Turbochargers and Circle Track magazine aren't usually four words that you'd find together. After all, there aren't too many oval track sanctions that allow turbochargers. However, put that little metal donut on your truck, and you're talking about a whole other ball game.
Economical towing may not be the first thing you think of when you hear the words turbocharged truck, but on the contrary. "If I behave, I can get close to 20 mpg highway," says Floyd Sackett about his STS-equipped '04 GMC Sierra. Floyd defined "behave" as resisting the temptation to plant his right foot and bury the speedo needle.
Pop open the hood and the big aluminum tube running from the intake down the right side of
We had heard about the STS Turbo system from some of our sister publications that cover street performance. So we headed over to STS Power Dealer Mark Eggers at Pinellas County Street Cars to learn more. Eggers is the dealer who installed Sackett's system, and he was kind enough to have Floyd bring the truck over and educate us.
The STS System piqued our interest for a couple of reasons; number one being the aforementioned increase in fuel economy, and number two, the universal kit STS offers allows you to increase the horsepower and torque rating on just about any truck by more than 70 percent. Those are big numbers and actually important when you start to think about getting to the track. More usable horsepower and torque translate into a better, more economical towing experience. And rather than trading in your current truck for a bigger, more powerful rig, an STS system is just the ticket to boost that power through the roof.
When installing one of these systems the first thing you do is cut the stock exhaust pipe
There was a third item that really made us raise an eyebrow too-the turbocharger on the STS system is remotely mounted. That's right, as opposed to a traditional underhood mount, the turbo and all of its components are mounted toward the rear of the vehicle. The remote mounting location means lower underhood temperatures and lower air intake temperatures, both of which translate into the ability to generate more power.
Rick Squires, the company's founder, had been turbocharging his own cars for years at his Orem, Utah shop and knew a lot about the benefits and advantages of turbocharging motors. One day a customer came in looking for more power out of his Toyota Tacoma. The factory option was, in a word, pathetic. So while putting pencil to paper Squires came up with the idea to replace the muffler with a turbocharger. Over the next several years he refined the specific details and engineered out the bugs to make a system that worked properly. He subsequently applied for and was granted several patents on the design.
Today the company has been in business for 6 years, has 15 different model specific applications (plus a universal kit), and thousands of customers across the country being serviced through 150 dealers in the U.S. and Canada.
Simply put, because each and every one of us must tow our racecars to the track. A good portion of Circle Track readers own fullsize pickups that see double duty (work during the week, towing to the track on Saturday) and that schedule can be tough on your truck, particularly if you live in an area of the country with hills. How many times have you had to mat the gas pedal while going up a slight incline when towing your racecar? We've all done it more than once, every time watching the rpms skyrocket and hearing the motor bog down. That scenario is neither good for your truck nor your fuel economy.
The STS Turbo system offers continual power availability throughout your motor's power band and that makes for easier towing. Think of it this way, if the transmission doesn't have to kick out of Overdrive every time you go up a hill, then the motor will maintain a lower rpm at a more constant speed. You won't have to mat the gas to get up the hill and your throttle position can be less than normal because the motor is running more efficiently.
There are two things that make the STS System unique. Number one, it's a true bolt-on turb
STS Systems build good, strong power over a 1,200 rpm range which is essential to economical towing. You can run a conservative 5-6 pounds of boost and get significant horsepower and torque gains that are easy on the drivetrain. The bottom line when towing is that an STS-equipped motor doesn't have to work as hard as a stock one.
There are several pluses that the remote mounting of the STS system delivers. First and foremost, it's much easier to install than a conventional turbo system. Budget about 8 hours for a model-specific kit and get out your standard tools. Second, with the turbo out of the engine compartment, the operating temperatures of the turbo itself, the oil that is fed from the engine to the turbo and back to the engine, and the air the turbo is exposed to are all cooler. Cooler oil and air is better for both the turbo and engine and also eliminates the need for a turbo-timer, which allows the engine to run after the car is shut off in order to cool down the turbo and prevent oil and bearing damage.
The STS Turbo also utilizes the denser exhaust gasses which drive the turbo turbine wheel more effi-ciently. Plus with the turbo closer to the tailpipe outlet, there is a better pressure differential across the turbine wheel which promotes better flow across the turbine.
Finally, since everything in the system is basically outside the engine compartment, exhaust temps are 500 degrees lower than a conventional turbo system. Like we said earlier, the cooler air gives you the ability to generate more power. Another way that the remote mounting is beneficial is that the intake piping continues to cool the air as it makes it's way to the engine, meaning you don't have to run an intercooler.
One more thing we almost forgot. The turbo takes the place of the muffler and delivers a throaty aftermarket performance sound, then when you punch it, the turbo spool and rushing air from the blow-off valve make a unique sound that will turn heads!
Naturally, having a remotely mounted turbocharger means there's going to be some piping in
So you've made the decision to install an STS System on your truck. There are really only a couple of items to address. "The main thing to consider is the current condition of your fuel system," says David South, STS' vice president of marketing and sales. "We recommend a new fuel filter, new spark plugs, and that you ensure that your ignition system is in good working order, other than that all you need is some simple tools and 8 hours of time."
The ease of installation is a big plus to the STS System. The 15 model-specific kits the company offers utilize the factory exhaust mounting brackets, meaning there's little to nothing to fabricate. Even so, you should tune the computer (using a computer tuner like Hypertech or SuperChips), especially if you run full boost. If you don't have one of those, STS offers a plug-and-play tuning solution.
No, we don't mean the Central Florida theme park. Most of the model-specific systems that STS offers are based on the late-model Ford, Dodge, and GM (LS) engine configurations. But if you have an older model, don't fear. STS makes a universal kit that will fit almost any vehicle. Like the model-specific kits, the universal kit comes complete with everything you need to do the install yourself. As you might imagine, however, there's some additional pipe bending and potential fabrication depending upon your particular vehicle application.
The STS Turbo System is a revolutionary way to add gobs of horsepower and torque. Better still is that the system will make getting to and from the racetrack more economical and more efficient. While the systems are easy to install, STS also backs up the purchase with a staff of engineers to walk you through any questions. But our favorite thing about the system has to be the detailed 45-page instruction manual that tells you exactly how to install it. Any newbie racer who has ever ordered a control arm, pull bar, or transmission knows exactly what we mean.
Looking toward the front of the truck, the pipe runs along and under the right side of the
You can see the bend where the pipe starts to turn up and head toward the intake.
The piping is bent for the specific application, making installation a snap.
This is a view of the TiAL wastegate, one of the very best wastegates in the turbo industr
Like the turbo and wastegate, the oil pump is also remotely mounted. Oil is circulated thr
An ingenuous design exclusive to STS is the oil cap. The cap is a direct replacement for t
STS Systems come complete with their own wiring harness.
Eggers added a fuel pump voltage booster from MSD to Floyd's truck, one option for increas
Flip the switch and you can go from 5 pounds to 8 pounds of boost in an instant. This Dual
Aftermarket gauges, such as these from AutoMeter, include boost, air/fuel mixture, and fue
In this particular application, Eggers installed an intercooler. Although it reduces the i
The intercooler peaking out from under the front bumper is really the only visual clue tha