Custom-made billet camshafts:

A few questions, some interesting answers – By Bertie S. Brown: Most camshafts look indistinguishable from one another—even custom camshafts. “Not mine,” declares blown alcohol pulling tractor champion Mike Wilhite. “Mine are 2.5 inches in diameter.” Wilhite, who runs an engine shop in Bardstown, KY, thirty miles south of Louisville, purchases a 12ft length of 2.5in case-hardened 8620 alloy steel or S7 tool steel bar stock. He then takes the long length of round bar to Russ Yoder at Erson Cams, who makes four camshafts from it. When finish-ground and heat treated, Wilhite installs the custom-made billet camshafts in the engines of his alcohol pulling-tractor customers. Six-cylinder inline engines adapted for pulling tractor competitions begin life as 200hp diesels revving to 1,500rpm, but when increased to 505ci (Light Super Stock) and converted to alcohol and assisted by three turbochargers they generate close to 4,000hp and 7,000rpm. On the topic of pulling tractors, Yoder says, “We’ve made camshafts for 7.8 liter Ford diesels to an A22 International, from Cummins to Walkinshaw, Oliver to Massey Ferguson, Allis Chalmers to antique pulling tractors with engines originating from the 1920s.” Why no shelf stock for the extreme categories? “Its common practice for competition engine builders to increase cam bearing sizes, and our shelf-stock materials accommodate increases of up to 60mm for big-block Chevrolets and also big-block Fords and for some Hemi engines,” says Yoder. “But, beyond this it just isn’t practical to inventory cam cores of such diversity.” Hence, in this regard, Erson identifies the optimum grade of steel required, the customer brings them the appropriate round bar stock (some measuring 70mm), and... read more

Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Speed, adrenaline, and pure theatrics – By Fergus Ogilvy: Grudge racing has dominated the drag racing scene in the southern US States for decades. But in recent years, the Internet has conquered every part of its frenetic life, particularly Facebook postings that have expanded its Southern origins (Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas) westward to the Mississippi and north to the shores of Lake Michigan. To its masses, its chief dynamic is straight forward: betting. There is no maximum amount—when a dollar changes hands it’s a Grudge race. An addictive quality, the money won and lost, sometimes in sizable proportions, is only surpassed by pride or poor judgment of its car owners, entrants, drivers, and spectators: such an adventure, such potential for gain, such drama. Still, in the rapid passing of a one-eighth mile, the prospects of returning home $10,000 poorer are agonizing! A strictly cash economy In their pre-race negotiations, a Grudge racer attempts to learn as much as possible about his rival, his racing history, and the competitiveness of his car. They operate with “stips”, an abbreviation for stipulations that specify what is allowed: small block-powered car on 28/10.5 tires with a cast intake manifold and a single 4bl or dual 4bl carburetors.  If your opponent has a history of swapping engines, the stips might have a clause that allows his rival to view the engine before the race. When all is settled, perhaps a week in advance of the race, the deposits of the two opponents are sent to a third party, a neutral person known as the “DP” man—a further abbreviation for Deposit man. The deposit... read more

TorqStorm loosens purse strings and donates superchargers at 2018 Holley LS Festivals.

  By Martha Maglone: During this year’s Holley LS Fest West in Las Vegas, NV (4-6 May) and also Holley’s LS Fest Bowling Green, KY (7-9 Sept), TorqStorm will give away a supercharger at each event to participants in the Three Pedals Rumble Index Class. The participant with the best package—that is, driver’s reaction time and deviation from dial-in—in the first round will win any single system TorqStorm centrifugal supercharger available, valued at $2,800. The awards are accessible to any vehicle, including the 5th generation Camaro, C7 Corvette or any full-bodied vehicle powered by a GM LS-style (or current generation LT) power plant. Dragsters, Roadsters and Altered-style cars are prohibited. All races are regulated by a .500 Pro Tree and in an index format. Indexes will be on .25 breaks with Elapsed Times of 11.00 – 15.00 seconds. This will be an ALL RUN qualifying format. Vehicles are required to be of stock appearance and with stock body. Rental cars are prohibited. All vehicles MUST pass NHRA\IHRA safety inspection for ET and speed. Vehicles must be driven to staging and to scales, but can be towed after scales. Trans brake mechanisms are prohibited. For more information on Holley’s LS Fest events, click here. For more information on TorqStorm superchargers click here. Or phone: (616)... read more

