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4 Cylinder NA and Turbo This section is for questions pertaining to stock or modified 4 cylinders, including the performance 2.3L applications

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How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

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Old 02-05-2007, 04:23 PM   #1
evintho
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Default How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

Because this question arises at least once a week, I've decided to address the topic and hopefully the administrators will make this a sticky in tech so those wanting to know can simply click on a sticky post.

How do I turbo my normally aspirated 2.3?

You can install a turbo on a N/A 2.3 but don't turn the boost up past 5-6 psi. If you do, the pistons will disinegrate! And, even running that low psi, they probably won't last very long anyway! True turbo motors came from the factory with forged pistons. Forged pistons will take the heat and pressure of forced induction. N/A pistons are made of cast metal. They're very brittle and simply can't take the heat and pressure. So, if you're going to rebuild your motor, simply replace the cast pistons with forged units. You'll also need to fabricate some sort of oil drainback for the turbo. Oil is fed into the center section of the turbo from the top, circulates and drains back into the oil pan. 2.3 turbo blocks have a threaded drainback hole thats tapped into the block just above the oil pan to accomplish this task. If you have a bare N/A block, you can drill and tap this boss in the block and acquire the appropriate brass fitting to screw into it. The fitting can be found on any turbo block in the junkyard and occasionally they're for sale on Ebay. Another alternative is to tap into the oil pan, above the oil line and run a hose from the bottom of the center section to the pan. That's it for the actual shortblock. True turbo heads have a different combustion chamber and port configuration than N/A heads along with exhaust valves made from a stronger metal known as Iconel.

Turbo motors use a Vane Air Meter and larger 35# fuel injectors for fuel and air delivery. Both can be found in the junkyard or on Ebay. To provide the appropriate amount of fuel to the injectors along with the correct metering of air, you'll need the right computer. An LA2 or LA3, found in '87-'88 Thunderbird TurboCoupes with 5-speeds is the one you want. An LB2, LB3 and PE will also work. The LB series is for TC's with automatics and the PE, the most aggressive of all computers, is found in the Mustang SVO. The computers themselves are easily swapped. You'll also have to repin the wiring harness computer connector. Most people give up here because it sounds like such a daunting task! It's probably the simplest procedure in the whole swap. There are several websites that give you step by step instructions. To correlate with the new computer, you'll need an Air Charge Temperature (ACT) sensor. It threads into the side of the lower intake manifold. You can swap in a lower intake from an '87-'88 TC or drill and tap your existing manifold to accept the ACT sensor. In addition, you'll need either a factory or aftermarket boost controller to control your boost pressure. A good idea would be to add a 255 lph fuel pump to provide the additional fuel that's needed. Too many turbo applications have died due to lean conditions!

By far the cheapest, most thorough and simplest way to add a turbo to your N/A Mustang is to purchase a donor car and swap everything over. The first choice would be a '87-'88 Thunderbird TurboCoupe. They come with a factory 195 hp turbo'd 2.3, T5 and 8.8 rearend with disc brakes and 3.55:1 gears. All this can be easily swapped into a Mustang. In addition, you'll have everything you need along with a zillion nuts, bolts, fasteners, etc. There are many other parts that can be swapped into a Mustang as well. Interior pieces, suspension pieces, brakes, the list is endless. Here's the kicker. '87-'88 TC's are a dime a dozen, at least on the West Coast. $500 will get you a good running, high mileage TC. And as you know, 2.3's are pretty much bulletproof! The iceing on the cake is, what you don't use on your project, you can resell on Ebay or any of the message boards dedicated to 2.3 turbos. There's a good sized market out there for used TC parts. Your $500 will be recouped in no time!

If you can't find a '87-'88 TC, the next best thing would be a '83-'86 TC, followed by an '85-'89 Merkur XR4ti. There are turbo Cougars out there that are also good candidates. I believe '85-'86 are the years for them. Of course an SVO would be the ultimate! However, they're pretty rare and you probably wouldn't want to part one out. Below is a list of websites of both vendors and just regular Turboforders that offer tons of information. I hope this addressed some of the basic questions of turboing a N/A 2.3. It really isn't a very hard swap. If you have some basic mechanical ability and a good set of handtools, you can easily perform this swap. You'll learn a few things along the way and the sense of accomplishment you'll acquire will make it all worthwhile. Oh, and you'll be amazed at how quick you car is gonna be!

