Mistakes that weaken a supercharger’s performance

Bertie S. Brown: TorqStorm Superchargers’s product manager, Chris Beardsley, has dealt with thousands of incoming queries in the first decade of the firm’s history. Here are five of the most common: 1) Compression ratios and intercoolers “The compression ratio for pump-gas engines is crucial,” says Chris Beardsley. “TorqStorm recommends ratios of 9.1 to 9.5:1.” Higher ratios usually require an intercooler. “But if you are running less than 12psi of boost and under 10:1 compression ratio with aluminum cylinder heads, and a blow-through carburetor or venturi-style throttle body fuel injection,” insists Beardsley, “ you can still achieve significant power increases without an intercooler, even on pump gas. Blow-through carburetors do a very good job of controlling intake charge temperatures.” 2) What increases in power can I expect? “Our single centrifugal supercharger, which supports 700+hp and generates boost of 6-8psi., increases engine power by about 40 percent over stock performance,” claims Beardsley. “Add a second unit, which collectively generate 12-15psi., and the engine’s power output potentially doubles.” Note that the fuel pump must support 21psi of fuel pressure and it relies on a return line to the tank. 3) Carburetors and regulators The fuel delivered to a carburetor on a normally aspirated engine operates at 6 or 7psi. But the blow-through carburetor is designed to operate from 5psi to boosted pressures that can reach 18psi on a forced-induction engine. This task is achieved by the introduction of a boost-referenced fuel pressure regulator. Via a small-bore hose, the regulator is connected to a port on the intake manifold below the carburetor throttle plates. In this way it reads boost and increases the... read more

Art Chrisman

By Fergus Ogilvy:   Henry Arthur Chrisman died on July 12, 2016 at the age of 86. He was a driver, fabricator, race engine builder and pioneer in post World War II speed tests and drag racing. Based at Chrisman and Sons garage in Compton, California, and working with his father, Everett, and his brother, Lloyd, he was renowned for three cars: his racy coupe for Bonneville competition and for contests on dry lake beds, his number 25 dragster and later his Hustler I. All were liveried in his signature golden-brown tones with contrasting white added to the Hustler. From the late 1940s and throughout the ‘50s, he campaigned a series of highly competitive race cars. He became synonymous with the development of the Top Fuel dragster at a time when nitromethane fuel revolutionized the class. His Hustler 1 dragster, which he co-owned with Leroy Neumeyer, claimed the first U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships, in a 64-car field at the March Meet at Bakersfield in 1959. His résumé as a driver included multiple wins and speed records at the highest level in a career that lasted around 12 years. Art Chrisman’s innovations led many to recognize him as drag racing’s first statesman. Greg Sharp, curator of the NHRA Motorsports Museum, said upon his induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame, “Art Chrisman is truly a renaissance man. Rarely can one man build a racing chassis from the ground up, do the metalwork, paint it, build the engine that supplies the power for the record-breaking performance, tune it to its maximum potential, and drive the results of his handiwork to a... read more

Garlits on Nitromethane

By Titus Bloom: “To my understanding,” says Don Garlits, “it was the Germans in the late 1930s that pioneered nitromethane. They empowered their 12-cylinder rear-engine race cars with it—presumably the Auto Unions. These cars were used on closed autobahns in speed record attempts and they operated with Roots-type superchargers and zoomie headers—those that point upward to generate down pressure. “I first heard of nitromethane in the nineteen-forties from a guy representing Autolite spark plugs, Fran Hernandez, who had a carbureted flathead. Hernandez had challenged another guy to a race. The other guy, whose name I can no longer recall, had a blown flathead. They met on a perimeter road of the old airport at Santa Ana, which later became the drag strip. It was a big race for money and Hernandez, who had introduced nitromethane to his fuel, didn’t start his car until the last moment—so there was no noise, no smell, no hint of cunning. But when the race was initiated, the flathead propelled by nitromethane outran the blown car by the broadest possible margin. Unfathomable! “The Bean Bandits from San Diego got wind of the miracle fuel and developed carburetors to use it in undiluted form. Emery Cook who was married to one of the Bean Bandits’ sisters found out about it and he told me. Cook, who was associated with the famed Cook & Bedwell car, was the first to exceed 160mph over the quarter-mile – 98% nitro!”   What’s Garlits working on? “I’m rebuilding my electric dragster. I’ve been 185.60mph but a guy in Texas has run 188mph, so I’m behind the ball. I’m still... read more

