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Old 07-29-2007, 04:08 PM   #1
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Default Quint's Turbo Recipe

UPDATE 12-22-07

I feel the need to put these updates at the beginning so that people who read this know what has happened in the last few months. After about 6 months of turbo power I have made a few changes:

1. 8psi has started to cook the stock clutch... GOAL MET
2. The smoking on startup was fixed by replacing the 4an oil feed with a 3an oil feed.

There is a lot of information out there on turbocharging. Mostly, however, this top secret information is broken up and scattered around Internet-land in forums and websites that are sometimes hard to search through. It took me literally years to get it all together enough that I felt confident in building my own setup and confident I could tune and fix any problems it would have. So here I am now, ready to give some of that information back and help further the quest-for-knowledge of the other performance enthusiast out there. I will go through my setup as it was built, discuss why I made some of the decisions about parts, and let you know about other options and choices you could pick other than what I did. Hopefully some time and money can be saved by buying more specific parts than I might have in the beginning, and you can learn from my mistakes when cooking up your own turbo recipe.

Quint's Turbo BMW Recipe:

A mid-range mid-cost power setup with room to expand. A generous slice of power while maintaining an affordable, streetable, and reliable setup. 8-10psi Goal is to max out the stock clutch~ so around 220-230 hp, and then leave plenty of room to expand later

I decided on this goal because of 4 things.

1. I have never turbo'd a car before and dont want my inexperience to blow up my engine with high boost at first

2. My engine has nearly 300,000 miles and I worry about how long it will last with the addition of a turbo system (I want it to last as long as possible before a rebuild of the bottom end!)

3. The car has a relatively brand new stock clutch... no point in changing it out just yet but a good idea to leave room for expansion later with other turbo parts. This is what really set the ceiling for the power goal.

(**Update** This setup at just 8psi is too much for the stock clutch, it has started to slip in high rpm under wot )

4. I worry about the awd components of my ix. 300k means they have been many long and hard miles, and adding a few extra hp to them might result in failures. I have heard about the tcase dying, the front driveshaft stripping out, and front half shaft problems for ix's without a turbo, so I assume these problems could be magnified once you start adding boost.
If it breaks it breaks, but I don't want things to break if they dont have to.

Some stats:
From stock:
1989 325ix
269,000+++ miles, close to 300k???(odometer broke a year ago)
stock m20b25
removed a/c and lines
removed stock electric fan and a/c condenser
removed afm

Bottom End:
All Stock

**Metric Blue head bolts(will swap in next time head comes off)

Turbo additions
3" k&n cone filter
t3 super 60 compressor with a t3 .60 turbine (watercooled, originally from a ford thunderbird)
custom charge pipes (mostly 2.5")
Intercooler (core size 24"x12"x3")
Silicon Connectors with Tbolt clamps
1g dsm bov

524? td manifold flipped,ported, an re-drilled to fit the m20 block
38mm wastegate redrilled to fit the td wg port
t3 .60 turbine from a turbo ford thunderbird (modified from stock by turbonetics)
3" custom exhaust

Fuel/Spark & Management:
Megasquirt v3 029q w/ relay board (I know I know, I will update it soon)
msd coil
24# injectors
Colder spark plugs gapped to .025

EGT and Boost/Vac on guage pillar
Oil pressure on console

Other modifications:
oil filter housing tapped for turbo oil feed 3an, no restrictor
(NOTE: The 4an feed I had smoked, so when swapped to a 3an feed from stealthmode performance my smoking problem stopped completely!)
oil drain behind engine back into dip stick tube 3/4 inch

Full boost by 3k
nearly 4psi in 1st gear

I will start this recipe in the steps that I did, or should have done, in the order that makes most sense in order to minimize down time on the car. A e30 that is isn't driving is a sad e30!

