What makes turbocharged race engines so appealing? Actually, it’s rampant power & low maintenance

What makes turbocharged race engines so appealing? Actually, it’s rampant power & low maintenance

By Titus Bloom, Photography by MGI and Pro Line, Ball Ground, Georgia: In the lightning fast drag racing category known as Pro Mod three different types of power units compete: nitrous assisted, supercharged and turbocharged. Pro Line Race Engines are specialists in the latter and they burst upon the drag racing scene like few before it. After frenetic activity over the past nine years, Pro Line not only came under new ownership in 2005 and moved factory from Woodstock to a spacious 24,000sq ft facility in Ball Ground, Georgia in 2011, but also their engines won the NHRA Pro Mod championship in 2012, won Indy in 2011, laid claim to the world’s fastest Pro Mod eighth-mile speed (221mph-3.56secs), and still hold the NHRA quarter-mile ET and speed record when Melanie Troxel recorded 5.77-258.71mph at Englishtown 2011. When Doug Patton (49) and Eric Dillard acquired ownership of Pro Line in 2005, Eric was only 22 years old. He had started three years earlier under Doug as a helper. “He doesn’t have any college training,” says Doug, “but he has a knack for running the business. We currently employ a workforce of around fifteen—seven or eight in the machine shop and seven or eight in the sales offices.” Even though the machine shop maintains the same number of employees, component sales account for eighty percent of their business. How did this come to pass? As the Amish would say, it wonders me. Establishing a niche—the turbo advocate Pro Line specializes mostly in twin turbocharged technology, but more than this they specialize in the complete turn-key combinations, which include the race motor,...
Why Turbocharging? Simple advice for beginners

Why Turbocharging? Simple advice for beginners

By Doug Erber: In the United States, OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are turning to turbocharging as a method of downsizing engine displacement and increasing fuel economy. At the other end of the spectrum, those in charge of developing high-performance and racing engines, are targeting it for substantial power gains. The OEM’s regard GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) as a key enabler for utilizing turbochargers to downsize the engine displacement. With modern direct injection coupled to variable cam timing, added power output generated by turbo boost is now exploited more fully than before without risk of detonation yet with significant benefits in fuel economy when running under light load. As a result, OEMs are shrinking the displacement of the engine, leading to weight and fuel economy savings. However, when power is required, the turbo kicks in to provide the boost, adopting the feel of a larger displacement engine. Turbos for OEM applications are sized to provide the best combination of low-end torque and peak power. In the Aftermarket, turbocharging is a relatively easy way to significantly increase the power density of an engine. In simplest terms, adding more air and more fuel to an engine will create more power.  Of course one must take care to assure engine and vehicle systems are adequately prepared to handle this additional power. Most systems will add an intercooler to reduce intake manifold temperatures and aftermarket ECU to control fueling and ignition. Depending on boost level, consideration for upgrades include, but not limited to, cylinder head gasket, head bolts clutch, pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, transmission and differential. All components will be exposed to the rigors of additional power.  ...
Motown LS: Unfamiliar hybrid

Motown LS: Unfamiliar hybrid

By Sam Logan: What’s the motivation for adapting LS cylinder heads to a small-block Chevrolet engine? Why not just go out and buy a used LS-series? It’s a modern power unit; it’s bestowed with high flowing heads, it’s readily available and it’s affordable…all the benefits you could desire. Except there’s a catch—the inconvenient fact is there’s a ton of work required to get it installed properly, coupled to appreciable expenditures. If you are empowering any pre-1990s Muscle car with an LS-series engine it is usually not a simple swap. And it’s not just exploring engine and transmission mounting solutions and clutch actuation, but there are EFI and ignition considerations, a fuel system design as well as numerous cooling and engine accessories questions to resolve. The fact is that mounting a pair of LS-series cylinder heads on a small-block is a much more practical solution. Likely, the most interesting new engine for 2016 will be the Motown LS. Under the insightful command of Dick Boyer, the architect of the last year’s 454 Man O’ War Ford block, World Products committed to foundry tooling expenses for the production of such a hybrid. It is unique. Weighing 210lb and employing standard LS deck height, the Motown LS is a cast iron small-block that accepts LS-series cylinder heads. Boyer’s uncommon design made its first appearance in public at December’s PRI show. Available in two versions, a street-strip and a race variant, he had displayed the former although not yet tested. When tested the 427cu in engine generated just under 640hp at 6,400rpm. Not bad for a street-based engine. The drag race version uses...
Gibtec Pistons: Guide to top ring placement from Pro Stock to Street