California Hot Rod Reunion® at Bakersfield

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the California Hot Rod Reunion® presented by Automobile Club of Southern California is a BIG deal since those folks 25-years ago just thought we were going to do it only once! The Reunion continues to be the venue to renew old friendships, meet the legends and your heroes, and just have a great time. Whether you’re a first-timer, or can boast you have been to them all, you’ll enjoy quarter-mile nitro nostalgia racing, a giant vendor midway and an eclectic swap meet. You’ll need three days to take it all in! The Reunion is just $25 per day, or if you buy in advance of October 7th, you can save $10 over gate admission on a three-day event ticket. You’ll also get a goodie bag filled with the collectible 25th anniversary event program, dash plaque, souvenir badge/schedule, lanyard, and more. On behalf of the Museum and our Reunion sponsors: Automobile Club of Southern California, Good Vibrations Motorsports, Dynamat  and Racepak, we hope you join us for this special silver anniversary! October 21-23, 2016 – Friday – Sunday, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA   Tickets available by phone (800) 884-6472 or online. For more information and a list of events go to:... read more

Harmonic balancers: Free advice on selecting them

By Archie Bosman:  It’s easy to underestimate the cost of a deficient harmonic balancer. But they can have a profound effect on the fortunes of the able race engine—a natural enemy of crank and bearings. With the engine running, camshafts and crankshafts vibrate torsionally (in twist) and, as the saying goes, for every action there’s a reaction. Camshafts are affected by the forces related to the opening and closing of the valves while crankshafts by the combustion events. Each time the cylinders fire, torque is imparted to the crank, causing deflections—twisting it as much as 2 degrees. All of this partially complicates the timing of the valve openings as well as the cam and ignition timing to say nothing of the oppressive conditions in which the crank operates. As a result of the vibrations and deflections in both shafts, a harmonic balancer or damper is connected to the crank to absorb them. Vibrations are at their highest when furthest from the flywheel. Hence dampers are mounted on the front of the crank. Yet, on historic and vintage race engines often there was no provision at the front of the crank to mount a damper. Consequently, they might use a custom elastomer or tunable pendulum damper at the rear of the crank near the clutch.   Resonance At certain engine speeds the torques imparted by the cylinders are in sync with the vibrations in the crankshaft, which results in a potentially destructive phenomenon known as resonance. This resonance can cause stress beyond what the crank can endure, resulting in crankshaft failure due to fatigue. Robert Bartlett of the noted historic... read more

There’s road racing…then there’s Irish road racing!

By Victor Moore: When Stirling Moss, the 1950’s Formula One sensation, was asked how he compared today’s F1 competition with motorcycle racing’s MotoGP, he said F1 is interesting, MotoGP is exciting. He’s right, for how can any form of racing excite when there’s the likelihood that one of two cars will invariably win. And mostly it’s been this way in F1 for decades. Not so in bike racing however. MotoGP and its two subordinate classes, Moto 2 and Moto 3, leave you balanced on the edge of your seat from the moment the start lights extinguish. As 93,000 fans poured into the Sachsenring circuit earlier this month for the German Grand Prix, motorcycle racing, especially in Europe, rides high on the wave of public exuberance. And then there’s Irish motorcycle road racing, an eccentric hundred-year-old tradition that functions by applying to local councils for permission to close public roads for several hours during which time road racing can be conducted. You might have thought such racing to be extinct such is its potential danger. Not a bit – and what’s more its entry ranks are overflowing. With Superbikes reaching speeds approaching 180mph and negotiating their paths between five-inch curbs, concrete walls and pillars and lighting poles, painted lines, manhole covers, recessed water drain grates, varying road surfaces…well, if you think MotoGP is exciting this is something quite other! The Race of the South is long established, probably started in the 1970s. Now held deep in the County Westmeath countryside, the venue is known as Walderstown, a region of rural beauty not far from Athlone. Located about three-quarters of an hour’s... read more

Women Welders at the Lincoln Motor Company, circa 1918.

