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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 > RB Turbos Installed - Preliminary Review (dynos very soon)



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      11-11-2012, 12:18 PM   #1
cstavaru
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RB Turbos Installed - Preliminary Review (dynos very soon)

Hi,

So...it was my turn to go the RB turbo route. I came to the conclusion that the only sane/safe method by which I can increase the power of my car is to get some larger turbos. I don't like methanol injection (although I do have a HFS-4 kit installed) and I don't like the e85 stuff because blending it and keeping count of what you have in the tank is just as messy as the methanol route. Not to mention I can't find e85 here

I have quite a bit of experience with aftermarket stuff and from my experience, the more you stray from the OEM designs, the more problems you are likely to have. Rob Beck's design in which you keep everything mostly OEM is what appealed to me the most.

My immediate goal is to increase the power on 98-100RON pump gas with no methanol compared to the max I got on stock turbos and the same fuel. I would like to have a daily driver car with significantly more kick than on stock turbos. However, this goal will change once the Spring will come, I will then pursue maximum power on 98RON + methanol.

Installation

The installation of N54 turbos (regardless of OEM or RBs) is difficult and took about 16 hours (just like BMW states). In fact, not really difficult but very time consuming, because in order to install them, you have to remove: downpipes, water pump, thermostat, cooling fan, engine cover, cabin filter and the plastic cowl, turbo oil lines, turbo water lines, drain water, drain oil. And reverse everything after install.

The RB turbos have what I consider an Achilles heel when it comes to the install: they are supplied with a threaded stud that holds the water lines in place. That stud has only 2-3 threads into the turbo, and if you tighten it a bit more than "lightly", you will strip the threads in the turbo (however, if coolant leaks because not enough tightening it can ignite and that's a really bad thing).Stripping the turbo thread is what happened in my case and I heard that it has happened several times until now. However, this is not really a problem, the installer welded the stud in place and we could resume the installation the next day. I would recommend Rob Beck to re-think this mechanism by pre-welding the stud on the turbo, or providing an aluminium or copper stud instead in order to not ruin the turbo threads but rather the stud, in case of over-tightening. I have to say that Rob Beck very kindly offered to replace the center core for free (I would only pay for shipping, of course) but being in Europe this is so much of a hassle and waste of money that I preferred to weld the stud in place.

By the way, my 11kg Wagner intercooler stripped the threads on (one of the two) holes on the plastic front part that holds the intercooler in place (problem easily solved by using a larger bolt that re-threaded the plastic hole). It was however still kept in place by the solid silicone hoses that were provided with the intercooler. Imagine what a 13kg Helix intercooler would do. I always thought that aftermarket companies do not do enough R&D. How can you hold a 11-13kg with only 2 bolts screwed in a plastic cover ? (remember, the OEM intercooler only weights 3kg).

My stock turbos, although they were not smoking at all, had both some radial and lateral play.

Road feel

I do have a ProTuningFreaks Cobb map on order but it did not arrive yet, so I tried the RBs with the Stage 2+FMIC Aggressive pump gas/no meth map which I read that it somewhat works with the RBs, because on stock turbos the load targets are too high to be hit (by my car at least) anyway. What I can tell you that you can feel a significant "lightness" of the car already. There seems to be much more power compared to stock turbos, even more than what I could get before on pump gas + methanol. I did not go past 5000RPM but you can feel that these turbos have huge potential.

The exhaust is a bit louder with the RBs, probably because the turbine opening is much larger. I am so glad I have non-droning BMW Performance exhaust

There is no smoke whatsoever coming from the exhaust. Also, the start-up wastegate rattle that I was having with my stock turbos is now absent.

Cabin feel

I hear a faint whistle in the cabin with the RBs. This was not heard on stock turbos. The turbo whine with the windows open is significantly louder than with the stock turbos, even with my closed intakes. But I really like this, it gives the car more personality. However the turbo sound is not obnoxious, it's very acceptable.

Lag

*preliminary impressions* There is quite a bit of extra lag and non-linearity with the RBs, on this map I have used. But don't get me wrong, there is huge torque at low RPMs, *maybe* even more than before, but climb 700RPM up and you get a shove in the back with even more torque I like this, in a way. However, I will update the impressions once I have the chance to test the PTF map, maybe that is more linear.

Dynos

Coming in 3-4 days, depending on when my PTF maps are ready.

Last edited by cstavaru; 11-11-2012 at 04:09 PM.
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      11-11-2012, 12:31 PM   #2
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Congrats man. Thanks for a honest review.

Looking forward to your PTF map impressions.

So the PTF map will be pump gas based only? Or will you use meth?
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      11-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #3
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Nice review! Once I go RB turbos, I will be staying off E85 aswell as I don't run meth. So this review is great for me
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      11-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marv85 View Post
So the PTF map will be pump gas based only? Or will you use meth?
The first map will be 98RON-only because I want a good map to drive around. The next one (pretty soon if the weather permits but I don't think so) will be with methanol added.
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      11-11-2012, 01:17 PM   #5
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Awesome review. Thanks for detailing the install. I was wondering what was involved. Removal of the waterpump is a bit of a surprise to me.

