N52 head swap, injection and vanos controls

Rob09msport

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What could be the reasoning that BMW didn't make the n54 heads flow better like could the higher velocity tumble more and have a better burn at moderate power levels? Like how much does head porting usually help?
 

KevinC39

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I believe the injector takes up space that valves would normally use but someone can correct me if I'm wrong. The non direct infected engine would have bigger valves and flow better.

Edit: @doublespaces mentions it on page 1.
 
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Aaron

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That's some of it.

The bigger reason is their goals were only in the 300hp mark. The more you open up heads/valves the more you hurt response and low end power.
 
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What could be the reasoning that BMW didn't make the n54 heads flow better like could the higher velocity tumble more and have a better burn at moderate power levels? Like how much does head porting usually help?

I'm guessing they designed the head the way they did to help generate torque (thus spooling the turbo) at 1500-1700rpm. Head porting would help the top end immensely if the rest of your setup is up to par. If you want proof, just look at Honda S2000 motors, which put down ~700whp @ just 18psi with a well-sorted kit...

I believe the injector takes up space that valves would normally use but someone can correct me if I'm wrong. The non direct infected engine would have bigger valves and flow better.

Edit: @doublespaces mentions it on page 1.

N53/N55/S55 heads use slightly larger valves than the N54, while still retaining DI. N53 even uses the same Piezo injectors...

That's some of it.

The bigger reason is their goals were only in the 300hp mark. The more you open up heads/valves the more you hurt response and low end power.

Agreed!
 

Rob09msport

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So for street purposes unless hitting limits of a big turbo it seems like porting could be counter intuitive correct ? Say someone with gc or gc lites would prob have better torque curve on stock heads and really not lose much up top or even at that level top end would see big gains on this platform ?
 

Aaron

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Not at all actually, a ported head would offer huge benefits to even a stock turbo car, and on aftermarket turbo(s) the gains would be seriously staggering. They would come at a cost to response and low end torque, but IMO the trade-off would be well worth it.
 
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Also keep in mind that a ported head and bigger cams go hand in hand, i.e. for best results you want both combined together. Doesn't make sense to me why upgraded cams are such a rarity on this platform despite being a FAR superior bolt on to something like a Docrace IM from a whp/$$ perspective. Might be the relative difficulty of a DIY install perhaps?
 
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To illustrate the importance of good head flow further; here is a dyno sheet of an N53 Euro 330i with longtube headers, aftermarket intake/airbox, N54 intake manifold , and a tune. Notice how flat the torque curve is, and how it just keeps making power. My guess is they could have extended the redline to 7750 or even 8000 and cracked the 100PS/L mark -and this is still on stock (N53) cams mind you. Now imagine this setup boosted, with a free-breathing exhaust side... (i.e. not hybrid turbos)





fbo n53 dyno.jpg
 

Rob09msport

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Think reason for cams not being common is people usually don't crack a block unless they have to, also im sure the long warranty on turbos and hpfp doesn't help, last is vanos and the dme not being cracked early on. I grew up on heads, cam, msd ignition, as your first real power adders and gears and shifter. Turbos from factory have really simplifies the formula but if people like you can pave way things could get interesting.
 
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Think reason for cams not being common is people usually don't crack a block unless they have to, also im sure the long warranty on turbos and hpfp doesn't help, last is vanos and the dme not being cracked early on. I grew up on heads, cam, msd ignition, as your first real power adders and gears and shifter. Turbos from factory have really simplifies the formula but if people like you can pave way things could get interesting.


IMHO replacing valve guides seals on these motors is an absolute must on all but the latest and lowest mileage N54s. Prime time to install cams while you're in there, and maybe fresh cam ledges as well if you have a higher mileage motor... Trouble is, I count ~$2750 in parts alone to do the job not including labor or special tools, and that's assuming low-lift cams and stock valvetrain (which I am running)
 
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Panzerfaust

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Also keep in mind that a ported head and bigger cams go hand in hand, i.e. for best results you want both combined together. Doesn't make sense to me why upgraded cams are such a rarity on this platform despite being a FAR superior bolt on to something like a Docrace IM from a whp/$$ perspective. Might be the relative difficulty of a DIY install perhaps?
That's a question that's always been in my head too - I think it's a combination of the fact that it's harder to DIY, and that having two cams means it's more expensive. Even on older, single-cam platforms it was really still the dedicated people who did cams, not just your typical FBO stoplight-to-stoplight racer. With all these new engines having two+ cams and VVT, it seems like they're getting less popular in general honestly. Even the mustang guys hardly swap cams on their shiny new Coyote's, but on a foxbody that was the difference between "finally bought my highschool dream car" and "gearhead with a problem"
 
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I have the N53 head installed, and (very) soon to be running on my car. Here is a brief rundown of what needs to be done to get this to work.

a) first and foremost, an N53 head needs to be sourced from Europe. Note that these weren't all that common to begin with...
b) several water jackets need to be welded shut and port-matched to an N54 HG, and the oil drainage holes need to be enlarged as well
c) head bolt holes are 1mm too small, and N54 head bolt washers are too large and need to be machined down
d) There is a 19mm hole/fitting in the back of the head that needs to be plugged
e) exhaust ports are completely incompatible with anything N54-related, so a suitable solution will need to be devised here
f) inlet ports have no drillings leading to the valve cover ports, so an external low-side PCV solution will need to be rigged up.
g) all other parts (intake manifold, cams, ledges, seals, valve cover, etc) fit with no modification

In all, it was a lot of work. And I don't think the effort is justified for anything but the most hardcore of builds, especially since most forum members here have head porting options available to them locally. Before you ask, I did not take any pics of the process above. I will however, share pics of my completed setup within the coming few days, in a separate build thread...


FWIW running an N52 head properly would be the same deal, with the addition of the following

a) standalone ECU
b) milling the valvetronic bridge and fitting an intake cam ledge with some proper cams

thanks for the info , i purchased an n53 head myself should be here soon BUT you lost me at E..so youre saying the ports itself are completely different or just the bolt pattern on the exhaust manifold? can you elaborate more on this, thanks !
 

doublespaces

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thanks for the info , i purchased an n53 head myself should be here soon BUT you lost me at E..so youre saying the ports itself are completely different or just the bolt pattern on the exhaust manifold? can you elaborate more on this, thanks !

Both, you need a new exhaust manifold. Ports are bigger and bolt pattern is slightly different.
 
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doublespaces

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How much was the N53 head? Someone should make a small batch of flanges so we can free those N53 heads from those sorry naturally aspirated engines they got paired to.
 
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Head is rare/hard to find, but often goes for 700-800EUR, I already have another 2 sets here in my possession which I will convert to N54-spec and set aside for future use. Will also supply with suitable ex manifold flanges...
 
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