1: Innovate LC-1 Wideband Oxygen Sensor

This way you know what your engine is really doing instead of hoping. You can also still drive your car after doing this, though it doesn't really give you anymore power. yet. I did not use this first off and I wish I did, although if you are really trying to cheap out your setup you can do without, but at least borrow one for tuning later.

Purchased From: DIY Autotune

2. Megasquirt v3

This allows you to control your spark timing and fuel mix. Think of it like a 'chip' that you can tune yourself for boost or whatever you want. Just splice it into the stock harness as much as you can~ if the stock wiring is good for 300k ++ miles it will probably last a few more. Read a lot about this, its worth it. I went and used the relay board at first so that I could just plug my stock stuff back in and run that if megasquirt decided to die. It hasn't yet so I will be removing this stuff and tapping the stock wiring.
I believe for the money this is the best option for the MOST tunability and reliability of your turbo engine.

Some other options for a budget full standalone would be VEMS, and for those less inclined with computers: a msd spark retard box, turbo chip for the stock ecu, a fmu to up the fuel under boost, among other things.

I purchased my ms v3 box and relay board from a forum member here on e30tech
(if you want credit just let me know)

I plan on adding boost control, a knock sensor, a ms2 cpu and a flex fuel sensor for e85 ethanol.

This is what you need if you want to run this setup

ms v3 box
wiring harness
laptop connection (serial or usb)
air temp sensor
coolant sensor (can use the stock one)
tps sensor (I am using a mustang tps, havent fitted it to my stock tb yet)

This is a pretty involved step so I will do a seperate writeup on it later.

24lb Injectors

19lbers were super cheap but they start to hit over 80% duty cycle at 8psi in high rpms... go with 24lbers to stay cheap and safe for 8psi,or even bigger if you can afford them. These items are simple to swap in and out~ and require only a hour or so of re-tuning to get them working right again. I probably wont be upgrading to bigger injectors for more power for a long while, so I decided to save some $$ and get injectors that would only be good for around 10psi for now.

I bought both 19s and 24lbers from forum members here on e30tech

Spark Plugs

I have the NGK bpr7es plugs that are a bit colder than stock. If they are not gapped to .025 I get some blowout even with just 8psi around 5200rpm.

Purchased from NAPA


I use a MSD coil that was purchased from a forum member~ I am not sure if it is really needed but it came with some other stuff I bought so I figured why not. Seems to work just fine, though I dont know if it would be worth the extra money unless you are having spark problems.

Purchased from: Forum Member

Turbo Parts

Now that you have a fuel and spark system ready for a turbo, start looking for turbo stuff. A lot of this stuff must be put in at the same time, but if you can do all the work yourself you can get away with putting in the exhaust and intercooler and most charge pipes while keeping the car N/A and drivable. (Note: a 3" exhaust with a 3" magnaflow on a NA car is really really loud. The turbo quiets it down an amazing amount.)

524td Manifold

This one has the egr port you can use with a re-drilled 38mm wastegate. However, this manifold puts the turbo VERY close to the cylinder head and spark plug wires, and will limit the size of turbo you can use. If you are looking for a cheap fun setup with a smaller turbo, go with the td mani, but if you even think about wanting something bigger then go with a stock manifold adapter from 666 or somewhere (even build one yourself if you have to). I found this one on ebay already ported and drilled out to fit. Cheap, bolt on, works great, and its a oem bmw part so it will probably last a long time.

Purchased From: Ebay


I am using a 38mm ebay wastegate that I drilled out the mounting holes so it fits right on the td manifold. It works great so far, although dumping to the atmosphere is a bit annoying after a little while

I plan on routing it back into the exhaust soon~ I made a dump tube out of some exhaust pipe from a local auto parts store.

Purchased From: Forum Member


3" from the downpipe back. It was lots of fun welding it up myself, although looking back I should have just got the turbo working first and then worried about a bigger exhaust when I actually needed it. Summit racing has all the parts you need. I read that 3" made a big performance difference and I felt like giving it a shot so I bought a 80amp stick welder from ebay and a metal cutting blade for my chopsaw and went to town.
The welder was horrible but what could I expect for so cheap. It worked and I am happy.

