Red Beard has updated the Wildcat 223 on his "Road to Horsepower" dyno series from stage one to stage two, aka the Ghostbuster. The updates to the engine take it up a notch to increase performance while maintaining drivability. 

The Wildcat Stage Two Kit was identical to the one used for the Rokon build, except for the flywheel differences. 

We wanted to cover some of the questions and reasons behind our Stage 2 kit and how it enhances the 223 Wildcat engine. 

Video Credit Red Beard's Garage

Why was the Wildcat Stage 2 Kit created?

Primarily to offer a similar package to the Ghost 212. The Ghost engine was a game changer for the mini bike and go-kart market. Since about 2014, the Predator 212 engines have been chipping away at the box-stock kart racing market while at the same time, it has grown mini bikes as a hobby by offering an affordable engine for their vintage or modern mini bike. There were many advantages from increased displacement over the 196cc engines, the better performance the OHV has over the flathead, and the growing aftermarket support. 

The Ghost 212 has been very interesting to us for a few reasons.

1. When we were developing the Tillotson R-Series, the 225RS engine's closest competitor was the Briggs LO206, which the Ghost is directly compared with on the Harbor Freight Website. 

2. Outside the Predator 212, the Tillotson 212E has been the industry's most marketed 212 or clone engine. A more significant portion of that promotion was on the quality and performance of the engine compared to the Predator 212. Like they say, "If you can't beat them, join them." The Ghost is the same platform as the Tillotson 212E and Ducar 212.

3. The Ducar 212 was brought in as an alternative to the 196cc engine for kart racing and is one of the only 212 engines with a rule set and structure for dirt track karting competition. 

We speculate this was a calculated strategy. The Ghost 212 takes on the sprint kart market(LO206), the dirt kart(Ducar 212), and the mini bike/recreational market(Tillotson 212E) and makes one engine that is either equal in quality or cost less but superior in performance. We had a similar opportunity with Tillotson to do the same thing but needed help getting the Tillotson distributors and the industry to go along. The advantage of Harbor Freight is its strength and size as a company that doesn't rely on industry support but only on the demand of its customers. They are able to enter the market through force. 

When the engine came out, it was an instant success, but some wonder why they didn't build the Ghost from the 224 instead. Our first thought was, why can't we?

Using our Wildcat 223, we wanted a similar carburetor and camshaft but with other essential components to allow the engine to run without a governor and rev-limited coil. 

What's the difference between Wildcat 223 "Ghostbuster" Stage 2 vs Ghost 212?

If you have watched Red Beard's video between the Wildcat 223 and Tillotson 212E, it compares many of the stock components from the blocks, heads, and rotating assembly, which are all the same as the Ghost 212. In the video, you'll see that the Wildcat made more power and torque than the stock Tillotson 212E, but with the PZ22 and .255" camshaft, that same engine, which is the Ghost, would make 2+hp and 1+ft-lbs of torque more than the stock Wildcat. The stage 1 budget build Wildcat made .1 less torque and .28 horsepower. So, how much would the Wildcat gain with a similar modification as the Ghost 212? 

EngineGhost 212Wildcat 223 Stage 2
Displacement70mm x 55mm = 211.6770mm x 58mm = 223.21cc
CarburetorPZ22 22mm Round SlidePZ22 22mm Round Slide
Connecting RodCastForged(Billet)
Flywheel5.5lbs Cast Iron 18° Timing3.35lbs Billet 34° Timing
Camshaft.255” Lift - 220° Dur @ .050.255” Lift - 235° Dur @ .050
Ignition Coil6200rpm LimitedNon-Rev Limited
Cylinder Head27mm x 24mm - 5.5mm Stem27mm x 25mm - 5mm Stem

First, the stroke of the Wildcat gives it an advantage in piston speed, mechanical leverage, compression, and displacement. There is more potential for power in a bigger engine. 

