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Old 04-05-2020, 10:51 AM   #1
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E-Series 7.3L Turbo repair or upgrade?

I am looking for a little guidance. While I was installing my new gauges and inspecting things in the engine bay, I found out that my turbo ate something. No idea how long it has been like this...

Now looking for ways to repair or upgrade the turbo. It also seems that all of the diesel sites only support the trucks and not our vans. Any advice would be great.
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:06 AM   #2
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Yikes. That's doesn't look like erosion from a leaky air filter. That ate up something solid. Might want to do a compression check. Or at least a cylinder balance test (aka relative compression depending on the software). I'd be surprised if you don't have some leaky valves now.
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Old 04-05-2020, 01:42 PM   #3
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E-Series 7.3L Turbo repair or upgrade?

Yup^^^^
The last I checked, the wicked wheel II did fit in our stock turbos, but Ive gotten mixed reviews as far as the benefits and effectiveness. Seemed that every shop I called that had them on the shelves or in their showrooms, sang their praises, all others were a bit less enthusiastic, some that had customers with them installed.
That being said, Id imagine that your boost is also effected? Boost guage? Id look into getting things sorted out and repairing/replacing with stock/OEM parts and if you want to look into potential HP gains, take a look at Power Hungry Performance Hydra chip.....and please, whatever you do, stay away from the DP noTuner(or replace it if youve got one)
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:37 PM   #4
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Like CarringB says yikes----would love to know what caused that damage.
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Old 04-05-2020, 03:48 PM   #5
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This all started with the install on my Hydra Chip (I am very happy with btw)... After doing that, I wanted to install the gauges and started taking things apart, then found the chewed up turbo.

The van actually ran pretty nice with no signs of anything wrong, so I was pretty surprised to find that. The boost before the chip was in the 8-9 range and after the chip with the 60 Daily tune was in the 12-13 range, read from my scanguage.

My only guess is the local ford dealer's quicklane did an oil service and fuel filter service that resulted in some incompetent tech cracking my airbox in half and not telling me about it. I luckily opened the hood before I left... They bought me a new box after that. So "maybe" that same tech dropped a bolt or rock from the airbox down the intake tube? Total guess however and it was a while ago due to the van sitting so long during the camper conversion.

Trying to decide how to proceed. This can of worms could get pretty big...
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Old 04-05-2020, 04:49 PM   #6
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The damage was pretty recent, otherwise those chewed up edges wouldn't be so shiny. You are probably right that something dropped in at the last oil change, but the extra boost probably gave it enough suck finally pull that loose bolt or whatever into the turbo.

It would be prudent at this point to do further diagnostics. It would be unlikely that whatever chewed up the turbo did not also chew up some valve seats or bend a valve. And a turbo upgrade now will just further mask any performance loss from the damage.
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Old 04-05-2020, 06:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
The damage was pretty recent, otherwise those showed up edges wouldn't be so shiny. You are probably right that something dropped in at the last oil change, but the extra boost probably gave it enough suck finally pull that loose bolt or whatever into the turbo.

It would be prudent at this point to do further diagnostics. It would be unlikely that whatever chewed up the turbo did not also chew up some valve seats or bend a valve. And a turbo upgrade now will just further mask any performance loss from the damage.
Thanks for the guidance. I guess at the moment I will source a compression tester and the adaptor for the glow plug hole. Would it matter if I remove the turbo now or should I wait to test the compression first?

I was thinking if I pulled the turbo and intake manifold parts, I could see if there are any other bits before cranking it over again.
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Old 04-05-2020, 08:08 PM   #8
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Yeah I would pull the turbo and scope the intake, make sure there's no debris about to cause more damage.
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Old 04-06-2020, 08:35 AM   #9
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I've been through several of these deals where the engine swallowed something. You feel a lot better when you find out what it was, if it's still stuck in there or did it pass thru.



My guess? It ingested some plastic piece from the broken airbox at the service department. Hopefully nothing more. From the look of the inside of the housing, I'd say something small bounced around (tiny dings) The after filter hose has a molded in 'step down offset', and convolutions perfect for hiding bits (at least on my 1995 7.3). The knucklehead probably didn't give any care to removing and sweeping the intake hose, because it would have meant removing the big scary engine cover inside the van, ooooooh. Worse, after you called them out on being so hamfisted, they probably drove it 'round back, to replace the airbox, without even considering it could suck broken airbox bits into the turbo. A lifelong dealership mechanic turned service manager turned shop owner (who used to crew on my racecar) shared many of his experiences with me. Get 'em in, get 'em out, beat that flat rate, then pray it doesn't come back. If it does come back, maybe the service writer can blame it on something else. I haven't had very good experiences with shops, as you can tell, dealerships in the SF Bay area being some of the worst.

The aftermarket has a lot of support for the 7.3's still. I think the intake side is identical, the exhaust housing is slightly different, has a different number, but I'm 90% sure everything interchanges (check with the guys you order parts from)

I wouldn't panic though, turbo impeller fin damage like that can happen from the smallest of objects, the turbo does spin up to 30000 rpm, so it doesn't take much to produce damage like that.


Hopefully the object was ground up into tiny bits and passed. You'll know when you remove the turbo and inspect the exhaust wheel blades if something large passed.



It it were me, I might just put it back together, bent fins and all, and run it, see if it has symptoms of a bigger problem, a miss or something. If it runs good (other than expected low boost because of the buggered up impeller), then take it back apart and replace the turbo impeller. If you need to do this on the cheap, you can likely find a stock impeller on someone's shelf, after they replaced their perfectly good impeller w/a wicked wheel. These turbochargers are modular, other than the occational stuck exhaust housing bolt, pretty simple to deal with on the bench.


If you wind up doing a 'deep dive' yourself, what I found is the engine package is the about the same as a truck, but less room over the top of the engine to maneuver. The turbo tear it down is just like a truck, but easier. Take out the front seats and engine cover, then pull the intake hose, the spider, the turbo and pedestal, the exhaust Y and down pipes (replace as needed). Use a 1/4" drive socket, swivel, long extension combinations on all those hose clamps.



You could also remove the intake covers (manifolds) and visually inspect to see if anything is stuck in the intake tract/backside of an intake valve with the help of a $90 endoscope/borescope. (google image 7.3 cylinder head) You could perform a cylinder pressure test about now, as I *think* the valve covers need to come off to that, not sure if you use the glowplug hole on a 7.3 or what, hopefully not the injector hole.



Replace pedestal o-rings that are hard by now, repair the leaking exhaust flapper actuator valve oil leak (if it has a leak, which is likely), and address any other leaks like the fuel bowl and it's 18 orings and hoses that leak, while it's apart (Check out diesel orings .com).



If you rebuild the turbo yourself, upgrade to the w/360 degree bearing and wicked wheel (not rocket surgery), fix the leaking down pipe connections (commonly causes low boost if they leak) with new parts.


good luck
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Old 04-12-2020, 03:24 PM   #10
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I just replaced my turbo with a custom unit. I can confirm the the exhaust flange of the truck turbos does not fit the vans. Do to a lack of good info on this I ended up buying a gtp38r truck turbo to figure it out.

Custom turbo, injectors and tunes run pretty dang good. That said, I think the injectors and tunes are the major contributors.
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