By Martha Maglone: Ninety-nine years ago, in Dearborn, Michigan, engineer Henry M. Leland and his son Wilfred established a car production company and called it Lincoln, paying homage to the former US President. The company produced its first automobile in 1917, the luxurious V8-powered Lincoln Model L. But as the United States was still engaged in World War I, its principal source of income relied upon military contracts, notably the assembly of Liberty V12 aircraft engines. Alas, during the 1920s Lincoln found itself on its beam ends. Severe financial burdens had forced it into bankruptcy. This misfortune proved to be both glorious retribution and opportunity for Henry Ford, who purchased the company in early 1922. Retribution because Leland had earlier driven Ford out of his second company; opportunity because Henry harbored a desired to have his own luxury car company. Lincoln with its reputation for the production of fine vehicles and limousines has remained a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company... read more

How steering columns relate to ergonomics:

Making hot rods a pleasure to live with. By Ben Mozart: If you aspire to own or build a great hot rod, especially a street rod, never take the positioning of a steering column for granted. Variations in cockpit and seat dimensions, particularly seat height, as well as steering wheel design and human proportions play an important role. However enticing the photographs of a machine may be, it is almost impossible to discover if it qualifies on all these counts unless you sit in the vehicle and test it for yourself. Exact steering column location is indispensable. Dave Cattalini of Roy Brizio Street Rods, a company based in South San Francisco that has built 300-plus street rods, reveals their formula. In the trade, they often speak of “drop”, which means the distance between the dash and the steering column. “Where will the seat be mounted?” asks Cattalini. “What is your height—are you 5 feet or are you 6 feet? Do you have short or long arms? Are you using a flat or a dished steering wheel? How much reach do you prefer—you don’t want the wheel to be placed too close or too far away, do you?” To answer these questions Cattalini urges the following: “Get a wooden dowel like a closet pole and to simulate the steering wheel, attach a pie plate to its upper end. Move the mock steering assembly about until you achieve the optimum layout. Then use a piece of 3/4in tape to hold it in place.” While the tape acts as your temporary drop link you can measure your column length, remembering to add... read more

New lightweight cast-iron racing block emerges

SBC power up to 750hp. By Bertie S. Brown:   Does a heavier engine block harm the prospects of a race car? If you sought the support of savvy oval track engine builders about a 750hp block that has every admirable feature except one—it weighs 30lbs more than the lightest available—they’d state their position in two words: Too heavy! As a rule, oval track race cars require a greater proportion of their weight at the rear, usually 55 to 60 percent of the car’s total mass. It follows, therefore, that if the front of the car is carrying an additional 30lbs an equal amount or more is required at the rear. This affliction introduces a substantial handling disadvantage, particularly for those cars competing in classes restricted by a minimum weight ruling. Though mindful of the drag racer who wants to build a lightweight small-block Chevrolet, World Product’s new Motown Pro Lightweight was devised principally to meet the needs of the oval track racer. In this regard it marks a new chapter in engine development for both manufacturer and competitor. Significantly, the first tangible insight of its potential struck immediately when WISSOTA star Cory Crapser’s prowess won first time out in a Modified race at Cedar Lake Speedway. The engine was built by Tim Ludwigson of Tim’s Automotive Machine in Bloomer, Wisconsin. Weighing 178lbs, the Motown Pro Lightweight is about 18lbs heavier than GM’s standard 350 Chevrolet block and about 8lbs more than their popular 400 casting. The 350, which is produced in Grade 30 cast iron and giving a yield strength of 32,000psi, uses cylinder walls exposed to 360-degree... read more

