Memphis Hosts Big Power
COMP's Dyno Cranks Out Results in the Mid-South Region
From the February, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Cameron Evans
With the Spintron machine testing Winston Cup components only a dyno cell away, the Engine Masters Challenge competitors scheduled for a pull in our mid-south regional competition had a feeling of the big time. COMP Cams served as gracious hosts for the event, with engineers making plenty of visits away from their CAD programs and execs like Scooter Brothers and Ron Coleman checking up on the competition. In Memphis, we had the most variety and a few serious hitters, to boot.
COMP's SuperFlow 901 dynamometer saw 12 engines attempt the testing procedure, but with the effects of a nearby hurricane blowing through town and no adjustments allowed once the engines were on "the pump," the challenge of creating a stout pump-gas engine was even tougher. With a few Chevys, two Mopars, two Olds, and a few Fords thrown in, we had our hands full just getting every contestant a shot at the title. Ask a dyno expert; running four engines per day on one dyno cell is out of the ordinary, let alone pulling it off simultaneously in three venues.
Our angle of the event was officiated by PRIMEDIA ad exec and ex-NHRA Super Stock champ John Barkley, dyno operator and COMP research engineer Mike Bond, SuperFlow field expert John Seaman (who put a ton of time into the entire contest's calibrations and specs), and yours truly to interpret rules and communicate with the other facilities.
We had our share of little fitment problems, technical glitches, and rules interpretations, but everyone left the COMP facility feeling that they got a fare shake. With the scores in California coming in 40 points higher, we knew our lower scores were not a direct result of dumb guys behind the wrenches! Our finalists are excited to move on and show that Westech simply might have a better dyno room, not that the West Coast has better engine builders. Read on as we cover the winners, losers, and solid attempts at pump-gas power.
SuperFlow tech John Seaman...
SuperFlow tech John Seaman was a huge asset to the competition, in coming up with equations to easily calculate the results and familiarizing both PHR staffers and contestants with the dynomometer's complex testing capabilities.
Here, he uses a new electronic...
Here, he uses a new electronic tool from Omega (888-TC-OMEGA) that calculates wet bulb and dry buld settings, rather than having to use the old school "waving" wand.
Tq: 406.3 Hp: 352.1 = 758.4
PHR readers are familiar with this Oldsmobile specialist, as his engine and suspension developments have been well chronicled on these pages. However, Dick was the first to admit that he's not a "small-block guy," so this would be a big challenge. Though his engine didn't score that well against the configurations with years more development (mainly in the cylinder heads), the fat torque between 3,500 rpm and 5,500 rpm (with peaks of 434.2 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm and 478 hp at 6,400 rpm) proved that Dick had done his homework. A closer look shows that pulling the power curve back in the rev range for a more useable engine on the street might have scored him closer to 800 points. Miller didn't really build this engine for the dyno with trick parts, as it was assembled as an example of what you could do with reasonable stuff. If you're looking for big-block torque at a weight savings between your framerails, this is for you. Dick wanted to give special thanks the guys at COMP for the dyno help in selecting a carb spacers, flat tappet camshaft, and especially in spring selection (where they went with a single Winston Cup outer spring and damper). We expect to see Miller back when we run big-blocks next year.
Tq: 368.6 Hp: 319.3 = 687.9
This young guy usually builds big-inch nitrous Fords for competitors running on the Outlaw Street circuit around the south. Shane entered to chase some new customers, but left disappointed in how his engine ran. It might not have been his fault.With a giant crash, his engine fell off the hoist in the dyno room when one of the bolts supporting the chain broke! The oil pan and valve cover were smashed, and the distributor cap was broken. Certainly, his timing setting was tweaked and the contest rules wouldn't allow him to tune on the dyno. It was a shame, as Shane and his dad scrambled to get the parts and pieces to make necessary repairs after we pulled him out of line as an effort to give him a shot. One of his customers, Chad Mable, was nice enough to partner with Shane on this 355ci Windsor, equipped with 10.2:1 compression and Trick Flow's high-port heads. Shane's concept was to catch up with everyone using early torque, getting a head start on the curve. Short on time, his engine only ran it on the floor with Motorcraft 10W30 to break it in before Tim had to drive the 6 hours west to Memphis. He expected to make between 540 and 580 peak hp and 450 to 480 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000 rpm, but it didn't turn out so well. Certainly this real-street engine's trip to the floor didn't help, and his score suffered. A touch of valve float and signs of more power with each pull (as the motor continued to break in) eliminated Cloer's chances, but this young guy's skills and attitude will bring him success. Maybe next year?