3" in/out magnaflow 3 chamber
one straight 3" pipe section
one 3" cat
2 big 3" u mandrel bends
2 2.5" to 3" reducers (the turbo outlet is 2.5".
1 2.5" u mandrel bend for the downpipe.
1 5bolts flange to attach to turbo
1 3" stainless band clamp for dowpipe attachment
some header wrap for less heat
some normal ss clamps to hold on the muffler/cat (I bought some steel ones from napa and they will rust to hell in no time, go with the stainless if you ever want to get the thing off again.)

wg port block off plate

Turbo Delete pipe for running exhaust N/A

Purchased from: Summit Racing and local auto parts stores.


I bought a huge intercooler. 24x12x3". It was overkill but it cost the same as a teeny one so why not? Get a smaller one if you don't want a weekend of headaches and chopping metal out of your valence. It does keep my intake temps at ambient though~ cant get much colder than that! I would recommend maybe a 2.5" deep with 2.5" end tanks. That way it would fit perfectly instead of having to be shoe-horned in, and you wouldn't need charge pipe transitions. I have read that too large of a intercooler and charge pipes can cause a pressure drop... but it doesn't seem to bother my setup as boost comes in FAST.

Purchased From: Ebay user just-intercoolers

I also got a lot of my silicone connectors and a few charge pipes from their store~ I highly recommend them and I recommend just getting the intercooler, charge pipes, and couplings from here too. If you can find a list of exactly what you need and ask them for a quote they will work with you on getting just what you need instead of one of those universal 'kits'. Save some money and make sure you have all the right stuff the first time.

Intake Pipes and Couplings

I used a combination of a forum members leftover ebay aluminum intake pipes, some random silicon couplers from just-intercoolers, and some exhaust pipe that I welded up into odd shapes to make it work. Find a setup online and look at what parts they used, and then buy the same pieces to save some time and money. I couldn't weld the aluminum pipe so make sure you get the correct bends and such for your setup or you could be up the creek.

I have t-bolt clamps from ebay on most of the charge pipe connections that are hard to get to, and some normal worm clamps on the ones that are visible. This happened because I didn't have enough 2.5" tbolts. I haven't bent out the edges of the pipes or beaded them and I haven't had any problems at 8psi. If I do have problems at higher boost I will weld a bead around the steel pipes and I will flare out the edges of the aluminum.
A 3" K&N tops off the setup.

Purchased From: Forum Member, Ebay, and local auto stores.

Just cut a big hole infront of the abs unit for the pipe and you are good to go!

I am using a 1g dsm bov. It works and was super cheap. It may not be shiny or loud enough for some people, but it chirps nicely and works fine for me.

Purchased From: Ebay


This part is a major consideration of any setup. With my goal and the future in mind I decided on a turbo that would give me quick boost and max out at around 14psi. I didn't want a huge turbo because I mainly drive my car on the street and 0-60 acceleration is more important than a 1/4 mile time. I used some online programs and calculators to figure out what setup would give me 14-15psi to redline. I decided on a t3 turbine since they are pretty cheap and easy to be found around here. The size I was looking for was a .60 exhaust with a super 60 compressor. I found on ebay a turbo from a ford thunderbird that had been rebuilt to those same specs by turbonetics and went with it. It works great with near instant boost response. It is also watercooled which is supposed to increase the life of the turbo though not necessary.

Look around on the forums to see what setups others are using, what their boost response is, max psi etc and pick what you like. My second turbo choice would have been a .63 t3 turbine with a .46-.57 compressor t3/t4 hybrid. A t3/to4E with various trim is what many use and seem to have good results. However, make sure to do the math as approaching the '60' trim t4 compressor you are getting into odd territory.

