28 Jun 2017

20 Inch Rigid Industries E2 Hyperspot Combo Lightbar

The search for a good quality LED lightbar ended with Rigid Industries E2 Hyperspot combo series. What is special about the Hyperspot Combo light bar is that it contains two kinds of optics. The Hyperspot optic provides for long reach and the Specter optic provides a spread beam to illuminate objects towards the sides. So with a mix of these two beam patterns it is ideal for high speed use on unlit highways. Rigid Industries is well known manufacturer and are one of the leaders in LED lightbar industry. The lights are American made and when you buy Rigid it is quality assured.

I settled for the 20 inch version of the Hyperspot combo lightbar, the kit came complete with wiring harness and L mounts. My friend in USA bought the lightbar and he carried it to India. The light is quite hefty and bulky and I can't thank him enough for carrying it for me!

Some un-boxing photos he took for me


As soon I had the light bar in my hand I was too excited and wanted to do a trial run before the actual install and so I hooked it up to the battery and aimed for the sky and turned the lights on. Bright?

The Rigid Industries E2 Hyperspot Driving Combo 20" Lightbar

Specter optic which is for driving beam pattern

Hyperspot optic which is for long range illumination

The Deutsche connector which is waterproof.

Decided to put the lightbar on top for the hood and being on the hood the beam travels far before falling down. Being on the hood I do not need additional mounts to be fabricated. They won't affect airbag sensors either.

The measurements had to be spot on. The Light should be centered on the hood and at the same time it should point straight ahead. I measured thrice and marked once and again measured after the marks were made on the hood. Once I drill the holes through the hood skin and through the structural member below there is no going back. If it did not align it would be an expensive repair.

To get it right the hood was removed from the Crysta and my better hlf helped me carry it inside to our living room where I could work on it.

Hood back on with new holes.

The light bar is mounted on the hood with rigid L mounts and secured using ICI Lightlocks tamper proof nuts. These are the best tamper poof fasteners I could find with a unique key.  A new key if reuired should be ordered using the nut's unique code laser etched on the inner face of the nut. Code should be noted down before its mounted and tightened.

The light is leveled using a spirit level with the vehicle on flat ground. It is set a bit down so that beam does not go high when there is load.

Light is powered from the battery through a relay. The harness supplied with the Rigid was adapted for simple installation and connections are soldered, heat shrinked and wrapped in 3M 7mil electrical tape. I hate poor electrical joints and wiring. The relay is connected to the high beam fuse slot in the fusebox using a fuse tap, OE wires are not tapped or spliced.

Rigid Industries brochure
Now Sold!

26 Jun 2017

Hollowed out Catalytic Converter & Magnaflow Exhaust

What is the best muffler available for a turbo diesel if you ask, then the answer you are going to get from everyone is that no muffler! For the best performance the answer is mostly true for turbo engines. Unlike a normally aspirated engine which needs a properly sized header/extractor to scavenge the spent gases and help aid cylinder filling a turbo diesel would actually prefer to have a large enough down pipe at the turbine outlet and going down stream a free flowing muffler or better still a straight pipe till the end.

If you ask a large as a drain down pipe and exhaust pipe is OK? Or what if i hollow out the catalytic converter?

Then the answer would not be that simple. It is a No if you wish to have a pipe that goes till the tail end or a side exit. But if you want to dump it in atmosphere then it will be OK to have a large turbo exit pipe which in some race cars points up instead of down.

If the exhaust pipe diameter is too large the exhaust gases would lose its heat energy and velocity which slows the gas down and it stagnates in the pipe which increase back pressure.

It  is ideal to have a slightly larger pipe than stock if you are keeping the rest of the engine mostly stock without any turbocharger, inter-cooler, air intake and fueling upgrades. If the stock exhaust size is 2.25 inch in diameter it would be OK if you up sized to 2.5 inch or even 3.0 inch with a chip or remap.

The advantages of a free flowing exhaust in a turbo diesel is very noticeable. The turbo spools faster, the low end to mid range torque gets better and the engine responds to your leg faster.

In my Innova Crysta we did a partial exhaust upgrade of the exhaust system. Partial because we did a cat back down pipe exhaust system in 2.5" stainless steel pipe with a Magnaflow straight through muffler. The catalytic converter is still on the vehicle, a turbo back catalytic converter delete is on the cards for another day.

The stock silencer or the muffler of the Innova is 13.5 inches in length and sits ahead of the rear axle.

Stainless steel Magnaflow straight through replacement. Magnaflow was bought from Amazon USA and had it shipped to me in India. It arrived safe without any defects.

Innova on the lift at Carmed Autologistics, Cochin. They are into performance modifications and remaps. The original mid section and silencer section of the exhaust was replaced with 2.5 Inch diameter stainless steel pipe and the Magnaflow.

We did a side exit exhaust for fun as you can see in the photos. There is enough clearance of approximately 8 inches from the ground. Side exit exhaust helps keep the total length of the exhaust system short and helps avoid couple of bends on the pipe when it goes over the rear axle for a rear exit.

The first start after the exhaust work. As expected and hoped it is not much louder, I just need lower restriction.

