VSR Rigs, Balancing Turbos and Taking Small Advantages

27 February 2015
A core being balanced on one of the VSR machines, many custom turbo builders skip this crucial stage.

Here at Owen Developments we talk an awful lot about ‘balancing’ a turbo and how important it is, but we haven’t taken the time to really explain why it’s so important. When you think of the basic operation of a turbo you have two wheels on either end of a shaft spinning at very high speed, in some cases over 200,000rpm; at this kind of speed any mass that’s offset from the shaft’s centreline is bad news. A poorly balanced turbo won’t spool well, will be very noisy and will inevitably fail, usually in a very short period of time; obviously none of these traits are desirable. To put into perspective how small the tolerances have to be, being five gram millimetres out would induce a catastrophic vibration leading to a failure.

So, how do we avoid sending out what will rapidly become junk turbos? We start by individually balancing the shaft and wheels of the turbo. This makes balancing the turbo as an assembled core infinitely easier as you’ve eliminated the imbalances stacking up in the components. Many custom turbo builders would stop here, assemble the core and send it out without balancing it as a completed assembly; in some road car applications the turbo would be within acceptable tolerances and reliable, but it would be nowhere near our tolerances.

We’re obsessive when it comes to balancing; our current record for the longest time spent balancing a core on one of our VSR machines sits at over two days (!). It obviously wouldn’t be practical for a factory mass-producing turbos to have tolerances so tight that they might have to spend even an hour balancing each core, but it is practical for us! We see considerable gains for having invested the extra time in balancing; the response/spool, reliability and maximum safe shaft rotational speed of the turbo are greatly improved, all of which are attributes our customers want to see.

As Owen Developments produce such relatively low volumes of turbochargers we can be this picky over our tolerances and it is a large parts of what differentiates our turbos from the competition. It is also part of the reason turbos manufactured here at Owens won ~160 events and 35 Championships in 2014, and the same exacting standards apply to every turbo that leaves the workshop.


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Owen Developments Ltd
28 Kingston Business Park
Kingston Bagpuize
OX13 5AS

t: 01865 821062
w: www.owendevelopments.co.uk
e: enquiries@owendevelopments.co.uk
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