Whenever family, friends or acquaintances ask me what I do for work, I struggle to accurately explain to them just how unique and passionate our community of enthusiasts, manufacturers, shops and retailers is. They’re stunned to learn that there are enough people modifying their Subarus to support even a single person, let alone an entire industry of people developing, manufacturing, selling and installing parts. I’m sure this isn’t a uncommon conversation for people in the industry and even recall answering similarly themed questions when I was just an enthusiast myself from people that don’t ‘get it’.
If you don’t know what ‘get it’ means, you don’t ‘get it’. Keep reading.
Attending one of these events, or even just consuming the MASSIVE amount of media created by them, helps shed some light on just how big this ‘thing’ is. Jaws drop when I share photos of 3000 Subarus parked in the lot or of the vendor area packed wall to wall with people carrying boxes/bags/shirts/hats/etc. They begin to understand that our community is more than just a popular movie franchise from 15yrs ago.
The GrimmSpeed team flew into Reagan National Airport on Thursday night and spent the day on Friday checking out the area, visiting IAG Performance in Westminster, MD and helping pack thousands of goodie bags for Boxerfest attendees. The next morning, we were up early and and by 7am, we were at FedEx Field setting up our tent and assembling our display. At 9am when the gates opened, there was already a line of Subarus a mile long ready to rock and roll. For each event, we select a few local guys to join us at our booth and show off their cars. It’s always fun getting to know a couple of local enthusiasts a little bit better. They get top-notch parking and we always have new cars sporting our full product line to show off!
We had a number of other favorites parked inside and outside of the vendor area as well. We’re car guys to core here and have no difficulty appreciating anything from a great stance on beautiful wheels to an all-out track build like the white STI gracing the IAG booth with it’s presence.
Another favorite of ours is Khanh’s 2015 STI with, literally, every single part that GrimmSpeed makes for his car.
Enough words – I think you get the idea here. The bottom line is that the Subaru community is growing quickly and that these events are a great way to connect with fellow enthusiasts, see some cool stuff and even learn a thing or two. Nothing can describe our little piece of the automotive industry quite like a gathering this size.
It is with an unhealthy amount of excitement that we announce GrimmSpeed’s official sponsorship of Formula Drift veteran, Dai Yoshihara’s BRZ for all seven rounds of the 2015 season. Dai’s Falken Tire x Turn 14 Distribution Subaru BRZ is sporting a new livery for the season that maintains the classic Falken Tires scallop design but integrates the corporate colors of this year’s co-title sponsor, Turn14 Distribution. When those Falkens aren’t creating a massive amount of tire smoke, you’ll find the GrimmSpeed logo anchoring the rear of the car. That may not be too often and were OK with that; we love us some tire smoke.
GrimmSpeed has always been a huge supporter of grassroots motorsports and up-and-coming drivers, having sponsored some of the nations fastest time attack and rally drivers ‘back in the day’. Many times, as those drivers find larger success, they also find larger sponsors. We take pride in supporting the smaller guys and are happy to ‘set them free’ as they advance, but we’re also very excited to be a part of a small group of sponsors that are supporting one of the biggest names, Dai Yoshihara, in Formula Drift this year.
Throughout the season, you can expect to see GrimmSpeed covering Dai’s season with race recaps, technical discussion and other assorted shenanigans. Let us know what else you’d like to see!
2015 Formula Drift Competition Schedule:
Streets of Long Beach (Long Beach, Calif.): April 10 – 11
Road to the Championship (Braselton, GA): May 8-9
Orlando (Orlando, FL): June 5-6
The Guantlet (Wall Township, NJ): June 26-27
Throwdown (Monroe, WA): July 24-25
Showdown (Fortworth, TX): August 21-22
Final Fight (Irwindale, Calif.): October 9-10
If you’ve been in the Subaru game for long, you’re probably well aware that a 3-port Boost Control Solenoid (BCS) is considered my most to be a ‘must have’ improvement before having your car tuned. GrimmSpeed has become the trusted brand in the BCS market, with tens of thousands of solenoids in operation today across the globe.
