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    M54 Cylinder Head Development

    Data.

    I love data.

    Problem is, there isn't a lot of data openly available for the M54 Cylinder head for people to make informed decisions with. So I went hunting...but my wallet paid the price.


    Intake Port Options:

    • OEM Ports + 33mm valves
    • OEM Ports + 34 valves
    • Ported OEM Port shape + 33mm valves
    • Ported OEM Port shape + 34mm valves
    • Oversized Oval Port shape + 33mm valves
    • Oversized Oval Port shape + 34mm valves



    Exhaust Port Options:

    • OEM Ports + 30.5mm valves
    • OEM Ports + 31.5 valves
    • Ported OEM Port shape + 30.5mm valves
    • Ported OEM Port shape + 31.5mm valves
    • Oversized Oval Port shape + 30.5mm valves
    • Oversized Oval Port shape + 31.5mm valves


    It's a lot of variables to work through, and has taken since 2007 to test. The good news is that I've got data for them all.

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    I am by no means suggesting that flow bench #s determine how well a cylinder head works. But, they form at least part of the equation, and more so with 4 valve engines, are an accurate measure of volume flow. How the fuel mixture is prepared, burned, and is vented to atmosphere involves more variables than a flow bench, at least a dry flow ones like the SuperFlow equipment used as an industry benchmark, is able to account for. But for the most part, higher flow numbers on a 4 valve head suggest higher volumetric efficiency, and increased engine performance as a result. What I have found in many cases is that a well ported head will make a car faster, but the peak HP #s can be lower. Basically port velocity is kept high giving good low and midrange performance at the cost of top end performance. (The port chokes at higher RPMs)

    One of the key mistunderstandings in porting cylinder heads is that N/A requires different porting than Turbos, Nitrous, or Superchargers. Under ideal circumstances, the port size and shape should be suited to the engine RPM and cylinder size. Increasing the density of the charge flowing through the head will not change port velocity very much. Think of it this way: Would you change the port shape to flow 100% water through it? Not very much. An efficient port is an efficient port.

    Another issue, and this isn't very common with BMWs yet, is heat disipation. An engine builder may chose to increase the exhaust valve size to help it disipate heat better. Exhaust valves transfer 75+% of their heat through the valve seat. So a larger valve, with greater seat surface area, will help transfer more heat. This becomes increasingly important when valve lift is dramatically increased, resulting in less time for the valve to be seated and tranfering heat. Add nitrous to the equation, and this becomes a critical area to watch.

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    I bring the preceeding points up because it will help to explain the results of the testing a little bit more. Secondly, there are reasons why people may chose a combination that is against common perception of what a performance cylinder head looks like.

    The first test was done in 2007 with an OEM M54 cylinder head. I chose to have multiple intake and exhaust ports flowed to make sure that the casting was consistent, which it was. This flow test had OEM ports, 33mm intake valves, and 30.5mm exhaust valves.

    The second test was done in 2008 with a mildly ported head, with OEM valve sizes. (33mm intake, 30.5mm exhaust) I am unable to post the results of this test, as the head porter asked me not to. The numbers however do not conflict with later findings.

    The third test was done in 2009 with a very well ported head, 34mm intake valves, and 30.5mm exhaust valves. Of note, the intake ports were "ovalized" to mimic that of the Euro S50B32 cylinder ports. The exhaust ports were also ovalized similar to M50 and S52 exhaust ports.

    The fourth test was done in 2010 with a very well ported head, 34mm intake valves, and 31.5mm exhaust valves. The intake ports were shaped to match a P54 intake manifold, (Same "D" shape as OEM M54 manifold) and exhaust ports were ovalized exactly the same as the head for the third test.

    Here are the first, third, and 4th tests overlaid together for the intake ports:

    Click here to enlarge

    Obviously, the head ported for the P54 intake with 34mm valves performed the best. The interesting thing in this comparison is that the larger ports from the 3rd test flowed less at mid and high-lift values than the smaller ports from the 4th test. Bigger isn't always better.


    Here are the first, third, and 4th tests overlaid together for the exhaust ports:

    Click here to enlarge

    This is a classic case of "I told you so". The head porter told me before we tried the larger 31.5mm exhaust valves that he didn't recommend them. His reasoning was that the smaller valves would flow better, and he had built a 1100+hp 4 cylinder engine proving the point. The good news is that the larger valves didn't hurt flow as much as we had feared, but it was still a valuable learning point. Bigger isn't always better.

    Starting to see a trend?

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    All I want to say is this is quality information right here, one of the better quality topic I have seen in recent weeks. Stick around Click here to enlarge

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    All I want to say is this is quality information right here, one of the better quality topic I have seen in recent weeks. Stick around Click here to enlarge
    Thanks.

    There's a lot more to come. Something I haven't touched on yet is that the 4th head has some radical machine work done to it that doesn't show up on the flow bench. I believe I am the first to have this modification done, and it caused the machinist a lot of headaches....