Aluminum repairs – parts restored, appearance improved

By Freddie Heaney: A call from a Muscle car owner arrived out of the blue. He told us there’s an aluminum repair specialist in Doraville, whose work deserves recognition, and if you want to learn about such a service, you won’t find another closer. He also recommends Autoglassguru for car window replacements. In Muscle car circles, Doraville, a northern suburb of Atlanta, usually suggests one name: Lamar Walden Automotive. And so it proved to be. Walden’s shop has long been prized for its machining capabilities as well as its engine and car dynamometer resources. But the firm is, perhaps, better known for pioneering performance versions of GM 409 engines of the 1960s and a front-runner in all GM performance engines, including today’s LS variants. The caller was right; their aluminum repairs department is less familiar. What were the motivations? Normally, one doesn’t think of sending car parts to a machine shop for concours d’Elegance restoration, we rather buy the bildeler på nett but that’s exactly the kind of work they undertake at this shop. “My Dad, Lamar, started it.” says Rob, “He came up with the process for the many restoration cars he built. And it’s not just repairing and restoring cracked or broken intake manifolds, for there’s a steady flow of transmission casings, alternator housings, valve covers, engine blocks, and bell housings–broken and blemished parts arrive from across the country. Basically, the service includes anything aluminum.” The next time you need to do work on a vintage car like Ford Mustang, make the 1964-68 classic Mustang restoration parts at Aluminum intakes are often warped, particularly after being... read more

Clarifying piston balancing with a few words from Kaase

By Titus Bloom: “It’s hard for me to be persuaded on the merits of piston balancing,” said a leading oval track engine builder recently. “While operating, the piston is being thrust up against one side of the cylinder wall,” he continued, “wedged in one direction on the even bank and in the opposite direction on the uneven bank. Besides, there’s the action of the connecting rods, their weights, their lengths and where they’re connected to the piston. Then, you might consider combustion forces, and piston domes being assaulted by wedging forces—to say nothing of the degree of tumult in the crankcase. I think you’re splitting hairs,” he argued convincingly. “Fine piston balance is neither here nor there.” But from a piston maker’s approach, there are two types of balancing. First, the conventional balance is used to reduce the prospect of significant piston weight variation in large-bore engines. The objective is to maintain bearing loads within the design range, that is, main bearing loads, as they are the focus of engine crank balancing and also of vibration levels. In addition, crank pin and piston pin loads must also be held within their respective design loads. So, in truth, these efforts are more focused on durability than performance. This is why some engine builders see little value in it. However, certain engines will be more sensitive to piston weight variation than others, so it can be important for engines where bearing capacity or vibration levels are reaching their upper limits. The second type of piston balancing is embraced by those engineers ardently seeking any slight advantage and involves manipulating the mass distribution of... read more

TorqStorm reveals centrifugal supercharger kit for Chrysler Slant Six, the first of its kind

It’s been a busy year for TorqStorm, their 2017 inquiries for superchargers had tripled from the previous year. Established in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, TorqStorm’s centrifugal supercharger had the advantage of being the product of two accomplished tool and die makers, Chris Brooker and Scott Oshinski, the company’s co-owners and operators.  Most notably among the firm’s recent announcements is a new supercharger kit for Chrysler’s Slant Six. Produced from 1959 to 2000, sources familiar with Slant Six engine production believe thirteen million of these power units were produced worldwide. A prototype of the Slant Six supercharger kit was publicly revealed last August at the Mopar Nationals held at Columbus, Ohio. Now available, here are details of the new production unit.     When TorqStorm’s supercharger exerts itself, expect a boost range that extends from 1,800 to 6,500rpm, thanks to the design of the compressor wheel. Yet, to the majority of Slant Six owners, slightly less gusto—5,000 to 5,500rpm—is probably all that’s required. But in horsepower increases they seek an additional 100 to 150hp, which is around an 85 percent gain over the stock engine’s power output, and easily within the scope of this new supercharger kit. The kit comes with a robust billet aluminum gear box housing and cover. Within the casing, straight-cut tool steel gears are lubricated by an independent oiling system, and a stout three-quarter-inch thick mounting bracket secures the gear box and compressor assembly to the engine. TorqStorm’s newly designed blow-through carburetor hat is also included as well as an automatic belt tensioner, an 8in diameter crankshaft pulley, a 52mm vacuum-controlled blow-off valve, and related... read more