Did Not Finish
With his two young children in two, this East Coast transplant had never experienced a dyno test before. Rishi was one of the readers whom we selected regardless of whether he would have a competitive engine--he was into the concept, wanted a chance, and we were gonna give him one. Poor George brought a knife to a gunfight, it seemed, with his little 302 going up against engines with a whole lot more of everything! Coming right out of his 14-second car, George's Ford floated the valves big time at 5,800 rpm and it wouldn't pull past 6,000 rpm. We had to shut it off after making only one pass, but Rishi's big effort to tow over from Iowa gave him an experience and some knowledge to use in further projects.
Tq: 444.8 Hp: 386.9 = 831.7
This young NMCA racer brought his entire family down from Indianapolis for the EM Challenge and didn't leave disappointed, though he was checking on scores it seems by the minute! He brought something we all wanted to see, an attempt at extreme compression with less ignition timing. Tim's engine with nearly 13.5:1 compression ran with a reported 32 degrees of lead! Davis said he escaped obvious detonation issues by smoothing every surface possible around the pistons and chambers, which seemed to work. His engine seemed to detonate seriously on the third pull, but Tim ensures his tune-up was conservative and he'll lean on it in the final.Using a large bore and a short stroke, Tim's Indy Cylinder Head-based combination featured a 210cc runner, relatively large by comparison to others in his power range. Interestingly enough, he was able to make the Indy single-plane manifold work, scoring better than the in-house Indy engine, which resorted to a smaller, Mopar-brand intake to move down the power curve. Davis experimented with synthetic only, as we watched him pour four quarts of Red Line Oil's 5wt (like the Winston Cup qualifiers run), and a quart of Red Line 20wt as insurance. It was tough to get to our 190-degree oil temp baseline, so we pulled his engine at 170 degrees on the first pull. Tim's Mopar made peaks of 486.3 lb-ft at 5,400 rpm and 552 hp at 6,500 rpm. "Weather can effect the carb and my torque was better on the dyno we tested on before, so I possibly would have leaned it down given the chance. It probably helped to save my motor since it has so much compression!"There's no doubt that this $20,000 engine was built just for this competition. He should do well in the Finals.
Tq: 402.0 Hp: 342.0 = 744.0
Though we didn't play any favorites in this competition, we wanted this guy to do well. After all, he was a nice guy and looked just like James Hetfield from Metallica! Only four days before the Memphis runoff, Green's engine was testing in a 3,300-pound '69 Chevelle that ran 12.05 at 109 mph with a TH350 trans, a 4.56:1 gear, and a 28-inch tall/10-inch wide slick. Though he hadn't prepared on the dyno like many others, this was even cooler!Green spent about $4,500 to get his 364ci act together, not counting a few parts he had laying around at home. Choosing a Jeg's cylinder head (as built by Canfield), a Scat 383 kit (3.750 inch with a 6-inch rod), an 800cfm Holley carb, and a 560/560 lift cam with 286/286 duration, the only exotic thing in this engine was the set of custom, lightweight JE pistons. Running without the aid of an MSD 6A box (the choice of nearly every competitor across the Memphis cell), everyone was impressed with this real-world entry, especially the engineers at COMP. Green found that he probably could have used another 30 pounds of valve spring pressure to avoid valve float and to get more use of the COMP hydraulic roller lifters.He left with a huge smile, a ton more experience, and the pride that he ran respectably with some of the country's best engine builders. We may revisit his engine in more detail in a few months, but be sure to check out our website to view his pull and stats. Trust us, you probably want his motor over others that made more power.