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by PEI330Ci Click here to enlarge
    Something I haven't touched on yet is that the 4th head has some radical machine work done to it that doesn't show up on the flow bench.
    Why wouldn't it show up on the flow bench?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    Why wouldn't it show up on the flow bench?
    I asked for a lot of material to be added in certain areas...which warped the head. We knew this would happen from the outset, so a jig was made to hold the head as straight as possible while the head was welded. Then it was machined to be brought back into alignment. Luckily the jig work paid off which minimized the amount of machine work required on the cam tray matting surface, the intake and exhaust port flanges, and the cylinder head deck.

    I think the extra material added was probably more difficult than the port work...we'll see how it works out though.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by PEI330Ci Click here to enlarge
    I asked for a lot of material to be added in certain areas...which warped the head. We knew this would happen from the outset, so a jig was made to hold the head as straight as possible while the head was welded. Then it was machined to be brought back into alignment. Luckily the jig work paid off which minimized the amount of machine work required on the cam tray matting surface, the intake and exhaust port flanges, and the cylinder head deck.

    I think the extra material added was probably more difficult than the port work...we'll see how it works out though.
    Ok, I may not be understanding something here.

    You had material added, why? This was for strength? If so, then I fully understand why it wouldn't show up on the flow bench but I was under the impression the changes you made to head were to improve flow. Perhaps it is that in order to get the most of your ported head you are thinking that certain areas necessitate more material, am I on the right track here?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by PEI330Ci Click here to enlarge
    One of the key mistunderstandings in porting cylinder heads is that N/A requires different porting than Turbos, Nitrous, or Superchargers. Under ideal circumstances, the port size and shape should be suited to the engine RPM and cylinder size. Increasing the density of the charge flowing through the head will not change port velocity very much. Think of it this way: Would you change the port shape to flow 100% water through it? Not very much. An efficient port is an efficient port.
    I'm not certain, but I suspect there is a reason the best factory turbo-charged engines have exhaust ports flowing at 65-80% of the intake ports (while the best naturally aspirated engines have exhaust ports flowing 75-90% of intake ports). It could be a coincidence, but it would seem logical to sacrifice some low resistance flow for better velocity (spool) in the name of maximizing the powerband...

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by spdu4ea Click here to enlarge
    I'm not certain, but I suspect there is a reason the best factory turbo-charged engines have exhaust ports flowing at 65-80% of the intake ports (while the best naturally aspirated engines have exhaust ports flowing 75-90% of intake ports). It could be a coincidence, but it would seem logical to sacrifice some low resistance flow for better velocity (spool) in the name of maximizing the powerband...
    If this was true why is a effective upgrade for the 996 turbo a 996 GT3 head?

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    1 out of 1 members liked this post. Yes Reputation No
    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    If this was true why is a effective upgrade for the 996 turbo a 996 GT3 head?
    Because you are limited on the camshaft lift you can run on a 996tt head before interference. The GT3 heads have a lot more clearance (among other things -- like larger valves)

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    Ok, I may not be understanding something here.

    You had material added, why? This was for strength? If so, then I fully understand why it wouldn't show up on the flow bench but I was under the impression the changes you made to head were to improve flow. Perhaps it is that in order to get the most of your ported head you are thinking that certain areas necessitate more material, am I on the right track here?
    I'll be going into great detail shortly why the extra material was added. There are a number of reasons, but the primary one is how one part of the M54 engine in particular functions. I've changed it rather damatically.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by spdu4ea Click here to enlarge
    I'm not certain, but I suspect there is a reason the best factory turbo-charged engines have exhaust ports flowing at 65-80% of the intake ports (while the best naturally aspirated engines have exhaust ports flowing 75-90% of intake ports). It could be a coincidence, but it would seem logical to sacrifice some low resistance flow for better velocity (spool) in the name of maximizing the powerband...
    I prefer to work with data when I can.

    The following is cylinder head flow data that I have collected since 2007. Some of it has come at great cost, but I don't mind sharing for the point of learning.

    I thought it would be a good point of reference to compare stock and modified M54, stock and modified N54B30, and stock S54 heads:

    Click here to enlarge

    Click here to enlarge

    I believe this may be the first time that flow bench data for both a stock, and ported 335 head (N54B30) has been posted publicly. Surprisingly, it flows a lot worse than the stock M54 head that preceeded it, but there is bound to be a reason. As you mention above, turbo spool and midrange torque is probably the main reason. However, I can see a LOT of work needed to make serious power with this engine unless someone wants to start with a billet head. Sure it flows...but the head is a problem.

    And to address the intake to exhaust port ratios:

    Click here to enlarge

    The N54B30 averages 91%, even with it's "low" flow numbers.