The 2015 WRX offers a unique change of pace, as the factory 2-port solenoid is mounted directly to the plastic turbo inlet and interfaces with an o-ringed feature, rather than a vacuum hose. With expertise in designing machined parts and a tried and true boost control solenoid, we were excited to dig in and create a solution with an already proven pedigree of high performance and quality.
Enter the GrimmSpeed 2015 Subaru WRX 3-Port Boost Control Solenoid, the first and only of it’s kind.
We began by recreating the factory turbo inlet and solenoid in CAD to ensure a perfectly fitting system. From there, we designed a beautifully fitting machined adapter that would recreate the o-ring sealing feature that the factory solenoid uses. This bracket features 1/8 NPT threads so that both barbed fittings (included) and AN fittings can be used interchangeably, for use with the GrimmSpeed BCS, Manual Boost Controller, or other boost control solutions.
A small mounting bracket secures the solenoid to the machined adapter, to create a compact system, while still allowing those interested in running other boost control solutions the flexibility to do so. Mounting the solenoid directly in place of the stock solenoid allows for vacuum hoses of similar length and a shorter wiring harness. We contemplated the option to make a fully integrated solenoid, but decided that creating an adapter and mounting solution allowed people to use a solenoid that’s already been heavily tested and that tuners are familiar with. One possible change between now and production is to integrate the BCS mounting feature into the adapter. Cost and complexity will determine if that’s feasible shortly.
Lastly, we worked to identify the exact electrical connector used on the stock solenoid so that the GrimmSpeed solution would be a true plug and play (differs slightly from the connector pictured). After that, we went ahead and built prototype and pre-production units.
As a brief overview of the advantages of a 3-port boost control system vs. the factory 2-port system, the 3-port systems works by interrupting the boost signal traveling from the turbo to the wastegate. That boost is redirected back into the turbo inlet (post-MAF sensor) and re-ingested by the turbo. The factory configuration simply ‘bleeds’ the signal from between the turbo and wastegate which creates a system that is a bit less complex, but reacts more slowly and with less precision.
We’re currently finalizing the detailed design and moving into production. As soon as we have an estimated release date (expected 2-3wks), we’ll begin accepting pre-orders at a discounted group buy price. We’ll start a different thread for that when the times comes, so for now, let’s keep this discussion technical.
The next step is to get a small initial batch of solenoids into the hands of your favorite local tuners. If you’re a tuner yourself or you’d like to nominate a tuner for receipt of a prototype unit, please comment below and we’ll add you to the list. From this list, we’ll select testers based on experience and geographic location.
The moment many of you have been waiting for – top mount intercooler test results! In testing and developing a heat exchanger, there are countless bits of data to collect and analyze in order to facilitate the decision making process, but when it comes to evaluating the final product, performance can be quantified with relative simplicity. Everything boils down to temperature and restriction. The intercoolers primary duty is to lower and control the temperature of the hot charge air leaving the turbo and running through the intercooler. This is the first test that we performed on both the stock unit and the GrimmSpeed unit.We setup this test to simulate a real world scenario that’s typically demanding of an intercooler. The test vehicle is a 2012 WRX with a GrimmSpeed downpipe, boost control solenoid, prototype intake and tuning. On a closed course, we accelerated in 3rd gear from 3000rpm to redline repeatedly, with 5-8sec between runs. Temperature was logged via k-type thermocouples between the turbo and the intercooler and between the intercooler and the throttle body on both units. Ambient temperature here in Minnesota for both tests was between 20 and 22 degrees F.The results above speak for themselves, but here’s a breakdown. The phase differences between the runs are a result of how quickly we could safely get the car back down to speed for another run, but the important thing to notice is the magnitude of the temperature fluctuations. Predictably, both intercoolers were seeing similar Pre-IC temperatures on each run (180-190F peak), but while the GrimmSpeed TMIC kept Post-IC temperatures between 30-40F the entire time, the OEM TMIC fluctuated between 35-75F. This is the kind of consistent cooling that you should expect from a high quality TMIC and is a function of the geometry and design of the bar and plate core. Our high density core has a massive heat transfer surface area but maintains a large enough cross-sectional flow area that there’s no added restriction.