Tq 423 hp 364.7 = 787.7
This guy took the "Mr. Patience" award at our Memphis runoff, as his run was early in the week and he was literally on the bubble for the entire time (considering that we added a few alternates for the final since we found convincingly higher figures from the Western region). Mark's Chevy had lightweight Synergyn oil in the pan that was very stable at temperature, almost too much--it was difficult to get this engine hot enough to test under our standards. His peak torque of 447.1 lb-ft came at 5,000 revs and peak horsepower of 484.5 hp was found at 6,400 rpm, dialed into the test's limits. Examining the figures, we saw that this engine made a solid 425 lb-ft from 3,500 through 6,000 rpm and that really seemed to help his score. This Brodix Track 1-based combination was built from parts in his garage, featuring 11.6:1 compression, a 4.040-inch bore with Venolia pistons, Eagle 6-inch rods, Dynatech headers, and a trick carb from Willy's in Mt. Carmel, Indiana, that featured adjustable metering blocks. Brittingham didn't want to use the SuperFlow air horn, as all of his testing pulls were made with the air cleaner directly atop the carb. He thinks this had him running fat (as the A/F chart on his pull proves) and feels that with tuning, he could have scored around 810 points. He'll get his chance in California as an alternate.
American Speed * Moline, IL
Tq: 417.2 Hp: 361.6 =778.8
We all expected far more from this 365ci engine, as Trent's Edelbrock-based strokers from past PHR tech stories have always made great torque. The American Speed engine featured a "gotcha" in terms of the rules on oil pans. Our rules clearly stated that unmodified pans built for production vehicles were required, but we didn't rule out giant Super Stock pans with a hole through the middle for the cross member! Trent's engine, which featured Air Flow Research cylinder heads, a 3.935 bore, and a 3.75 stroke, also had headers that were dramatically kicked out, in theory to help flow (there were no regs to limit this). We think this might have doomed Trent's engine, as the headers were far out of typical length of the dyno's exhaust and part of his poor score could be contributed to contamination and ambient temperature in the dyno room. The Holley-carbed American Speed entry made a bunch of sense, with its Crower Sportsman rods, Eagle crank, MSD ignition, and even some exotic items like the trick Jesel belt drive. You could tell from the tech sheet that it was built to get after some of that contingency money, but rightfully so! This was another one of those engines that was a real world piece, not a dyno ringer.
Indy Cylinder Head * Indianapolis, IN
Tq: 432.9 Hp: 376.2 = 809.1
One of the few "works" engines of the bunch, legendary Chrysler engine builder Ken Lazzari and the folks from Indy Cylinder Head put together a mill that surprised us by not featuring a famous Indy manifold up top. Engine Masters proved to be a special challenge for Ken, who's a race builder normally looking for all out horsepower. Every change he made was skewing up the curve, instead of fattening his score, so he ended up with this Mopar-brand manifold. Who would know that a customer down the road would end up beating them at their own game?Regardless, this flat-tappet engine was stout, running an 850 Mighty Demon and what Lazzari would only call "a lot of compression." With a 4.030-inch bore and a 3.58-inch stroke, you could call this a big bore/short stroke engine and its power curve represents that to a certain degree. Check it out for yourself by plugging the SuperFlow WinDyn viewer and the file into the computer by visiting www.enginemasters.com. One last thing on the Indy motor. Since they already had a great representation of their product through Tim Davis, they pulled their engine "out of line" and allowed Mark Brittingham's engine to go to California as the alternate. Nice move by these manufactures from Indianapolis.
Porting Dynamics *Maple Grove, MN
Tq: 392.1 Hp: 449.1 = 841.2
Known as a head-porting expert to some of the engineers around COMP, this guy made big claims as he came through the door and he backed them up! This Ford was our best engine overall and it wasn't due to just one issue. Dave made over 100 pulls with Bob Kison at Applied Dyno in Eagan, Minnesota, to prepare for the competition. He chose a big bore and short stroke combo built around an Australian cylinder head from CHI (fitted for Comp's big-block Chevy 1.7:1 rockers) and a modified Ford Racing "Yates" manifold, a Wilson manifold spacer, and a Demon 820 with annular boosters. We're told that though the heads started with 210cc intake runners, he sized them down to around 180cc to get the air speed up. In the EM Challenge, smaller seems to work better. Dave's engine featured a reverse-cooling setup with an external electric water pump, a creative move that was well within the rules. He was another that didn't expect the use of SuperFlow's airhorn, so between that and humidity, his jetting was fat in some spots. From the photos you can note that we took special care avoid heat, including Thermo-tec wrapped headers and special heat shields--we must admit that the ambient temperatures in the cell were lowest on his pulls, too."If that dyno in California looks to give us that much more power like we think, you tell Joe Sherman to get his ass out of the way." We'll see about that, Dave. This guy made certain that he had every component in his engine was selected with a contingency payoff on the other end. We'll see next month if it does!