    The ported cylinder heads exceed 100% at mid-lift values, but this was not by design. The port flow was optimized to make power at a specific peak RPM values and cylinder displacement.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by spdu4ea Click here to enlarge
    Because you are limited on the camshaft lift you can run on a 996tt head before interference. The GT3 heads have a lot more clearance (among other things -- like larger valves)
    True, but many top builds do this route, including Protomotive, as that head does prove to be far more efficient. It is a very solid example though of a top NA head being used in a boosted application to great success.

    I know I don't need to tell you anything about the S54 heads and HPF.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by PEI330Ci Click here to enlarge
    I prefer to work with data when I can.

    The following is cylinder head flow data that I have collected since 2007. Some of it has come at great cost, but I don't mind sharing for the point of learning.

    I thought it would be a good point of reference to compare stock and modified M54, stock and modified N54B30, and stock S54 heads:

    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...010/12/242.jpg

    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...010/12/243.jpg

    I believe this may be the first time that flow bench data for both a stock, and ported 335 head (N54B30) has been posted publicly. Surprisingly, it flows a lot worse than the stock M54 head that preceeded it, but there is bound to be a reason. As you mention above, turbo spool and midrange torque is probably the main reason. However, I can see a LOT of work needed to make serious power with this engine unless someone wants to start with a billet head. Sure it flows...but the head is a problem.

    And to address the intake to exhaust port ratios:

    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...010/12/244.jpg

    The N54B30 averages 91%, even with it's "low" flow numbers.

    The ported cylinder heads exceed 100% at mid-lift values, but this was not by design. The port flow was optimized to make power at a specific peak RPM values and cylinder displacement.
    so,it looks like, we can gain by porting intake and exhaust of the N54 then yes? where/how/why did this information (on the N54) come about?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
    so,it looks like, we can gain by porting intake and exhaust of the N54 then yes? where/how/why did this information (on the N54) come about?
    I share a fair amount of technical data (that has come to me at great cost) openly on forums. Occasionally people return the favor. (Publicly, or in this case privately)

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    I dont mean to threadjack, but maybe you could start a new thread with the N54 data, in the n54 section, and with any other data that you can provide, ie before after dyno's ect.. That would get a lot of attention

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
    I dont mean to threadjack, but maybe you could start a new thread with the N54 data, in the n54 section, and with any other data that you can provide, ie before after dyno's ect.. That would get a lot of attention
    I think he said he got that data privately though? Not sure if he can post although I would really like to see it as well.

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    doesnt have to post names, cars, places ect. but any data gathered would be great. im closer and closer to building the motor, and i heard we dont need to port, i heard only the intake, heard do both I/E..but im confused by what he says. He states that even with low cfm #'s, we still reached 91%. what does all this mean?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
    He states that even with low cfm #'s, we still reached 91% what does all this mean?
    I think he is referring to the intake to exhaust flow ratio.

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    right, but is that good, bad, does that leave room for gain or improvement with doing it or what, what can we expect to see from porting ect..

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
    right, but is that good, bad, does that leave room for gain or improvement with doing it or what, what can we expect to see from porting ect..
    I have never used that ratio so I don't know.

    100% means the intake and exhaust ports are pretty much equal to each other I believe.

    Most engines are less than that.

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    right, so i wanna know what kinda gains can be expected, or have been seen. same motors, mods, ect, at say 16 or 18psi, what is a port job worth? 10? 20? 30hp? up top, midrange ect.. these are the questions i would like answered

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    Im going to assume you changed the actual quench area in the combustion chamber, and possibly reduced its size (which would raise compression). That is the only think I can think of that you would need that much welding extra stuff to that would warp the head.

    He is correct in stating that this head will need a big amount of work to get it to flow numbers that an M54 head would. Its no wonder a turbo on an M54 at low boost puts it to the numbers we are struggling to reach on an N54 without blowing something up. Its intake and exhaust ports are so small and tiny they need to be bored out a lot to reach anything close to an M54 head would do...but as stated bigger is not always better. You might hit a wall and actually lose flow if you try to up the valve size to something near an M54. Not to mention now you start messing with the DI properties of the fuel in the chamber, how it swirls, how its mixed in with the air.

    You would probably show small benefits to doing a slight port and increase valve size and squeezing the intake/exhaust ratio up, but I have an idea that might even work better in conjunction with it: Tubular turbo manifolds.


    The problem is that you cant just expect numbers and if its worth it or not. You should do it LM and post your results. If you want to take that next step you have to forge the way. If everyone else had the same mentality of 'I will wait for someone else to do it' then we are all going to sit here and circle jerk.

    If I still had my car and the money I would do it. But Im going a different (proven and tested for the last 50 years) route.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by LostMarine Click here to enlarge
    right, so i wanna know what kinda gains can be expected, or have been seen. same motors, mods, ect, at say 16 or 18psi, what is a port job worth? 10? 20? 30hp? up top, midrange ect.. these are the questions i would like answered
    I understand but I don't think there is a clear number that can just be provided like that without any sort of base to work from as I don't believe anyone has done it. I have no idea what gains porting would provide at different boost levels on the N54. I would like to know as well.

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