Ubercharger by Flyin Miata.
Well, I've been wanting to supercharge for a while now. Little more umph on the street, and like all mediocre autocrossers, I believe that if you can't drive the car you have well, throw more money at the car. That has to make you faster. :-)
At any rate, the off the shelf supercharger options for the Miata at the time were pretty much the Jackson Racing M45, The BRP Cold or Hotsides, or the Ubercharger by Flyin Miata. The Jackson Racing is certainly the least expensive of the bunch, and for a long time was the only choice. It's also the least powerful. Since the Street Mod rules don't care how powerful of a forced induction system you use, and with Fr. Murphy tearing up the local pavement in a very fast BRP hotside car, that left me with the BRP or the Ubercharger. The Uber claims a little more power, and with my driving skills, I need all the help I can get. So, off to Flyin' Miata I go.
I've bought some stuff from FM in the past. They've always shipped quickly, and instructions have been first rate. I've never needed to use their customer support, which has rabid supporters at miata.net. Some of which have blasted me for even suggesting that FM makes anything less than manna from heaven. ( I didn't get any kool aid with my kit) I send to their tech address on the website to ask some questions. 2 weeks later I got an answer. Of course I could have called, but you know the point of a web business is to use the web as a means of communication. <sigh> I order the kit online. Several weeks later, still no kit. I get time at work to call during the day to call.. Nice lady on the phone tells me they're waiting on a supercharger from Whipple, who makes the actual supercharger. They've got one on the shelf, they can ship this week if I want it. Couple of scratches but mechanically OK. Ship it I tell her.
Another week goes by. Still no kit. I email. Oops. We're running a little behind. We can ship the kit, but now the fuel rail is backordered. I'm still an optimist. OK. When will the fuel rail be here? A couple of days. "Ship it." I say.
A week later, the kit arrives a a day _after_ the fuel rail.
I start taking my car apart.
The last time I had the intake manifold on or off, the engine was out of the car. Let me tell you, it's a hell of lot easier that way.
Since all the supercharger related stuff goes on the intake side of the engine, it's going to get a little cramped here before I'm done. I expect temperatures to increase dramatically with forced induction. I've grown very comfortable with my oil cooler, and the factory oil filter location makes for absolute nightmares to change oil. But I don't see anyway to run all the oil cooler plumbing with the Ubercharger stuff. It's going to have to go.
Removing the intake, and all the oil lines takes the better part of a Saturday. The intake manifold studs need to be swapped with longer ones from FM. The larger FM manifold won't clear the fender and the larger studs. After an hour of head scratching, I removed the 2 top front studs, got the manifold in place, and installed the studs through the manifold.
The picture is shown with the bypass valve already installed, and the fuel rail installed. As tight as the FM manifold is, at least it's not covered with a ton of sharp edges like the factory manifold. You can install and uninstall this one all day with shedding a drop of blood. :-)
While I'm doing this I realize that the windshield washer reservoir is going to be in the way. The normal move is to fab a bracket and move the reservoir to the drivers side fender. I decided to use the Mazda setup for ABS equipped cars, and move the reservoir to behind the driver's side front bumper.
A lot more expensive, but tidier. It fills from the white cap.
Just about everyone I've talked to or seen pictures of their Ubercharger installation has had an issue with the alternator bracket. I was no exception. A smart man would have photographed the bracket before installing, but I was so happy to get it to fit, I wasn't taking it back out. Lots of grinding, eliminating the ability to use the tension adjusting bolt. Use a prybar, put tension on the alternator belt and tighten. Not particularly pretty, but better engineers than I have failed to make it work.
Attaching the Whipple unit to the manifold was another adventure. After applying the silicone to the bottom of the Whipple and bolting down 3 of the 4 necessary bolts, I discovered the threads for the 4th hole hadn't been tapped. Remove the 3 bolts, pull the blower, set it upside down on the floor, so that the fresh silicone doesn't get all full of crud. Clean the silicone from the manifold. Find the right tap, and cut the threads for the fourth hole. Sigh, roll eyes, re-silicone and reinstall the bolts.
After a while I got the vacuum lines figured out. FM's directions on vacuum lines are about as clear as mud. Basically, the line to the MAP sensor for the link and the fuel rail valve get connected to the barb on the actual intake manifold. The MAP sensor has to see both boost and vacuum. Everything else gets hooked to the T between the brake booster and the supercharger bypass which only produces vacuum. . I'm pretty content right now. No fuel leaks. Engine runs. Time to start working my way through the setup manual. Take the Miata out. Pulls pretty strong, but the knock sensor reads no activity. <sigh again> Also sounds like a foghorn when going into boost.
I grind the ring around the inside of the throttle body while I've got it apart. This should fix the foghorn, according to FM.. It does, you just have to grind the inner lip off, all the way around the inside diameter of the throttle body.
Rather than replace the knock sensor, I play a week worth of emails back and forth, test the wires from the knock sensor to the MAP sensor. (They're good) Test the wiring from the MAP sensor to the ECU. (They're good too) Well, we can ship you parts, but we have to charge you for them. When you return them, we'll credit you. OK. Fine. Great. We could have done that 3 days ago, but what the hell. Ship them second day, so I can get them in on the weekend. We will charge you for the extra air freight. This is ridiculous. Sure. Just get the damn things here. Swap the MAP sensor, since it's the easiest. Nope. Swap the ECU. Still nothing. Start the engine and bang on the block with a hammer. Nope, no knock, no activity. Nothing.
