People are sometimes disappointed with the final power figure we get here after mapping but often it’s because their expectations are unrealistic.  On some rare occasions though, a low figure does cause a few raised eyebrows!  A classic example was a Duratec 2.0 litre from a known engine builder. Everything seemed to check out okay but we were looking for nearer 250 bhp than the 216 bhp that was showing on the computer screen.  Everything felt right; it just didn’t make the beans.

In this situation you go through the obvious and in this case we tried pulling the air filter off.  We had already checked for full throttle (been caught there before) but there had to be a restriction somewhere.  Engines make power by breathing air so if the power is missing and the mixture and timing are right it has to be a breathing issue.

With the air filter off we did a reality check and opened the throttle to the stop.  Sure enough it hit the stop good and hard – but the butterfly was only about 80 per cent open!  A quick check showed that a last minute tidy up was the cause of the problem.  The water pipe that runs under the bodies had been cable-tied up to the bodies to keep it out of harm’s way.  The throttle linkage was then hitting the pipe and limiting travel.

This is an easy fix apart from the fact that you have to re-align the throttle pot and then start mapping all over again.  Three hours of rolling road time pretty much wasted… However with a properly open throttle we raised the peak power to 245 bhp which was pretty much on target for a brand new, still tight, engine.



Can’t honestly get too excited about this Drifting competition business. I am not saying it isn’t clever, and I’m not saying it’s easy to do, but I can’t see how you can have a competition where people judge you on “style” rather than who crosses the line first or who simply goes the fastest.

Then again my job is to map engines and some of the Drift cars I have seen recently are pretty awesome bits of kit.  A typical example was a Nissan SX200 where the original turbo four pot had been replaced with a BMW V8 engine.   Apparently for Drifting you really need good torque and while the turbo could supply plenty of grunt it wasn’t really controllable enough for Drifting, hence the big V8 engine squeezed under the bonnet.  The initial problem was that the V8 was running as a V6 with two pots not firing.  We tracked this down to the coil driver number four being plugged into the wrong place on the ECU.  That was easier to fix than to find, just a question of wriggling the driver wire out and popping it into the right hole on the back of the ECU plug.  Hey presto!  Now we had a V7.

The final missing cylinder came to life when we found the problem injector wire which had a break in it.  If I were keeping count (and I’m not) I reckon 80 per cent of all ECU problems are wiring or wiring to the wrong place on the ECU plug.  The next would be software set up and then sensor failure. I can’t remember when we last saw a genuinely faulty ECU.

American Beauty


Regular readers of this section will already be aware of how sceptical I am about American tuning kit.  Outrageous power claims and kit that just plain does not do what is claimed of it are my major complaints. This month I had a pleasant surprise.  The car was a VR6 Turbo kit from Schimmel Performance in the States.  No, I hadn’t ever heard of them either but apparently they don’t need to advertise; their results speak for themselves.  They do too!

The kit consisted of a turbo, new inlet manifold, 263 spec cams and a new fuel rail.  It made more power than claimed, topping out at over 500 bhp. It was all just so easy to map too because everything matched nicely and the power flowed in a smooth and easy manner.  No drama, piece of cake.

Knowing the VW world, the company doing the installation might easily be called something like: “Monster Killer Power Ltd” or “Dynamic Amazing Performance” but this company are simply called…“Jim’s Garage” (Margate).   There’s no Glitz or Glitter, Jim’s Garage just does exactly what it says on the tin.  A real American Beauty at last.

Turbo Terrors


Considering how little I like Turbo engines I seem to have seen nothing but turbo motors this month. I had a bit of a chat the other day with Jim at JKM Dyno and we compared moans about boost pipes blowing off, dodgy waste gates, suspect plumbing and water leaks, etc. It’s nice to know that other people are coming up against the same problems that I see on a day to day basis.

I had an Astra in for mapping which had been kitted out with 4 x 4 running gear and for once it was superbly done.  The problem was the waste gate control.  The gate opened late, peaked on boost and then dropped away again.  I had to play tunes on the waste gate control software to get something like a stable boost curve at about one bar of boost where the engine made 340 bhp and 296 ft lbs of torque.  At least having four-wheel-drive the car had some chance of putting the power down.  A lot of what I see here is what I call pointless power, all wheel spin and drama.  On the other hand maybe I am just getting too old to see the point of big number engines?


What is it about people when they get on the internet? Normally mild-mannered individuals attain super hero status when linked to a forum on the net. Someone sent me a link to a site where I was being labelled as a Prima Donna who “loves himself” and thinks that nobody else on the planet can map an engine.

These people don’t know me; they have never spoken to me and have no idea what I think about anything. My policy is to live and let live, I am too old to have an ego but just old enough to know how little I understand and how much there still is to learn.

Then I started to read their technical contribution to that particular forum. The guy maligning me was dominating the debate where nobody seemed to be allowed to have any opinion other than his. A lot of his information was totally biased towards one product and a lot of it was just plain wrong.

I was half tempted to join the forum and put a few things right but then what’s the point?  If I am going to give out any technical information it’s going to be here where readers pay good money for it via the cover price. Like someone once said: anything free is worth exactly what you paid for it.

See you next month if the Ed hasn’t replaced me with an internet expert with an ego the size of a house and the brain the size of a pea.