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Air intake and exhaust (strait pipe) contribute to turbo surge by letting the thing breathe and build more boost. IMO
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I agree totally- to clarifiy what we are both saying, the actual surge is on the compressor side and the more efficiently you can push the compressor out of the efficiency map by opening up the exhaust and intakes, the more surge you could end up with. The bottom line is that the stock turbo is NOT designed to be pushed like most of us push it. ATS housing, wicked wheel compressor, or a higher performance turbo are your options...or just living with it. I have yet to hear of anyone blowing up the stock turbo at 24 to 27 psi because of surge. It's annoying as all hell though, especially when your truck acts like it's just starting to really run good at those pressures.
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The muffler is horribly restrictive, go for it. There are claims that egt's dropped 200º just like clam said, this is with a BTM though.
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My excursion has a 4" system with a BTM of some sort on it. It looks like a glass pack with the triangular tabs sticking into the airflow about 1/4". Hundreds of them. I think that is a mistake and it seriously impedes airflow. From what I have heard, having a muffler with NO tabs or just straight piping will improve airflow to almost double. My rig is intended for towing a 30' 11,000 pound trailer back and forth to Alaska- Several mountain passes that climb into lunar orbit. I had the AFE stage I on the first trip and it choked the snot out of the engine. EGT's would easily hit 1,350 and I had to keep shifting down and slowing down. I've since installed the stage II but not towed with it, but the difference is monumental even around town. When the engine goes back in, the BTM is history. I'm going to straight pipe and just put up with the noise and resonance until it drives me insane (r).
The next plan I have is a huge intercooler. That will lower temps by 200 degrees, maybe more. I'm waiting to hear the results of heads-up testing on the DI, Spearco, and Hypermax.
My intent is also to change out the turbo with something else that moves a lot more air and to tune for clear exhaust. All those things cost lots of money so the cheapest and safest thing to do is to just leave the truck stock and run it as the engineers intended... but that comment on this site is about as useful as 100 pages of fine print attached to a box of fresh doughnuts.