Tom and Brenda Foley
T&B Performance * Monroe, WI
Tq: 434.0 Hp:377.5 = 811.5
This couple really had it together. Their small shop in Minnesota turns out many truck pulling engines, as well as some circle track and drag stuff. In this case, they researched each component specifically for the contest and their budget. Dart's new Ford block is in use here (with a 8.700 deck height), displacing 364ci with a 4.125 bore and a 3.400 stroke through use of a lightened Scat crank and a 6-inch Eagle rod). Lightening the crank was a big in house job, and the Foley's say that the Crankshaft Specialist balance was a good move. Air Flow Research's 205cc heads work with Ferrea valves, Comp springs, and Crane rockers. Though they got on the Kevin Engelking's Rock City, Illinois, based dyno days before the contest, they were able to make some tweaks for improvement. The score shows that it paid off, as our third best engine in Memphis. If you consider that we think our points could be 30 or more off of what California's slick dyno cell produced, they're in an elite group. Also, don't think that husband Tom is just sharing the credit with his wife-this woman floored everyone with her engine knowledge, standing out as one of the sharpest techs to come through the Comp facility that week. We'll see them at the finals as an alternate, since we couldn't fine tune our numbers between the facilities.
The Power Factory * Brooklyn Park, MN
Did Not Finish
This engine was the only one of two that we pulled in Memphis without the engine builder present. Operating a shop that he and nephew Erik call Power Factory, this engine didn't get through the testing procedure. On the one pull we made before the engine audibly was struggling, it made an average of 355.4 lb-ft and 311.2 hp (with peaks of 395.8 lb-ft at 5,100 rpm and 411.9 hp and climbing) for a possible score of 666.6 points. We shut it off when the water pump belt flew off, as it wasn't worth wearing out the guy's engine if he didn't have a shot. Equipped with Crane hydraulic roller lifters, a World Products Motown block, the Dart Iron Eagle heads with 230cc runners proved to be far too big for this engine's displacement.Though his brother's Ford entry didn't arrive before his time slot to install on the dyno (he didn't make the trip, either), we tried our best to get it on the dyno but came up short. In fact, we were scheduled to run our last engine at 4pm that Friday, and didn't turn off the last engine until 9pm! Regrettably, we didn't get to run Erik's motor even though he went to the trouble of crating it up and shipping it down.
Lake Geneva, WI
Did Not Finish
This Olds was based off of the diesel block (built from '78-81), which made for a horrible passenger car motor but a great performance piece! Peter used iron heads without too much porting, plus a big bore and a short stroke. It seems that the rod to stroke ratio allowed for a giant Ultradyne cam profile, but we just won't know how that effected the engine, nor will we know just how effective unshrouding the valve could have been--this one hurt itself on the first pull. Jankowiak admits that it was his mistake, going against the local engine shop's advice and building the bottom end with tight clearances that proved fatal. However, this Wisconsin enthusiast, who made the last pull of the week late on Friday night, is rebuilding the engine to safer specs and plans to follow up with us providing proof of just how good this combination can be.
Comp Cams engineer Mike Bond...
Comp Cams engineer Mike Bond was in charge of both running the dyno cell and getting the engines on and off the pump. When we called a few weeks later, he was still resting up from the experience, swapping out more engines in a week that he'd probably done in his entire career! This young guy took the compeition very seriously, ensuring that competitors were satisified with the engine's electrical connetions, throttle travel, and fluid systems.