What’s Next – Pressure Drop, Aftermarket TMICs and Warm Weather Testing
The second part of our final testing will be to measure the pressure drop across each intercooler to demonstrate that the increased cooling performance comes with no sacrifice in flow rates. We’ll also run the same tests with a couple of other aftermarket TMICs. You can expect to see these results in the coming week. Lastly, in the spring, we’ll complete all of this testing again in warmer weather to show that the same effectiveness can be expected, regardless of ambient temperature. We’ll also try to find it’s limits with our 600whp STI.
The photo above shows the machining of the TMIC outlet end tank master. The Bottom received a finishing pass and then the part was flipped so that the top could be roughed out. When all is done, this will be a flawless part. Now that the master parts for both end tanks have been completed, we’ll make a cast iron match plate from each of them. You probably noticed that it looks a lot like they’re being machined from wood and that’s because they are! These master parts will only be used a single time – to cast the real molds from, so a heavier duty material only costs more and takes longer, with no added value.
Interesting Note: The master that you see here is not dimensionally identical to our final part – it’s actually larger. Based on the foundry’s preferences, standard shrink allowances and the geometry of the model, the pattern makers job is to determine how much the cast aluminum part will shrink/contract during solidification. An easy way to cut cost, especially if you’re casting overseas, is to skip this step. Ever had an application-specific intercooler that didn’t fit quite right? There’s a decent chance that uncontrolled shrinkage was at least partially to blame.
For those unfamiliar with high end casting processes, creating the tooling and molds is the giant hurdle standing between your design in CAD and real parts. With properly designed and manufactured tooling, casting and machining the parts is relatively straight forward. One of the many benefits of casting right here in Minnesota is that we’re able to sit down with everybody involved and work through potential issues to mitigate the risk of trouble during production almost entirely. That means lower production cost for us and lower pricing for you!
We wanted this testing to be performed on the road to obtain real world data, as opposed to on a dyno. This method would allow the air dam to obtain actual flow to be received from moving at realistic speeds on the street. The conditions were less than ideal for tire grip (28 degrees F), so tests with tire spin were immediately thrown out and retested. However, since we’re measuring differential pressure the high density of the air due to the low temperatures has no effect on the overall pressure reading.
The test was performed the same each time, on the same stretch of road. The road was uphill, which is beneficial to increase the time of each pull in order to have a better chance of obtaining accurate sample data to combat the low sample rate of the manometer’s datalogging capabilities. We started off in first gear, rolling into the pedal to wide open throttle to avoid wheel spin, shifting at 7300rpm into second gear, straight into wide open throttle, shifting again at 7300rpm, and immediately into wide open throttle through all of third gear. Each run took approximately 14 seconds to complete. We performed this test 3 times for each configuration, measuring pressure drop from:
Snorkel inlet to airbox inlet
Front of airbox to rear of airbox (filter)
Rear of airbox to entry of intake elbow (MAF housing)
Entry of intake elbow to throttle body
Snorkel inlet to throttle body
These runs were performed back to back on the same day, stopping each time briefly (less than 5 minutes) to save the datalog file to the computer, and/or to change pressure test locations on the intake tract.
This graph shows what happens across first through third gear, which is clearly shown by the fact that all five components have three clear humps, each with longer durations. These occur during wide open throttle, and the dips show the pressure approaching 0 between shifts. This graph also shows why having such a low sample rate makes for poor data, but we’ve made up for it by increasing the amount of trials. The fact that the graph maxes out for the overall system at about 9.5in of H2O in all three gears shows that that value is most likely correct for the overall system. Same goes for each of the individual components of the system; in each gear they seem to have the same maximum value. The graph also shows that restriction increases as RPMs increase, because as RPMs increase so does the required flow rate. The short duration of first gear shows the weakness of the sample rate, as the peak numbers of the individual components do not exactly match the peak numbers of each component in second and third gear. For this reason, the graph is most accurate for the third gear section (approximately 9 through 14 seconds), and shows a nice curve instead of a quick peak. However, for illustration purposes, showing all three gears shows that the pressure drop is RPM dependent and not speed dependent as would be initially expected. One would expect more air in the front air dam from the increase in speed to change the results in each gear, but clearly it does not.
