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Water to Air

Intercoolers in general have two designs to choose from. The first is an air/air system. The C900 community has gotten really good at fitting huge air/air intercoolers. The most common is a Volvo intercooler because the ends fit the best. Other people also use a Saab 9000 core. If you want to go this route, there should be plenty of info available on the internet.

I decided that a water/air intercooler was the better choice for a couple of reasons.

1. I don't put the car on the track that much. Racing a car requires an air/air intercooler. A water/air wouldn't last two laps.
2. I need my A/C and most air/air solutions require removing the A/C condenser to get them to fit.
3. Water/air is better at cooling down hot air so I should make more power on the highway.

I initially bought the Abbott Charge cooler to replace the stock intercooler. After just 6 months, the water jacket surrounding the core started leaking and was dumping water into the incoming air. This was a big surprise when I went to accelerate on the highway and left a big smoke screen behind the car!

I called Abbott to ask them about this problem and I was told that the intercooler cannot handle pressures above 12 PSI, and that I voided the warranty!

I have heard of three other people blowing up their charge coolers. Abbott will NOT supply you a new cooler. There is no warranty!

I never saw any warranty papers on their website or in the package they sent me and nobody told me about this limitation. But it's there because that's what I was told when I tried to get a replacement!

Because of this I DO NOT RECOMMEND anyone buying the Abbott Charge cooler! It does not handle high boost very well and it is way overpriced for the final product.


I now have a Spearco 171 water/air intercooler to replace the Abbott unit. Spearco guarantees their units to 30 psi with only .25 of pressure drop! Yee-haa. I paid around $600 for this intercooler.

I did end up using the water pump and radiator from the abbott unit, however a better water pump can be bought from Davies Craig. The electric booster pump is about $200 and can be run continuously forever! The abbott radiator is a bit small, but it should be sufficient for street use. If I was racing the car, I would probably try to find a bigger radiator to cool down the hot water faster.

I then bought new -8AN lines and fittings from Summit Racing. The fittings are a bit costly, but they don't leak and they look pretty good.

In order to supply cool water to the intercooler, you will need a water reservoir. The abbott reservoir is extremely small. It doesn't hold enough water to handle a long boosting run. This is the main variable with an water/air intercooler, once the water heats up the intercooler starts working very poorly. The goal is to have as much water as possible to absorb tons of heat.

I decided to use the stock windshield washer reservoir. It contains at least 1 gallon of water, it doesn't freeze in the winter, and I'm not adding anymore weight than before! A triple bonus. Regular water is the best liquid for water/air intercoolers, but this is a road car and I don't need every ounce of power out of the engine.

To convert the windshield washer reservoir into my intercooler reservoir, I just needed to buy two fittings from my local hardware store and silicon them into the reservoir. The Abbott water pump is only designed to run in short bursts. Therefore, I used a pressure valve (previously connected to the fuel pump shutoff under the knee bolster) that turns on the water pump when the boost comes on.

Here is the flow of water

1. Water goes out of the bottom of reservoir through the water pump and into the top of the intercooler.
2. Water comes out of the bottom of the intercooler and then goes to the radiator.
3. Water comes out of the radiator and returns back to the top of the windshield reservoir.

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The next challenge is getting new intercooler pipes made up. I spent 1 year trying to find someone to custom bend some pipes. I finally gave up and just built them myself. It is more expensive, but it only took me 1 day to put it all together.

I first had to buy some pre-bent mandrel pipe. This can be bought from the online website Burns Stainless. It is expensive and you could probably find something cheaper, but I already wasted 1 year!

Next, I needed to find the rubber connectors to combine the pipes together. I found two places for these; Turbo Hoses and SPA Technique. Both of them claim to be the best! I bought some from both and I think the SPA hoses are of better quality, however I do use both companies stuff in my setup!

I ended up spending around $300 on the pipes and connectors.

I knew that I needed some kind of bead on the end of the pipes to make sure the hoses wouldn't blow off. After some quick research on the web, I found that you can do it two ways.
The first requires sending the pipes to someone that has a pipe beader and the second requires some JB Weld! Of course I went with the JB Weld solution.

Once the pipes are cut into their desired pieces, you just combine the JB Weld on a paper plate and then lay the pipe end on the paper and twist it around the JB Weld making a perfect bead. It is only about 1mm high, but it is enough friction to keep everything together.

Here is my finished product.

The last addition I made was to convert the stock air box into a cold air intake box. Since my intercooler is now a solid piece with no air flow, a filter right off the AMM isn't a very good solution.

I decided to use the stock air box, but reroute the intake to the front bumper. This was an interesting challenge, but I feel this is the best solution available. I took the stock snorkel pieces and cut them so they flowed around the intercooler. I used some flexible dryer tubing when going through tight spaces. Finally, I took the snorkel and cut it to fit in a space under the headlight and under the bumper. There is plenty of fresh air coming in there. Inside the air box is a K&N filter to replace the stock paper filter.

The only other change I might make is to move the blow off valve somewhere closer to the throttle body. This would help maintain the boost between shifts.

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