Go Your Own Way – Performance Intercooler R&D, Part 4 – Intercooler Pipe and boot kit Concept to Completion

It’s no secret that the 2.3L EcoBoost powered 2019+ Ford Ranger is chock-full of potential. On and off-road, Ford’s mid-size pickup with the heart of a turbo Mustang packs the necessary grunt for the highway and the trails. If we learned anything from our experience with the EcoBoost Mustang, though, it’s that a robust intercooling system is key for big power. Since our plan is already in place for the Ranger’s intercooler, we’re diving into the piping system to fortify the Ranger’s intercooler kit further.

To perform a comprehensive overhaul on the Ranger’s intercooler piping system, we first needed to extract and examine Ford’s design.

Overall, Ford’s take on intercooler piping is relatively robust. There’s much less plastic than we would typically find on an OEM design and more liberal use of silicone on both sides of the intercooler. By employing silicone instead of standard rubber, Ford’s pipes are much more flexible and durable than other stock designs since silicone is much more resistant to heat and dry-rotting.

Some components still fall into the standard tropes of OEM manufacturing, specifically on the hot-side piping. Starting at the turbo, we find the only section of this piping still utilizing the typical rubber construction. Ford utilized plastic injection-molded piping after that coupler to integrate a muffler and mounting provisions for the bypass valve. Ford opted for plastic injection molding because it lowers the manufacturing cost and time to mass-produce such a complex component. On the whole, this section should be reliable. Plastics have come a long way, but they can still become brittle, especially after the severe abuse experienced in an engine bay. The other downside to this section of the hot-side piping is the size. The neck-down in piping diameter, plus the resonant chamber, act as bottlenecks and impede flow through the system.

With the help of our modeling software and bank of 3D printers, we can produce a full-scale prototype of our new design perfect for ensuring fitment before sending off for full production samples.

While the Ranger comes equipped with a fairly robust intercooler piping system, we feel there’s room to improve, starting with durability. Where silicone is great for longevity, metal is even better. Our piping kit replaces these long silicone sections with mandrel-bent aluminum, specifically designed to reduce restrictions in airflow. Some silicone is sticking around, though, but in the form of our application-specific silicone boots complete with DuraCore™ technology for enhanced protection.

Plastic is out, too, and we entirely overhauled the hot-side piping system. Again, utilizing a combination of mandrel-bent aluminum and our DuraCore boots for a sleek and secure connection from the intercooler to the throttle body. When we said plastic is out, we meant all plastic is out and made sure to include a CNC-machined aluminum bypass valve mounting provision for continued protection against compressor surge.

Like Ford’s design, our new intercooler is sporting quick-disconnect fittings on both the inlet and outlet. Because it’s a tight fit with the aluminum section installed, we designed our pipe kit with a removable quick disconnect fitting to mitigate the installation wrestling match.

Durability isn’t the only focus when it comes to improving the Ranger’s intercooler system. Boosting performance is just as vital. On top of the material changes, we also increased the hot-side pipe’s internal volume by 13.7% and the cold-side by 26.4%. This bump in volume translates to a 25.6% improvement in flow on the hot-side and 16.6% improvement on the cold-side.

What does this mean in terms of power, though? Typically, it’s uncommon to see much of a power increase with pipes alone, especially on the stock tune. Since there’s no increase in boost pressure, the increased flow isn’t as effective. Also, since the Ranger operates on a speed-density tune, the ECU will simply adjust fueling to compensate for the increase in air volume. However, paired with a tune or a larger turbo, the rise in flow can translate into more power. The larger inner volume, reduced restrictions, and new aluminum construction are better suited to handle the higher pressures from performance modifications and are ideal for fortifying the Ranger’s intercooler system.

The 2019+ Ranger 2.3L EcoBoost is the definition of big power from a little truck. The small stature and huge power potential make it one of the most capable trucks on the road today. Ensuring proper flow and rock-solid dependability are vital for unlocking the Ranger’s abilities, with improved piping being one of the keys. Ensure that you update your Ranger’s piping today, and stick around for the testing results with the full intercooler kit.

Performance Intercooler Pipe and Boot Kit, fits Ford Ranger 2.3L, 2019+

Thanks for Reading!

-Nick

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