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Lost in a sea of tuning... (Ostrich 2.0)

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    The engine was advertised as having a 274 cam.
    Their website says 274 - 415.

    Here is the description:
    These cams make an improvement you can really feel. Higher lift helps mid-range power and extra duration helps the top end. These cams will pull right up to 7000 rpm with ease. We have 3 different grinds available. The 274 cam is excellent for mild builds while still retaining streetability. The dual pattern 280/274 is great for those who want something a bit more aggressive than the 274 and also very ideal for boost. If you’re building a stroker M20 engine with a bit of compression behind it we would recommend going with the 284 grind!


      Yeah, I feel 284 would have been more suited - just as that ad says: "If you’re building a stroker M20 engine with a bit of compression behind it we would recommend going with the 284 grind!"

      The m20 is relatively quiet during detonation. You could try and upping the octane with an additive to see if it resolves your problems. If it does, a cam change is probably the best answer.

      The intake valve is closing too early, you may be able to help it a little with the adjustable cam gear. Just be aware of valve to piston clearances.
      Transaction feedback: Here, here and here. Thanks :D


        My SSSquid chip came today.

        It does accelerate better. But still cuts out around 4K RPM.

        Also, it pings from light acceleration on the freeway. (Didn't used to do that.)

        I took it to my mechanic to check the O2 sensor wire that I thought showed 97 Ohms. Turns out I was measuring the wrong pin on the ECU connector. The resistance is .1 Ohms.
        It was interesting to watch the voltage on the O2 sensor. It cycles very fast. I also had the wideband O2 sensor and it did not follow the lean / rich readings the narrow band did. It is either slower, or they have smoothed out the readings. At least this verified that the O2 sensor is working.

        Next steps are to replace the M50 injectors with the new 19 lbs injectors.
        If that doesn't resolve the pinging, then get some octane booster.
        And then retard the valve timing.

        On a side note, I was browsing for a camshaft, and found some 11:1 compression pistons on IE's "specials" site.

        It seems like the compression might be more than 10:1.
        I have a Euro spec M30 with 10:1 compression, and it is able to idle and run on premium gas without pinging. And a compression test is less than 200.
        Is there a way to measure compression without taking the head off?
        How much could a thicker head gasket reduce the compression ratio?


          Interesting. Yeah, it sounds like there are still some other underlying issues, with the cam being a little "too hot" as FF noted. I'd see if the octane booster helps with the pinging since it is fast and relatively cheap to do.

          When you say "cutting out around 4K RPM" do you mean that it feels weak, or that it exhibits a hard cut / full loss of power? Is it only at WOT, or even at PT? If it is fully cutting out, then that seems to me to be more than an octane issue. Either the injectors are not flowing enough (seems sort of unlikely), the AFM has damage on the carbon resistance track, the hot cams are producing an induction resonance that mixes with the AFM's acoustic-mechanical resonances (it is very much a thing with the M42, but seems less likely on an M20 since 6 cylinders have a lot more overlap), or some other sensor is having an issue.

          The O2 sensor info is interesting. Normal operation is to have the AFR oscillate at ~1Hz at idle and low RPM, ~2Hz at most PT operating points, and then to ignore O2 input at WOT or >4000RPM (I think, I can't recall exactly where the open-loop switchover is). So, seeing it go lean/rich/lean/rich is normal and correct. If it is NOT doing that with the wide-band, then there is an issue with the wiring, the sensor or the controller. How EXACTLY did you wire it in? I found that the Innovate products were very sensitive to the ground configuration, or at least the LC-2 was when I used to use one. You should have the analog ground connected on the same lug as the ECU, which is on the battery tray I think (on the M42 E30's anyway). If there is a separate heater ground, I'd connect that to the hood latch (although if your battery is up front and everything is on the negative terminal already, it is probably fine to connect it there). The main thing is to have the analog ground at the same point as the ECU ground though.

          See if you can borrow a known good AFM and ECU, and swap each one at a time. The fact that it runs lean with a WB and NB O2 sensor connected is odd. That makes me wonder if the ECU is damaged. Used ones are cheap on eBay. Is the wiring all original, or did the car have a conversion from the older Motronic to the later one? How is the condition of the ground strap which connects the engine to the chassis?

          Transaction Feedback: LINK


            Injectors were changed today.
            Initially it ran like crap, and it was quite discouraging. After a break and another look, I found one of the connectors came off as I was checking the connection. Re-clipped it in and it ran much better.

