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Finally, a review on the Pro-Alloy TMIC!

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Old 01-19-2018, 01:24 AM
citro
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Finally, a review on the Pro-Alloy TMIC!



So, first of all, I want to make some introductory notes which, while being obvious for some, might be of great value to others, who arenít so technically inclined, or just simply havenít had it explained this way.

The Mini Cooper S R53, because of the way the intercooler sits on top of an already very tight and supercharged engine, once tuned, starts struggling with heat. While the coolant temperature is easy to address, installing a lower temperature thermostat, for instance, the Intake Air Temperature (from now on referred to as IAT) not so much.

The Mini Cooper S R53 is not like the Mini Cooper S R56, in which you can ďeasilyĒ get 70 ft-lb from a tune.
The easiest way to notice a bump in performance on a Mini Cooper S is to install a reduction pulley on the supercharger (which is about the only mechanical way, along with the enlarged crank pulley, that you have to add more boost) and increase the rev limiter.
But each of these mods will, in turn, demand more from the supercharger and take it beyond its optimal working range. Why? Because it will spin the supercharger faster, thus generating more heat.

For you to have an idea, with the stock pulley and rev limit, at 6950 RPM, the supercharger is spinning at 14749 RPM. With a 17% reduction pulley installed, the supercharger will be spinning at 14749 RPMs at 5761 RPM, so, almost 1200 RPM down the rev range. At 7500 RPM, with the 17% reduction pulley, the supercharger will be spinning at 19200 RPM, which is 30% more than with the stock pulley at the stock rev limit (6950 RPM). We all know that manufacturers build stuff with tolerances, but 30% will always be 30%, and the superchargerís flow chart/efficiency map are not merely indicative.

The stock IC copes well with the original stock pulley and rev limiter, but it just canít cope with a reduction pulley and higher rev limits, because it starts dealing not only with its own inefficiency, but with the superchargerís as well.

And why is this added heat so prejudicial? Well, not all air is equal... when you crank up the boost you will be generating more air, but because of the way the air is compressed, the air will present less density, thus the need to cool it down to increase density. Think of density as the airís quality.
Thatís why in a colder day/night, the car responds better than in a warmer day/night... the air density is better.

So, now that we understand that with more heat comes more responsibility, itís time to address the variable we can address... the intercooler!

We have different intercooler systems (Top-mount; Chargecooler; and Front-Mount) available to our Mini Cooper S R53, each with their advantages and disadvantages.

I donít want to go to great lengths exploring all the different solutions between the 3 types of available systems, so Iíll focus on the more generic ones and sum it up like this:

Top-mount:

Advantages: Easy installation; Maintenance free; Plug and Play
Disadvantages: Worse in keeping intake temperatures down

Front-mount:

Advantages: Good at keeping intake temperatures down
Disadvantages: Loss of boost due to piping re-routing. Not plug and play; many require A/C removal.

Chargecooler:

Advantages: Good at keeping intake temperatures down
Disadvantages: Not plug and play; Adds the weight of the water from the circuit; the electric water pump; external reservoir and the radiator; May lose a little bit of boost when compared to some top-mounts.

I decided to do this review because I was going crazy with the fact that there was no data available on the Pro-Alloy Top-Mount intercooler, which had a unique design and, from my understanding, all it needed to perform quite well. Thing is, not only we had no data, as there was some kind of criticism in the air regarding fitting, but without being very objective about it... how it fails, why it fails, etc...
So, I came to the conclusion that, in this particular case, if I wanted data, I would have to collect it myself. And if I wanted to know exactly what was going on with the fitting, Iíd be better speaking directly to the source. And this was when I decided to get in touch with Pro-Alloy. So, I sent them an e-mail, providing some background on myself, the questions I had and what I had to propose: A discount in return of a complete review of their intercooler. And, although my main objective had always been the Pro-Alloy, I also sent a similar e-mail to another company, proposing the exact same thing, while letting them both know of this fact.

The other companyís reply made me laugh, as I had been quite thorough in my explanation, and they simply pointed me to a site where I could see the result of their IC on a dyno, it was like: Dude, this is all you will ever need to know about our IC. I didnít even bother replying.

And then, when I was starting to lose hope, Pro-Alloy answered...