This graph also does a good job of “double checking our data.” Remember that the orange line (Snorkel to Throttle Body) is the overall restriction of the system, and that it is the sum of the individual components. The graph of this curve is real world data, and is not simply the overall curves added together in Excel. However, if one were to measure the peaks of each gear for each individual component, and add them up, they would find that they total up to about 9.5in of H2O, which is what is shown to be the peaks of the overall system.
The effect the snorkel had on the system was very interesting. The snorkel showed a consistent pressure gain of about 3in H2O. The fact that the inlet is smaller than the outlet lends that the decrease in velocity of the air as it passes through should increase the pressure. However, the fact that this number is nearly high enough to cancel out any one other component’s restriction shows that in stock for the intake is very well designed. Each other component seems to have a restriction of about 4in H2O (air filter, MAF housing, intake elbow).
This answers a lot about the perceived weakness and the performance of the stock intake. It also goes to show that since the pressure drop doesn’t seem to be dependent on vehicle speed that all of this testing could have been performed stationary while strapped to a dyno. Removing the snorkel should yield no performance gain, but leaving it in could be compared to removing the air filter, or the MAF housing, or having a lossless intake elbow. However, all of these perceived restrictions really are not that bad. Each component having a restriction of 4in of H2O is really only equivalent to about 0.144psi, with the total intake’s restriction being equivalent to about 0.342psi. If I were to perform some completely fake equivalency math, and say that this car makes about 165whp in stock form, and at one atmosphere (14.7psi), a restriction of this size would be equivalent to about 3.84whp. So we would expect to see a gain of only about 3.84whp if we were to create a completely lossless intake system that acted at the exact same air to fuel ratio. However, luckily that math is completely fake, and just for illustrative purposes as there have proven to be larger gains than that achieved without creating a theoretical “lossless intake.” This is true because there are so many more contributing factors than just reducing pressure drop on an intake that is already well designed.
Now that we’ve identified potential restriction, we’ll want to use what we know about differential pressure to determine just what effects these potentially detrimental features actually have on the intake system.
Anyone could perform the testing for differential pressure as it is relatively easy to do. Since we’ve already located what we believe to be potential points of restriction we know exactly where we should tap into the intake system to gather pressure data. One could accomplish this extremely cheaply by making their own manometers out of water and tube, and it has been done before. However, we did not want to rig up two of these (as they are usually large and hard to read) and spill them all over the place while doing first through third gear pulls. Instead we acquired a digital differential pressure manometer, specifically an “Extech HD750.” This was chosen for it’s low range (5psi) which lends to it’s accuracy, as well as the fact that it can datalog. Being able to datalog was ideal because we can show a chart of what is happening as we row through the gears, which is infinitely more interesting than if we were just to post peak numbers. This will also show if the pressure drop effects are due to speed of the vehicle, or if they are rpm dependent. Unfortunately, the sample rate is only 1 sample per second, which means that a longer pull is necessary to get a better data set, but this can be alleviated by performing more pulls. The units used for measurement during testing are in “inches of water.” 1 in H2O is equal to 0.036psi, and 27.67 in H2O is equal to 1psi. This is a relatively small unit of measure, so it is useful for showing small differences in pressure.
The manometer has two inputs for pressure, and will display the difference between the two pressure inputs. With how we hooked up the pressure signals a positive number indicates a pressure drop, and a negative number indicates a pressure gain. The manometer was to be placed in the cabin, so substantial lengths of hose were needed. Since we’re testing for pressure, the length of the hose was negligible. However, two 10ft lengths of .125in norprene hose were used, and were rated not to collapse under the expected vacuum.
The stock intake was tapped in various places, and fittings were added that would connect to the hose for the manometer. A fitting was placed at the inlet of the snorkel, at the top of the front of the airbox before the filter, at the top of the airbox after the filter and before the MAF housing, at the inlet of the rubber elbow after the MAF housing and before the bend, and finally right before the throttle body. Each fitting was sealed to prevent leaks, and caps were added to all fittings.
When we began thinking about designing an intake for the twins, we first wanted to evaluate the claim that “the stock intake is good enough.” Its general knowledge that in the last ten years or so, that factory OEM intakes have become very good in design, and are often difficult to improve upon. There are several ways to evaluate this claim, and we wanted to start out with looking at the design of the entire intake as both an overall system, as well as the sum of all of it’s parts.
