Building a Reliable 2008-2015 Evolution X MR Part 1

I picked up a 2008 Evolution MR awhile back for AMR Engineering as it was a great chassis to have, and support. I started building it right off the bat. After pulling the motor the first time, I decided I didn’t really want to have to do that again. No matter what way you decide to pull the motor, it’s time consuming. So even though the motor had about 24,000 miles on it, it was torn down. What went in was a set of 86.5mm JE Pistons with upgraded wrist pins with part number 905-2250-21-93C. Sometimes it’s simply all about good timing, and I was able to pick up a set of rods for 200 bucks which happen to be the same price I picked up the pistons for! I chose the Manley H-beams for the power level I was shooting for to go with the JE pistons. That took care of the bottom end, the top end got full valve train from GSC so I could extend the redline safely, as well as the valves replaced. For the valves, Supertech Inconel was used for the exhaust side, while the intake side got a set of Ferrea 6000 valves, all standard size. Before the head is good to go it’s recommended the cast oem exhaust cam gear housing is replaced with a stronger billet unit. The cast piece has been known to crack when the valve train has been upgraded. So their are a number of billet mivec exhaust cam housings currently available. The unit that we use is from Driven Fabrications. You will need a 5 point TP30 bit to replace the exhaust cam gear housing by the way. So if you want some peace of mind it’s a great addition to your build, and is only about 179 bucks. I also wanted to mention when the machine shop installed the valvetrain, and new valves they also replaced all the small freeze plugs in the head with threaded plugs. Each one was tapped, before the engine was cleaned thoroughly. This prevents any debris getting stuck in those channels, and behind those small plugs. We would hate for any small debris to be the culprit of any issues down the road so this is a good preventive measure. I’ve had good luck with thermal intake manifold gaskets so I made sure to use one on this build as well. So before we went any further we decided to pull up some TSB’s (TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETIN) for this chassis so we could take care of any possible issues that have risen now that this chassis has been out for awhile. The parts we replaced to take care of these known issues was the timing chain which was known to stretch in earlier models, with part number 1140A073. Next up was the plastic pulleys were replaced with 3 metal pulleys from Dayco #89052, and the belt as well with a Gates K061033. When using these pulleys you will need to use a washer on the tensioner pulley. Atleast 1.5mm thick, and it has to have a inner diameter of 17mm. Some other items that were required of course were a full oem gasket kit, as well as a full set of bearings. ACL standard size bearings were used for both the rods, and mains, while Cosworth were used for the thrust. To make this all come together was the help of our awesome machinist over at Somers machine. They machined everything so that I could get the exact numbers I wanted. Once I got the parts back from them, the assembly was rather straight forward. Installing the rods to the pistons, filing the rings, checking rod/main bearing specs all was smooth sailing. The biggest pain, and it isn’t really hard work, but tedious was replacing the tappet valves to get proper valve lash clearance. I had a handy excel spreadsheet which made things a bit faster, but it was still time consuming. The tappet valves will most likely need to be replaced, especially if you have done some head work like I have. The lash was out of spec so I had to replace most of them. Lastly, during assembly I took a little extra care to put some extra silicone where the timing cover, head, and block meet at the back of the block where the water pump is located. There is a TSB out for this leak, and to prevent this leak, it’s best to take the little extra precaution to get a little extra silicone in that area while the motor is out. It’s a pain in the ass to get to when the motor is installed, and all the dealership will do is cover that area with silicone. The TSB actually states to cover the leaking area with silicone, rather than take it all apart properly, and reseal it correctly. So I highly recommend you do not look past this little step to give yourself some peace of mind you don’t have this issue yourself in the future. To break in the motor we used straight non-detergent 30 weight, and moved to Mobil 1 5w-40 Synthetic after 1500 miles. For the rest of the fluids I recommend only factory fluid for the drivetrain, especially Diaqueen for the SST MR Tranny.

The motor is sound, with everything needed for a reliable daily driver, but with a built motor must come more power. So with the engine taken care of, you’ve got to start looking at other areas one at a time. So where do you start, and how do you continue this journey in building a reliable daily driver. Well now you got to ask yourself realistically what sort of power can you put down reliably. This is where we cut the crap, and ask yourself some real questions. What gas do you have access to? Is this your daily driver? How much power can your transmission put down safely? What are your goals for the vehicle? I asked myself these questions, and this is my response. I drive a MR, with 24,000 miles on the transmission. I don’t want to replace the clutch packs, and I want to get as much use out of them before upgrading. So right off the bat I am limited to 350 torque. So the built engine will handle quite a bit of power, but the transmission will not, and of course the next biggest factor is gas. The best gas I’ve got available in my area is 92 octane. E85 is simply out of the question, and even if I could get E85, the power I would make would be too much for my stock MR transmission. So their you have it, I am limited to 350 torque due to the stock tranny, and the 92 octane gas, but hey that is more than enough. That is easily over 400whp, so more than enough for my everyday needs. Who wouldn’t want a car that is capable of high 11’s, low 12’s. To take care of my fuel needs, and have room for a little extra I used a walbro 450 which used the stock wiring, as well as ID1000 injectors. Fuel pressure control has always been a must for me, so a radium fuel rail, aem fuel pressure regulator with our inline filter, and feed line was used to get that in check. Stock fuel pressure of 43.5psi was set, and to make sure I did not have any problems I drilled out the return line with a 5/64 drill bit. For boost control a Grimmspeed 3 port, and Turbosmart 22psi internal wastgate is a excellent combination. To make sure I don’t have any leaking bov issues I replaced the oem blow off valve with the proven Synapse DV valve. To maximize all this to its limit a proper sized turbo is going to be required. So I had our stock turbo resized with larger wheels to provide spool up in the area of 4,200rpms, and holding that boost pressure to redline. Like some stock frame turbos out there, we didn’t want our torque to fall flat on its face after peak torque. It’s all about that powerband, and having as much usable power till redline. If you want fast spool a stock frame is the way to go in most cases. People really are not realistic about their power goals most of the time. 500-550whp is attainable with a stock frame turbo, and pump gas, especially in a GSR. The GSR will easily make 30-35whp more than an MR, so keep that in mind. So with that said, till next time. I will continue this with part 2, and fill you in with the other steps that were taken to complete my build.

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