Second, the Carburetors are identical; Denki makes both, and both are based on the PZ22 22mm round slide carburetor, which is similar to the Walbro or Briggs Brand PZ22 used on the Briggs LO206. 

Third, the Wildcat kit uses our 8281 forged rod, which improves durability for high-rpm operation and increases the engine's compression. Remember from the Wildcat 223 vs Tillotson 212E comparison video that the Tillotson 212E is about 7.7:1 when the compression is measured, the same as the Ghost 212. The Wildcat will have a little more than 10:1 with the billet rod. 

Fourth, the Wildcat uses our SK200 billet flywheel, which weighs two pounds less than the Ghost 212's cast iron flywheel. The billet is safer for higher RPMs, which always more speed from the engine. Power is increased further with more ignition timing advances, stronger magnets, and low air resistance fin design. 

Fifth, along with the flywheel, the ignition coil is replaced with a non-rev limiting version. The non-rev limiting coils don't last long with the billet flywheels due to the strength of the magnet, and since we are upgrading the engine to handle higher rpms, we don't want the engine to be limited. 

Sixth, the Ghost has a camshaft similar to the LO206 with a .225" lift but the same duration as most stock camshafts. Since we needed to upgrade the camshaft for our kit, we wanted a cam with similar specs that would make more top-end power since the peak power for the Ghost 212 is at 5100rpms while it is limited to 6100-6200rpms. We wanted the cam to make peak power closer to 6100-6200rpms, so we added more duration to the camshaft. 

Another difference is in the intake manifolds. The Ghost has a straight intake manifold on the engine and offers a curved intake, but it comes in their accessories kit for an extra $200. The Wildcat 223 uses a curved intake to keep the carburetor and air filter from sticking straight out from the engine. The curved intake can help protect the carburetor and air filter from obstacles, other machines, and if you lay down your mini bike. 

What's the Horsepower and Torque Difference between the Ghost 212 and the Wildcat 223 Stage 2?

EngineGhost 212 Wildcat Stage 2
Torque11.61ft-lbs @4200rpms12.63ft-lbs @ 4300rpms
Horsepower9.9hp @ 5100rpm11.69hp @ 5700rpms

The Wildcat makes 1.02ft-lbs more torque for about 9% gain and 1.79 more hp for 18% gain. If we look closer at the dyno chart, we can see how much more performance the Wildcat has over the Ghost 212. The Ghost made peak torque at 4200 vs. the Wildcat at 4300, which is only a 100rpms difference; however, the Wildcat made 11.99ft-lbs of torque at 3900rpms, so the same amount of torque comes in 300rpms sooner. On the other end, the Ghost made peak power at 5100rpm vs the Wildcat at 5700rpms, but the Wildcat is making more hp than the Ghost up to nearly 7500rpms. If we look at the range between peaks, the Wildcat is between 4300-5700rpms(1400rpms range), and the Ghost is 4200-5100(900rpms), which is a 500rpms difference in the powerband. However, if we look at the full range, the Wildcat makes more torque 300rpms sooner than the Ghost and more power, nearly 2400rpms, which means you have a power band 2700rpms wider than the Ghost. From 3800 rpms and beyond, the Wildcat will outpower the Ghost.

The Ghost 212 is also rev-limited, which means the Wildcat will give you more mph from RPMs alone. It also gives you more flexibility with your gear ratios. Lower gear ratios give you more mph but sacrifice low-end acceleration. Since the Wildcat makes more torque and power overall, you may still have more acceleration than the Ghost and gain even more mph with a lower gear ratio. And if mph isn't your end goal, you can gear it much higher without sacrificing mph, which makes it much better for trail riding or if you have a heavier go-kart. The stage 2 kit on the Rokon was able to spin both tires. 

What's the total cost of the Wildcat 223 vs the Ghost 212?