Purchased from: EBAY

Turbo Oiling

This part gave me a big headache because of my awd system. I would have to drop a lot of components just to get my oil pan to out to tap it for the oil drain. I read about draining the oil around the back of the engine and back into the dipstick tube so I figured I would give it a try. It works great. I get a little smoke when I crank the car till it warms up, and after a lot of boosting the turbo itself smokes from a unknown location. I believe the seals are pretty shotty because I had the turbo sitting on a shelf for nearly a year without use. Since I have been using it the smoke is getting less and less so perhaps the seals will get better with use, but if not they will need replacing.

I used some 3/4?th metal gas line and some rubber hose for the drain fittings. It was the biggest they had at a farmers supply store. I started with just rubber heater hose as you can see in the pictures just to make sure the system would work, then I switched out to the metal line because it would stand up to the heat better.

For the oil fill I used a 1/8 to 4an adapter to screw directly into the turbo, and a 4an to 1/8 adapter tapped into the oil filter housing. I used a 4an supply line that was bought from a forum member.

I also added in a 1/8" T for a oil pressure gauge down by the oil filter housing.

I haven't had any leaks from this system after a good month of use and multiple 5+ hour road trips.

Purchased From: Forum members, ebay, farmers supply, and various brass fittings from lowes and home depot.

Metal line and the test rubber line

Here you see the feed and the drain line behind the downpipe on the firewall. You also see one of the rear heatshield.


It is important to monitor certain aspects of the engine to make sure everything is working correctly. You dont really need to watch injector pulsewidths and manifold air temp and many things, but basic items such as engine vac/boost, egt, oil pressure, and a a/f gauge can tell you a lot.

I bought a gauge piller for a m3 that fits perfectly~ on it I have a egt gauge with its sensor drilled and tapped into the td manifold. I also have a vac/boost gauge there. My oil pressure gauge is near the ash tray in the console area. I really wanted gauges that matched the interior lights so I found some on ebay that are color changing. They match pretty well and work just fine.

Purchased From: online store and ebay

Catch Can

This is a important step before you run the turbo. To prevent the crank case from seeing positive pressure from your turbo (and thereby blowing oil into places it shouldn't go) you need to either install a catch can and leave it open to the atmosphere, or install some check valves to prevent the boost form getting under your engine.

I made a catch can out of a gatoraid bottle and routed a hose from the valve cover down into it, then another hose out of it to the intake pipe INFRONT of the turbo. This way the oily vapors get sucked in by the turbo and my bottom end doesn't see any boost. I havent noticed any oil or anything in my charge pipes yet, but this setup COULD lead to lots of oil vapor condensing back into oil in your intercooler, turbo, charge pipes etc.
I will probably break down and get a nicer ebay catch can one day, but for now this is a cheap solution that works great.

Remember that some air does get sucked back into this hose when the engine is running, so put a little filter or something on there so that stuff doesn't get sucked into your valve cover.

Purchased from: Food Lion and local auto parts store.

Metric Blue Head Bolts

I have read a lot about these, though I am not sure when they are really needed. I wont run more than 8psi until I swap them in just to be safe.

From what I have read on the forums it seems that the stock head bolts 'stretch' to provide a more even clamping force over the cylinder head. If you look at their torquing specs what happens is that you torque them down and then add 2 90 degree twists. This apparently causes the bolts to stretch albeit plastic deformation (they wont go back to the way they were before) a bit but not add anymore actual ft lbs of torque. This is why you are supposed to replace the bolts each time you use them~ once they are 'stretched' they will no longer be able to stretch again and wont provide the same clamping force. I have seen bolts re-used on numerous occasions without problems but this does make a lot of sense.

The metric blue bolts are made of stronger material and do not stretch. They can be torqued down at a much higher amount and therefore hold the cylinder head on even tighter than the stock bolts. This is important for turbo applications because the increased cylinder pressure from adding perhaps twice as much air into the cylinder as before pushes up a lot more on the head and out a lot more on the head gasket. If the head gets pushed up enough the head gasket will be pushed out enough and your gasket will blow.