Regarding the fitment issues they had, this is what Chris Hazell wrote me:

Hi Citro, many thanks for getting in touch. As you correctly say, we did have some issues in the early days when we first developed this kit and we did make a few subtle revisions to remedy this. Quite often, especially when looking to create an upgrade of really significant proportions, we do have to work to very close tolerances and in the case of the R53, some of these tolerances proved to be a touch too far in some fitments. We noticed that there were a few discrepancies between vehicles, and some cars did have clearance issues where others did not. We made some small alterations to the air guide which has corrected the fitting issue and we havenít had any repeat problems since.

We also noticed that there was the potential for a boost leak from the bolt on flange assembly. This was due to slight distortion from the welding process and we have put a system in place to deal with this once the unit is complete. Following completion of a new project like this, it is not uncommon to come across small areas that need attention, and the professional way to deal with this is to listen to customersí views and act accordingly. We are immensely proud of our handmade products and we believe we took the right approach to correct these minor issues from the early production batch.
So, contrary to the other company, they did take the time to read my whole e-mail, found it to be a very interesting approach, and treated me with due respect (things that I do value). So, after discussing all the details, and making sure we were on the same page, we were good to go. Oh, one aspect I must highlight is that I told him I would compare their IC to as many others as I could, but that in no way I would alter the data in their favor. So, whatever their IC would show, would be exactly what Iíd be showing in the review. And to this, he also replied with no hesitation, telling me that that was precisely what they were after, showing the utmost confidence in their product, which, in turn, gave me the confidence to keep their product.

Almost all of the tests (only the Airtec wasnít) were made in my private road, in the exact same places. The aim of the tests was to try and replicate real life situations with which one can easily relate to and even compare, if curiosity arises... so, the tests consisted in:

A 3rd gear pull in a straight line, from 2600 to 7200 RPM
A 4th gear pull in a straight line, from 3150 to 7250 RPM
A 3rd to 5th gear pull (from 2600 in 3rd gear until 6500 RMP in 5th gear) in a straight line, with a 30 second rest period, and a new pull, 2nd and 3rd gear, but now uphill

All these logs were at WOT (Wide Open Throttle).

Almost all of the logs (again, with the exception of the Airtec) were captured via my ByteTronik data logger, which captures data with 150ms intervals.

What I couldnít control: The weather.

Relevant notes:

The ICs I tested directly on my car were: Chargecooler (my previous setup); stock; and Pro-Alloy. I feel itís important to highlight this as these are the more ďapples to applesĒ comparison, although I do feel there is room for some extrapolations, based on the data collected from the other cars. But weíll get there...

My car has: A Sprintex supercharger with a 60mm pulley, a TPR-1 Cylinder head; a Newman cam (the first ones); Mynes V2 headers with tomcat and JCW catback; ByteTronik tune;

The car with the GRS Motorsport IC has: Eaton M45 with a 17% reduction pulley; 1320 Catcam; TPR-2R Cylinder head; Janspeed de-cat headers with JCW catback; custom tune.

The car with the Airtec IC has: Eaton M45 with an 18% reduction pulley; Worked cylinder head; Newman cam (ph2); Milltek de-cat headers; Milltek catback; custom tune.

One of the cars with the GP IC has: Eaton TVS900 with 60mm pulley; Worked cylinder head; Newman cam (the first ones); OBX headers with tomcat; Direnza catback; custom tune.

The other car with the GP IC (from which I only have data for the 3rd gear pull) had: Sprintex supercharger with 64mm pulley, TPR-2R cylinder head; 1320 Catcam; Mynes V2 headers with de-cat; JCW catback; ByteTronik tune.

I focused on boost, IATs and, when possible (only on my car which has the Bytetronik software installed), on Air mass as well.

So, enough chatter for now, letís get down to the numbers and charts...