Wildcat 223 - $179.99

EC Stage 2 Kit - $378.99

Total $557.98

Ghost $330

Both engines will need a header and muffler, which are equal in value since they can use the same exhaust systems and the same for the fuel pump, fuel line, fuel filter, etc. That makes for a difference of $227.98, which may seem like a lot, but remember, there is a big difference in components. You have a couple of options. The first is to buy the essentials that will allow the Ghost to run without the rev-limited coil: the billet flywheel, billet rod, and non-rev-limited coil for around $205. If you choose to run the same camshaft, that is another 55 dollars for $260, so it's more expensive to update the Ghost 212, but you still have a 212cc engine versus a 223cc engine. So we have a stroker kit for the Tillotson 212E, Ducar 212, and Ghost 212 to make them 223cc. That kit includes a billet rod but costs $200. 

To make Ghost nearly equal to the spec of the Wildcat 223 Stage 2 engine:

$199.99 223E-SKA 58mm Stroker Kit

$54.99 TTS-647 Ghostbuster Camshaft w/26lbs springs

$13.99 138190045 Non-Rev Limited Coil

$105 SK200 flywheel

That's $373.97 in parts or $703.96 in total, which is $145.98 more than the Wildcat 223 engine and stage 2 kit. The Wildcat will still have more compression and a better block.

How does the Wildcat 223 Stage 2 "Ghostbuster" compare to some other engines Red Beard has tested?

We compare Stage 1 with the carburetor shootout in the previous blog, where a stock Predator 212 with an open was compared to a stock jetted carb, a genuine VM22 Mkuni, a Knock-Off VM22 Chikuni, and a TM24 Mikuni.

Stock Predator 212 Hemi, open header, and slide carburetors

CarburetorVM22(22mm) Round Slide MikuniVM22(26mm) Round Slide Chikuni TM24(24mm) Flat Slide Mikuni
Torque11.44ft-lbs @ 4300rpms11.6ft-lbs @ 4400rpms11.48ft-lbs @ 4300rpms
Horsepower10.53 HP @ 530011.31 HP @ 650011.92 HP @ 6500

The pattern of using either a 26mm round slide or 24mm flat slide, which both flow around 87-90cfm or around 30cfm more than the 22mm round slide carburetors like the PZ22 or Mikuni VM22 can increase peak power from about 5100-5300 up to 6500rpms which is very significant. Even so, only the TM24 allows the Predator 212 Hemi to make .23hp more than the stage 2 Wildcat, but the Wildcat makes 1.15ft-lbs more torque. We see that 22mm can increase torque, but the engine wants more airflow past 5300 rpms to increase peak power and move it higher in the power band. Instead, the TTS-647 camshaft increases power and extends it further. The goal of the camshaft is to bring peak power closer to 6100rpms, or the rev limit of the Ghost engines. We wanted the combination of the parts to be used similarly to the Ghost 212 or Briggs LO206 if you were racing the engine with a 6100-6200rpm limit. However, off the governor, you have an engine that runs hard to 7000 rpms. 

We can also compare the Predator 212 Hemi test with a .010" head gasket, billet rod, billet flywheel, 265 cams, and 24mm flat slide carburetor with stock rockers and 1.2 ratio rockers. 

Rocker ArmsStock Rockers1.2 Ratio Billet Steel Rockers
Torque 12.37ft-lbs @ 4400rpms12.47ft-lbs @ 4400rpms
Horsepower13.9 HP @ 650014.46 HP @ 6500

If we look at the dyno results of the 212 Predator Hemi with the stock cam and with the .265 cam, even though power increased by almost half a horsepower between the stock rockers and 1.2 ratio rockers(.318 total lift), peak power was at 6500rpms when using the 24mm or 26mm carburetors, which may show that the cylinder head is now the restriction with that combination. 

The Wildcat 223 stage 2 makes a little more torque but falls short on horsepower, but it's okay considering the higher flowing carburetor and higher lift of the 212 combination. It gives us an idea of the potential for the Wildcat in stage 3 when it's upgraded with a bigger carburetor and similar camshaft. 

In conclusion, this engine "ain't afraid of no Ghost."

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