A visual inspection doesn’t tell an absolute truth about the system, but it does give you a place to start evaluating. The first source of restriction you’d look for is sharp or abrupt entry points. Air entering a pipe without a flared entry (think velocity stack, or a funnel shape) produces a restriction, compared to one that does have a flared entrance or transition. Just the same, when air has to traverse a larger and larger angle bend, there is an increase in restriction. The same can be said for when air has to pass over surfaces that are not smooth, etc. All of these situations add restriction, which can be measured as a drop in pressure. The ideal case to move air from point A to point B would be a perfectly smooth, straight length of pipe, and even that will have a pressure drop as the length of the pipe increases.
So from a visual standpoint, lets break apart the sections of the intake: There is a snorkel, front of airbox, air filter, rear of airbox, MAF housing, intake elbow, and throttle body. The entire system can be looked at as being the area before the snorkel (behind the bumper cover) to just passed the intake elbow (right at the throttle body). Measuring the difference in pressure between these two points will give you the overall restriction of the system. But in order to identify where the weaknesses in the system are, one would be more interested to measure the difference in pressure between components in the system. For example, to measure the restriction the air filter has on the system, you would measure the pressure before and after the filter. And if you add up the pressure differences between all parts of the system, it should equal the overall restriction.
Back to the visual inspection of the system, what do we see as a potential problem area, and why do we want to choose these locations to test? The first part of the system that air sees as it enters is the snorkel. The inlet of the snorkel looks good; there is a well formed velocity stack that has minimal extra material from being molded. It’s a slight oval shape, roughly 2.25in x2.5in. About 10 inches down the air’s path, the snorkel starts to make an approximate 90 degree bend to it’s exit. The bend is very smooth, and all the while the shape is transitioning to a flatter oval, while at the same time increasing in overall cross sectional area. At the point where the snorkel transitions into the air box, it is roughly 2in x 5.7in. The snorkel contains two resonators along the first section, in two different sizes, each containing a small drain hole at their lowest point. The snorkel is sealed to the air box with a strip of foam that interfaces the outlet of the snorkel to the inlet of the front airbox.
The front face of the airbox is angled at the bottom, and contains a circular emboss. Both features are in place to maximize area before the filter, while still clearing the radiator and fan. There is also a large resonator to the left of the entrance. The front airbox has a hole at it’s lowest point just right of the entrance, as does the large resonator, both for drainage purposes. The inside of the front of the airbox is very smooth across all surfaces. The only noteworthy point from a flow standpoint is at the entrance. The half of the entrance below the snorkel has a smooth radius flowing towards the filter. However, the half above the entrance is abrupt, and looks different than you would expect from viewing it from outside the box. Outside the box, just above the exit of the snorkel there is a hump which looks to exist as an area to smooth airflow going towards the filter, but just the opposite appears to be true as there is a void here. One can only assume this is for strength, or some phenomenon that is hard to explain.
The air then flows through the filter, which is not your typical paper filter, and has only 14 large ribs. I am unsure of the media of the filter, but it is similar to a fabric like cotton. The ribs on the front side are longer than those on the back to increase filter surface area.
After the filter is the rear of the airbox, which contains mostly smooth transitions, with a taper at the opposite side to the exit that should promote flow towards the MAF housing. The only noticeable source of restriction in this piece are several protruding ribs that run lengthwise in the rear of the airbox, however small. The exit of the airbox is technically the mass air flow, or MAF, housing. The entrance to the MAF housing appears to have been optimized, as it is one of the most important parts of the entire engine. The rear face of the airbox has a section “dug out” to smooth the transition into the MAF, and the opposite side of that feature has a molded plastic velocity stack. Immediately at the entrance is a plastic matrix that is commonly referred to as an “air straightener.” This is specifically put in place to help the MAF provide the most accurate reading as possible by modifying the flow of air before it. The thickness of the pieces of this matrix is 2mm, and the diameter of the entrance here is roughly 68.5mm. The entire MAF housing is only about 70mms long, and places the MAF sensor about 25mm, or about 1in after the air straightener. The inner diameter at the MAF sensor is 70mm, and the diameter at the outlet of the MAF housing is about 72mm. So there is a taper through the entire section, albeit minimal.
