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baloo's Avatar
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.


ADDITIONS TO LIST SUGGESTED BY OTHERS:

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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I think you have it covered. In fact that list could apply to just about any endeavor.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:55 AM
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You basically covered them all except for "health issues".

930s are very simple machines, but sometimes (due to ... ???) we make them so complicated/overdone promoting failure.
Old 06-03-2013, 06:19 AM
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Looks like you got a pretty good list together.
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel Antonett View Post
You basically covered them all except for "health issues".

930s are very simple machines, but sometimes (due to ... ???) we make them so complicated/overdone promoting failure.
Miguel,
Good one! Health issues is featured often enough -- and age-related issues.
I have noted that many of the 911 air-cooled crowd are a more senior group (myself included), and of course, with age comes medical problems and disabilities.

I have noted quite a few comments that involve "not able to get under there like I used to...", or "...I've been away for a few weeks recuperating from a mild heart attack...."

Also, your note about complicating the installation is true true true.
I think it has something to do with "while I am there, I might as well do this and that" as well as the desire to tweak it for that extra 3hp that you can fool your seat-dyno into believing.

Last edited by baloo; 06-03-2013 at 06:33 AM..
Old 06-03-2013, 06:31 AM
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Sounds to me like you're procrastinating! Get out there and start it. When i did mine I took the Friday off so I could get parts if need be, needed some oil line fittings... I was driving around with 2x the power on Sunday night, get started!
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:04 PM
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Wow! Huge list of excuses. If a person's devoted enough, then all excuses can be negated eventually.
Or, narrow it down to just one "financial" reason, then decide on purchasing a 930 engine. Probably be ahead money-wise in the long run and end up with something that won't plague you with the other 18 reasons for failure.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:43 PM
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Geez, I'm so depressed now reading all those excuses... how about we reclassify this thread and call it "top ten reasons to Turbo your 3.2 - failure is NOT an option!"

Here's a start...

1) You will wear a permanent grin on your face!
2) All your buddy's will be jealous...
3) You don't need to go to an amusement park for thrill rides anymore.
3) Your wastegate will ward off (or make dissappear) any annoying tailgaiters.
4) You will enjoy the bewildered look on peoples face when you surprise them - "it's a turbo?!"
6) Torque - second gear is now your first gear.
5) Turbo whistle - it's not just for "Super Duty" Diesel trucks anymore, especially redneck kind.
7) Wheelspin - because you CAN!
8) You don't have to be scared of your friends '02 Camry taking you from the stoplight.
9) Boost gauges are fun to watch!
10) People will think you're a wizard mechanic, just like Chris Carroll of Turbokraft.


Git 'R done and stop writing about it!
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Last edited by cliyde; 06-03-2013 at 02:53 PM..
Old 06-03-2013, 02:47 PM
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Ohhhh Mark, you disappoint me, your white 930 balances it out though.

LOL Clyde, funny but true points!!
"People will think you're a wizard mechanic" hahaha
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:50 PM
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Top 10 reasons... #11

Challenger SRT8 wants to play
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:52 PM
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Yah -- I certainly want the boost of the boost, to de-slug my 3.2. Just like the other 9 out of 10 who jumped in equally enthusiastically at the start.

I'm just reflecting the numerous reasons that turbo projects on Pelican over the years resulted in aborted projects.

Seems that all the successful installers are speaking up on this thread -- not the ones who got waylaid, huh. Kind of like asking the top 100 marathoners why people did not finish the race.

Last edited by baloo; 06-03-2013 at 03:50 PM..
Old 06-03-2013, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliyde View Post
Top 10 reasons... #11

Challenger SRT8 wants to play
Yeah Cliyde -- that's why I need a turbo on this car!
Old 06-03-2013, 03:49 PM
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Momentum. Once it's gone it's very hard to get back.

"the little things". The single biggest cost in my project has not been the turbo or the stand alone ECU it's been AN fittings. Lots of them.All the little things add up.

Be realistic. Sure I would like 600rwhp but I my real goal is mid 200's anymore than that is a bonus. My plan was a car that drives like a N/A car with a little more shove.
Get it up and running as quick as you can then worry about mods to make it faster or look better. Once you can turn the key everything after that is easy.

Don't get sidetracked with other mods to the car at the same time. It's easier to boil a pot of water than the ocean. I've got a very nice set of wheels that I've also been restoring at the same time as adding boost to my car but I only ever work on them if I can't do anything to the car.

You have to be relentless. Do the jobs you don't feel like doing. You will feel better that you did after you pack the spanners up.

Have a clean work area. Everything will happen faster if you are not looking for stuff.

Run a tight ship. A jobs not done until the tools are packed up and any mess is cleaned up.

Plan your work. I set jobs up to do them before hand. Then when I only have a spare hour to work on the car I can just do that job not waste 45 minutes getting stuff ready. Think about what you need to do and then as your walking past the car just sit the socket set next to where you are going to work and keep going with the other thing you are doing. Next time you walk past put the part next to the socket set etc. Trust me this works.

Have one place you keep all your parts. Nothing worse than going to do a job and you cant find the new part you got for it.

Tell your wife or partner that you are going to work on the car next Thursday night. That way when it rolls around she won't be upset because she had other plans or if she is you can at least say hey I told you last Saturday.

Write a list of jobs to do. Then as you do them check them off. This is great for motivation if you start to feel like its all too much. But make sure you don't overwhelm yourself with the list. Write down the next 5 things you need to get done. Then do them. Chip away and like I said before be relentless.

Take some photographs as you go. Then you can see how far you have come.