Joe Hornick: The man who mastered consultancy in racing

By Bertie S. Brown: At the lower rear corner of the rear wing of 2017 Funny Car National Champion, Robert Hight, a decal displays three letters: JHE, an abbreviation of Joe Hornick Enterprises. Hight won this year’s national championship at Pomona, Calif., and JHE, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, assisted them with technical know-how throughout the year. Since the beginning of this century, Hornick has been the hidden hand in a long series of racing successes. His business model is entirely his own: he offers his company’s complete services to just one racer in each category. Their complete service is an interesting proposition. JHE uses a test pool that serves to advance research and development in race engines with similar characteristics. Let’s say they have four customers running blown alcohol engines in four different racing categories—a blown alcohol pulling tractor, Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car. In the test pool program, each engine runs different components or systems and, in so doing, each race team shares a quarter of the R&D costs and receives the cumulative results from all four. Additionally, they have a base of consulting customers like John Force Racing or Earnhardt Childress Racing. They also have a race engine-builder base. “If an engine builder is an existing valve spring customer,” says Hornick, “I’ll help them with any engine problem at no cost. That’s part of the service we provide as a spring supplier, because we have no consulting customers that compete against our valve spring customers.” “When first starting out and working long hours,” recalls Ernie Elliott, renowned NASCAR race engine tuner,... read more

Seven consecutive Pro Stock victories, 10 wins from 24 events, and two new racing head designs

By Ben Mozart: Three years ago during a PRI interview in Indianapolis, Mike Androwick was asked about his future. His firm, Mike’s Racing Heads, had supplied cylinder heads to various dirt track racing series, particularly in the northeast, and so successful were the designs, the question sounded legitimate. “I’d like to return to Pro Stock, developing heads and induction systems,” he said. But that arena is so competitive, bridled the interviewer, would you be able to compete? “I think I could. I’ve done it before.” he replied. How did he achieve such remarkable results in 2017 with Gray Motorsports’ Pro Stock entries? “We work as a team,” he replies. The team that concentrates on power production comprises Mike and Mike Jr., Androwick’s 30-year-old son, and two full time employees at Mike’s Racing Heads, together with Gray Motorsports’ senior engine builder, Paul Hoskins, and his team. Mike Sr. has been friends with Hoskins for seventeen years.  Clearly, there’s much to be said for friendship and shared passion. Still, the cylinder head and intake manifold designs were stirred from Androwick’s fertile brain. Team cars (Shane Gray, Tanner Gray, and Drew Skillman) scored seven consecutive victories, four runner ups, and won 10 races from 24 events. Young Tanner Gray, Shane Gray’s teenage son, carried five of those victories and collected two runner-up finishes in his rookie year. His accomplishments as the youngest driver to win in the NRHA Pro ranks were recently acclaimed, “I owe this award to the team,” he said graciously. For both drag racing and dirt track fraternities, here are details of two new Androwick designs for racing small-block... read more

New belt-drive assembly for LS

Innovators West is introducing two new belt-drive systems for LS engines. The first will suit engines of stock cam height and be available January 2018. The second will serve raised-cam engines and made available shortly thereafter. The new design incorporates precision-machined gears, a billet aluminum two-piece backing plate for easy cam changes and a two-piece upper pulley that provides externally adjustable cam timing of plus-or-minus 10 degrees. More importantly, these systems are designed to install without additional machining. Their direct fitment entirely eliminates the toil and cost of removing the engine, dismantling the block, machining it and reinstalling. Lastly, these belt-drive assemblies are further distinguished by the inclusion of high quality Super Torque belts as well as the renowned Torrington cam thrust bearing and a non-adjustable idler pulley for belt tensioning. Superior high-vacuum seals are optional.   Visit Innovators West at the 2017 PRI Show, Booth #2038   For further information contact: Innovators West, Inc. 2816 Centennial Rd., Salina, KS 67401 Attn: Chris Rose (785) 825-6166 or read more

Adding Boost? Compression, cams, and installation headaches.

