Radium Lotus Turbocharger Kit Diary

Having launched our Lotus Hard Parts Turbo Kit last fall and shipping a couple custom configurations, we are now taking the next step and installing one on a stock 2006 Elise. Radium will fully install the kit and document 100% of the process for the instruction manual. Portland Speed Industries will become our preferred shop for turbo kit installations after this process. 

This vehicle was recently delivered to us from Vancouver, British Columbia. Since this vehicle is normally in storage during the winter months, we are taking advantage of this time to do the conversion.

The customer also opted for a Radium Fuel Surge Tank Kit, Radium Dual Catch Cans, and a Radium Fuel Rail with upgraded Radium 630cc/min injectors. We will be tuning our kit with an AEM EMS using a custom plug n' play harness. The harness includes an electronic boost controlled race gas switch to enable well over 350hp. A South Bend high performance clutch will keep the power to the ground.

The Midnight Blue Elise is stock and is a perfect platform for the Radium Engineering Turbocharger Kit.

A baseline dyno graph is the first step in our process. This Elise made the expected power confirming the engine is healthy, strong, and in perfect working condition.

The car will have double the power upon completion.

We plan to document the swap and will be updating this blog throughout the process. Bookmark this page and follow us on Facebook for update alerts.
Elise/Exige Turbocharger Hard-Parts kits are available now! Please Call or Email Radium to discuss the best option for you.

Update 1/15/12:
Preparing to pull the engine for the clutch and oil pan installation.

The build is going perfectly. We had the rear clam off in record time and the engine is now ready to be hoisted out. Normally you do not need to pull the engine for installation of our turbocharger kit, but for this particluar build, a clutch install is part of the package. After doing two clutches with the engine in the vehicle, we have decided it is easier to do with the engine out.

With the engine out, it will also be a good time to install this Sector 111 G-Pan.
This pan is equipped with a special bung for plumbing the turbo oil return line. We HIGHLY recommend a baffled oil pan when installing our kit. The factory Toyota 2ZZ-GE pan has no baffling. Oil starvation will not only damage the turbocharger, it is detrimental to the engine.

Update: 1/19/12

With the engine pulled, the transmission slips right off.

Here is comparison of clutches: The top is the factory clutch, the bottom is the South Bend clutch we will be installing.

The Sector111 G-Pan fit perfectly and installed without a hitch. It is a beautifully fabricated piece. The seams are fully welded on the outside AND the inside.

With the engine on the stand, it was a good opportunity to test fit the turbocharger and manifold assembly. When a customer orders a Radium turbocharger kit, this is how it is delivered. The turbo is fully bolted to the manifold and the downpipe elbow and wastegate are also installed. We pre-assemble this because we use a special extreme-temperature thread locking compound on all the fasteners and this also greatly reduces install time!  The turbine housing comes thermal coated too.

Update: 1/23/12

Clutch installation

With the clutch installed and the transmission mated back on to the engine, the engine was dropped back in place. A good time to test fit the turbo/manifold assembly again. Everything is looking perfect!

The engine is now sitting on Innovative mounts. All four mounts are nicely constructed and have a powder coated finish.

This picture shows the oil drain line routing. Also notice how we have a nice little bracket that uses the factory header brace to help suport the weight of the turbocharger.

Update: 01/30/12

Despite being very busy with other projects, we have made great progress on the installation. The end is in sight and things are now moving along quickly.
Shown below is the interior gauge pod from MWR that we are installing. It houses the Boost and AFR gauges and also has a keyed switch that switches the EMS from pump gas to race gas mode.  The indicator light turns on when in race gas mode.

The intake manifold is back on and we are busy bolting on all the stuff we removed previously. At this point it is a lot of detail work including wiring, water hose and oil hose routing, installing small brackets, etc.

