Category Archives: Turbos

Steam Turbo Install Instructions

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Download the PDF – Steam STX Turbo Installation Instructions

Steam STX Turbo Installation Instructions

Steam STX Turbochargers are manufactured with the highest quality components, equipment, and procedures as possible.  When installed, maintained, and operated correctly, these turbos can provide many years of reliable service.  Incorrect turbo installation can lead to premature turbo failure and voids the warranty.  Professional installation is recommended.

Pre-installation Checklist

  • Make sure the engine, oil, and cooling systems are healthy, clean, and in good working order.
  • If you’ve had an engine or turbo failure, make sure the root cause has been identified and addressed.
  • Change the engine oil with clean new oil and a new filter.
  • Make sure the pre-turbo intake and pre-turbo exhaust systems are free of foreign objects.
  • We recommend replacing the OEM oil feed line, but if you are reusing the stock line, make sure it is clean and unobstructed. We sell upgraded stainless steel oil feed lines at affordable prices to help our customers avoid oil starvation problems caused by clogged oil feed lines.
  • Ensure the crank case ventilation system is operating correctly.

Turbo Installation
1. Remove the old turbo. If you are unsure how to do this, refer to the service manual for the car.  Generally this involves these steps:
– Remove the down pipe.
– Remove the connected intercooler and/or intercooler piping connected to the turbo.
– Disconnect and temporarily clamp the turbo’s water lines.
– Disconnect the oil feed line. Note: take care to not crack or over bend the stock oil feed line if you intend to reuse it.
– Disconnect the vacuum line from the compressor housing (if applicable).
– Unbolt and remove the turbo from the up pipe. The oil return hose and clamps will be reused.
2. Install the new Steam STX turbo. Perform the turbo removal steps in reverse.  Note:
– Make sure all of the hoses and fittings are tightly clamped post install.
– Always replace old gaskets with new SteamSpeed gaskets or OEM gaskets.
– Make sure all flange surfaces are flat and clean before replacing the gaskets.
– Pre-turbo exhaust leaks and post-turbo boost leaks are the main cause for slow turbo spool up.
– Replace corroded or otherwise damaged hardware as needed.
– Use OEM torque specs.
3. Prime the turbo by cranking the engine without firing for at least 30-60 seconds. You can disable the ignition by removing the ignition fuse, or disconnecting the sparkplugs.  Skipping this step will lead to premature turbo failure and will void your warranty.
4. Start the engine and let it idle for at least 3-4 minutes. While the engine is idling, check for leaks, and if any are detected, stop the engine at once and fix the leak.
5. Stop the engine and recheck the engine oil level.
6. Enjoy boosting with your new Steam STX turbocharger!

Steam STX 71 + 2015 Subaru STI PREracing Dyno Session

I spent the day a few weeks back at PRE.  I was getting our shop I had originally booked our 2001 RS with the EJ207 swap to get tuned, but we ended up having a double feature.

SteamSpeed's 2001 RS w/ JDM EJ207 + STX Power
SteamSpeed’s 2001 RS w/ JDM EJ207 + STX Power

Anyway, way back at the BNW meet, we told Jason that the STX 71 is a 400+ WHP turbo.  Frankly he did not believe it simply because no turbo on his dyno has been able to make 400+ WHP with a stock sized inlet.  We now our turbo is not any other turbo and can make more power than competing turbos from Tomei, Blouch, Tomioka Racing, etc.  So, we gave him a STX 71 to verify our claims for himself on his own dyno.

He found a willing customer with a 2015 Subaru WRX STI with a stock block and a number of COBB parts like their exhaust system for example.  COBB makes fine parts, but they, for the most part, are not designed to make over 400 WHP.  For example both their so called 3″ down pipe and cat back have a 2.5″ taper.  I guess that is great for mating to the stock exhaust system, but not great if you want to make more than 350 WHP.

Luckily their customer was on board on swapping out the power limiting parts with exhaust and intercooler components from ETS and GrimmSpeed.  I worried that they kept the COBB intake since it isn’t a “big MAF” style intake and all of our turbos will max a stock sized intake, but Erich , their tuner, said it is larger than stock and should be ok.