Gibtec Pistons: Guide to top ring placement from Pro Stock to Street

By Sam Logan: Denver, Colorado: Though piston maker Gibtec was established a mere two and a half years ago, the individuals behind it have specialized in Pro Stock billet piston development since 2003. Notably, during this period their skills contributed to approximately 80 percent of the championship-winning Pro Stock engines. Recently, Tom Prock, the general manager of Venolia Pistons for thirty years said, “Currently, Gibtec is making some of the best Pro Stock pistons I’ve seen.” On the subject of top ring placement, Gibtec Pistons’ head, Rob Giebas explains, “On forced induction and on nitrous applications, which encounter extreme shock loads, we move the top ring down from the piston crown to around 0.300in. However, the top ring could be moved down by as much as 0.450in, depending upon valve size and configuration, as well as the positioning of the valve pockets, the radial width of the top ring and the piston pin height, “Often it’s the intake valve pocket, which is always bigger than the exhaust that determines the position of the top ring. Compact rings and therefore small ring grooves provide more potential for variation in ring placement than larger ring grooves. For example, a naturally aspirated engine with a top ring of 0.6mm (0.0236in) axial depth and 0.110in radial width, which requires a ring groove width of 0.115in, offers more pocket clearance than the top ring spec of a nitrous engine, which might measure 0.043in axial depth and 0.173in radial width. “But on most small-block applications with a standard in-line valve pattern and a power adder, lowering the top ring to around 0.300in protects it and...
You may not think it will kill your clutch but it will

You may not think it will kill your clutch but it will

Written by Moore Good Ink: Why precipitate the loss of a perfectly good clutch when it can be avoided? Ram Clutches offers two valuable tips: On chassis dynamometers Probably the greatest threat to the longevity of a clutch system is imposed by the chassis dynamometer. Because there is no tire slippage during the run, any hint of engine lugging can cause the clutch to slip. Consequently chassis dyno time is much more strenuous and abusive on your clutch system than racing passes at the drag strip. At the drag strip On the burnout make certain the tires are wet but not operating in the water. As they begin to gain traction with the pavement, depress the clutch pedal. Do not attempt to extend the burnout toward the tree. When the tires hook they exact a heavy load on the clutch, especially in 3rd or 4th gears. To extend the burnout further exposes the clutch system to a tremendous and unnecessary load. Though this may sound elementary, make certain your car is in first gear before you leave the starting line. Leaving the line in 3rd gear will almost certainly destroy your clutch system. So, prior to pre-staging always ensure you select 1st gear. Lastly, ‘hot lapping’ can transmit severe heat to the clutch. Though some events require consecutive runs always try to provide sufficient time for the clutch to cool. Focus on making quality runs rather than quantity. To understand the basics of Ram’s billet drag racing clutch systems click here. Source: RAM Automotive Company 201 Business Park Blvd. Columbia, SC 29203 Telephone (803) 788-6034 www.ramclutches.com...
Basics for building a custom steering column

Basics for building a custom steering column

By Archie Bosman: Hot rods create an environment that removes us far from the chaos of the real world. And their custom innovations are the luxuries they bring to our lives. For some production shops, developing a one-off design is not in the cards. Others, in contrast, interpret this as laziness or a lack of ingenuity or complacency or some combination of the three. They see it as ignoring an opportunity. Still, to succeed in custom designs you need access to an efficient team armed with specialist knowledge and swiftness—a team that is irrepressible in overcoming obstacles. This is often best illustrated in the completion time of projects and their cost. Before hot rodder Kevin Smith from Manvel, Texas appeared at the ididit booth during the 2015 NSRA Nationals in Louisville, he had already made inquiries at several shops without success. By combining some of his original parts with newly designed components, he was planning a custom-built steering column for a 1962 Ford Thunderbird that he and his son were building and needed specialist help. Here are Kevin’s requirements and how the Michigan firm, ididit, accomplished it. First, the 1962 Thunderbird was equipped with a Swing-away column arrangement. Original and novel technology that promoted easier vehicle entry and exit, naturally, its owner wished to retain it. In addition, the customer requested a column gear-shifting mechanism, featuring automatic shifting; four-way flashers, self-cancelling turn signals, not originally available; and column tilt. Today, 5-position tilt is in popular use, but Ididit has extended the articulation to eight positions, allowing the steering wheel to arc through a total travel of 35 degrees. The...
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