Here is what is supplied with the Hard Parts Kit:

However, before shipping any turbocharger kit, we preassemble all the major components including:

1. Turbo, Wastegate, Manifold, Downpipe, Oil Feed Hose & Fittings, Coolant Hoses & Fittings
2. Turbo Oil Drain Hose with -10AN Fittings and Thermal Sleeve
3. Billet Aluminum Coolant Manifold 5-Port Junction
4. Coolant Tank with Sight Tube, Fittings and Mounting Bracket
5. Water Pump Bracket with Loop Clamp and Hardware

This helps reduce installation time, and the possibility of installation errors.

Update: 2-12-12

All of the "Hard Parts" kit is now installed. We are down to wiring, and interior work. As you can notice, this customer decided that a muffler was a little too mundane for him. This system dumps straight from the turbocharger with a 3" polished stainless steel pipe and custom tip exiting through the diffuser in the stock location. We custom made this as a one-off for this customer.

Simple, effective, and lightweight.

Another view of our cold air intake for the turbocharger air inlet.

Did we mention there is no muffler?

We plan to start it within the next 2 weeks. After that, we will get some shakedown runs before heading to the dyno for tuning.

Update: 3/5/12

After finishing the installation, we began shakedown testing which consists of gentle driving while carefully watching all engine parameters. The car was running great except for a misfire above 5500RPM. After swapping out ignition coils, the problem remained. We finally decided to try a new set of spark plugs. Problem fixed! For some reason we were getting misfiring (resulting in bogging) from the NGK V-power plugs we had just installed. So we changed to a set of NGK Iridium plugs and opened up the gap slightly.  This fixed the issue.
Irirdiums have several benefits:
1. Iridium has a much higher melter temperature than the nickel-metal alloy standard plugs, which means they last longer and can survive in extremely high cylinder pressure/temperature situations better.
2. Iridiums also require less voltage to light off, making them less prone to "spark blow out".

On the dyno, we noticed that even though the charge temps were nice and cool from our air to air intercooler, we were still fighting to make a ton of power "safely" with the limitations of pump-grade fuel. So it was decided to use a Cosworth headgasket to lower the compression ratio of the engine.  Portland Speed Industries is doing the installation and we look forward to getting back on the dyno soon.

Update: 3-20-12
This particular Elise owner wanted every bit of power on pump gas. Our recommended (cost effective) solution for a healthy engine is using a thicker head gasket. This is used to drop the compression ratio allowing for more intercooled boost pressure to be safely utilized while keeping combustion chamber temperatures lower.

Ron at Portland Speed Industries installing the Cosworth 1.2mm headgasket without trouble.

To make the tune safe on pump gas, we programmed the boost control to act in a linear fashion for improved control on the street and to keep the EGTs in check.

A custom straight pipe coming off the Radium stainless steel downpipe elbow makes for a loud low restriction exhaust setup.

For the switchable race gas map, we were able to safely advance ignition timing in order to produce more power with lower EGTs. And since this car will be tracked using racing slicks, we were able to flatten the boost curve on the low end for added torque.

Maximum Power Results:
Pump Gas (94 Octane, Ethanol free) 311.5whp (298whp SAE corrected) 
Race Gas (110 Octane leaded) 334.8whp (325whp SAE corrected)

Analog 1 is the boost pressure in PSIG as recorded by the Dynojet.

The Garrett GT2860RS turbo has a lot more still in it. But at  approximately 393hp at the engine, we called it good as we have reached the limit of the stock internals.
The owner will be picking the car up soon and we think he will be very suprised to see how his Elise has been transformed.

Update: 3-24-12

Pump Gas Video

Race Gas Video


Update 4-10-2012:
After a few weeks of conflicting schedules, we finally found a day we were all available to meet up and hand off the car.

We popped off the rear clamshell so the owner could see all goods up close and personal.

With the clamshell back on, it was time for the first drive. The owner was given some brief instructions on operation of the race-gas switch and a few other things before being let loose.
He returned safely and was very pleased with the car. She thought the Synchronic blow-off-valve was the coolest sound she has ever heard in a car.
They both were very impressed with the acceleration. The only problem? Now wheel spin needs to be dealt with!

A huge thanks to the owner for being a super cool guy to work with and letting us transform his car. We hope to see him again soon at a Club Lotus Northwest track day at Portland International Raceway.