Competition piston rings and what the OEMs taught us

By Sam Logan:   In our racing world we tend to think of ourselves as the elite corps. But in pistons and more particularly piston ring design, it is not our racing brains that are the driving force but those of the Original Equipment Manufacturers. It would be a glum glimpse of the US racing industry if nothing changed. But it has and nothing could be more illustrative of change than ring development. In fact, if we’re not careful our tow vehicles will operate with 1 x 1 x 2mm ring packs before our race cars. And it’s not just skinny rings that’s been pioneered by the OEMs, the enduring cast iron top and second rings have been replaced by stronger and lighter steel types. Furthermore, thermal face coatings are being applied to top rings by high-velocity oxygen-fueled spray guns at supersonic speed. The force of the collision causes the face coating to become embedded in the rings. What are they seeking? Well, with regard to the thermal face coating, they are pursuing bond-integrity. Second, they are also constantly looking for improvements in overall strength and toughness of the top ring. And third they seek to lower the ring’s coefficient of friction; that is the ratio between the force necessary to move one surface over another and the pressure between the two surfaces. The high-velocity oxygen-fuel technique that applies the thermal face coatings allows the OEMs to run high-tech rings in their latest turbo applications. These are subjected to countless detonation incidents. Tod Richards, a ring specialist at MAHLE, a racer and a race engine builder marveled, “The rings... read more

Tough NMRA classes beg the question: What is a good clutch?

By Fergus Ogilvy:   There are several schools of thought on the question of what constitutes a good clutch. But first there are two separate strands to this narrative that need to be addressed: street or track. It’s key to distinguish whether the car will be used mostly for high-performance street-travel or for track use and its purpose needs to be decided. In either case the clutch has to transmit the car’s horsepower and torque and a stock clutch assembly will flounder in thermal shock and abuse, even in a slightly modified car.   Let’s focus our attention for a moment on selecting a good clutch for a high-performance street car that visits the drag strip occasionally. In this pursuit, the first consideration is usually vehicle weight. Accurate information about the vehicle’s poundage not only guides to the proper selection of an adequate clutch but also has relevance in the selection of the most effective flywheel. Another necessary statistic is the amount of power being transmitted through the clutch. And third, let’s not overlook the gearing. Lastly, pay attention to the size and type of tire conveying the rotational energy to the road or track.   Flywheels and a simple gearing formula Lighter flywheels provoke engine speeds to accelerate and decelerate quicker while the opposite is true of heavier flywheels. Heavier street cars usually benefit from a heavier flywheel, which maintains its advantageous momentum—it inhibits engine speeds from descending too quickly. However, shedding 10 to 15lbs of mass from the rotating assembly of a properly geared vehicle has a pronounced effect on its responses. Hence, lightweight, high-revving race cars... read more

Just Like the Original, Only Better.

AutoMeter’s line of direct fit mounting solutions continues to expand with the inclusion of these high quality, American made, billet aluminum dash panels. Precision engineered for a perfect fit, these panels drastically simplify the process of gauge installation while providing a clean, timeless look. It’s never been easier to add the accuracy and quality of AutoMeter gauges to your project. Checkout the complete lineup of applications for your classic at AUTOMETER.com. Products 7033        Dash Panel, Chevy Car 55-56, 1 x 3-1/8″ & 4 x 2-1/16″, SR Bezel, Billet 7034        Dash Insert/Adapter, Chevy Car 59-60, 1 x 5″, Billet 7035        Dash Insert/Adapter, Mustang 65-66, 1 x 3-3/8, 4 x 2-1/16″ 7036        Dash Panel, Chevy Truck 55-59, 1 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7037        Dash Insert/Adapter, Chevy Truck 54-55, 2 x 5″, Billet 7038        Dash Insert/Adapter, Chevy Car 51-52, 2 x 5″, Billet 7039        Dash Insert/Adapter, Chevy Truck 47-53, 2 x 5″, Billet 7042        Dash Panel, Chevy Car 53-54, 1 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7043        Dash Panel, Chevy Truck 64-66, 2 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7044        Dash Panel, Nova 62-65, 1 x 3-1/8″ & 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7045        Dash Panel, Chevy Truck 67-72, 2 x 4-5/8″, 4 x 2-5/8″, Billet 7046        Dash Panel, Ford Truck 48-50, 1 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7047        Dash Panel, Chevy Truck 60-63, 2 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7048        Dash Panel, Ford Truck 53-55, 2 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Billet 7049        Dash Panel, Chevy Truck 55-59, 1 x 3-1/8″, 4 x 2-1/16″, Black... read more