High-Tech, Lightweight, and Ready to Take on the World
Butler Performance Group Builds the Most Powerful Traditional Pontiac V-8 Ever
From the January, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
Illustrators: Clint Johns, Jill Quillen
The one thing that can be said for Butler Performance Group is that the company is not one to rest on its laurels. In addition to building a 440ci, 2,200hp, gasoline-burning twin-turbo Pontiac V-8, building a pump-gas 467 to compete in the PHR Engine Masters Challenge, as well as developing reproduction Ram Air IV heads and intake and a new extreme-duty aluminum V-8 block, they have also built up the world's most powerful traditional Pontiac V-8 yet assembled. "Wait-a-minute," you may say, "didn't the company already do that?"
Actually, their 2,200-plus-hp V-8 held that title for a while, but it too has been eclipsed by this latest project. This new engine is a part of the aluminum block program and was built to test the outer limits of the new casting's strength. "We decided to build this engine and just crank up the boost until something broke," said Rodney Butler. "From there, we could see where the block would need reinforcing and then could make the necessary changes to the molds."
The funny thing is, that moment has yet to occur. Even after repeated dyno thrashes and a level of power that is so high that it actually caused boiling in the water brake, the Butler block held up, with none of the typical problems, such as main cap walk, head sealing problems, or the infamous longitudinal block splitting, so common with high-horse applications using a production block. In fact, the bottom end looks so good that Rodney said he doesn't even need to change the rings or bearings.
So just how high a horsepower level are we talking here? Thought you'd never ask. With a 4.25-inch bore and stroke making for a displacement of 482 ci, the new V-8 uses wide-port Edelbrock heads, a pair of Turbonetics 91mm ceramic ball bearing turbos, and an EFI system that has been dubbed "The Starship Enterprise," Rodney Butler and his partner Travis Quillen have pulled a staggering 2,886 hp at 7,200 rpm, with 2,105 lb-ft of torque at the same level. The torque curve was equally astounding, with over 1,900 lb-ft available up to 7,600 rpm. The horsepower stayed above 2,700 up through 7,800 rpm. Travis added that, "We would have liked to pull the engine a bit lower, but the dyno simply would not hold this kind of torque. I would imagine that torque at 6,500 rpm would be in excess of 2,250 lb-ft, but of course we have no real way of knowing for sure."
Why make the change from gasoline to alcohol with this application? There are several reasons. Travis Quillen said, "Many racers use alcohol for fuel in order to gain horsepower; we chose to use alcohol for the potential weight savings and reduction in system complexity. The cooling effect of alcohol vaporization negates the need for an intercooler, which saves approximately 125 pounds of water tank, pump, lines, etc., and also reduces the amount of cooling system necessary (radiator, water pump, etc). Also, the reduction/elimination of these components adds reliability and reduces the amount of maintenance required between rounds.
"There are definitely some differences in the tune-up of this motor compared to the old motor. The biggest one revolves around using alcohol for fuel instead of gasoline. Common theory says that it takes about twice as much alcohol as gasoline for the same horsepower; we found that this engine liked even more fuel than that. Another big difference was in ignition timing and compression ratio; we raised the compression ratio by about 2 full points and also used about 4 degrees more ignition timing at the same boost pressure with this engine versus the gasoline engine.
"Tuning on the dyno was fairly similar to tuning any other turbocharged engine, except that we did not use the wide-band oxygen sensor in the same manner that we usually do. We tuned mainly from spark plug readings, similar to blown alcohol applications. From the looks of the spark plugs and rod bearings, we can say that even at 2,886 hp we have a very safe tune on the engine right now. This engine should be capable of well over 3,000 hp and around 2,300 lb-ft when we 'lean on it' with the new car."
After a dozen dyno pulls, Rodney tore the engine down to inspect the componentry and evaluate what might be improved. Surprisingly, the long-block is not nearly as exotic as the power levels would indicate. The same can't be said for the induction system, however. Follow along as we show you just what goes into a 2,886hp traditional Pontiac V-8. We'll present this information from top to bottom, beginning with the induction.
Although you might not recognize...
Although you might not recognize it at first, there is a traditional (albeit aluminum aftermarket) Pontiac V-8 buried under the exotic induction system. Twin turbos, EFI, and methanol help the aluminum-blocked 482 produce 2,886 hp at 7,200 rpm, with the potential for even more. Deep-6-second quarter-mile times seem inevitable.
From the front, the Butler...
From the front, the Butler 482 looks like some sort of alien being. The ducting from the turbos to the intake manifold is clearly evident. The 3-inch aluminum tubes from the turbo merge into a 4.5-inch duct that feeds the 105mm throttle body. An intercooler is not used, as the cooling effect of the methanol is strong enough to cause ice to form on the intake manifold.