2015 STI with a Steam STX 71 turbo
2015 STI with a Steam STX 71 turbo

With all of the supporting mods, Erich when after it, and laid down a great tune.  With consideration for the stock motor, this is where he left it.  Note: they don’t do any correction on their dyno numbers.

PRE's 71 Test tune on a 2015 STI
PRE’s 71 Test tune on a 2015 STI


Anyway, Erich calculated that corrected atmospheric conditions the peak power that was measured was actually 395 whp.  He expected that it would probably have made another 40 whp and likely maxed out the MAF on the larger diameter COBB intake.  More importantly, no other turbo had made similar power on a stock sized inlet with pump gas.

Nice work guys at PRE!


Introducing the SteamSpeed IWG+ (Internal Waste Gate Plus)

Introducing the SteamSpeed IWG+.  It is our new pro version of our billet aluminum internal wastegate actuator.  Mechanically it is a lot strong than our previous actuator design.  Also, the ring around the edge screws close which simplifies changing out springs should you need to.

Here is the front view:

SteamSpeed IWG+

SteamSpeed IWG+

Note: this is just a prototype.  The final version will be anodized black and will have our logo laser etched in.

Here is the IWG+ installed on a twin scroll STX 71.

SteamSpeed IWG+
SteamSpeed IWG+

Here is our V1 billet aluminum actuator.  Note: our newer actuators are anodized black with our logo laser etched in.

STX Billet Waste Gate V1
STX Billet Waste Gate V1
STX Billet Waste Gate V1
STX Billet Waste Gate V1

New Turbos: Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll

Looking for something a little bigger?  Need something a little more custom?  Here is a custom made Steam STX 25G with JDM twin scroll “stock location fitment.”  With that said, this turbo is big, as it probably better suited for a rotated setup.

Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 25G for STI Twinscroll
Steam STX 71 for STI Twin Scroll
Steam STX 71 for STI Twin Scroll

Introducing: The Steam STX N55 BMW Twin Turbocharger Upgrade

Steam STX N55 BMW Turbocharger Upgrade
Steam STX N55 BMW Turbocharger Upgrade

We’ve been manufacturing Subaru-only turbochargers for some time now.  That is mostly because we started doing this because we are Subaru enthusiasts.  That being said, our capabilities stretch to other brands.   Now we are offering a twin turbo upgrade kit for both prospective stage 1 or stage 2 applications.

This is a legitimate turbo upgrade; meaning, it is designed for the factory location.  We supply a new balanced CHRA, complete with new turbine wheel and billet compressor wheel in 62mm or 67mm, depending on what your goals are, and you install that CHRA in your existing turbine housing, attach the compressor housing and all other factory accessories, such as the blow off valve and the wastegate actuator.

Steam STX N55 Compressor Housing and CHRA
Steam STX N55 Compressor Housing and CHRA

With supporting mods, this kit is 600whp capable (stage 2).   Because we are using our 9-blade technology, the spool is still quick and peak flow is there for high rpm performance.

As one might expect, these are manufactured with the same strict attention to detail that we have exhibited in the past with all of our Subaru turbochargers.  They have superior internals and excellent balance characteristics; everything one needs for high octane, high RPM enjoyment.

Want more information? Give us a call at +1 (206) 607-9149 or visit our site.

Supporting Modifications and Your Turbocharger’s Efficiency

Occasionally, we have the opportunity to help our customer troubleshoot situations where their expectations are not being met after installing one of our turbochargers.  This sounds bad initially, but hear me out.

For a moment, consider that a turbocharger is a lot like a big barrel of water.  At the top, there is an inlet where water can fill the barrel.  At the bottom there is an outlet where water can exit the barrel.  If the inlet at the top of the barrel is closed, it will be impossible to achieve constant, high volume flow out the exit.  Now consider the opposite, where the exit is barely open but the inlet is entirely open and a hose is pouring water in the opening.  It won’t take long before water is overflowing out the opening and there is still very little water coming out the exit.