With improper tuning and detonation the cylinder pressure will go through the roof and will blow a gasket very very fast. My plan is to make sure I have everything tuned properly with the stock bolts and THEN switch to the metric blues. This way if there is a detonation or a tuning problem the head gasket will be the first to give and will hopefully save the pistons and other parts of the engine that would see more force if the head was not able to give.

Read some about it in the turbo faq and other threads



Purchased From: Forum member

All Those Little Things

There are so many little things you will need to buy you will be amazed. Vacuume line and t's, heater hose line for the water-cooling of the turbo, brass fittings for water lines, relays and fuses, fittings for the oil drain, hoses for the PCV recirculation, worm clamps, a bottle for your catch can, cookie pan heat shields, nuts and bolts to hold your turbo on the manifold, high temp paint for the exhaust, cutting wheels, 1000s of zip ties, wires for megasquirt, it all adds up to a lot but in the end you don't really think about it. I would budget around 300 or so just for all this stuff that we always forget about later because it was only $3 or $4. For every one of these pieces listed above in the recipe, there could be a long how too listing all of those little parts. The problem is we tend to forget about those little parts soon after we buy them because a sandwich costs more.

Purchased From: local auto stores, plumbing supply, lowes, home depot, everywhere


This is an awesome cheap-medium budget setup that is a lot of fun and leaves room for a lot of possibility. At just 8psi the car is amazing to drive and I cant even imagine how much fun it will be when I can turn it up to 14.

If I could go back I could have saved a lot of money by NOT buying certain parts, but thats what experience is for. Everything in this setup works great and the only things that MIGHT be upgraded in the future would be: a bigger turbo, more obnoxious BOV, WG dumping back into exhaust, shiny charge pipes w/black silicone connectors and tbolts, MS wired directly to stock ecu harness, a thin electric fan, and a general cleaning up of the engine bay.

Cost: about 3k in everything

Worth every penny?


Here is the turbo with both heat shields and intake plumbing. The shields make a LOT of difference in heat and are worth it. Without them the plug wires and firewall wiring are seeing way too much heat. The catch can line is routed into the air filter pipe infront of the turbo and will also be routed to the bov.

Here is how the setup stands as of 7-29-07. The bov is waiting to be routed back into the intake since it actually is opened under engine vacuume a small amount and I dont want anything nasty sucked in.

I will update this page with some pics of these things installed in the car, timeslips, and some videos when I can get them. I will also add some links to how-to's for the different parts. Thanks for looking and if you have any questions please send me a pm!

Check out my Turbo recipe!
Painted Bottle Caps
Intercooler Setup: 24x12x3"
Car Alarm/Kelyless Entry: How-To
Blitz Black DIY: Paint
3" Exhaust
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Last edited by Q5Quint : 12-22-2007 at 02:00 AM. Reason: Update
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Old 07-29-2007, 10:40 PM   #2
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excellent +1 +1
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:01 PM   #3
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i love the writeup! great job!
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Old 07-30-2007, 12:34 AM   #4
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=D> =D>

Originally Posted by Edmunds.com
If you can't form a close relationship with the E30, chances are you have no friends.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:16 AM   #5
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=D> =D> =D> Very good write up !!
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Super eta piston , 42lb injectors , Wolf3D V500 Stand alone EMS , Holset Hx35 with 12 cm2 , custom turbo manifoid , 3.25 LSD , M30 Singlemass flywheel + M5 e34 Clutch

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Old 07-30-2007, 10:45 AM   #6
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Looks good. I used the same turbo/manifold in my first turbo setup. It was a fun turbo for squirtin around town......not to scary, just fun.
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Old 07-30-2007, 01:24 PM   #7
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Very good write with lots of resourceful info!! =D> =D>

Awesome that you also listed where the parts were purchased from. In addition to clear indications of routing of MS wiring and oil catch can etc.