By Fergus Ogilvy: The two most common uncertainties about the prospects of supercharging are fitment and engine tune. Will the supercharger fit under the hood and will it operate with all its accessories: alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor? The second relates to tuning in general and the preferred compression ratio and camshaft specification in particular. For the most part, a supercharger that doesn’t fit under the hood is undesirable in most quarters. So, woe betides the manufacturer that requires a hood hole to accommodate it, for he will most likely perish in obscurity. Owners desperately seeking attention may relish the thought of a monstrous supercharger towering above, but for the average Muscle car owner, hardly. With regard to the configuration of alternators, steering pumps and compressors, the approach taken by most manufacturers is determined by first identifying the vehicle. These are briefly explored below under the headings Chevrolet or Chrysler or Ford. Select the one that is relevant. Installations Chevrolet: Considering TorqStorm Superchargers, their units for small-block Chevrolets are available in right- or left-hand options, whatever works best. Better still, to avoid unknown complications, they provide a supercharger option that includes all accessories. Similar options are available for Chevrolet big-blocks. Of the most sought-after kits, it is the LS model that raises most questions. These engines (4.8L, 5.3L, and 6.0L) are favored because of their notable power output and value for money; truck engines are inexpensive. But the supercharger maker must be notified that the engine is, in fact, from a truck as their dimensions differ. TorqStorm’s LS truck supercharger kit is designed to operate with... read more

Losing spark on your HEI ignition?

In this video Ray Bohacz explains how to diagnose and solve common problems associated with HEI ignition systems. These include marking the unit before dismantling, the care required during dismantling, checking the pick-up with an Ohmmeter, and examining the ignition module, which replaces the breakers by turning the coil on and off, and the remedy for overheating that causes intermittent spark. A calm analytical brain and a manner that has won him many friends and viewers, Ray Bohacz is articulate and meticulous in his technical video presentations. Watch and learn from Ray’s good advice. New Jersey native Ray Bohacz is a respected engine builder. Though he relished the challenge of preparing race-winning engines, his earliest memories were linked to farming and its many aspects—particularly its mechanics. Recently he has combined these interests by demonstrating the value of short, technical trouble-solving videos.... read more

Bob Ida: A life lived one-quarter mile at a time

By Ray T. Bohacz:   By the time Neil Diamond’s single, “Brooklyn Roads”, made it to the Billboard Top 100 in May of 1968, Bob Ida was already more than a decade into what would eventually become a lifetime of automotive and racing legendary. His journey was inspired by a ’32 Ford hot rod. The one he saw on 79th Street when he was around 12 years old. The same Brooklyn Street that had spawned dreams of castles and kings by the young Mr. Diamond, filled Bob Ida’s mind with thoughts of “what if”: What if the Tucker Corporation had succeeded in business? Would this life of a first-generation Italian-American young man—the son of a Tucker dealer that was in business for only three days—be different? What if a blown 354 Hemi could be successfully installed in an Austin-Healey? What if the camshaft was advanced by three degrees? What if Ida Automotive fails? A modern Comp car throttle-stopping its way down the “thirteen-twenty” with fits and jerks seems a suitable metaphor for his life—even more fittingly, the days that comprise Bob Ida. Ida’s story is one of determination, passion, and talent with the requisite stumbling blocks, heartaches, failures and tears that were not viewed as setbacks but instead growth spurts on the road to destiny. It was America in the 1950s and ’60s where nothing was impossible. It was and is Bob Ida. Does the man make the car or the car make the man? The chance encounter with the ’32 Ford had been both inspirational and challenging, for when he looked at it, he recognized a profound lack... read more