List of websites:
www.stinger-performance.com - wiring conversion
www.flemworld.com - wiring conversion
www.turboford.net - turbo 2.3 website
www.turbotbird.com - TurboCoupe website
www.craigslist.org - if you're looking for a donor car
www.ebay.com - all the used parts you could ever want
www.forced4.com - lots of 2.3 performance parts
www.esslingeracing.com - more 2.3 performance stuff
www.racerwalsh.com - even more 2.3 performance stuff
www.summitracing.com - cheapest forged pistons I've found - P/N - TRW-L2500F
www.rockauto.com - dirt cheap namebrand auto parts
www.boostvalve.com - aftermarket boost valve[/align]
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:35 PM   #2
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

short and sweet. i'll link this thread to the sticky up top. thanks for the effort
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:27 PM   #3
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

really helpful , i have though about doin this
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:53 PM   #4
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

If I can't find a TC engine, I'll do this if I have the money, it is cheaper to get a TC then Turbo an N/A engine.
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Old 02-06-2007, 08:07 PM   #5
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

WOW. thank you SO MUCH. this has been something I've been very interested and will probably be doing as a summer project starting in early june! Thanks alot man!
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Old 09-23-2007, 04:45 PM   #6
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

can i use the stock trans on my 2.3 on the TC 2.3?
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:25 PM   #7
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

Whats transmission do you have?
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Old 09-24-2007, 08:20 PM   #8
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

stock 4cyl. auto
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Old 09-29-2007, 09:54 PM   #9
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

You need an LB computer to run the stock auto trans
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Ex 2.3 N/A car, built 2.3 turbo with LOTS of goodies! now I gotta find a rear end and a ps/pump XD

1989 Ranger STX 4x4
2.9L auto
274,xxx km's
tinted windows, 2 - 12" kicker comps with a 400.1X at 500watts
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:47 PM   #10
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

so, how do you think i would make more power, buying a TC, or building the N/A engine a little? and, will the stock rear-end out of a 92LX be ok?
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:57 PM   #11
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

Quote:
ORIGINAL: Bansheeman6100

so, how do you think i would make more power, buying a TC, or building the N/A engine a little? and, will the stock rear-end out of a 92LX be ok?
Still N/A? he turbo will eat it alive, end of story
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Ex 2.3 N/A car, built 2.3 turbo with LOTS of goodies! now I gotta find a rear end and a ps/pump XD

1989 Ranger STX 4x4
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274,xxx km's
tinted windows, 2 - 12" kicker comps with a 400.1X at 500watts
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:13 AM   #12
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

you do not want to turbo a n/a motor, simply because it has cast iron pistons, anything over 3 or 5 psi will burn them pistons slap up. those pistons are not going to work with a turbo. correct me if im wrong, but thats what i read when studying up on my project
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Old 05-22-2008, 05:20 PM   #13
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

Quote:
ORIGINAL: turbo87mustang

you do not want to turbo a n/a motor, simply because it has cast iron pistons, anything over 3 or 5 psi will burn them pistons slap up. those pistons are not going to work with a turbo. correct me if im wrong, but thats what i read when studying up on my project
It will work, its just a matter of tuning tuning tuning. If its tuned right N/A pistons will hold up to 20 PSI.

Also evintho is alive, he just dosen't have interweb at home
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Old 05-22-2008, 05:23 PM   #14
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

oh ok, well thats what i read up and studied on because i got my turbo before i got the T motor and it would just simply dissengrate (spelling error i know) them, but i could be wrong
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:58 PM   #15
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

How high of a boost can a non-turbo 2.3 with forged pistons take?? How about the induction?? Will the mass air work with the turbo?? I always read that mass air systems respond better to mods than speed density.
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:28 PM   #16
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

well if u have low compression pistons, however u tune, but if u running high compression pistons, u cant turbo, u would blow the engine apart with to much pressure lol. but if u put forged pistons in n/a and turbo it, u will be fine, just tap and drill for oil supply and return lines and yes maf would work, but what does speed density have to do with it??? just kinda accurately tell ecm/pcm air measurements.
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Old 07-03-2008, 10:41 PM   #17
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Default RE: How to turbo your normally aspirated 2.3L.

Quote:
ORIGINAL: svtjoe

How high of a boost can a non-turbo 2.3 with forged pistons take?? How about the induction?? Will the mass air work with the turbo?? I always read that mass air systems respond better to mods than speed density.
Depends on timing, fuel, cam, engine load, etc etc. Your fuel pump will max out at 17 PSI.

MAF will work, but you'll need a tune, a 2.3 turbo isn't SD, its VAM, older version of MAF. You can run 10 inHg vacuu without a computer or fuel issue, but the brakes wont like you.


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Old 08-29-2008, 03:18 AM   #18
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could this swap be done in a 85 ranger pickup?
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Old 09-29-2008, 09:19 PM   #19
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Default transmission.

i'm doing a swap with a turbocoupe engine and want to know if the factory 4 speed overdrive tranny can handle the full 10-15 pounds of boost or if Ford just lowered the boost on the automatic because they felt like it? or would you recommend just putting in the 5 speed anyway?
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:33 PM   #20
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I would definitely put the 5-speed manual in! The factory A4LD auto tranny is the weakest and most power robbing transmission ford has ever come out with. If you just buy a donner car that has a 2.3 turbo, it will more than likely have the 5-speed in it and you can just swap them both. If all goes well, I will have a great turbocoupe to "donate" to my mustang project ;-)
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:33 PM
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