Turbochargers work on similar principles, only more complex.   Their ability to flow is dependent on the engines ability to move the gasses that are injected into the cylinder for combustion.   For example, if one were to use our Steam STX 71 with a factory exhaust, it is likely that they would be disappointed on the dyno.  The factory exhaust is simply not capable of moving exhaust fast enough for the turbo to spool quickly or make power because the engine can only combust as fast as it can evacuate the exhaust gasses.  Therefore, the more gasses you can create, the more horsepower and torque you will make.  This process is contingent on the ability to move gasses through the system and out the tailpipes.

Sometimes when a customer might state that a turbo is spooling slower than expected, we discover later that there is an exhaust leak somewhere.   Since a turbocharger’s job is to leverage wasted heat from the engine by means of capturing it in the exhaust path, it makes sense that if that heat is leaking off before it reaches the turbo, the turbo will spool slower and produce less power overall.  This one takes us back to our early days in school where we learn about the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Another culprit of a let-down on the dyno can be the wastegate.  The wastegate is called that for a reason.  It’s sole purpose is to waste energy.  This is a good thing when it is tuned properly, and a very bad thing when it is not.  The wastegate’s job is to open when the turbocharger has pressurized the intake manifold to the proper pressure (usually measured in psi).  Let’s assume you are striving to reach 20psi with your tune.  When the turbocharger achieves this, the wastegate on the hotside of the turbo opens up to let exhaust gasses that would normally drive the turbine, escape around the turbine instead of passing through it.  This makes it possible for the turbo to flow at a desired rate without overboosting the engine.  If the wastegate is opening to early, or the spring is insufficient for the tune, exhaust gases that are necessary to make power will be lost along with the power they would have supplied to the engine.

Intercoolers.  We love them and we hate them.  We love them because they cool the air charge going to our engine, lowering the risk of detonation, and giving us much more power than we would have if they were hotter.   Hot intake gasses are less dense, and because of this, supply less oxygen per cubic liter than colder intake gasses.  A warmer intake charge also means that your tuner will have to compensate for those temperatures in power-robbing timing settings.   A good top-mount intercooler will be sufficient for most, however many opt for a front mount intercooler.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Your build and your pocketbook will largely determine what works best for you.  A front mount intercooler means a lot more air is necessary to pressurize the intake system.  This results in power later, but it usually results in lower intake temperatures too.  Also, more piping, means more connections and more connections means more opportunity for leaks.  If you find that your intake is leaking, you’ll know it by a massive loss in power and it taking longer to reach boost.  The air that would have been used to combust a greater amount of fuel is being dumped to atmosphere.  That means less power to the wheels.

Supporting modifications influence your turbocharger’s efficiency.  The fewer you have, the less power you will make.  It is important to consider what other items will be necessary for you to achieve your goals when bolting on a device that is intended to push your vehicles power well beyond what the factory intended.

Introducing the Steam STX 67 Plus for Subaru WRX/STI

We would like to introduce you to our newest turbo to our lineup, the Steam STX 67 Plus Turbocharger aka STX 67+.

Best on our gas bench testing of our Steam STX 71 compressor wheel, we were able to estimate that our STX 67+ compressor wheel will flow 0.38 Kg/s or over 51 lbs/min.  That is a huge increase power producing flow vs stock, while still maintaining the quick response of a stock turbo.STX 67 (estimated) vs GTX2067R Compressor Map

STX 67 (estimated) vs GTX2067R Compressor Map

Our gas bench testing on the turbine section illustrates how our turbos are able to both spool quickly, and flow very well even at high RPMs.  This is how we are able to achieve both a quick response and keep building power up top.  This was measured with the STX 67+’s turbine and our 8cm^2 single scroll WRX/STI turbine housing.

STX 71 vs GTX30 turbine map
STX 67+ vs GTX30 turbine map


Do you have a JDM STI style twin scroll turbo setup and exhaust?  We have you covered with our STX STX 67+ Twinscroll.  Still with our up 400 WHP STX 67 compressor wheel, but now with our larger high flowing low-inertia 9-blade turbine.


