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2.3L NA vs. Turbo Differences


LSX_Marshall

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I'm going to look at a car next week that has a 2.3L ford with a turbo on it. Was told it is an older carbed version that has been converted to a blow-thru supposedly so I'm assuming '79-'81. No clue if the dude knows what he has or not. I am concerned mostly with it being a NA motor with a turbo slapped on there that is likely to blow up in a month. Being the older version, it has a steel valve cover so I can't go by that. Don't know what type carb is on it, haven't seen it in person yet. What should I be looking for to make this determination or am I just going to have to take my chances? I am totally fine with it being NA if that's what it is, but I'd hate to unknowingly run it with the turbo and ruin a perfectly good NA enigne.
 
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ricardo93

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With n/a's of any kind you can slap a turbo kit on it and boost it safely up to around 8psi but with carburetors you can only boost it to 8psi before blowing all the seals in the carb so if you have the ability to check the boost do so to make sure its between 5-7 psi
 

LSX_Marshall

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True they could handle low boost but they become much more likely to blow at any moment especially if you run it hard. I'd like to keep my NA's and Turbos separate for my driver cars. I'm really just interested in physical differences that I can see without tearing the motor down. I know the 2.3t has forged pistons and the newer ones have an oil return port cast in the block. I do know from pictures that this one has an oil return on the passenger side of the pan. Don't know how the '79-'81 was plumbed for that return.
 
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ricardo93

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Scotts90ranger can help you with informantion concerning turbos and turboing the 2.3
 

Mikel89us

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The only way to tell if its a turbo motor is to pull the head off and look at the pistons. Unfortunately that is the only way. Everything on these motors is the same between the 2.3 and 2.3t, they used the same head, rods, crank, block, distributor, mounts and transmissions
. To hold the boost of the turbo the only put in forged dished pistons. Everything else is identical.
 

mat-archer

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Or if you have access to an inspection camera, could you not pull a spark plug, insert camera, see what the camera shows on the screen? Be a hell of a lot easier then tearing head off...just a thought.


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Mikel89us

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Yes a camera would work, but not many people have one so I don't usually bring it up.
 

LSX_Marshall

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Would it be possible to look in the spark plug holes with a pen flashlight and see the dish? I have done this many time determining the difference between a flat piston 4.8 and a dish piston 5.3 chevy (same blocks, heads everything but bottom end) I cant find a picture of both stock pistons to see if there is enough difference to pull this off. Anyone know?

Also for anyone interested here is the only decent picture of the engine I have. About the only thing I can tell about it is that the oil drain is in the pan not the block, it doesn't have the newer aluminum turbo valve cover and that is a holset hx35 turbo.
 

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Mikel89us

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If the oil return is in the pan, its a good bet its not a factory turbo motor, don't take my word for it though, I've never seen the old Carbed ones in person. The piston should be distinguishable from the hole with a flashlight, the dish is only on about half the piston, but you should be able to see the ledge as I think its on the intake side.
 

LSX_Marshall

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From my understanding of the draw-thru turbo motors, the turbo was mounted on the intake side anyways so it would make sense for someone to have replumbed the oil drain. After digging in the tech library on here, it says the '79-'81 turbo pistons were high compression (9.0), does this mean they would be flat top too?
 

Mikel89us

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I thought the draw thru carbs had the carb sitting on the passenger side where the air box is. If they were 9:1 motors, they very well could have been flat tops.
 

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Just doing a little browsing on the topic and found a picture from a 1979 mustang 2.3 turbo sales brochure. I blew it up a little to help show the factory turbo location. I appears to be on the drivers side under the normal carb location.
 

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ricardo93

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So the turbo feeds straight into the manifold?
 

Mikel89us

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Interesting. I've never seen one with the carb, looks like the setup my buddy is about to use on his 350 sbc.
 

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