3rd gear pull, IATs



3rd gear pull, Boost



3rd gear pull summary



3rd gear pull summary in numbers



4th gear pull, IATs



4th gear pull, Boost



4th gear pull summary



4th gear pull summary in numbers



3rd gear to 5th gear pull, IATs



3rd gear to 5th gear pull, Boost



3rd gear to 5th gear pull summary



3rd gear to 5th gear pull summary in numbers



30 second recovery



30 second recovery in numbers



2nd and 3rd gear pull uphill after rest period



2nd and 3rd gear pull uphill after rest period in numbers



My considerations and analysis:

An IC, just as another component of the car you choose to change, should be well thought, so you know it will work its best in your given application.
I canít determine if a certain IC will be the best for your particular application, but I think I can give you a rough guide, based on my example. With the chargecooler, I had best IATs than with the Pro-Alloy, but I was also seeing roughly less 1.5-2 psi than I am seeing now with the Pro-Alloy. If I had a conservative pulley on the Sprintex, I could try and put an even smaller pulley on it and keep the chargecooler, but thatís not the case, as itís already near its limit (reduction pulley wise). So, in order for me to win back some boost, once a smaller pulley wasnít an option, I had to look elsewhere, hence I tried going with a different IC. Once I put the stock IC on in another situation, the boost came up, but the IATs were just too high, so I knew that would not be a valid option for me. With the Pro-Alloy, my honest expectations were to pick-up some boost (compared to the chargecooler setup), and that my IATs wouldnít fall in the danger zone. And WOW, I was really surprised in the way the Pro-Alloy performed. It was a massive difference in average boost, and hell, I only lost 0.2 peak psi (in the lower gears) when compared to the stock IC! In the higher gears, I think the Pro-Alloy will see even more boost than the stock. And fortunately, not only the Pro-Alloy excels in terms of boost, but it also performs wonderfully in terms of keeping those IATs down!

So, how does it compare to the others (GP; Airtec; stock; GRS and chargecooler)?

Letís see...

The Airtec data is the only one I couldnít capture with my ByteTronik data logger, or do the tests in the same place, as my friend lives 200 miles away (my own private road can only stretch so far ) His data was captured by other logging software, which is not as fast as the ByteTronik, so, not ideal, but it is what it is. For a fact, I might also add that my friend has now changed the Airtec for a GP IC and picked-up around 2 psi of boost, subsequently, seeing higher IATs as well.

The Airtec seems good at controlling IATs but at the expense of losing you boost, so, as boost and IATs rise proportionally, itís not directly comparable, i.e. it holds IATs better because itís doing less boost, which leads me to believe that, probably, at similar boost levels, it wouldnít cope as well as we are led to believe at a first glance when looking at the numbers. I know this is just speculation, but I donít think Iím that far off, to be honest, at least, considering what I saw in my car with the three different setups (Chargecooler, stock and Pro-Alloy).

The stock IC: Not much to say, really... basically, itís great for boost alone, but it just canít keep the IATs down.

The chargecooler: Great at keeping IATs down, but it robs you boost, so, if youíre already at the limit of your pulley choice and donít live in a very demanding climate/terrain, maybe you could do better with a Pro-Alloy TMIC.

The GP IC: Itís also good for boost, but from what I could see, it canít match the Pro-Alloy in terms of keeping the IATs down. If you look closely to the data, you will notice that there is only another car which is close in peak boost to mine with the Pro-Alloy, which is the car with the TVS900 and 60mm pulley. But, even that one, sees considerably less average boost than I do, so, mine, despite having more average boost in all the pulls, was able to keep lower IATs than the GP. We could argue it could be due to the Sprintex being more efficient than the TVS, but if you take a look at the ď3rd gear pull summary in numbersĒ you will see that the other car that also has a GP IC, has a Sprintex with a 64mm pulley, thus seeing considerably less average boost than mine (15.17 psi vs. 16.37 on the Pro-Alloy), and yet, IATs rise 3 Celsius degrees more (21 Celsius degrees rise vs. 18 degrees rise on the Pro-Alloy).

The GRS Motorsport version: As some of you might have noticed by the odd boost curves, my buddy had a problem in his car (and this is also one of the reasons why data logging is so important), we suspect that it was his tensioner that must have been very near the end of its life, as his belt snapped the week after we logged his car.
But even though the boost loss he was seeing, which actually ends up being favorable to an IC on the account of what Iíve explained earlier (higher boost will see higher IATs), the GRS didnít excel in any particular category. For the record, from older logs, his car was seeing around 15.6 psi of maximum boost. So, if the car wasnít losing boost on the day weíve logged it, the IATs would have been higher, for sure. He says itís not uncommon to see 60-70 degrees Celsius when at WOT. My friend who bought me my Chargecooler, previously had a GRS Motorsport, and he also told me it was pretty common to reach those high temperatures... and this, with a still conservative 15% reduction pulley. He lives in a very demanding terrain, but now, with the chargecooler, I think the maximum he saw was 42 degrees Celsius. He is now thinking of going to a 17% pulley, as IATs wise, he has margin for it

