Full-Race Single Turbo Kit

Part 4: The Heart of FReak-O-Boost

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Ford's F-150 EcoBoost Turbos are manufactured by BorgWarner Turbo Systems.  These potent K03 turbocharges have long proven to be a reliable platform on vehicles such as Audi, VW, Volvo, Mazda, Mini, Ford and more.  One unique aspect of the F-150's K03 is the forged-milled compressor wheel (aka forged billet) at 51mm OD with a max combined flow rate of ~46.5lb/min at full tilt.  

While the stock K03 turbos work well for daily duty, they won't allow this truck to really stretch it's legs.  In order to make 500+hp the rate of airflow required is at least 56-60lb/min.  This means we can upgrade the twin turbos OR we can remove the twins and convert to a single turbo.  Working with BorgWarner and Ford on the engine analysis, we all agreed the most important characteristic for a high performance truck's turbo system is instant spool and response, with strong low-end/mid-range torque.

BorgWarner's EFR Series of Turbocharger is the perfect match with the F-150 EcoBoost with features including for their featureset and performance:

The performance targets/goals of the truck were set and our layout was agreed upon. This had to be a 100% bolt-on turbo kit that could be installed over a weekend in a home garage, and designed to use all size EFR turbos from smallest (max torque) to largest (max HP).  Full-Race didn't want to limit ourselves in turbo size - we needed to make sure that maximum versatility would be built into the system design and that any future EFR's could fit this existing footprint with minimal changes. Would someone try and run 10 second 1/4 mile with an F-150 EcoBoost in the future?  Maybe!  We worked hard to ensure the same F-150 single turbo kit would support the smaller EFR turbos (what we'll be using initially) all the way up to the largest EFR-9180 1000hp capable turbo.  Time to get to work:

The first part of the single turbo conversion is also the most time consuming: removing the stock turbos. These twin K03's are tucked up by the frame rails with "not-quick-release" fittings. Using your factory service manual here saves a ton of time if you're not experienced with the order of each step (it's important - buy the manual if you're going to do the wrenching). We will go into more detailed instructions in our install guide, but for now it's important to start with removing the front wheels and inner fender liners. This only takes 10 minutes to do and the entire side of the engine becomes easy to access. Removing the coolant and oil lines then allows you to remove the hardware and then extract the turbos.

The F-150 EcoBoost's have roomy engines bays since the same bay is also large enough to fit the 6.2L. If you're use to working on twin turbo engines shoehorned in tiny Japanese cars - do not fret! The 3.5L V6 Bcoboost is not nearly as crammed as the Nissan 300ZX or GTR - there is just enough room to work with. Also, the handling improvement for the V6 trucks is due to reduced weight on the front end. The center of gravity for the truck is lower and further back than the V8 F-150, thus improving overall handling.

Knowledge is power, and knowing how much boost we're running + turbocharger speed is crucial. Instead of a normal old boost gauge, we wanted more data out of our EFR turbo and turned to Road Rage Gages for their "SBT". Road Rage Gages SBT display monitors Turbo Shaft Speed (Krpm), Temp (F or C of transmission or EGT or other) and Boost (psi or kpa). It is a direct plug-in to the EFR's turbo speed sensor, we plan to use the temp readings for Automatic Transmission Fluid temp.

F-150 EcoBoost Manifolds

Ford worked hard to design and validate the cast exhaust manifold on the longitudinal 3.5L EcoBoost for a BorgWarner K03 turbo (34mm inlet). Despite the log appearance, the flow design generates very early twin turbo spool and strong low end torque.The log manifolds are comprised of high nickel "ni-resist" casting to maximize strength and heat containment for a long crack-free life.

Working with BorgWarner and Ford together our target for full boost was 2000 RPM. This goal lead us to focusing our efforts towards pairing these log manifolds with an efficient twin scroll single turbine by way of a minimal internal volume in the crossover manifold.