At the exit of the MAF housing is the entrance of the intake elbow. The entrance to the elbow is just under 3in in diameter, and has an immediate 90 degree bend. This bend is very tight, and has a centerline radius significantly under 3in. This most likely means that the diameter of the cross section does not stay a constant 3in as the bend progresses. There are ribs on the outside of the part for strength, but they do not exist on the internal surface of the elbow. There is a tube exiting the elbow for the sound tube, just opposite of the intake elbow’s entrance, and a resonator toward the bottom of the engine bay, both located directly on the bend. Immediately after the bend is a roughly 2.25in long flex section. This section contains 5 smooth ridges that exist on the inside of the tube, and extend outwards of the tube less than .125in. After this flex section is a 5in long straight section, smooth on the inside, with ridges on the outside. This terminates at the entrance of the throttle body.
Based on this visual assessment there isn’t much to expect in the way of restriction. From the entrance of the system to the exit, we expect to see a restriction from: 90 degree bend of the snorkel, air filter, decreased size (in comparison to the air box volume) of the MAF housing, the tight 90 degree bend on the entrance of the intake elbow, and the flex section located right after the previous bend.
GrimmSpeed is excited to announce that once again, we’re sponsoring The 48hrs of Tristate Drive in New York and New Jersey. A great deal of information, routes and registration are all available at the official website (see below). The charity this year is Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. There will be a raffle held at the Subar of America Headquarters in Cherry Hill, NJ on Friday and the more money you raise for the charity, the more tickets you get for the raffle! See details below.
With a successful week at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas under our belts, it’s time to reflect. By now, you’ve probably seen photos of all of the hottest new cars and products at SEMA and you’ve already read the snoozefest rundowns on each, so instead of boring you with more of the same, what I’ll share is a an inside look at the GrimmSpeed team’s trip to the Sin City. Alex (purchasing), Chase (engineering) and I put in a long day on Monday before catching a 9:10pm flight out of town. It’s an interesting demographic, the folks that fly a budget airline out of Minneapolis for Vegas on a Monday night, but that’s a story for another time. We arrived at the MGM at around 11:00pm local time, just in time to witness the slow deterioration of class and dignity while we checked in. Alarms were buzzing bright and early and we caught the first monorail out to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Arriving to the show two hours before it opened actually offered an eerily peaceful introduction to what would soon become a complete madhouse. The outside show areas are open much earlier than the main halls and aside from those tending to their booths and wiping down cars, we had the show to ourselves. Highlights included the entire fleet of Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge competitors, an up-close look at Ryan Tuerck’s 2JZ FRS Drift Car and poking around JC Meynet’s 2006 STI Time Attack Monster. Tuesday’s early morning focal points were definitely of the purpose-built, badmammajamma variety.
The remainder of Tuesday and Wednesday was spent primarily in educational/informational sessions, discussion forums and speakers. Among those we had the pleasure of hearing from were Cleo Shelby (racing legend Carol Shelby’s wife), Wilfried Eibach (chairman of the Eibach Group), Jamie Allison (director of Ford Racing) and Gene Stefanyshyn (vice president of innovation and racing development for NASCAR). To hear from people with such great passion for our industry and interest in the direction that it’s headed is both inspirational and exciting. The passing time between sessions was filled with quick jaunts in and out of the various halls, trying to get a taste for what each had to offer and an idea of where our time on Thursday and Friday would be best spent.
Knowing we were in for a long week, we did our best to fight the urge to storm the halls like mad men after sessions for the day had ended and worked even harder to avoid succumbing to the neon-infested temptation that is the Vegas Strip after dark. Despite our greatest efforts, we did find the energy to swing through the Formula Drift 10th Anniversay party on Tuesday and spent Wednesday night exploring downtown Vegas. If you’ve never been to Vegas (and I hadn’t), Fremont Street downtown is definitely worth the $2 bus fare. I loved the more relaxed atmosphere, cheap drinks and street magicians.
Part 2 will include many more photos from the show floor, a recap of the Global Rally Cross season finale and a biased summary of some of our favorite cars and products, so stay tuned.