Episode #8: Turbocharging Jay Leno’s Tank Car

Turbocharging Jay Leno's Tank Car: Episode 8

Episode #8: Completion and testing
Jay Leno’s Tank Car is just one of several high profile development programs ongoing in the Banks Advanced Prototype Engineering labs.

Part Eight in a Series: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Only a few little things remain to be completed before we can light this thing off. Only a few little things remain to be completed before we can light this thing off. We hooked up vacuum lines for the power brakes, reworked the crankcase ventilation system, and did some slight trimming of the body panels around the new turbo components. The short wastegate outlet pipes were abandoned later for pipes that tied into the main exhaust; too much flame came back at the driver during dyno testing! CARandDRIVER.com (August ’06) described the Tank Car’s engine as looking like “a small oil refinery.”
This is how the wastegate exhaust was routed after dyno testing. A bellows and v-band joint was added so the wastegate outlet could enter the main pipe downstream of the turbo. All exhaust tubing was left “natural” so the heat could color the stainless into gold and brown hues.
After we machined a pair of v-band adapters for the turbine outlets, fabricator Daniel Dominguez built the 4-inch diameter, 10-foot long exhaust pipes that run along the body. “We don’t need no stinkin’ mufflers!” The turbochargers and pipes quiet the exhaust note just enough so the racket becomes a roar.
A custom air filter and adapter was designed and built to mount on the front of the turbo compressor. The filter has an 8-inch diameter neck to provide the air plenty of diffusion before entering a bell-mouth section at the compressor inlet. Here the filter has been removed to show the bell-mouth and the crankcase vent port at the bottom of the adapter flange.
We’re ready for fire-up! Christoph Lehmann flew out from Bosch to set up the engine management program and help with initial calibration. After setting the fuel pressure, changing all 24 sparkplugs (2 per cylinder) and adjusting the crank position sensor gap, the big monster roared to life. When Christoph finished the initial calibrations, we drove the Tank Car up the block to the Banks chassis dyno for road-load mapping and testing.
Banks Test Engineer Burton Waite spent three days putting the Tank Car through its paces on the chassis dyno, slowly and cautiously establishing the fuel map for any driving condition the car might encounter. All the while the power numbers kept creeping up. Although the engine and turbos can easily produce 1600 horsepower and 3000 lb,ft. of torque, anything above 1200 horsepower produced violent wheel spin, and getting any readings was impossible. The tie-down straps holding the car on the dyno didn’t like it. We eventually softened the tune-up a little to make it a bit more street friendly.
Ready to go and it’s time to call Jay! Actually, he’d been calling every day for about three weeks. “How’s it coming?” “Do you need any help?” “Can we make it to the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise in Detroit?” Jay arrived from his Burbank garage eager to take a test drive. After months of designing, constructing and testing, his ear-to-ear grin was a welcome sight.
Gale Banks and Jay Leno take the Tank Car out to terrorize the streets of Azusa. It’s unheard of to experience hard acceleration in something so big and heavy. It’ll light up the tires if you stand on it doing eighty! And there was an unexpected bonus; Jay reports that the fuel economy is better!

Leave a Reply