I'll deal with that later. Let's get the wideband O2 sensor in and see if we can get the car started again. It starts! Woo hoo. It's surging. I check all the hoses, no visible vacuum leak. I playu with the link. I crank down the idle screw. Arrgh. Let's try just driving it. Take the car out. Up the street. Down the street. I get this clanging noise, like something is dragging behind the car. Must have knocked something loose. It's dark, turn the car around and get back to the garage. I notice the clanging doesn't stop when the car stops moving, and I have no power steering. Suddenly the battery light comes on. I pull into the garage to the sound of bubbling in the radiator reservoir. I open the hood, and the crank pulley is laying on the sway bar.
I must have failed to torque the bolts on the pulley sufficiently, I thought. I email Flyin Miata yet again, looking for new pulley bolts. They explain that sometimes the Uber pulleys are thinner than they should be, causing their bolts to bottom against the timing pulley and the crank pulley then develops a wobble and shears the bolts off. (Again, maybe a mention in the manual might be nice.) One of the reasons for choosing the Uber kit and waiting a year after it's introduction to buy it was the desire NOT to be a beta tester.
After getting over my fear of pulling the pulley boss, I decide to order a new one from Mazdasport, and simply replace it rather than dicking around with bolt extractors. Good move, because the loctite makes getting the sheared stubs out impossible, on or off of the car. If you bolt the pulleys to the boss, out of the car, you can verify that the bolts do not bottom against the timing pulley. :-)
You can also simply install the pulleys as a unit to the crank nose, and tighten one bolt in the car. Much easier this way. You can leave the radiator in, and only have to pull the sway bar, and the drivers side fan.
After getting the crank pulley back into the car, I spent a week throwing and shredding belts. I initially blamed it on the tensioning system the supplied studs only thread a half inch or so into the intake manifold, which is aluminum. After a couple of install/uninstall routines, the aluminum was worn enough for the studs to wobble. Since the threaded holes in the intake are an inch and half or so deep, I ordered longer stud from McMaster Carr. That solved the wobbly stud problem. While tuning the link on a dyno at Speednation, we noticed the crank pulley wasn't quite aligned with the supercharger pulley. Pulled the whole pulley assembly again, and changed the order from crank boss/accessory pulley/factory spacer/supercharger pulley to crank boss/accessory pulley/supercharger pulley/factory spacer. So far, so good. The little brass colored spacer is shown below the way the pulley looks with no supercharger.
After getting most of the bugs out, I decided to reinstall the factory air diverter into the front bumper. It needs a fair amount of trimming to fit around the intercooler, but makes for a tidier finish, and keeps air flowing where it should go.
1 year, 16 autocrosses, and 10 thousand miles later: All in all it's a good kit. Silly fast. If you're looking for plug and play, (I was) this was probably not the kit for you. FM discontinued this unit in late spring 2006. Bell Engineering (BEGI) now makes the Mother Of All Blowers (MOAB), a similar unit. If you work all day, and need tech support at night or on the weekends, you're going to have a problem with FM. If you can work on the car on weekdays, tech support is available in real time.
Total time from ordering to receipt of kit: 1 month. Total project time from receipt of kit till drivable 2 months. A lot of the time issue is waiting for UPS. FM was pretty good about replacing the wrong intercooler pipe for free. It just takes 5 days for ground UPS to make it's way from Colorado. :-) If you want faster shipping, they'll pay for ground service, but you get to pay the additional fees for overnight freight for their mistake. Annoying.. A lot of niggling little problems and a really lame instruction book, leaving out a lot of stuff that would make for a better install. If I were doing this again, I'd recommend installing the link on the car while still NA, and learning the link for a couple of months before adding another set of variables like the supercharger, fuel rail, bigger injectors, and the wideband O2 sensor. Or ship the car to Grand Junction, and pay them to install and tune the car.
Update #2 After 18 month of chasing the vacuum leak, a couple of dozen emails with FM, and pretty much being told that what I was describing was impossible, I found the source of the problem. After pulling up to a redlight and found getting the idle below 1700 rpm to be impossible, no matter what I did, I bought a smoke machine. I finally found the now large hole in the manifold that appears to have come from a defective casting from the beginning. The wall at that point in the intake is slighter thinner than a sheet of paper, so welding is out.
. I call FM. I talk to Keith, tell him my long sad tale of woe. He tells me his long tale of woe that they didn't make the manifold, BEGI did, and it's been a year and half. FM ain't standing behind nuttin. He tells me he has a manifold. He'll even sell it to me at a hell of deal. So for $400, I get a new manifold to replace what I still believe was defective from the word go. The next day, FM announces their we're moving, clearance sale. Uber manifolds are $200. You gotta love the FM customer service. I'm certainly spreading the word.
I install the new manifold, the car starts on the first try. No surging, it runs.....well like you would have expected it to from the beginning. I've acually got to open the idle set screw to get it to idle to 800 rpm.
18 months after install, I've replaced the bypass valve looking for the vacuum leak, every hose under the hood twice, and the throttle body. And it runs. Whee!