The log manifold outlet diamater is very small at only 29.5mm/1.18". The K03 turbos are 34mm diameter inlets and the gaskets are 35mm diameter, but with well over 12mm / 0.500" of porting area, there is more than enough room for porting and increased/improved flow.  Note: Replacing the gaskets whenever the turbo or manifold becomes detached is a good idea to prevent any power robbing exhaust leaks.

Engine Management: Heat Protection, Battery and ECU

Whenever there is an increase in horsepoewr, there is going to be an increase in engine bay heat. In the case of this single turbo kit, we also have a top mounted turbo and downpipe to factor in. The next step in the process is to protect the engine computer (ECU or PCM) and respective wiring. Normally located on the firewall of the F-150, the standard EcoBoost computer is manufactured by Bosch for high performance turbocharged direct injection engines. Water tight and vibration proof this unit has fast processor speed and with SCT Flash software accessing the tables there is zero reason to upgrade to a standalone aftermarket ecu.

Ford gave us such a strong foundation to build upon it's sometimes hard to believe. In this case we wanted to relocate the engine computer forward to the battery box for heat protection. Their engineering team had sent us an engine with wiring harness previously so we knew there was ample room to play with. It turns out that it was a almost perfect fit!

Odyssey's PC-1400 battery is a drycell "AGM" design, and has the same output as the stock battery but in a smaller package. This dimension is a perfect fit for the OEM battery tray, after some minor dremmel trimming of plastic ribs (detailed in installation guide).

The next step is to protect the wiring harness using gold heat resistant foil and then external aluminum heatshields. This self adhesive "gold foil tape" works to reduce temps by over 800F in just 3mm air gap. We use this for all turbo kits that have a wiring harness near the manifold or turbo. We carefully cut the tape into 1" strips and wrap it around the harness everywhere there is heat or an exhaust manifold nearby.

Next we have to give the coolant lines heat protection. We use a high quality 3/4" / 19mm silicone hose with barb fittings to extend the lines along the fender. The lines are then covered in orange "firesleeve" for additional heat resistance.

Now it's time to plumb the turbo. We carefully removed and plugged the unused water and oil ports and prepared the new -6 AN hoses.

The factory computer is equipped with (2) wideband O2 sensors and (2) post-cat sensors. Each wideband must monitor its own bank of cylinders, so for a single turbo they must be placed before the turbo. The post-cat sensors are mounted in tandem, after our single 3" downpipe and high flow catalytic converter.

Lastly, we have to go and give all of our mandrel-bent piping a once-over before the durable black powder coating is applied. Everything fit perfectly and we were ready for final assembly. The electronic blow off valve on our 2013 was disabled, and we ran the mechanical BOV on the EFR turbo (similar configuration to 2011-2012 F-150).

Finally we have to plug-in the EFR boost control solenoid valve (BCSV). Thankfully it's identical to the Ford valve (both valves are identically made by Pierburg) so it's literally plug-and-play.

SEMA week

It took many late nights to get to this point, but the deadline was here and we were on time. After giving everything a once-over it was time to start the FReak-o-Boost. On the first keystroke she fired perfectly as if nothing had ever changed:

At this point we had the engine bay completed and running perfectly. Everything had the utmost care and attention so that nothing would have to be redone and we could make it to the show on time. The effort was successful and the welds were still warm when our transporter showed up (literally!). The truck was now in route to Las Vegas for SEMA 2012.

As soon as the truck was dropped off, there was an instant crowd. Full-Race has been attending SEMA for the 11 years. We've brought many cars over that time and this truck definitely set the bar high for future projects based off the attention received before the show even started.

Tuesday morning was the 1st day of SEMA, and the truck would debut with 4X Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti along our truck in the BorgWarner booth.

The FReakoBoost was picked by Hot Rod Magazine as one of the Top 10 Trucks at SEMA.

Ford also recognized our project by presenting us their "Project Excellence Award"