Our dyno facility was completed back in 2014. Offering power runs and ECU mapping on one of the most advanced 4-wheel drive dyno systems on the market.
It was the UK’s first 4WD MAHA MSR Dynamometer. This German made, state of the art dyno is the most advanced on the market and was originally designed for some of the largest manufacturers of cars and sports cars.
Our Maha MSR500 has twin retarders which enable us to complete power runs on vehicles up to 1,800bhp. Within days of completion we performed the first high power run on a Litchfield tuned GT-R which returned a peak power of over 1,200bhp.
Not a simple choice
The original dyno build was a tricky process. We had resisted buying our own dyno over the years until the reality of safety concerns on local roads, ever increasing power levels and the pace of our development work created a necessity for a dynamometer at Litchfield. Choosing the correct dyno should have been an easy task, considering we have used every type and brand over the years. If only this was the case.
Our former site housed the cheaper LPS3000 which worked well, but this was the older twin roller design with unlinked axles, creating unnecessary strain on the transmissions and centre differentials of many of the current models in which we specialise. In addition, we had plenty of experience with using Ecutek’s Maha Land and Sea dyno with our own GT-R, although this also uses an unlinked twin roller setup.
We also explored a number of the American dynos, which are significantly more cost effective. If we had wanted to produce headline numbers or run dyno days then these dynamometers probably would have been perfect for our needs.
We also looked at the Australian manufacturer Dyno Dynamics that has become a popular choice amongst many tuners in the UK. Like the American models this type of dyno is designed to measure power at the wheels and then uses a fixed multiplier to calculate the flywheel figure that many of our UK customers demand. However, this is not a calculation method we have ever really agreed with and these types of dynos are also unlinked.
We visited Superflow in the US who, in our view, make the best of the American (directly linked roller) dynos. They use a mechanical transmission system to synchronise the front and rear roller sets and we know of a number of tuners who are very happy with them. We came very close to ordering one of these, especially as we already had a Superflow engine dyno on order.
Finally we decided to take up Maha’s offer to visit their factory and test the MSR500 system in person. We drove our GT-R to their facility in Germany to directly test their claims with a known car.
It quickly became clear that their knowledge, experience and the advantages of their electric motor drive system made them the ideal choice for cars with a complex 4wd system, like the Nissan GT-R. The ability to add additional modules to suit our development program had also negated our concerns about the initial higher cost.
During testing we were amazed at the consistency and repeatability of the runs. Maha did a number of different power runs as they demonstrated the software and the dyno’s control of the power between the front and rear axles.
Just prior to breaking for lunch, we did a run on low boost which produced 893.4 bhp. Once we had finished and returned to the dyno, the run was repeated and the car produced 893.7 bhp. We were very impressed!
The Maha MSR500 dyno equipment we were considering was the same as that was installed at Porsche, VAG group, Toyota Motorsport and BMW M Power, amongst others. The key distinction over the other modern dynos mentioned above is that they don’t directly link their front and rear rollers. The MSR500 does couple the front and rear rollers but, uniquely, it is done by driving them with motors. The electric motors are very quickly and accurately controlled, capable of generating huge torque. This makes them ideal for ensuring, when necessary, that the rollers are rotating at the same speed but not necessarily with the same applied force. The dyno can therefore cope with any change in axle torque loading as the car shuffles power fore and aft, varying the assistance of the electric motors attached to each axle. This is especially useful on some of the Haldex 4WD systems which have the axles spinning at subtly different speeds.
We have learnt, over the years that coping with quick variations in torque is vital with all-wheel drive cars as advanced as the Nissan GT-R. Additionally, the drive motors allows the un-driven wheels of 2WD vehicles to be rotated at the speed of the rear wheels, preventing error codes generated by advanced ABS modules. The motors also allow the vehicle to be run on the dyno without the engine running – useful for testing drivetrain components under very precisely controlled and restricted loads.
When we designed the dyno cell we wanted to make sure that the generated noise from the car and dyno was contained and did not affect the work within the workshop or customers in the waiting area.
The brief was to be able to hold a normal conversation directly next to the room without having to raise your voice to be heard. To achieve this the cell uses a combination of sound proofing materials, solid construction and air gaps to contain the worst of the noise and vibration. The customer waiting area is also fully insulated and sealed to help reduce noise further.
A large blast-proof triple glazed window was placed on one side of the room so customers can view their cars being run from the comfort of the waiting room sofas. The dyno computer can also be displayed on one of three wide screen monitors in the waiting area for instant power measurements.
Inside the dyno cell we have installed four HD cameras which allow the operator to watch the car from all angles from a separate 42” monitor. Additionally a massive 62” LCD monitor shows all the vital information to the dyno operator.
For safety there is full-time video and computer communication available between the operator and the office where the dyno is also visible in real time from the HD cameras.
The new dyno set-up has been engineered from the outset to provide us with empirical testing and repeatable development of all our new tuning packages. It will improve lead times and give our technicians and engineers the ability to immediately test any new ideas. Better yet, each and every road-car tuning package can be finely calibrated on the day of the customer’s visit, with provable ‘before and after’ dyno data to back up the car’s performance.
The dyno also has many additional uses that people may not have considered, such as running in the new engines and gearboxes we have built. Components can be broken in in a tightly controlled environment – the car can be gently run through the gears over a pre-set road course with varying resistance levels. They can be carefully monitored throughout, making sure each build is performing as expected at every stage, without the risk of accidental damage from stone-chips or worse and without even getting the car dirty!
During the setting up of the dyno we also implemented Mahas powerful Air pressure calculation which simulates the pressure the air will put on the car as it travels at increasing speed. To populate this function we took a number of our demo cars to an airfield where we were able to measure the deceleration from speeds over 150mph to plot against the Maha model. We now have separate settings for popular models like the Nissan GT-R, BMW M4 and Audi RS6.
It is not just the engine performance the MSR enables us to monitor. Because we can monitor the torque requirements and drag characteristics of each axle independently we can make sure the transmission and, in particular, the 4WD centre clutch is performing as expected. The MSR measures power at the fly wheel and to do this it measures every item that spins in within the dyno and conversely it measures all the drag of the rotating parts so this includes the dyno rollers, bearing and electric motors to give a true picture of everything that could affect the performance results. For example if you increased the tyre pressures on a car the rolling resistance would be improved and the car would produce more power at the wheels however on the MSR the coast down drag would also reduce so the net result would be the same at the flywheel. Unlike other dynos with two rollers per axle the single axle design of the MSR means that you can’t get false or over inflated readings when the car moves up onto one roller and reduces its drag.
Emissions Testing & Fuel Consumption
Being able to accurately measure tail pipe emissions doesn’t sound interesting but it is very useful in fully understanding how an engine is performing. It’s all very well telling our customers that we have improved their fuel consumption or emission level for each of our stage packages, but now we will be able to quantify these improvements.
On some of our recent testing of our Stage 4 cars we have made significant improvements in Hydrocarbon levels (unburnt fuel) which on a long cruise will help fuel consumption. You will not see these changes in a normal power test graph or on an ECU log but you will notice it in the saving in fuel over time. If we can burn the fuel more efficiently then it will also help us to produce more power for the same boost levels and we will shortly be releasing new Stage map updates that take advantage of this.
In 2019, after 5 years of hard use, we replaced our Dyno with the upgraded version of the MSR500 which features a number of improvement and even more powerful electric motors. Before removing the old dyno we ran a special 985bhp LM20 GT-R and after a week of installing the new dyno we ran the car again with a variance in power of less than 1bhp and 1lbft! German engineering!