Eventually after a week of running with the side exit we returned to a rear exit setup because I did not want fumes inside the vehicle when parked with engine idling and windows down. So carmed re-routed the exhaust to the rear and connected to the stock rear section. This section will be upgraded to 2.5 inch pipe when we do the turbo back down pipe.


18 Jun 2017

Unichip Tuned Innova Crysta

Remap or Tuning Box?
This question was answered many suns ago and I decided to go the tuning box route with a rail pressure and boost pressure modifying box. But the itch for more persisted and soon I was looking at other options and I warmed up to the thought of getting a remap if it were available. Fortunately or unfortunately a remap was still not available for this particular ECU variant which comes in the Innova Crysta and so for the time being that option was put to rest. At the same time I opened discussion with Unichip as I found out that they have made a plug n play kit for the new 1GD-FTV.

Good News!
I got confirmation from the Unichip distributor in India that the kit should be compatible with the Innova. My main concern was the wiring harness matching up with the variant of ECU we have in the Innova here and not with the chip as the chip can be programmed as needed. Again I was re-assured that wiring harness should be compatible. So on that assurance I proceeded to move ahead with the Unichip.

Yes, very expensive. To put it into perspective and get it out of the way let me just say that the harness alone costs as much as a remap some folks charge in my country.

Plug n play. You can remove or re-install at your will. Factory ECU is totally unharmed and not violated in any manner. Stock wiring untouched, no cuts, no splices, nothing.

Is it just a tuning box then?
Well, No. Period. It does a bit more than a standard tuning box does. Its more of a piggyback ECU rather than a much more simpler tuning box.

So what all does it do?
Boost Control: Unichip has complete control over boost pressure across the operating range of the engine. Helps to burn more fuel as cleanly as possible!

Injector timing: Unichip can time the start of injection. When adding more fuel to the combustion chamber by means of higher rail pressure and/or adding pulse width to injector the fuel will need slightly more time to complete the burn. By advancing the injection timing it allows complete burn of the fuel before the piston is at BDC.

Fuel Rail Pressure: Unichip has control of Fuel Rail pressure, the simplest way to increase power on a turbo diesel. This is what most of the ready made ready to plug Diesel tuning boxes does.

Injector Pulse Width Modulation: This lets Unichip have direct control of the injectors and modulate the pulse width to alter injector open duration. This allows to put more fuel into the engine.

Throttle Booster: Helps to increase or decrease throttle sensitivity and helps to achieve a faster or slower throttle response as per user demand.

Coolant temp Protection: This lets Unichip pull back the performance of the engine if the engine coolant temperature sensor reads very high. This is a safety feature. If the Unichip reads high temperature it pulls back the fuel and the boost for 15 seconds. If it happens again it will pull back the fuel and the boost for 40 seconds. This is a way to protect the engine from misuse.

Canbus Map Select: This is a new feature developed specifically for the new 1GD-FTV engine foud in Innova Crysta/Fortuner. It is designed to switch Unichip maps via the factory PWR and ECO buttons. This means you can have 3 maps selectable by the factory Power and Economy buttons.

EGT Protection: This we have not yet done in this installation but someday i hope to get this done. For this we need an EGT probe to the put into the exhaust manifold before the turbo charger and its input given to the Unichip. With this we can achieve the same thing as Coolant temperature protection, the advantage of doing it based on EGT is quicker response.

So what it achieves is closer to a remap than a simple tuning box. Of course each has their own Pros and Cons the user need to chose his poison.

The Kit
The 1GD-FTV plug and play kit consists of 4 items. 1) The Unichip Q4, 2) The GDE module which is used for CAN bus integration, 3) HV4 injector driver module (it looks like another Q4) and 4) the plug and play high quality harness.

The Harness
Harness is made of high quality materials and the ECU connector socket is OE quality. The wire harness is neatly tucked inside a braided protective sleeves and the ends are wrapped using high quality tape.

The installation was done at Spitfire Automotive Performance at Coimbatore, they are the authorised dealers for Unichip in India and has a chassis dyno. This is my third time at Spitfire actually. Twice with my Swift 1.2K* and now with the Crysta,

Before commencing the installation they went over the actual wiring and the wiring diagram to confirm the harness compatibility. This step was thoroughly done and that took almost a full day to complete. For the next Innova or Fortuner installation they probably can skip this step because this is the first GD-FTV installation in the country.

Highlights about this installation is that no wires need to be cut, spliced or tapped. There are no wires in the engine bay to be installed. The PnP harness plugs into the ECU and the Unichip and the original ECU connectors plug into the PnP loom, neat and clean.

Once the wires were confirmed the unit was plugged in and soon the tuning started with J.Balamurugan with the Crysta tied down on the dyno.

It was getting late time to wind up and plan for another day.

The graphs for the dyno run is available, but the tune is not final. But here it is anyways. The Green line is the stock tune and the yellow line is the Unichip tune.

A revision and some tweaking is necessary to get the final tune. The present conservative tune is more like a test tune, but still it feels impressive

Edit: Retuned by myself!!
* Swift 1.2 Unichip Installation & Swift 1.2 to 1.4 conversion.
** No launch, Accelerating in D from standstill.