My number one reason people fail on all projects. Outsourcing work. You have to remember others may not have the same passion you have. To them it's another job. Once the relationship or trust is lost with another party working on your baby you can never get it back. Every automotive project I've ever done (and there has been a hell of a lot of them) has had an element of this. In my 3ltr+boost project it was the guy doing the loom for the ECU. Great guy and great work but he took forever to get the job done and I missed my start goal date because of it.

Paying for services. I never ever ever pay for a service before it's been done. Ever. If they ask for a deposit as a sign of good faith tell them you brought your car to them as a sign of good faith.

If anyone asks how soon do you need it done. Tell them yesterday would be good with a smile. Never say no rush just when you can fit it in.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle View Post
Momentum. Once it's gone it's very hard to get back.

"the little things". ...Lots of them.All the little things add up.

Be realistic. ...
Get it up and running as quick as you can ...

Don't get sidetracked with other mods to the car ...

You have to be relentless. Do the jobs you don't feel like doing. ...

Have a clean work area. ...

Plan your work....

Have one place you keep all your parts....

Write a list of jobs to do. Then as you do them check them off...

Chip away and like I said before be relentless.

Take some photographs as you go. Then you can see how far you have come.

My number one reason people fail on all projects. You have to remember others may not have the same passion you have.

Paying for services. I never ever ever pay for a service before it's been done. Ever. If they ask for a deposit as a sign of good faith tell them you brought your car to them as a sign of good faith.

If anyone asks how soon do you need it done. Tell them yesterday ....

Uncle,
Every single one of those items you mention resonates with me. I find myself shaking my head yes, to all of them, like the 10 (or so) Commandments.

So, you must be an engineer, or have a similar occupation that requires attention to detail, multi-tasking, setting goals, and accomplishing the mission.

Either that, or military, or maybe physician.
Old 06-03-2013, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baloo View Post
Kind of like asking the top 100 marathoners why people did not finish the race.
If your successful without knowing why then you're not a success you're just lucky.
I learnt from failing in the past.
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:01 PM
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Some folks like to "start" projects and some folks like to push through and "finish" projects.

I try not to bite off more than I can chew - with anything in life... Pretty much a "one thing at a time" kind of person...
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by spence88mph View Post
Ohhhh Mark, you disappoint me, your white 930 balances it out though.
Ok, let me tailor my response a bit (I was in my "box"at the time -so I'll try thinking out of it). I guess I can understand the desire to have turbo power for those that don't (yet) own a car made with that in mind (i.e., a 930). We all want mo' powa', so the lure to modify a perfectly fine NA 911 3.2 can be strong. Plus, if I'm not wrong, a well done conversion with that engine yields some pretty impressive performance. Just thinking cost vs. benefit vs. headaches. But for a driven person that can see a project through, the rewards have got to be worth it.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:17 PM
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If i could do it anyone can......... dont get caught up in the time it takes to accomplish it, eventually it will get done even if it takes many, many years, and less or even no sex from the wife or girl friend..(it was worth it) sex overrated, turbo blast off not!
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baloo View Post
Uncle,
So, you must be an engineer, or have a similar occupation that requires attention to detail, multi-tasking, setting goals, and accomplishing the mission.

Either that, or military, or maybe physician.


Something like that. I'm not an engineer but do have engineering qualifications along with 6sigma and LEAN post grad stuff. I work as a department head in an explosives plant managing a plant within the plant and the on-site Lab. As a rule in an explosives plant, before you do anything you plan it 15 times,peer review it, re-think it then plan it another 15 times. Then you let it sit for 3 weeks while you think about it a bit more. If anything ticks a box other than 100% yes you start again from the beginning. I kid you not it took me 3 months to change the type of mop heads my guys use in a non-hazardous environment.
You have to consider every kind of scenario like what if they chucked a mop head in the rubbish bin and someone pulled it out and used it in another part of the plant. Could it have a negative outcome IE worst case a very very very big hole in the ground. Most likely no but it must be the first consideration then work back from there.

Anyway my point is I work in my shed and how I go about a project is the same way to an extent. I spend as much time thinking things though as I spend doing things. I don't have much spare time as I have a 14 month old son so when I am in the shed I like to get things done.
LOL as you would of seen with my oil pump mount it changes until I come up with the V3.0 and the right one. My old man had me sitting on a wooden box with a 351 head a set of valves and some valve grinding paste by the time I was 4. By the time I was 5 he would half fill ( a full pot was too heavy for me to lift) the pot on a spray gun to paint the doors on his Taxi cabs lol. 35 years later I am still learning new things and arguing with him that Matte Black is a nice colour when I see him.

P.S Great thread by the way. I am sure people will find this helpful. Feel free to copy and paste my points into your fist post if you like. Might save other people needing to read my dribble.
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Last edited by Uncle; 06-03-2013 at 06:19 PM..
Old 06-03-2013, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mark houghton View Post
Ok, let me tailor my response a bit (I was in my "box"at the time -so I'll try thinking out of it). I guess I can understand the desire to have turbo power for those that don't (yet) own a car made with that in mind (i.e., a 930). We all want mo' powa', so the lure to modify a perfectly fine NA 911 3.2 can be strong. Plus, if I'm not wrong, a well done conversion with that engine yields some pretty impressive performance. Just thinking cost vs. benefit vs. headaches. But for a driven person that can see a project through, the rewards have got to be worth it.
Ahhh there we go!

The 3.2, lovely car but by modern standards is far from impressive, my girlfriends GTI would show one a clean pair. If you keep it all simple, I think it's a good reliable base for turboing, remember the bottom end is almost identical to a 930, the heads are free flowing (not made out of as good material, but capable) the cams are basically SC cams that most 930 guys upgrade to, that's before we start on the intake and efi that comes along with the package.

Anyway, as I said, you have a white 930 (my fav) so you can throw stones around if you wish.

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Old 06-03-2013, 07:08 PM
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