            The idle is worse. Cycling from rich to lean. 12 - 17 AFR. And the car is hard to get going from a stop.
            The acceleration is better, but still cuts out at 3800 RPM. The harder the throttle is pressed the harder the cut is. It feels like a rev limit. One time it even made the tires squeak. It accelerates well if I stay in Low Part Throttle. High Part Throttle it feels like it bogs down, and WOT it cuts out hard.
            I am wondering if the coil could also be bad. I have another one I can try.

            And the ping is still there. It does go away with $3 of octane boost.

            I do have a second AFM that has the same cut out behavior at 3800 RPM.
            I do have a second ECU. The original donor car had a 380 ECU, and I have a 173 ECU that I got with a Dinan chip that worked in the previous car.
            The wiring harness is out of an '87 325is. The ground on the battery was not tightened down, so I took all connectors off and cleaned and sprayed some batter connection stuff on the terminals.

            I also checked the battery voltage. Found 12.42 V at the batter and 12.40 at the cigarette lighter. (That is where the WBO2 gets power.) The ECU was not mounted in the glove box, so the case was not grounded. I mounted the ECU before driving. I got 14.39 volts at the firewall power and engine valve cover.

            Thanks for all comments and recommendations.


              OK, it sounds like you still have multiple issues then. That sort of cut-out is a major indication of a crapped sensor or some other fault wither with an input to, or an output of the ECU.

              First, it is good that adding octane booster stopped the pinging. Maybe the cam is "too hot" for pump gas, maybe not. If there is a major control-related issue elsewhere, then it is hard to say if the ignition timing is really being set properly the rest of the time.

              Let us know how it goes with the spare 173 ECU and the Sssquid chip (you have 2 correct, not one 380 and one 173?). Also it is good that you got the battery ground tightened lol...that is never helpful to have rattling around!

              How does the car run when it is started cold, and does it change as it warms up? The crazy AFR swings really sound like an issue with the analog input to the ECU from the O2 sensor, although that would only be if the issues started when the engine got warmer (and not right away form a cold start). Where did you ground the WBO2 controller and/or sensor? It MUST be grounded on the same lug as the ECU. The NB signal's full range is 150-900mV, so if there is a ground offset of even a few tens of mV between the ECU and where the thing is grounded, it is going to be way off (I learned that the hard way many many years ago). Even still, I would not expect that to cause big swings, just a constant offset.

              I didn't see it mentioned in your post, but check the engine-to-chassis ground strap. It is vital. Also, if the engine harness is from an 87 325iS and the car has the battery under the hood, where did you run the ground of the newer harness to? The iS cars had the battery in the trunk normally, and the engine harness grounded on the (empty) front battery tray. I assume you just ran it up to the negative post on the battery? Messed up grounding is a major cause of significant running issues in many cases.

              And yes, a dying ignition coil can sometimes cause issues like this. Borrowing a spare could prove helpful. How are the ignition wires? Sometimes the insulation cracks and arcs to the engine.

              Transaction Feedback: LINK


                I believe your issues are too much dynamic compression. With the result of the octane booster and compression test it drives that theory even further for me.

                There's nothing wrong with your compression, the cam is just not up to the task.

                Static compression is only one factor when building a proper engine.
                Transaction feedback: Here, here and here. Thanks :D


                  Cleaning up electrical connections turned into a rabbit hole. Did get an increase in voltage of .02 volts.
                  The battery in in the trunk, and the '87 harness is normally grounded to the shock tower (I have it bolted to the battery tray).
                  The rabbit hole was the battery hold down bolt was broken in the battery tray. It took many hours to grind the rusted nut off and replace the battery tray. On a positive note, the battery area in the trunk is less rusty than I thought it was. And now, it is much cleaner, and the battery is clamped down.

                  I only have one of each ECU (380, 173).

                  I was not able to find a spare coil. ( I have tried a second crank sensor.)

                  The other rabbit hole was researching static and dynamic compression. (I learn so much from the people on this forum.)
                  I also tried to see if there is a way to figure compression from measured PSI...