17 Jun 2017

1GDFTV Diesel Throttle Plate Delete

Why do Diesel engines need throttle body and a throttle plate?
Short answer: Diesels do not need throttle body and throttle plate for its efficient operation.

Because Diesel engine is throttled by fuel not air like in a Petrol engine. Give more fuel in a Diesel engine and it turns faster with more torque, give less fuel it slows down. Maintaining stoichiometric ratio is not as important as in a Petrol engine to keep a Diesel engine running.

In a Petrol engine to make the engine turn faster the throttle plate is opened allowing more air into the engine and ECU/Carburetor feeds more fuel to maintain stoichiometric ratio for the given air supply.

Then why does some Diesel engines come equipped with a throttle body?
Yes some modern engines have throttle bodies and some do not. The primary reason for its presence is emissions control and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). The ECU by means of electrical motor or solenoid controlled vacuum line can control the actuation of the butterfly valve in the throttle body to restrict the amount of fresh air (from turbo charger) into the intake manifold under low engine load situations. This helps create a pressure differential and thus helps the EGR system to feed more exhaust into the intake manifold.

This is what Delphi has to say (Src: link) about their Diesel engine throttle bodies.

Main reason for having a throttle body on a Diesel is EGR and it also has a role to play during engine shutdown. When engine is turned off the valve closes and cuts air into the cylinders this helps to achieve a relatively smoother shut down. Throttle body works as an Anti-Shudder Valve (ASV).

Another reason people say a throttle body could be of some use is during an engine runaway situation by cutting off the air supply. But this would work only if the throttle body is in closed position for as long as the key is OFF. In the Crysta the throttle body is spring loaded to be always open not closed so may not be effective in this type of a situation.

Read about diesel engine runaway by clicking on the link Diesel engine runaway. We will deviate from the topic if I discuss it here.

Examples of Diesel engines with and without throttle body?
With: Toyota GD and KD engines, VAG 1.6, 1.5 and 2.0 CR TDI engines, Fiat 1.6 MJD engine.
Without: Fiat 1.3MJD and Ford/PSA 1.4 and1.5 TDCI engines.
These are what I can recall now for with and without from the engines sold in India.

What does one achieve by removing the throttle plate?
Diesel engines like air and more air. Better the airflow into and out of the engine better the performance and lower the Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT). By removing the throttle plate I hope to gain two different but related advantages - 1) I remove the tiny restriction in the intake manifold. 2) I prevent the ECU from creating a pressure differential in the intake manifold to aid more exhaust gas in.

1GD-FTV Throttle Body
It may not be as evident in the photos below, but when the throttle is wide open the throttle plate is not perpendicular. The throttle plate is slightly angled down at its rear (where it meets manifold). This means there would be a slight restriction in air flow in comparison to if the the throttle plate was completely perpendicular when wide open.

1GD-FTV Intake Manifold
See the bump on the roof of the manifold? Thats where EGR connects to the intake manifold (not seen in the photo).

I found this sensor on the rubber elbow which is on the throttle body. This is where the hose from the intercooler connects to. This looks like a temperature sensor. The OBD code reader gave me Charge Air Cooler Temperature PID which I have not seen in other Diesels I have owned till now.

Throttle Plate Delete
The screw holding the throttle plate to the spindle was locked as expected. It does not turn and easily strips the head if force is used and your bit is good! So the only option was to drill the screws out. It took me some time as the spring loaded throttle plate would sit fully open in its natural resting position preventing the access to the screws. So I had to with one hand hold the throttle plate closed and with the other hand manage the hand drill and drill the screw out. The throttle spring was pretty stiff in this one, much more stiffer and stronger than one would expect in a Petrol engine.

Also an interesting thing to note here: In this Diesel engine the default resting position of the spring loaded plate was fully open. In a Petrol engine the default resting position of a spring loaded plate is fully closed. Makes sense?

Better leave the spindle there, so as to feed the ECU about its position. Not a pleasant sight loosing that much area to the spindle cross section. HaHaHa!

This is probably the first documented case of throttle plate removal in a GDFTV engine. I have not come across another one as on date.

There is improvement in off idle throttle response, now it just got a bit more urgent while accelerating.

The compressor surge noise which was audible earlier is now almost gone. Letting go off the throttle pedal after accelerating hard ECU decides to partially close the throttle to aid the EGR. ECU does this whenever leg is off the pedal. When the throttle valve close boost has no place to go. This causes compressor surge/stall. With no throttle body to close the boost is consumed by the engine. This is the reason why some highly modified Diesels include a diverter valve/blow off valve in their build, to prevent stall/surge. Anyway I am not going that route.

Swirl Flap
Intake runner has two ports, one has a swirls flap and the other one is open always. So even if the swirl flap is semi closed the boost can enter the cylinder through the other port. So having swirl plates does not nullify the throttle valve plate removal. I am just mentioning it here since few have questioned the effectiveness of the throttle plate delete in the presence of swirl flaps.