This side shot gives a great...
This side shot gives a great view of the header and turbo configuration. The Turbonetics 91mm ceramic roller-bearing turbos are custom-tailored for this application, feature a standard impeller design, and are larger than their previous turbo 440. The use of alcohol also increases exhaust output by about 18 percent so they could step up to a larger exhaust turbine wheel, cutting back pressure without giving up any response. The turbos are lubricated by the engine's oiling system and use #4 AN lines to the housings and #10 AN lines back to the oil pan. Maximum boost pressure is 52-54 psi, which they will not see until the new car is finished. The turbos are controlled by a Turbonetics New Generation wastegate that flows substantially more than previous "Race Gates." Though they are the same size, they make use of a special three-angle valve job that moves more exhaust and prevents "boost creep."
The Turbos are fed by one-off...
The Turbos are fed by one-off headers designed and built by Travis Quillen at Young's Performance. They use a 2-inch primary and a 2.5-inch collector. Though the collector size sounds a bit small, it was purposely built that way to increase exhaust gas velocity to quicken the response of the turbos and build boost quickly. Rodney says that the flow is not restricted by the smallish collectors; the turbo is the only restriction in the exhaust tract. The ignition system consists of an MSD 7AL3 connected to a four-stage boost controller. It works on timers to control boost during every phase of the run. MSD 50-ohm/ft plug wires and NGK 5671-10 plugs round out the system.
The "Starship Enterprise"...
The "Starship Enterprise" is a custom intake manifold designed and built by Travis Quillen. It features a 105mm throttle body and two 160-lb/hr Bosch fuel injectors per runner, and four more are located in the discharge tube, for a total of twenty. They were originally on the top of the plenum, but distribution problems forced their relocation. The primary injectors are fired by a Fuel Air and Spark Technology controller (F.A.S.T.), while the four auxiliary units are controlled by a Haltech box that is boost- and rpm-referenced. The great thing about that is that they can be adjusted with nothing more than a screwdriver--a computer is not needed. It activates at a pre-determined boost level and provides intercooling. The fuel pump is a Waterman belt-driven unit that spins at 60 percent of engine speed. It has been massaged and calibrated by Kinsler Fuel Injection. The pump provides a base pressure of 65-70 psi and goes up to compensate for boost pressure. Total pressure often exceeds 110 psi. Travis also fabricated the trick billet aluminum fuel blocks, which feed a total of five extruded aluminum fuel rails. A single Weldon fuel pressure regulator controls the fuel system and is boost-referenced.
Here's Rodney Butler at work...
Here's Rodney Butler at work on the turbocharged 482 Pontiac. With the induction system off, the engine looks much like the other engines coming out of Butler Performance Group--save for the aluminum block. That will likely change as the lightweight block will reach production in the near future.
The heads used on this new...
The heads used on this new 482 are absolutely identical to the set used on the 440 turbo Rodney and Travis built a couple of years back. They are off-the-shelf Butler Performance Group Edelbrock "Wide Ports" that use Ferrea valves. Comp Cams titanium 10-degree retainers and chrome-moly locks hold the Comp Cams 946 series valve springs. They develop 315 pounds of pressure at the seat and 850 pounds open.
The heads flow 370 cfm of...
The heads flow 370 cfm of air at 28 inches on the intake side and 265 cfm on the exhausts, both at .700 lift.
Ferrea's titanium intake valves...
Ferrea's titanium intake valves measure 2.19 inches and their Super Alloy exhaust valves are 1.77 inchers. Combustion chamber size checks in at 73 cc.
Custom copper head gaskets...
Custom copper head gaskets are made by Flat Out Gaskets, measure .080 inch thick, and are uncoated. Their harder composition helps seal compression better than coated gaskets, which are intended to provide superior sealing for coolant. The heads are O-ringed with a receiver groove cut in the deck surface of the sleeves.
The front of the engine is...
The front of the engine is very similar to the old 440 turbo mill and uses a B-O-P Second-Generation beltdrive and motor plate, which allow positive location in the chassis and easy cam timing adjustments.
The cam rotates in the block...
The cam rotates in the block with special roller bearings from B-O-P Engineering. They allow the cam to be safely lubricated by oil splash, rather than pressurized oil...
...The bearing cage closes...
...The bearing cage closes off the oil hole to the cam area, diverting oil back to the mains, where it is needed more.
The camshaft in this turbocharged...