                  This says that you take atmospheric pressure x compression ratio = ~Measured PSI.
                  14.696 x 10:1 = 146.96
                  215 / 14696 = 14.629 :1

                  That seams like pretty high compression. How accurate is this method? It seems like it should be in the ball park.
                  I think my M30 with 10:1 is around 165 PSI
                  I think an M20 with 8.7:1 is around 125 PSI

                  What could be done to get higher compression on my engine?
                  Surface head
                  Surface block
                  I don't think head gaskets can be thinner, but they can be thicker.
                  Different higher compression pistons
                  Fill head chamber with epoxy

                  Is it possible to measure block and head with engine assembled?
                  What should the numbers be?


                    You have too much dynamic compression. When doing a compression test, you need to be about 200psi or less. Since your cam is closing the intake valve too soon, the compression is getting trapped at lower RPM. This is why you have a lazy car when you put a big cam in a stock motor (it "wakes up" in high RPM).

                    So, what happens is your cylinders are fighting each other since the fuel is self-igniting. You can create ignition just with pressure (think campfire piston igniter), so as the piston is on it's way up, the fuel gets compressed enough to "diesel" before it reaches TDC and interferes with the other piston operations.

                    Real world numbers from my experience:

                    Stock tired m20: 155-165psi
                    Fresh stock rebuild: ~175
                    Top of the line spec build (max shave on head/block etc): ~185
                    Fresh rebuild with 272 cam: 145
                    (all above had 8.8 stock comp)

                    9.4:1 2.7 with 272: 190 (~4° cam retard from 2mm block deck)
                    9.4:1 2.7 with stock cam: 205 (~4° cam retard from 2mm block deck)

                    As you can see by adding a 272 duration cam, the cranking compression drops. So, you really can't deduce static compression directly from cranking compression since the cam and any leakage (valves etc) can change the numbers by a good margin.

                    When you have a later closing intake valve, some of that pressure gets bled off, same with a lot of overlap.
                    Transaction feedback: Here, here and here. Thanks :D


                      Thank you for the examples.

                      Can you advise on a recommended cam? (I don't want it too racy as it is street driven. Is a 280 enough? 288? What does it mean if the duration for IN & EX are different ?)
                      Recommendations on where to get one?

                      Can it be replaced with the engine in the car?


                        FF, this is more your area of expertise...has it been your experience that dynamic compression issues like this can cause a full fuel cut situation above certain RPMs? The pinging and otherwise poor running at lower RPMs make sense, but the cut-out at WOT and high PT above ~4000RPM seems (to me) like an indication of something else. But, you have way more hands-on with this sort of thing, so maybe it really can be a function of the cam setup.

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                          Originally posted by Tinkerer007 View Post
                          Can you advise on a recommended cam?
                          Adding onto this question, FF, can you recommend some reading on how to size a cam to an engine/application using a mathematical approach? You're linked article was really enlightening, but it sounds like they kind of threw parts at it to see what works.

                          I'm happy to go into detail about my build, but don't want to threadjack here.
                          Last edited by McGyver; 09-01-2020, 03:36 PM.
                          1987 - 325i Convertible Delphin Auto [SOLD], 325i Convertible Delphin Manual [SOLD]
                          1989 - 325i Convertible Bronzit m30b35 swapped [SCRAPPED], 325i Sedan Alpine Auto[DD]
                          1991 - 325i Coupe Laguna Manual [Project], 535i Sedan Alpine [SCRAPPED]




                              I retarded the cam timing 4 degrees (on the adjustable cam wheel).
                              Unfortunately, I broke one of the ears that the rotor bolts on to. :-( Apparently it is better to rotate the engine instead of the cam.

                              The car no longer pings when accelerating from freeway speeds. (2500 RPM / 5th gear, and press throttle) This is nice.

                              It still cuts out at 3800 @ WOT. It will backfire if I hold the throttle down. The WO2 looks like it is going lean.
                              It accelerates nicely at part throttle.

                              I tried to take a video, but the quality is not good and it is hard to see what is happening.
                              I also cleaned the cap and rotor. They were carboned up.
                              I also separated the C101 connector and sprayed WD40 in there. It didn't like corroded.


                                I'd try to clean the WD40 out of C101 lol. Maybe see about a can of compressed isopropyl alcohol, pull the boots back a bit and blast things out. WD40 will get at the insulation and stuff.

                                I'll let FF chime in about the hard cut at 3800RPM and how excessive dynamic compression might cause it. In the meantime, see if you can get a spare coil and give the plug wires a good close look.

                                And yeah...don't rotate the engine via the cam.

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