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baloo baloo is offline
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Give me your top ten reasons that turbo projects fail

I want to start off by saying that I am still classified as one of the failed turbo dreamers, in that I have 99% of every single piece that will be required to boost my 3.2, but I STILL HAVE NOT GOTTEN AROUND TO INSTALLING IT after one year of enthusiasm.

UNFORTUNATELY, I have noticed that aborted boost projects is the norm.
I would even venture to say that for every 10 Pelicaners who enthusiastically announce that they are going to boost their cars, probably only ONE successfully accomplishes it and keeps it going. What gets confessed on threads on this Pelican site is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, in the interest of warning other boost-aspirers about the pitfalls of jumping in with money and enthusiasm, I'd like to start a thread that captures as many reasons as possible for these projects to go awry. Forewarned is forearmed.

Here are some of the reasons that I have been seeing on Pelican that turbo projects fizzle:

1) Money: they overspend on unnecessary performance items (e.g., special headers/exhaust, ceramic ball-bearing turbos, stand alone computers, other shiny stuff has diverted their funds)

2) Social reasons: divorce; girlfriend problems

3) Social reasons: new family addition, so now have other priorities

4) Down-time on the car necessitates purchasing another vehicle. Wife gets mad.

5) Money: unpredicted installation problems requiring new expenses to solve them. For example, exhaust head bolts break off below the surface; turbo does not exactly fit into place, requiring fabrication of some special piece that can't be done with hand tools.

6) Project fatigue -- the project has dragged on too long, and the car no longer is the sole object of affection.

7) Overly ambitious: they decide to "do it right, and beef up the internals of the engine", resulting in far too much money and time and effort. Owner runs out of energy (typical ADHD situation).

8) Technical: the turbo gets installed, but "...just never can be gotten to run right." Some kind of undecipherable problem arises that ends up sh**canning the project.

9) Loss of garage space.

10) The need to put another car into the garage, so the project moves outside -- and the weather prevents further progress.

11) Technical: unpredicted problems (like the broken exhaust header bolts, or the need for fabrication of a special piece)

12) Technical: a totally unrelated problem arises on these old cars that diverts the attention from the turbo -- e.g., springing leak in gas tank.

13) Technical: unpredicted problems AFTER installation -- like oiling problems; turbo seal problems; tuning problems; turbo fails to give good performance.

14) Youthful ignorance: installer did not realize the scope of the project, or the amount of energy needed to accomplish the project.

15) Job requirements cut down on time available to complete the project.

16) Change of job, so owner has to relocate to another state/city.

17) Marriage

18) Loss of job, so can't financially support the installation anymore -- or have to move to a cheaper house without a garage.

19) Financial squeeze, so has to sell the project for money to live.


20) Health reasons - Acute medical problems arise with the owner, his family, or even with an outside mechanic who might be providing significant help with the installation.

21) Age-related problems - Similar to health problems, I have personally noted in myself, as well as numerous comments by other Pelicaners, that old age does limit one's ability to "get under there as easily as I used to..." -- due to arthritis, limited range of motion of arms/legs/stiff back etc. Also, I have seen that "..on my doctor's advice" has come up more than once.

22) Mission Creep ("while I was there, I might as well do this or that...") -- While this has been alluded to in a couple of the previously listed items, it deserves its own special attention, because it seems to be a recurrent theme. The "while I was there" additional projects make the relatively simple turbo project into a complicated mess that further sucks money, time, and motivation out of the project.

23) OVERLOOKED DETAILS and LITTLE PIECES -- this also deserves its own mention. While all the big items are fairly easy to identify and accumulate beforehand, the MAIN reason that prevents the installation from happening in 2-3 days are the LITTLE PIECES that come up lacking. This includes: studs broken; hose connections, clamps and adapters; pieces of piping or extra lengths of fuel/oil hoses. In a Rennlist posting on 3.2 boosting by someone from South Africa, he noted that he took months to accumulate all the pieces needed, AND he laid it all out in the living room, just as it would be installed on the car, to ensure that he had every single little nut and bolt and connector an clamp.

24) Reliance on others for assistance -- When one has to rely on an outside mechanic or service for a certain part of the installation, this person will NOT have the same enthusiasm or sense of importance that you have in completing the project. They have other priorities and a different sense of timing, and they can sidetrack your progress significantly.

25) DISORGANIZATION -- If you don't have all the pieces laid out and organized, AND if you're not organized in your approach from the start, you'll have difficulty sorting out all the different factors that have to be sorted thru. These include: a) Mechanically installing all the components, and installing them correctly (turbo, piping, hoses, electrical, etc); B) attention to fuel system; C) attention to turbo oiling system; D) ignition timing; E) electrical hookups, including gauges; F) tuning AFRs etc.

26) Loss of momentum -- similar to project fatigue, but worthy of separate note. You have to knock this project out in a short time, such that the car is not sitting up for weeks while you wait for parts or a solution to a problem. Once the car starts sitting, it has a stronger tendency to sit longer. This sounds like a corollary to the principle "an object in motion tends to stay in motion."

Last edited by baloo; 06-04-2013 at 06:08 AM.. Reason: Added items suggested by others
Old 06-03-2013, 05:32 AM
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