When it comes to engine tuning, you’re probably well versed in some of the tools that can help make your dyno session a successful one. And in reality, how deep you dive on your build’s final tune comes down to your overall goals, your dependence on engine longevity, and arguably the most important factor, your wallet. Regardless of your build type, you’ve most likely relied upon or at least heard about utilizing a wideband air/fuel ratio gauge, boost gauge, oil and water temp gauges, and even exhaust gas temp monitoring along with adjustable fuel pressure regulators, cam gears, and the list goes on and on. For the boosted crowd, Revel VLS has a hunch you may have neglected something when you hit the dyno last, and that’s your intercooler air temps.
A quick glance at Revel VLS’s Intercooler Dual Temperature Gauge and you might think it’s another wideband monitoring device, what with its bright LED indicators running the circumference of the 52mm gauge face. Get a little closer and you’ll notice two sets of digital numbers stacked upon one another in the center of the gauge; the top indicating the inlet temps with the outlet displayed just underneath. The numerical values are a result of a set of air temperature sensors that work constantly so the tuner and driver can keep intercooler temps in check.
There are hundreds of gauges available for every conceivable form of monitoring and equally as many tricks to light them up this way or that, and the Revel VLS gauge keeps things simple and effective with an OLED display that doesn’t need any sort of backlighting in order to be read in all lighting conditions. In addition, an OLED unit is often far less harsh to the human eye when compared to something like an LCD display that typically carries with it a stout backlight.
With nothing boosted within arms reach at our office, I headed down to San Marcos, Calif., to visit Sportcar Motion, which not surprisingly had quite a few turbo and supercharged cars on hand. The vehicle of choice is Sportcar’s 2005 RSX Type-S with a fully built K20 armed with a beefy Garrett gtx3584r gen. 2 snail that helps spin the hubs to the tune of 850hp. The car is currently under development, being purpose-built for top end battles at events like Shift Sector.
Cut open the Revel VLS box and this is what you get with the gauge: 3/8 NPT air intake temperature sensors (2), wiring harness, and universal mounting pod w/visor.
In order to attach the sensor to the intercooler piping’s hot and cold side, you’ll need a set of 3/8 NPT weld-in bungs. Not the most common size, but they can be found online for just a few bucks each. Our problem was that we didn’t realize they weren’t included, and we called around but couldn’t find any in stock. Fortunately a machine shop local to Sportcar Motion was able to turn a set and we were back in business.
To get started, the intercooler’s inlet and outlet piping is removed and a hole drilled into the piping with the edges de-burred to prep for welding.
A quick test fit and the fitting is ready to be welded in place. Once complete, the other bung is welded to the other intercooler piping for the second Revel VLS sensor to be installed.
You can install the sensor just about anywhere on the piping as long as theinlet temp side is after the turbo and before the intercooler (obviously), and the "intercooler out" sensor is installed after the intercooler and before the throttle body. You’ll want to also avoid excessive heat areas and any moving parts that might snag on the sensor’s wiring. In the case of Sportcar Motion’s RSX, the sensors were mounted out of sight and were in no danger of making with anything around them.
If you choose to use the Revel VLS cup to mount the gauge on the dash, it retains a fairly slim profile and is only slightly larger than the 52mm gauge face size.
Sportcar decided to forego the dash top and instead made a new hole in their dash’s aluminum gauge panel to mount the Revel VLS unit. Powered on, the gauge relayed the current temps almost immediately, and based on the ambient temperature inside the shop’s garage, 82 degrees, it was on par and reading correctly without any need for calibration or adjustment.
After a few minutes of idling and revving to warm up the car with the hood open, we closed the hood and just moments later, as expected, the temperature began to rise on both sides of the intercooler.
With the car fully warmed up and creating some heat you could feel while hovering over the front end, we popped the hood and let it idle and within a few moments, the inlet side temps of the intercooler started coming right back down.
The above testing was simple and controlled but gives you a good idea of how quickly and accurately the sensors deliver info and for tuning purposes, something this RSX will be doing plenty of over the next few weeks. The intercooler temperature is vital to learning the car’s limits and delivering a tune that can offer consistent performance while avoiding excessive heat issues.