06:52 PM   #9
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So can you finally dispel the myth that the earlier builds of the N54 doesnt have forged internals??
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      03-20-2012, 06:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv@vishnu View Post
Thanks man. But there does come a time when one should see what is inside the engine before one keeps pushing it. We are relieved at what we found. And look forward to building it for some serious power goals.

Shiv
Great info here Shiv! When do you get your axles back in your car to start tuning again?
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      03-20-2012, 07:15 PM   #11
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So can you finally dispel the myth that the earlier builds of the N54 doesnt have forged internals??
All I can confirm is what we saw in this particular engine. And that is forged rods and crank. The pistons *may* possibly be forged but we will know soon enough. Most likely a high quality cast piston like the 4G63 which isn't exactly bad.

Shiv
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      03-20-2012, 07:16 PM   #12
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Great info here Shiv! When do you get your axles back in your car to start tuning again?
DSS should be done with my axles late this week so hopefully I'll have them back in the car early next week. The good news is that I sent them a back-up pair of axles and not the ones on my car. So it is still drivable. And the last several days of rain were a blast

Shiv
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      03-20-2012, 07:25 PM   #13
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And the last several days of rain were a blast

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      03-20-2012, 07:39 PM   #14
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Just curious, how did the rod bearings look? Any wear or hot spots!
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      03-20-2012, 08:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv@vishnu View Post
it's a good idea to exercise restraint when running high midrange boost/torque pressures. Those looking to run 3.5bar map sensors just so they can run 22+psi of boost at peak torque might want to think twice
Good info! So it's a fairly safe bet that the N54 rods can handle (at least) 690 ft-lbs by your calculation. The 3.5 bar sensor should allow you to explore deep into this torque territory! I'm excited for you to not exercise restraint in the name of science

What do you feel is the first failure mode to occur due to cylinder pressure alone? Headstuds stretching, bearing failure, rod failure?! How about heavy det at peak torque (more realistic failure mode), do you feel the ringlands could take the abuse? Man, 5 years after N54 introduction and I get to see my first engine teardown like it's man on mars or something..!
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      03-20-2012, 08:08 PM   #16
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Good info! So it's a fairly safe bet that the N54 rods can handle (at least) 690 ft-lbs by your calculation. The 3.5 bar sensor should allow you to explore deep into this torque territory! I'm excited for you to not exercise restraint in the name of science

What do you feel is the first failure mode to occur due to cylinder pressure alone? Headstuds stretching, bearing failure, rod failure?! How about heavy det at peak torque (more realistic failure mode), do you feel the ringlands could take the abuse? Man, 5 years after N54 introduction and I get to see my first engine teardown like it's man on mars or something..!
those are all questions to be answered at this point, internals look pretty damned good for a stock engine honestly.
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      03-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
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DSS should be done with my axles late this week so hopefully I'll have them back in the car early next week. The good news is that I sent them a back-up pair of axles and not the ones on my car. So it is still drivable. And the last several days of rain were a blast

Shiv
You should have my car soon. I am very excited to see what you will be able to do with this turbo kit. I am doing my part tear down this weekend.
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      03-20-2012, 09:10 PM   #18
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The mitsu piston definitely looks cast. The BMW looks like it was cast too but from a cleaner die mold. Not the end of the work though. Only thing that seems a little 'ooh' to me is the comparitively narrow rod thickness at the wrist pin.
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      03-20-2012, 10:44 PM   #19
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forged rods cast pistons or forged everything ?
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      03-20-2012, 11:39 PM   #20
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Go grab a supra piston and take photos side by side
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      03-21-2012, 12:06 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv@vishnu View Post
A stock 4G63, for instance, can reliably (i.e., long term) support 450lbft of torque before the rods buckle/bend. Which is ~115lbft/rod.
225lb*ft if I'm not mistaken about the physics of an engine.
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      03-21-2012, 12:40 AM   #22
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Go grab a supra piston and take photos side by side
That's what I was thinking of. Or perhaps a E46 M3 rod comparison.
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