Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gale Banks - Why Turbos Are The Best

Very good video about why turbos are the best way to get power from an engine.

Gale Banks from BANKS Engineering has done it all, from setting Bonneville records to building 1,400HP jet boats. If you're thinking about building a turbo setup, or just want to know why they work, this video is for you.


He's been called the master of boost, setting records since the 1960's Gale Banks if you don't know who he is check out his wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gale_Banks

Here's a few old records Gale Banks have under his belt.

1982: The “Sundowner” Corvette, powered by a Banks twin-turbo big block, becomes the “World’s Fastest Passenger Car” at 240 mph

1984: A street-legal Pontiac Trans Am with 700-hp and a Banks turbo breaks the 200 mph barrier and becomes a cover story for Car & Driver magazine.

1987: A Banks Power twin-turbo, 1800-hp Pontiac GTA sets a new “World’s Fastest Passenger Car” speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats at 277 mph

2002: A street-legal Dodge Dakota pick up truck built in the Banks Power shop with a 735-hp, 1300 lb-ft, 5.9 litre Cummins hauls its own trailer to Bonneville and sets the FIA record for “World’s Fastest Pickup Truck” with a two-way average of 217 mph and one-way top speed of 222 mph.


I also have more technical pages for you that will come in handy. They will be of great help when looking at compressor maps Use the conversion tools And you will be able to calculate airflow, pressure and HP figures for the turbocharger you are interested in.

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Folks don't forget about racing safety gear when buying auto racing parts

I have been tuning engines for a long time and with that experience I tend to look a bit more at how other people tune their cars and bikes than anyone else. Now this is not true for everyone, but most of you will recognize yourself at some level.

About 25 years ago the level of tuning an ordinary street car would ever see was at most 30% increase in power. (Not true for every car out there, but I'm talking ordinary street cars here)

So if you had an Ford, Volvo or BMW the amount of power you could get would have been in the 150hp range and in some extreme cases 250hp. At this point this was the "limit" of ordinary naturally aspirated engines at that time. Yes there was a lot of racing going on at that time, and some of these race engines did get put into street cars and power levels would have been 300+ hp. But the amount of maintenance these race engines required and the cost to keep them running were too much for most people.

Back then you could not just go into a racing store and buy yourself a set of forged pistons and connecting rods. Let alone camshafts and valves to build your race engine.

With the introduction of turbochargers however the power suddenly increased to levels that are still uncommon in today’s cars. At the beginning people where not really sure how to tune turbo engines and intercoolers where something that most people had never heard of. Silicone hoses where did you get that?

You would have to know someone in the maintenence department that did service on trucks or busses that had turbocharged Diesel engines at the time to buy the simple things like, clamps, hoses, gaskets, oil lines etc. Even something like an external Wastegate that are availiable almost everywhere now today you could not get your hands on. And something like real drag tires where not that common either.

But as time passed by, engine tuners got their hands on more parts, most that had the machines and tools started to make their own intercoolers, wastegates and all the parts that were hard to get and the knowledge and the tuning business took of.

Now it still took some time before engine management systems and electric fuel injection where you could really start to extract power out of engines became common and figure out how to tune the software to make that work. To start if you found someone who could tune these you would have to fork out serious doe to get everything working. Well you still might have to do that today, and serious race teams do spend alot of money to get the electrical side working right. Today there are so many more things you can do with a powerful ECU, like traction control, different boost pressures for low and high gears, launch control, shiftcut etc.. This list is very long.

But before all that came chip tuning and fuel injected turbo engines. What was unheard of just 20 years ago would now become a reality for anyone with a few minutes of tuning. Some of you might know the story of the Ford RS Cosworth, Nissan Skyline, Audi S1 Quattro, Lancia S4 to name a few and other icons of the late 1980 and early 1990. The turbo engines back then would give you 200hp and that is still today 25 years on about the same power level you would get from a new car. However today this is a common power figure for a station wagon. And back in the 80s only a few racing breed turbo engines would give you that.

But with a few changes to the ECU with chip tuning and some larger fuel injectors all that was needed then was to turn up the boost pressure and 350hp where unleashed. The only real limit here was only how much air the standard turbocharger could supply.

Sure there where different levels of basic tuning you could do but the effect was the same, more power.

With more and more tuner friendly cars coming out over the years the power figures are still holding almost the same. Just until recently where the powerfigures have really started to go up and beyond what was thought possible only a few years ago..

But what have really changed today is the huge amount of DIY tuners out there. What engine tuners did 25 years ago have now entered the garage and racing parts have now become widely available to anyone. From the cheap Chinese made turbo exhaust manifolds to wastegates and almost every tuning part you can think of to the pure racing parts like forged pistons and engine management systems on sale that anyone can buy.

So what has happened is anyone with a little background in mechanics can now build their own race engine. Power levels have just gone up and up and up.. It’s not uncommon to see street cars today with 500hp and then there are the ones who have gone even higher, breaking the 1000hp barrier.

The one thing that all these engines have in common to achieve such power levels are of course the turbocharger. Without the turbo it would not have been possible. Well a supercharger or N02 injection could do the job too but that’s another story.

However time and time again people forget the most important parts when tuning cars. I’m talking about safety and racing safety gear. I do see that people buy racing seats and that’s good. But most of the time they don’t buy racing seats because of the added safety. It’s because they think racing seats look good. And what about things like auto racing helmets that keeps your head intact. Most of the time people come to the track without real racing helmets and if it’s street racing that’s taking place, no one seems to bother wearing any kind of racing helmets at all.

I do understand that people feel protected inside their cars and they don’t think they need roll cages and in some cases opt for roll bars instead but you really need to think about this.

Some of the racing safety gear you should look at are the following:
racing suit
racing shoes
racing helmets
racing gloves

This would be the minimum for my liking if your going on a trackday or similar race day event with your tuned car.

In case you don’t have a fuel cell in your car and there is a chance of fire or fuel leak then you should consider racing fire suits also because these will save your life.

Fire is not to be taken lightly. If you have a good fuel system in place to feed your engine and anyone who are looking for power is going to have that. Then you need to understand that at any given time those racing fuel pumps are pumping 2 gallons of fuel every minute. And if you get a leak and have an accident you are in real trouble if the power to the pumps are not cut right away.

So having the right racing safety gear to protect you is always a good choice. Today’s car are much safer than the ones years ago, but you need to understand that when we double and triple the amount of power and turn our 100mph car into a 200mph fire spitting monster of a car you really, really should spend some time and pick out some racing safety gear also.