Indeed, I think half the fun is trying to do things myself and obviously learn from the experience. Exactly as Seamus said, while the components designed and built around the motor have lots of time and money invested, the $400 short block is just an unopened junkyard motor that literally takes 2 guys all of 6 hours to swap out if needed. It's certainly not a huge deal to swap them out if something goes wrong, its just finding the motivation and spare time. While dyno tuning was something I was always intending, I simply got caught up having way too much fun with the car as it was running great as is. As I said, the car ran friggin fantastic on my home-brew tune without pinging when it was cooler out and I was lower on boost, even though I am admittedly a beginner with tuning and needs a considerable amount of more practice and direction. I have no regrets with the outcome of this 1UZ build so far, it's been so much fun and gotten so many compliments at shows and on the street. While it sucked to pop the first motor, It allowed me to make some needed and critical changes to the setup on the new motor.
The real issues started to happen as the ambient air temps skyrocketed in our area. The car was tuned at around 70 degree temps initially and ran great even with the aggressive timing map with no pinging, but once the outside temps crawled up I really struggled with intake air temps that led to on-boost pinging that would come and go. The pinging was so random that I thought it was perhaps an injector delivery issue at high load, perhaps due to bad flow-matching or sticking issues. But at only 7 PSI I wasn't anywhere near the dull duty cycle of the injectors, and after checking on them regularly I didn't see an issue. My plan right before the motor poped was to take the injectors back off and send them again for testing and flowmatching, but once the motor bought the farm it was too late. I did resend the injectors and some spares for testing just to be safe before using them on the second motor, and they came back with a very clean bill of health, matched within 6% of each other from Witchhunter.
The real issue that I was facing was boost spikes, and under hood temps where I draw the filtered air from. I stupidly used a port on the intake for the wastegate line that had a very small internal orifice to the actual intake chamber, and clearly wasn't efficient enough to properly actuate the wastegate. I drilled out the port with a 3/8" drill bit directly into the main intake chamber, and the difference is night and day. The wastegate and BOV were/are on the same source line, and the operation and actuation of the BOV currently VS before lets me know just how more optimized the vacuum source is now. Due to space restrictions, I am also running a K&N filter into a 90 degree 4" coupler, then straight into the turbo. This is all contained within the main engine bay, which turns into a sauna after extended driving times and especially on hot days. The 1UZ seems very sensitive to air temps, and seems to react considerably to different heat zones, much much more than my turbo 6M motor did which had a similar inlet and filter setup. The cramped space in the engine bay and lack of heat extraction builds the temps up quick, and combine that with boost spikes and even hotter ambient outside temps was the recipe for disaster. I only started seeing issues on the really hot days.
While the new considerably more conservative timing map from Clayton West's 1UZ turbo cressy is keeping me in a much more reliable and entirely ping-free state right now, I certainly have some things to take care of. Clayton's car is a pretty abused drift build, where his motor spends 80% of its life bouncing off the rev limiter at events for hours at a time, and even at 455HP @14PSI his setup is dead reliable with no detonation issues. I'm using his map right now and keeping the car at 5 PSI just to have fun for the rest of the season, and the plan will be to make the changes I want and dyno tune either over winter or early next season. I want to install a water/meth setup as discretely as possible (reservoir in hatch maybe?), use the EDIS-8 coil setup and wires I made but ditch the EDIS control and go dirrect coil control for soft-touch rev limiting and 2-step if I want, and finally take care of the intake air temps by either a CAI setup or some sort of fresh air inlet or considerable heat extraction from the hood. We are just finishing installing a dyno here at our shop, which is a godsend as we use to always outsource the job to a few choice shops around Chicago for tuning and was a logistical headache. We have also recently hired a tuning and wiring guru from Henessey Motorsports, who is an absolute wiz with these things. He comes from a steep Motec and Motorsports background, and also love Megasquirt. He actually borrows the MS coding for some of his LED display systems he designs and makes for various projects. I'm hoping to get a reliable 400HP tune which will be easy on 91 octane and around 10 PSI, which is more than enough power for me. I could certainly make alot more power, but reliability is a beautiful thing. I really just want to enjoy driving the car with no worries or headaches about big power problems, and the car is a riot at 10 PSI currently. My only other big changes will be the wheels and tires over the winter (hopefully if time works out), and a TKO600 trans swap in the near future. The W58 has been coping well (I am not too hard on it and am smart about my power delivery without shock loading the trans), but I can tell is being stressed and its a matter of time before it causes issues.
Thanks again everyone, hope to post lots of details and pictures soon.