Do you think the added lag is just the ECU relearning or the old tune not matching the new turbos?
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      11-11-2012, 01:30 PM   #6
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Great review!! I have had my setup for quiet some time now and never wrote a "proper review". You pretty much nailed everything on install as it was very difficult, well atleast more difficult than most people think, to do the install properly. I too, did not want to go the methanol route but have a rear trunk mount sitting in the garage incase I ever get bored I'm using a very small amount of E85 (maybe a 30% mixture) and dont plan on going above that. Once you get your PTF map loaded, I think the car is going to be a different animal I have done ALOT of research with E85 and if I could stay away from it, I would. The power gains are too substantial to go back to straight pump gas and methanol just seems more like a hassle to me, personally. What till you get your car dialed in right and watch what those RB's can do buddy! If the car is dialed in right your car should pull all the way to 6500rpm's. You also will feel more comfortable hitting higher boost levels because, well, thats what you bought upgraded turbos for Congrats and hope you enjoy your new setup!!!
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      11-11-2012, 02:20 PM   #7
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Good fair and honest review.

About the coolant stud issue. That is the fourth of over 200 actual units to date that had this issue. I put 5ft/lb on every unit that goes out the door and all seems fine. The nut needs about 2ft/lb tops. If you put 10+ft/lbs on it you can likely kiss it goodbye. Hope the welding you did in the field was ok on some of the internals, but sounds like all went AOK.

Some tuning advancements may help with the lag impression. Although many customers say they spool faster than stock, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that you can actually hear these things breathing and they still make very good power numbers down low. The fact is that the turbine and shaft are MUCH larger, so it is only expected that there will be slightly more lag.
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      11-11-2012, 03:12 PM   #8
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Congrats on the Rbs! You will love them. Top notch product!
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      11-11-2012, 03:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litz4244 View Post
Congrats on the Rbs! You will love them. Top notch product!
+1

Post some dynos when you can.

Mike
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      11-11-2012, 03:27 PM   #10
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Congrats!
Post some Pbox/Vbox times (100-200 kph and 60-130 mph).

And some data logs would be great. I'm having problems with timing drops, wonder if everything's fine with your car.
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The ultimate mods' installation thread

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      11-11-2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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That's a very thorough review with some honest remarks. Enjoy it!
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      11-11-2012, 04:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edo View Post
Congrats!
Post some Pbox/Vbox times (100-200 kph and 60-130 mph).

And some data logs would be great. I'm having problems with timing drops, wonder if everything's fine with your car.
On the map I have used, I have no timing drops at high loads, I do have timing drops at very light loads like when cruising at 2000RPM and changing gear, but turbos don't even work at these loads and I had the drops before.

I really think that the Stage+FMIC Aggressive map is a bit underdeveloped and too hot at low loads and also a bit sloppy in power delivery especially on partial throttle (like many Cobb maps), but I'm too lazy to fix it because I am waiting for a ProTuningFreaks map.
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      11-11-2012, 04:31 PM   #13
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Glad you joined the RB gang. With proper tuning I don't think there will be any more lag that you can notice. Just wait until you add meth. The car is a beast. Congrats!
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      11-12-2012, 08:15 AM   #14
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Subscribed.

This is a nice, candid write up. I am thinking of going down the same route. Want to stay away from meth and E85. I am on the 50/50 E85 Aggresive Procede maps and there is power to be had for sure with these complimentary fuels. For convenience though, I just want to fill and drive.

Thanks for taking the time to post.
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      11-12-2012, 10:30 AM   #15
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This sounds like a great upgrade! I have just had my stock turbos replaced on warranty.

if I took them off I could sell them and go the RB route...

Can these be run with the jb4?
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      11-12-2012, 10:57 AM   #16
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welcome to the RB club! I agree with Scottp999 about the lag.
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      11-12-2012, 11:20 AM   #17
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Would I need to reinforce the tranny, gearbox or the engine pistons/con-rods if I change to RB turbos? Mine stock are leaking a little right now and I would like to have some options besides getting back a pair of stocks.
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      11-12-2012, 12:02 PM   #18
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Nice review, thanks for the write-up - and have fun with the RBs. I'm enjoying them a lot, the only problem is that there are rarely other fast cars to "play" with.

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      11-12-2012, 12:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz10 View Post
Would I need to reinforce the tranny, gearbox or the engine pistons/con-rods if I change to RB turbos? Mine stock are leaking a little right now and I would like to have some options besides getting back a pair of stocks.
It *looks* like the tranny will hold up to power levels of around 450whp. Wich is what you are at with RBs and supporting mods. Once you add meth however, the 6AT seems to slip/show weird shift behaviour.
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      11-12-2012, 06:53 PM   #20
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RB's look like the way to go.
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      11-21-2012, 08:30 AM   #21
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I have some good updates on my review:

- I did my own ATR custom map (based on the Cobb Stage 2+FMIC Aggressive for stock turbos), I have completely re-written the WGDC table (this is mandatory on RBs), with boost levels starting from 18.5psi max to 14psi at 6500RPM. I have increased the load limits between 5000 and 7000RPM, with subtle timing changes too.

- Results (98RON (93 US) pump gas, no methanol): +57whp Dynojet (Virtual Dyno for now, but it has been very very accurate for me in the past - I will follow with real Mustang dyno when all my maps are final)

- The IATs are unbelievably low, thanks to the increased compressor wheel diameter of the RBs. (outside was 8C, IATs climbed to only 18C in 3rd gear - I was doing at least 35 before on the same outside temp.)

PS: If anyone with RB turbos is interested in trying my RB pump gas map (93 octane US) please send me a PM and I would be happy to send it to you.

Vdyno (my current map vs my best pump gas result before the RBs) as well as my log are attached (substract 14.77 from the boost levels to see actual boost).

I am very happy with the results until now. And some more power can probably be further extracted.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by cstavaru; 11-21-2012 at 09:40 AM.
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      11-21-2012, 09:01 AM   #22
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looks very good congrats
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