Will be a very resourceful write up for when I am ready to boost!
Miss my R33 Skyline... an E30 & E46 M3 is what I have now!

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Old 07-30-2007, 03:59 PM   #8
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wait so on a m20 you dont have to tap a oil return line?...

show more pictures of the oil return line...
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 0000000000
wait so on a m20 you dont have to tap a oil return line?...

show more pictures of the oil return line...
I removed the oil level sender, made a flange plate with a 1" ID hose barb on it, and returned the turbo oil through there.

of course some won't like the idea of removing the sender... ..I figure if I don't check the oil level and other things under the bonnet on a regular basis. then I am just not a true enthusiast !

My current E30 turbo build thread
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:39 PM   #10
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wait so on a m20 you dont have to tap a oil return line?...

show more pictures of the oil return line...
I still believe that you SHOULD tap the pan for a return line. Gravity can work with you and drain your oil. The shorter and more direct the drain is the better. If the oil gets backed up in the turbo too much and the seals in the turbo see pressure... you will smoke like a ww2 fighter. In a normal e30 you can simply drop the pan, drill and tap or weld a bung on directly under the turbo, replace pan and BAM done. Hopefully done if it doesn't leak. However, in my Ix I would have to drop the front drive shaft, the front half-shafts, the front diff, the steering rack, the engine cross bar thing... a lot of stuff you rwd people don't have to mess with. Then if it leaked I would have to do it all again. No fun. I wanted to explore all my other options BEFORE I committed to doing all that work.

I had heard/read of people draining the oil around the back side of the engine, on top of the transmission bell housing, and back into the oil dipstick tube. The ix already had a rubber piece there so it looked like simply adding in a 'T' and cutting the tube a bit shorter. I attempted this with a piece of rubber hose first to make sure it worked, and when it did I replaced the hose with a more permanent metal hose. The car has been going for a month with no problems so far, but I anticipate having to replace the short rubber sections at the beginning and the end of the metal line. The turbo does smoke a little bit so perhaps the drain isn't as good as it could be.... but then again the seals probably need replacing in my turbo from it just sitting with no use for nearly a year. It smokes out the exhaust on startup... but once warmed up NO smoke out the exhaust, just a bit from the turbo after some hard boosting. I would suggest you do a drain the normal way, and I don't want to take responsibility for sending your turbo south, but this is the way that works for me.

Anyway~ here is what I did.

First I fixed a hose where the drain would be and I poured a amount of oil down it... about to the first line on a solo cup. That same amount came back down into another solo cup. By this scientific test I figured the drain was worth atleast attempting... and if it didnt work I was ready to drop a lot off the front of the car.

This is what the dipstick clamps too. There is just a little rubber hose there so I figured I would add a 'T'. It is a 'T' from a pex fitting from home depot .

This is how much you have to cut the dipstick. maybe a few inches.

Make sure you Deburr it! No fun getting little metal chunks in your engine!!!

Add some rubber back on top of it just like stock... and then it looks like this in the end.

It smokes on startup until the car is up to temp, and also after a few hard pulls the turbo itself will smoke a little bit from a unknown location... I think my seals are just leaky but I could do some to make sure the drain is always heading down hill. Does NOT smoke from the exhaust after some hard runs, only the turbo itself in the engine bay. Like I said... it works but attempt at your own risk. The right thing would be to tap the pan so next time the pan is out it is getting tapped. It was just some work on the ix I didn't feel like it was worth doing until I explored this option which seems to work O.K.


Check out my Turbo recipe!
Painted Bottle Caps
Intercooler Setup: 24x12x3"
Car Alarm/Kelyless Entry: How-To
Blitz Black DIY: Paint
3" Exhaust
Buy my stuff! For Sale!
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