FAQ: Turbocharger Shaft Play

We often get asked questions about shaft play.  The concern is valid.  Before leaving the factory, all Steam STX turbochargers are inspected and validated to not have shaft movement beyond 0.09mm in any direction as part of our QA process.  Without precise measuring equipment, it would be hard for a person to detect that tiny amount of deflection.

Here is an example test where the max deviation was 0.027mm.

testing shaft play on a turbocharger
testing shaft play on a turbocharger

Typically shaft play implies bearing failure and damage.  Side to side movement implies damage to the main bearings.  In and out moment implies damage to the thrust bearing.  Once the shaft play is too extreme and the turbo’s wheels touch the housings, the whole turbo is ruined.

The most common reason to bearing failure is lack of lubrication, meaning not enough oil getting to the bearings, or the oil is old or contaminated such that it can’t protect the bearings.  Also, if a turbo is not primed before staring your car, the bearings will experience a sever lack of lubrication.  It will cause bearing damage and premature turbo failure.  FYI: The stand procedure is to crank your engine for at least 30 sec without starting it to get the oil throughout the turbo CHRA.

Poor lubrication is the 90%+ failure case.  Upon disassemble of the CHRA, it is very easy for us to detect oil related failures.

Oil Starvation
Oil Starvation

The other failures are due to customers just pushing their turbos hard.  Pushing your engine components hard isn’t a problem; you just need to be aware, it makes them wear out faster.  If you push your turbo to very high shaft speeds for long periods of time, it won’t last as long.  Turbochargers are normally balanced on a VSR (vibration sort rig) up to 100,000 RPM; however, pushing a turbo to high pressure ratios will exceed 100k shaft speeds.   Customers may run at higher pressure ratios, just like they can also have a 12k RPM readline, but it does impact durability.

Warning: engineering content:  Also, the rotating assembly will have natural harmonic frequency as elastic systems do.  The force on the turbine will also add additional vibrations at different harmonics depending on the design of the aero.  Basically the natural harmonics + forced vibrations can also damage the bearings.  Most of this is mitigated though, by the design of the turbine aero, and using the VSR to remove extra vibrations due to imbalance.  In other words, this type of failure can be avoided before you get your turbo through proper design and manufacturing.

Compressor surge can be destroy bearings as well, but can generally be avoided by designing your turbo system correctly.  If you don’t actually want to figure it out, the I would recommend getting some good advice on what you need.  Ask your tuner, or give us a call if in doubt.

For journal bearing turbos, damaged bearings are easy to replace assuming the wheels have not touched the housings.  It is possible for a normal person to replace them in their home garage if they are careful.  We however, resubmit the turbo through our entire QA process including a re-balance on a VSR.

Garrett ball bearing turbos are more resilient to abuse, but when they break, they are very hard to repair, well at least for any one other than Garrett.  Essentially they are designed such that the whole bearing assembly has to be replaced.  Garret does not sell then to the public.  The ones you see on ebay are fakes, FYI.

To recap, you can avoid most turbo failures by: following correct turbo install procedures, providing a sufficient and clean oil supply, and having the car properly tuned.  If followed, your turbo will last for years reliably.

Production Steam STX 67+ Turbos Are In

Great news, our production Steam STX 67+ turbos for Subaru WRX STI are in stock! The preorders have already started shipping, so you should see your turbos soon.

In case you were wondering, they are similar to our standard Steam STX 67 turbos, except the plus model has the next larger turbine. The should both be 350-400 whp turbos. The plus model might be a better fit for your car than the standard 67 if your car is more built, has a 2.5l motor, or otherwise is higher flowing.

You can read more about them here:
Steam STX 67+ Single Scroll for WRX STI
Steam STX 67+ Twin Scroll for WRX STI
Steam STX 67 Single Scroll for WRX STI
Steam STX 67 Twin Scroll for WRX STI

New Steam STX Turbo Stock
New Steam STX Turbo Stock

Here are some more detailed pictures.

Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger

The port job on these turbos look great. 🙂

Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger
Steam STX 67+ Turbocharger