A little note on the Air mass data, which I find really interesting, as it gives you an idea on how your boost is being ďeatenĒ by the engine... the more the better.
You will see that the Chargecooler has the best ratio of produced Air mass vs. Boost, meaning that despite robbing you a little bit of boost, it is indeed very efficient at what it does, hell, in some cases, it almost manages to reach the stock IC Air mass values, with circa less 1 psi in average boost. But the Pro-Alloy is king in this value as well.

Regarding one thing people often talk about, which is the recovery rate, I did try and replicate it with the 30 second rest period. Yes, the GP and the Stock ones excel at this, but they do get hotter than the other contenders, so, yeah, they do recover faster, but Iím really convinced that is mainly due to having more heat to recover from, at the first place. If you take a look at how fast the IATs rise, after pulling a 2nd and 3rd gear uphill once the rest period is over, in both cases, I think you will corroborate just that.

Hope you guys have understood and enjoyed this review, and that this information can actually shed some light on the Pro-Alloy, as well as in some of the more popular solutions available out there.

I want to thank Pro-Alloy, in the person of Chris Hazell, for sincerely trusting and valuing my work. I also want to thank all my friends that came to meet me in my own private road, as without them, it would not have been possible to conduct all the testing, data compilation and analysis, that, hopefully, will help the MINI community.
 
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Old 01-24-2018, 08:42 AM
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You did a great job with this as far as data collection and display but the widely varying vehicle set makes this pretty inconclusive unfortunately.

May I ask why you didn't just swap all the intercoolers on to one car?

My suspicions are that the numbers would be a lot closer from intercooler to intercooler if you did.
 
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Old 01-24-2018, 10:06 AM
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A labor of love for sure but yes, I would like to see the comparison based upon a single vehicle with the only the intercoolers being different.
 
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Old 02-02-2018, 02:39 AM
citro
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Thanks, guys.

As you can see, I'm not a very active member on this forum, nevertheless, I found that providing the forum this information would be of value.

I don't want to sound arrogant, but if you already knew me from Mini Torque, maybe you wouldn't have made such observations, because my background speaks for itself.

I will make a quote of what I wrote when answering to a similar observation, so I don't have to repeat myself.

I'd like to say that my main goal has always been to share this information on forums, as, for me, it's still the best and the most adequate place to look for and share valuable information. Nevertheless, some of my friends were really impressed by the work I've accomplished and started spreading the word on some MINI groups on Facebook. Well, needless to say they then showed me some comments that left me really sad. And why was I sad? Because I have put a lot of time and effort to come up to this data, this isn't something I remove from my data logger, and insert it in some machine that does all the job and comparisons for me... nope, I have to do it all by hand, and trust me, it is really very time consuming. And after that, you still have the written part along with the explanation. I think most of you guys already know my approach on these kinds of testing and data sharing. I did put a lot of thought on how I could make the tests as bullet proof as I could, given the limitations I had, be it time, money, compatible schedules, etc.
I never said this was a laboratory test where all variables where controlled via some fancy high spec machinery. I explained what I did and how I did it. The guy from the GRS and the guy from the GP IC with the TVS have made around 80-100 miles to meet me, do the tests and go back home. They did this because they are my friends and people who trust me.
So, as you can see, when we could finally get a schedule were we both could meet, if the ambient temperature wasn’t favorable that day, I didn’t have the nerve to tell them: Sorry, guys, go back home and we’ll leave this to another day where all conditions are optimal.
This also applies to having them willing to lend me their ICs, I being able to fit all the different ICs on my car, in the same day, with similar ambient temperatures, and having a free road to do this. Unfortunately, my possessions, time constraints, and different schedules just wouldn’t allow this.
The universe of modified MINIs here in Portugal isn’t that great, whereas in the UK, for instance, I believe that, within a 100 mile radius, you probably have all the solutions I tested in different cars, so, actually, all comes into play here.
Furthermore, I'd like to add that I never estimate/extrapolate stuff that hasn't been very well thought first.

