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      11-22-2012, 08:47 AM   #1
Fed P
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Deciding on bolt-on FMIC / intercooler

Hi all,

I've tried to do as much reading as I can before choosing a bolt-on intercooler but there are bits and pieces of info usually, and usually people discussing bolt-on vs cutting required and so on whereas I know I want a direct bolt-on.

My research so far tells me these are my options:
Forge
5" ETS
Wagner
Helix

Any others?

I have an M bumper, does anyone know if all/any of these are still direct bolt-on or whether that complicates matters?

Of the 4, I have a hard time choosing. The cost is all over the place but is not a deciding factor for me, I want to be sure that it is a direct fit and after that I want the best performance.

Thoughts and comments?

Thanks!
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      11-22-2012, 09:03 AM   #2
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From discussions with local tuners and just some of the hard data ETS provides, I chose the ETS kit. I have yet to install it but its a really nice looking piece.
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      11-22-2012, 09:45 AM   #3
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ETS will slip in with no cutting, and i want to say helix does as well...those are all quality pieces.
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      11-22-2012, 10:54 AM   #4
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Thanks, if anything I'm now more sure I won't go wrong regardless of what I get =)

Does anyone have any of the above with an M bumper though? Would be good to get a field verification.

The Forge and ETS do not have the "step up" that Wagner and Helix does. Has anyone seen any concrete data comparing any of the 4? I wonder if the "step" is really useful or not.
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      11-22-2012, 04:46 PM   #5
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As far as I know Wagner stock two different intercooler's for the 1M & 135i, I guess due to bumper size. If you are running a stock, genuine 1M bumper then I'd say get the 1M intercooler but as for replica bumpers which fit with stock 135i fenders...who knows.

I'd contact Wagner and ask them to make sure, you may even be able to buy a 135i intercooler and trade for a 1M version if it doesn't fit if you explain to them what you are doing.

As for data, I spent a fair bit of time talking to Wagner UK and the figures looked good. Temps were way down on stock and I've no reason to think that the fact it uses stock couplings hold it back at all...that's down to debate though. For a true drop-in intercooler there is no other, ETS requires removal of couplings and installation of additional pipes but it is also a no-trim option and a very good one too.
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      11-22-2012, 05:00 PM   #6
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I'd go with the Forge as it's a true drop-in, no mods, no trimming, AND the hose end caps are machined to accept the OEM BMW hoses with OEM fittings.
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      11-22-2012, 05:51 PM   #7
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I would go with helix over Wagner anyday, helix has thrown up results of their intercooler and how well it flows compared to others, best intercooler out there imo, it is what the guys with the big single turbos are running
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      11-22-2012, 06:18 PM   #8
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I think you also need to tell us IF you are looking for factory IC hose connectors or IF you don't minding cutting (off) your IC pipes a bit to make some of these FMIC work.
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      11-22-2012, 10:17 PM   #9
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I would go with the ETS 5". It is a direct bolt on that requires no cutting. Then also the piping that ETS provides is far superior than the stock oem. ETS all the way
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      11-23-2012, 02:17 AM   #10
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Ralph and Eric at Helix have been AWESOME to deal with. I had one of their stepped cores in my r56 and it was brilliant. I've seen the 1 series setup and it looks pretty great too. Their website is informative and drop em a note and they'll answer anything for you. Highly recommended! I've also heard good things on the forge.. but have no personal experience with the product.
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      11-23-2012, 04:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dackelone View Post
I think you also need to tell us IF you are looking for factory IC hose connectors or IF you don't minding cutting (off) your IC pipes a bit to make some of these FMIC work.
So some of the 4 options I listed require cutting the stock piping leading from the turbos to the IC and/or from the IC to the chargepipe? I totally missed that if that's the case, which of the 4 require that?

You definitely helped me avoid a surprise there!

Looks like everyone has recommended each model at least once, that's a good sign =)
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      11-23-2012, 09:04 AM   #12
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Don't overlook the VSRF
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      11-23-2012, 10:13 AM   #13
Fed P
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Their 7" is somehow a bolt-on? I wonder how they managed that!

Questions remaining:
- Which FMICs require cutting the stock IC pipes?
- Does anyone have any concrete real-world comparisons of any of these?
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      11-23-2012, 10:17 AM   #14
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Fred,

Just a couple more comments regarding the Wagner (bar & plate version)...

Obviously with the step design the Wagner is much deeper than the OEM I/C. However, even when pushed up against the bottom of the radiator, the bottom of the Wagner is still about an inch lower than the OEM I/C. As a result, the plastic cross beam that channels air to the OEM I/C blocks a bit of the frontal surface area of the Wagner unit. In addition, slotting the Wagner unit behind this plastic piece made it very difficult to line up the OEM hose couplings. I'm sure the install can be done without removing the plastic beam, but I chose to cut it out. With the plastic beam removed, the Wagner sits flush with the plastic under tray, therefor there is no gap under the Wagner unit and air is forced through the I/C.