The camshaft in this turbocharged 482 Pontiac is unusual for a variety of reasons. Based on a custom billet core by B-O-P Engineering and ground by Comp Cams, the solid roller grind features a larger 50mm diameter, which allows for a more aggressive lobe profile and increased rigidity. Travis would not be specific about the actual specs but did admit that the lift was .780 inch with the 1.6:1 rockers.
Here the cam is installed...
Here the cam is installed with the roller bearing setup.
Crower roller lifters have...
Crower roller lifters have been absolutely bulletproof over the years, according to Rodney, so they were employed in this engine as well. The pushrods are JBP 5/16-inch-diameter units with .116-inch wall thickness.
Like the Edelbrock/Butler...
Like the Edelbrock/Butler Performance "Wide Port" heads, the valvetrain is exactly the same as the previous Butler turbo Pontiac V-8. The T&D shaft rockers are 1.6:1 ratio and provide a .700-inch offset, which permits the use of the wide-port layout.
This particular block is the...
This particular block is the prototype for the Butler aluminum block program. Its sleeves feature a 4.5-inch od and a .125-inch wall, which are press-fitted and have a step at the top and flattened edges to meet with the adjacent cylinders. They will accept an O-ring or receiver groove for superior cylinder sealing. Block deck height measures 10.22 inches. The block weighs in at 125 pounds with the sleeves installed, compared to about 250 pounds for an Indian Adventures cast-iron unit.
Note the screw-in freeze ...
Note the screw-in freeze plugs.
Also note the notching at...
Also note the notching at the bottom of the cylinder to clear the massive connecting rods.
The conventional steel four-bolt...
The conventional steel four-bolt main caps used on this first casting were there purely for expediency. Production units will feature steel splayed caps. Note the recessed main caps and .125-inch lowered panrail.
The rotating assembly includes...
The rotating assembly includes a Moldex billet crank with a 4.25-inch stroke and 3-inch mains. The mains and heads are fastened with ARP "Bullet Tip" studs, which seat in the casting and can be removed without galling the threads.
The piston-and-rod assembly...
The piston-and-rod assembly is quite unusual for a Pontiac. The pistons are custom-dished Ross units that provide a final compression ratio of 10:1. They weigh 520 grams, have seven gas ports, and use Total Seal gapless top rings. They are connected to the rods by way of 190-gram Childs and Albert pins. The piston-to-deck height is zero. The rods themselves are GRP 3000 Series billet aluminum units with a 6.8-inch center-to-center length. They are used by Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car racers and are rated to handle up to 3,400 hp. The GRP rods also feature patented "thumbprint" serrations that allow for rod-to-cap alignment on two planes, greatly speeding up assembly. Rod bolts are ARP 2000 series units. The rods check in at 825 grams each, which compared to 800 grams for the steel rods used on the old motor.
When you're putting out the...
When you're putting out the level of power that this 482 Pontiac does, there better be an adequate supply of high-pressure oil and a place for it to go. A Titan oil pump provides more than 105 pounds of pressure during those 7,000-plus-rpm pulls. A 12-quart Billet Fabrication oil pan provides superior lubricant control during the high-g acceleration. A crank scraper is not used, as the oil pan is effective enough controlling the oil. Clearances are .0035 inch on mains and .004 inch on rods.
GENERAL ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS Bore: 4.25 inches
Stroke: 4.25 inches
Displacement: 482 ci
Rod-to-stroke ratio: 1.6:1
Compression ratio: 10:1
Current boost: 44 psi
Maximum boost: 52 psi
Horsepower: 2,886 hp at 7,200 rpm
Torque: 2,105 at 7,200 rpm
Shift point: 7,600 rpm
Timing: 30 degrees total advance
Maximum safe engine speed: 8,200 rpm
DYNO DATA Due to the fact that the engine was actually overpowering the dyno, the pulls were only recorded from 7,200 to 7,800 rpm. The torque was too high to record below the minimum rpm figure listed.
| 7,200 ||2,105.2 ||2,886.0 ||43.8 |
| 7,300 ||2,064.8 ||2,869.9 ||44.1 |
| 7,400 ||1,999.3 ||2,817.0 ||44.0 |
| 7,500 ||1,979.7 ||2,827.1 ||44.0 |
| 7,600 ||1,913.2 ||2,768.5 ||44.2 |
| 7,700 ||1,866.7 ||2,736.8 ||44.2 |
| 7,800 ||1,821.1 ||2,704.5 ||44.1 |
649-F Easy Street, Dept MMFF
Ross Racing Pistons
625 S. Douglas Ave.
N3651 Schmidt Rd., Dept. HPP
Titan Speed Engineering
13001 Tree Ranch Road,
Butler Performance Group
2336 Highway 43 S, Dept. HPP
5400 Atlantis Ct.
GRP Connecting Rods
Kinsler Fuel Injection