Originally Posted by downshift1 View Post
You did a great job with this as far as data collection and display but the widely varying vehicle set makes this pretty inconclusive unfortunately.

May I ask why you didn't just swap all the intercoolers on to one car?

My suspicions are that the numbers would be a lot closer from intercooler to intercooler if you did.
So, when I read the last part you wrote, I could't help to be a little disappointed, because you're not only questioning my findings, as you are questioning all my work, because, let's face it, if they're all so close, I shouldn't have bothered to do the tests in the first place, right?
The explanation is pretty thorough in the initial post, but after what you wrote, I can't help to ask you some questions...
You say that if all the intercoolers were tested in the same car, the results between them would have been pretty closer. Would they? Are you sure?
Well, I've tested 3 intercoolers in the same car, MY CAR, the one I drive for 11 years and in which I've tested a lot of different stuff throughout the years... And guess what, the results are VERY different between them, and I can't understand how you fail to see that. This leaves me with one of two possible conclusions: You haven't read and looked at what I did with the proper attention; You can't process all the data how it should be processed because you lack the knowledge.
Either one is definitely no excuse to go and criticize other people's work, well, in fact, what it should is precisely prevent you from doing so.

But I now urge you to delve a little deeper into this.

In the same car, from changing intercoolers, in the same run, you had a peak boost difference of 1.8 psi. And, from my understanding, you consider this to be a negligible difference. Let’s not forget, we’re talking of a 1.6 supercharged engine, not a 2.0 turbo one
What if I told you that, in some cases, you might not see such a peak difference in boost, when changing from a 15% to a 17% reduction pulley?

And, in the same car, from changing intercoolers, you saw, in the same run, a 22.5 Celsius degrees difference in IATs delta. Well, if this doesn’t quite cut it, what would make it a significant difference to you, then?

But please, do feel free to make your own testing. If that testing proves that my assessments are wrong and yours are right, I’ll be the first to publicly admit I was wrong, and congratulate you on your finest work.
 
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Old 02-02-2018, 07:28 AM
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citro - thanks for the write up. It seems to me to be very comprehensive. I would say to the other posters that want the different IC's in the same car, had you done that, someone, perhaps not the other posters, but someone would have brought up that the time it took you to change the IC's in the same care the weather and engine temps would have changed the data.


So to you citro - thank you for all the hard work you and your friends have done. The data here is valuable and I for one appreciate it.
 
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Old 02-04-2018, 01:38 PM
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THANK YOU!



A most excellent post.

Thank you for taking the time to compile some hard data, it is quite interesting and makes for comprehensive reading.

Very well done.

Please stick around and keep on posting up the good stuff.

Cheers!
 
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:51 PM
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Has anyone actually used this besides reviewer?
 
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Old 02-27-2019, 09:48 AM
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The best knowledge does not come cheap and if you want just 2 b spooned to the mouth, good luck for U. Just a bit of due diligence (what is that in the era of FartBook?). Do some internet detective work and U will be well rewarded. Knowledge cannot be dumbed down for the masses, and that is one of many reasons U don't see citro posting here.

Quik answers are typically crap, at least in my books that I seldom read.
 
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Old 02-28-2019, 12:02 PM
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All the above work and charts are cool, but the data is greatly flawed.
Coming out of the last twenty plus years of testing in the Aerospace world, I'd be laughed at and probably demoted if I turned in this work.

And both because of my Aerospace background, and my cylinder head and manifold porting work (what works on a flow bench and what doesn't) for the last 30+ years, "flat" surfaces...are NOT, conducive to smooth, good air flow. ANYONE ever seen an airplane wing with a FLAT leading edge..? It's the SAME thing...smooth airflow required..!

The flat surfaces on all (that I've seen so far) between the tubes are a joke. Yes, the GRS has a round surface, slightly better than flat. An ellipse or a triangular shape would be much better.
Notice the air flow directors, diverters, straighteners, whatever you want to call them, that are in the two OEM inter coolers (inlet side). THIS...is what they ALL should look like.

As much as I'd like a little larger cooler (without the GP price) for SoCal summers, I guess the OEM cooler is what will stay on my car.

Mike
 
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