As mentioned above, the OEM connections are machined to very tight tolerances, so intallation can be a pain. If you go this route, here's a helpful tip... Unlike the OEM I/C where the retaining clip can be pulled partially out and it will stay in an unlocked position, the Wagner unit will not do this. However, if you spin the retaining clip 90 degrees, the locking mechanism is open. Then all you have to do is plug in the OEM hose connector and spin the retain clip back to the locking position. Give the hose a tug to make sure it is locked in. Like I said, the tolerances are very tight so getting it to lock took a few attempts.

As for performance, I am very happy with the Wagner I/C. I live in Florida so excess heat can be a real issue. In the summer time (90+ degree ambient temps) the OEM I/C would show IATs around 108 degrees on the highway. After one WOT pull through 4th gear, IATs would approach 140 degrees. With the Wagner unit, IATs on the highway (in the same conditions) sit around 101 degrees, and around 104 after a WOT pull. There is one thing worth mentioning about the step design... If you park the car after you have been driving, then return to the car within 30-60 minutes, the initial IATs will be relatively high (i.e. 120 degrees). The Wagner obviously picks up some heat from the radiator when sitting still. The temps return to normal within a mile of driving, but thought this was worth mentioning.

I would say throttle response is slightly better than stock, but not overwhelmingly better (i.e. stock is pretty good for forced induction). The real benefit is felt on WOT acceleration. Whereas with the OEM I/C the car felt like it was running out of lungs around 85-95 mph, with the Wagner the car pulls strong well past 130.

Also, the Wagner unit is very solid, much much heavier than the OEM unit, and the black finish is showing no signs of wear.

Hope this helps with your decision.
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      11-23-2012, 10:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmane View Post
Don't overlook the VSRF
Yup.
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      11-23-2012, 11:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pig Farmer View Post
Fred,

Just a couple more comments regarding the Wagner (bar & plate version)...
This is a good point about the Wagner FMIC units that not many pickup on... Wagner makes TWO different FMIC units.

For the US market everyone seems to want a "tube and fin" design while over here in Germany... most of the tuners/customers want a "bar and plate" design. Some say the bar and plate design is better for performance. Almost every IC sold in the states is tube and fin" design though. Wagner lets its customer's decide on which model they want to use.
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      11-25-2012, 03:18 AM   #17
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After doing some more reading, it seems the Helix on occasion in some cars requires trimming and I would guess the Wagner too since they are so similar.

The VRSF 7" claims to not require trimming but I just don't see how its physically possible. Those 2 inches have got to go somewhere...

I think this means that for a true bolt-on I'm stuck with Forge and ETS 5". Otherwise if I allow for the possibility of trimming then all other kinds of FMICs enter the picture, for example the ER Competition one (right now there are a lot of deals, this one can be had at $750, which is even less than the Forge).
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      11-25-2012, 05:43 AM   #18
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Fed,

Wagner do two coolers. One is a direct bolt in with no cutting, it's bigger than the OE cooler, similar in volume to the ETS 5" but it uses factory couplings where as ETS replaces those. The second Wagner Intercooler is much bigger, the kit consists of new piping and requires cutting.
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      11-25-2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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+1 on the 5" ETS FMIC. Fairly easy to install, no cutting and much more efficient than the stock FMIC.
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      11-25-2012, 01:04 PM   #20
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I like the hpf model myself. There is cutting though had a shop install it professionally.
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      11-25-2012, 05:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamJay View Post
Fed,

Wagner do two coolers. One is a direct bolt in with no cutting, it's bigger than the OE cooler, similar in volume to the ETS 5" but it uses factory couplings where as ETS replaces those. The second Wagner Intercooler is much bigger, the kit consists of new piping and requires cutting.
I was looking at it over at HPA:

http://www.hpashop.com/BMW-135I-335I...4-N55-FMIC.htm

It says no cutting etc, but as it turned out Helix does require a bit on the 135i and the Wagner is supposedly a copy, so I have my doubts...

I'm not a huge fan of the ETS, I don't know what it is about it to be honest but somehow it doesn't seem very high quality. The Forge units look significantly more polished (not as in shiny, but as in attention to detail). But the Forge is really expensive...

Has anyone here done an install of the ER Competition intercooler on their 135i? Lots of cutting?
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      11-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #22
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i've got the ETS and it works great. i think unless you're tracking your car a lot, the ETS will be fine. it's much better than stock, but you will have to cut one of the permanent brackets off of the old piping.
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