A su­per­charger is the lat­est weapon in tur­bod­iesel tuner Ja­son Frost’s arse­nal. NZ4WD edi­tor Ross MacKay ex­plains why.


Imagine a hum­ble run-of-the-mill turbo-diesel ute with the power, torque and drive­abil­ity of a so­phis­ti­cated $100K+Euro SUV.

Ja­son and Guy of Auck­land-based per­for­mance tun­ing op­er­a­tion ECU Chips did and came up with a Rotrex-su­per­charger-based twin-charge in­duc­tion sys­tem which of­fers Kiwi ve­hi­cle own­ers the holy trin­ity of sig­nif­i­cantly more power, quan­tifi­ably more torque and drive­abil­ity you – lit­er­ally – have to ex­pe­ri­ence to be­lieve.

The idea of us­ing a crank­shaft-driven su­per­charger and in- house built in­ter­cooler to com­press and cool the charge be­ing fed into a diesel-en­gine’s ex­haust-driven turbo is not ex­actly new, but is still not par­tic­u­larly com­mon, here or any­where else for that mat­ter.

Cer­tainly, no one else is do­ing ex­actly what Ja­son and Guy are do­ing – of­fer­ing a drive-in/drive-out fit­ting ser­vice for pop­u­lar turbo-diesel utes and SUVs us­ing kits based round the dis­tinc­tive trac­tion drive cen­trifu­gal su­per­charg­ers de­signed, patented and made by Dan­ish com­pany Rotrex.

To un­der­stand why ECU Chips has gone ahead and de­vel­oped their own be­spoke

so­lu­tion to a com­mon prob­lem (get­ting more re­li­able power, torque and driv­abil­ity out of a hi-pres­sure turbo-diesel en­gine) you need to know how good a twin-turbo, 3.0litre BMW X5 SUV is. In fact you can go back fur­ther, to when ECU Chips first got into the diesel tun­ing busi­ness. That was with the prod­uct which gave the com­pany its name, an af­ter­mar­ket ECU per­for­mance chip. Suc­cess in that sphere led to in­ter­est in com­ple­men­tary ar­eas like ECU re-map­ping, and up­rated intake and ex­haust sys­tems. The im­prove­ments in power and torque that can be made to all late-model turbo-diesels is both sig­nif­i­cant and quan­tifi­able. There is only one real Achilles heel when you are talk­ing turbo up­grades – lag! “We knew that some sort of twin-charge sys­tem was the next step be­cause I haven’t been able to find a big sin­gle turbo sys­tem that’s im­pressed me,” ex­plains Ja­son. “Yes you can prob­a­bly make more ul­ti­mate top end power on the dyno with a big sin­gle turbo but I just don’t like the cloud of smoke you get when you put your foot on the throt­tle. “Then there’s the lag. I’m not here to bag sin­gle tur­bos, we still of­fer up­grades and they’re good as a first step but you just have to look at the fac­to­ries these days; all your Q7s, BMWs X5s, every grunty Ger­man diesel is multi turbo.” So why add a crank-driven su­per­charger into the mix? Wouldn’t it have been ul­ti­mately eas­ier to sim­ply plumb in a sec­ond, smaller turbo for the Kiwi-made equiv­a­lent of a fac­tory-style se­quen­tial set-up? “No. It would be im­pos­si­ble for us to make a twin turbo sys­tem work. You’d need elec­tronic con­trol for both tur­bos mean­ing you’d need your own lit­tle

com­puter and the work in­volved in that alone would be way be­yond the scope of what we are try­ing to achieve here.” That didn’t stop Ja­son’s mind work­ing away at the prob­lem and the Eu­reka mo­ment came one af­ter­noon when he and Guy were talk­ing about the X5 and what an im­pres­sive piece of kit its twin-turbo six cylin­der diesel en­gine was. “I was just say­ing that we had to fig­ure out a way to twin charge and I asked Guy what was a good su­per­charger? He said Rotrex so we emailed them and a cou­ple of days later we were on a plane to Den­mark to go and see them.” The beauty of the Rotrex su­per­charger is that they are very ef­fi­cient be­cause they use com­pressed oil rather than plan­e­tary gears in a smooth-bore drive. “They’re what’s called a trac­tion drive. When the oil is com­pressed it pro­vides trac­tion, when it is not com­pressed it lu­bri­cates. Be­cause there are no gears there is no noise, and they are 97 per­cent ef­fi­cient which, when you think about it, is pretty im­pres­sive.” There are sev­eral key ben­e­fits when you plumb a su­per­charger into a turbo-diesel set-up. “The key one is more ef­fi­cient pump­ing. The pres­sure in the ex­haust man­i­fold can

be half of what it is in the in­let man­i­fold, for in­stance, whereas in every other turbo sys­tem in the world the pres­sure in the ex­haust man­i­fold will al­ways be higher than the pres­sure in the intake man­i­fold so we have far bet­ter ex­haust­ing and much lower ex­haust heat.” The com­pany’s Isuzu D-Max was pressed into ser­vice as the de­vel­op­ment mule and ECU Chips have spent the past nine months de­vel­op­ing what are ef­fec­tively ‘bolt-on’ kits for pop­u­lar turbo-diesel mod­els. Craig Card­well’s Toy­ota Hilux (see side­bar story) was one of the first and the guys have also re­cently com­pleted their first V8 Land Cruiser con­ver­sion. No two kits need be ex­actly the same be­cause you can fine-tune the amount of boost with the pul­ley sizes and the tune. “What we want (from a typ­i­cal three- litre turbo diesel en­gine) is 200 to 210kW at the wheels and 800 to 900Nm of torque with driv­abil­ity and no smoke, we want an en­gine where the power from 1300 rpm to red­line is as lin­ear as the BMW X5. “We’re ab­so­lutely not do­ing this to have a horse­power race with the guys in Aussie. We want to tune re­spon­si­bly. We want the air flow ra­tio to be at a level that will make the en­gine last the life of the ve­hi­cle and not con­tam­i­nate the oil and grow car­bon, and we don’t want any smoke.” ECU Chips can sup­ply a complete ‘twin­charge’ so­lu­tion for most pop­u­lar tur­bod­iesel utes and 4WDs. These in­clude the Rotrex su­per­charger it­self plus an ECU Chip and tune, hand-made in­ter­cooler, ex­haust up­grade and all the fab­ri­ca­tion work. To find out more check out ECU Chips; face­book age at www.face­ or the com­pany’s web­site or tel/txt Ja­son Frost di­rect on con­tact Ja­son on 0-9-416 5444.

Plenty of room un­der the bon­net for the com­pact Rotrex su­per­charger.

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