posted on January 26, 2011 19:47
Project Sipster Part 6
Power to the Peeps
by Dave Coleman
Ok, Power to the Peeps was my original title, but it got changed to something more meaningful, more immediately understandable, and slightly less clever before it was originally published. This story is, for the most part, my original draft, with nothing edited for clarity, logic or truth. Much better that way, if you ask me.
Somewhere in the middle of the LA/Orange Country sprawl there's a forgettable little suburb called Westminster, and in the middle of that burg is a barely noticeable little repair shop called MD Automotive. To the untrained eye, it's a perfectly innocuous place to get your brakes done, but to those in the know, this is a performance mecca. The shop's affable owner, Mark DiBella, has worked on everything from your mom's Camry to Group-B supercars, and yet his willingness to hang out with guys like us means every automotive publication in Southern California has him on speed dial.
When we drop in to use his dyno and camp out for our week-long Diesel tuning adventure, we have to move an NSX, a Skyline GT-R and a 350-hp supercharged, Honda-powered Lotus Exige out of our way just to get to the dyno. We already know the Sipster's old engine made 33 hp and 41 lb-ft of torque and struggled to drag the Sipster to 60 mph in 22 seconds. And we know the new TDI engine we installed 2000 miles ago at CWS Tuning knocked that down to 9.8 seconds. After a few yanks on the dyno, we learn that performance came from our new output of 98 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque.
Tripling our horsepower ain't bad for a week's work, but we've got that 0-60 in 7 seconds goal breathing down our neck. Time to turn the screws.
When Cam Waugh swapped out our simple, mechanically-injected Diesel for our fantastically complex, computer-controlled turbo Diesel, he opened up a world of opportunities for us. The computer controls every relevant tuning parameter on the engine (boost pressure, injection quantity and injection timing for example) and it can be re-programmed right through the diagnostic port. Better yet, we don't have to know what to do with any of these parameters, we just have to be smart enough to handle an e-mail account.
Two weeks ago, in preparation for this adventure, we purchased a box from Bora Parts called the Flashzilla. Now, magically, when we
want more power, we just call Mark Malone, the British Columbia-based owner of Diesel Inside, and he e-mails us a file that we can upload to the Flashzilla. Then we plug Flashzilla into the car's diagnostic port and wait a few seconds while the computers talk to each other.
Supposedly, Malone's standard stage-1 tune for our engine is good for 20 more horsepower and a noticeable improvement in fuel economy. That's right, one e-mail and you get both power and fuel economy. We've been around long enough to know when something sounds too good good to be true…
Amazingly, this one isn't. Minutes after recording 98 horses, we e-mail the Sipster and it immediately spins the dyno to the tune of 120 hp and a shocking 239 lb-ft of torque. Two hundred thirty-nine! Flabbergasted, we head out to test the fuel economy claim.