Pushing the limits is in the nature of every gearhead. How much cam can you run? How big of a carb can you get away with? How much compression will pump gas hold? Those aren’t just simple questions that can be answered with a vanilla response. Each engine is different and so when your combo is pushing the limits of a pump-gas street terror, every advantage has to be investigated. Played out and tested.
The Snow Performance kit uses...
The Snow Performance kit uses a quality made-in-USA pump that is pulsed by the controller. Push-connect fittings like those used in air brakes and airbag setups are easy to connect and have a super-sano eye appeal.
Talking with a friend recently, we were discussing the limits of pump gas and how his 12:1 compression 392 Windsor was just barely too much for the junky gas that now dominates the landscape. Pump gas was OK for cruising, but any full-throttle romps were now verboten. Just a couple of years ago, gas stations were still selling the good stuff, but now my friend has resorted to filling his ride with even more expensive race gas just to keep it happy. A call to Matt Snow of Snow Performance changed that.
Water/methanol injection has been used since World War II to help heavily laden fighter and bomber planes boost their power by cooling the turbos and increasing boost. In piston engines, like the ones we’re used to, the fluid cools the combustion chamber and allows for greater cylinder pressure before detonation rears its ugly head. Snow had been using water/methanol injection since the early ’80s when he had a hot 12.5:1-compression Mopar street monster. He found that even with the good gas of the day he couldn’t keep from pinging, and it would subsequently lose power. Adding the injection brought the power right to where it should be, and he started manufacturing the kits for fellow racers. Soon word got out and the Snow Performance name became directly associated with providing a solution for the pump-gas blues. Sounds exactly like what our fine Ford friend was fending for.
Installation began by removing...
Installation began by removing and relocating the radiator overflow and vacuum canister to make room for the methanol paraphernalia. Picking a spot to mount the tank that is easily accessible for refills can make life a little easier. Of course there are no rules saying you can’t gang two or three bottles together for extra capacity.
Talking with Snow, we learned that they not only had kits for the late-model EFI-boosted combos, which seem to be more prevalent, but they also carry a muscle car naturally aspirated/carbureted version, which would fit perfectly. The kit comes with pretty much everything we needed to get started testing their claims of 10 to 15 horses over non-meth-injected engines.
The first 90-degree day of the year might not have been ideal for the crew at C&C Performance in Carthage, Tennessee, and the owner of the cleanest ’79 Mustang Cobra on the planet, Don Jackson, to be out sweating in the sun to install the kit. Surely though it would be the perfect day to see whether the high latent heat of vaporization that the methanol provides would cool the combustion process enough to make a noticeable difference in power.
The Stage 2 Muscle Car kit typically uses a common 1-inch carb spacer with holes drilled and tapped in the sides to mount the injectors provided, however, since the car was already equipped with a nitrous plate and was hood-clearance limited, the decision was made to drill and tap into the sides of Don’s Vic Jr. intake manifold to mount the nozzles.
Sheetmetal screws are not...
Sheetmetal screws are not for sissies. Don Jackson happily plowed through the inner fenderwell to mount the Boost Juice tank directly over the pump. There are also kits that allow for trunk mounting the reservoir for those wanting to keep their engine bay looking stock.
Some Snow customers use the factory washer fluid tank as a handy reservoir to store the water/methanol mixture that they refer to as Boost Juice. Jackson decided to relocate a vacuum canister to mount the Snow reservoir, pump, and controller all together in the left front corner of the engine bay. C&C also installed Snow’s low fluid indicator option in the tank, which was hooked up to a small LED light in the dash.
Plumbing the kit was easy, since it uses push-to-lock tubing and connectors. The only caveat was that the pump must be mounted below the reservoir, since it will only gravity feed to the pump.
A scene that typically causes...
A scene that typically causes that hair on your back to stand up: Drilling into the intake while still on the engine was the easiest way to make the system work. Packing the drill and the ⅛ NPT tap with grease and stuffing the manifold with paper towels and tape prevented any shavings from entering the runners. Whew.
After mounting the hardware, Jackson took charge of wiring the system. Good thing he is an electrician by trade—at least there were only a few wires that needed to be addressed. The intelligent control box uses a combination of rpm and manifold vacuum (or boost in some cases) to control when the pump kicks into action. Typically, it would be set to turn on only when the engine was at zero vacuum, indicating wide-open throttle. Mounting the injectors under the throttle blades as in Jackson’s case required the use of a solenoid (included in the kit) to keep the engine from siphoning the juice into the engine unintentionally.
Once the plumbing and wiring were done, we strapped Jackson’s red Cobra to C&C’s Dynojet chassis dyno for a little truth session. The boys started out making a run with the car in its normal state of tune, which included VP113 fuel and the timing hovering at 36 degrees. The car put down a respectable 361 rear-wheel horsepower through a C4 tranny and an 8.8 rearend spinning 255-series Mickey Thompson Drag Radials. That was with the aforementioned 12:1 compression, a set of ported World Products heads, and a 242/246-at-.050 solid flat-tappet cam. Your basic old-school combo good for low 7-second eighth-mile e.t.’s. For round two, we filled the injector tank with straight pure methanol for a back-to-back test. The dyno graph was almost identical except down maybe 2 horses total. That would indicate that the engine already had plenty of octane and the added methanol just made the engine a little rich.
The push-lock hose was teed...
The push-lock hose was teed into the injectors and routed far from any hot exhaust. Keep in mind that any mixture stronger than 30 percent methanol can be extremely flammable. Yeah, we ran straight medical-grade methanol. We’re cool like that.
For round three, Jackson disconnected the fuel line from his carb and ran the fuel pump, completely emptying his gas tank, only to refill it with run-of-the-mill 93-octane pump gas. Spinning the dyno drum again with the meth injection turned on showed power to once again almost exactly mirror the high-octane race gas. So far no big change. Curious.
For the final test we pulled the plug on the Snow kit and ran the engine on pump gas only. There was a slight bit of audible detonation as the engine climbed through its powerband, but we were all shocked once the dyno graph popped up on the screen. It had dropped 50 hp!
Apparently, the methanol injection had increased the octane the engine was seeing enough so that it performed just as well as the straight race gas. Wow, a product that worked as good as—no better—than claimed! Never before has being hooked on meth been a good thing. One thing is for sure though, with gas prices as high as they are, Jackson’s old Mustang couldn’t have chosen a better time to become a methanol addict!
Different-sized injector nozzles...
Different-sized injector nozzles are included in the Snow kits for tuning the amount of water/methanol the engine sees. The Muscle Car kit comes with an optional dual-nozzle setup to bump up the flow over the common four- and six-cylinder single-nozzle kits.
The Boost Juice that Snow...
The Boost Juice that Snow sells is 49 percent methanol/51 percent water. Snow says the blue windshield washer fluid from the parts store is typically 30 percent methanol/70 percent water, and can be used effectively as well. They do not recommend using E85 or any other alcohol mixture that contains gasoline, or it will destroy the pump and void your warranty.
With the wiring complete and...
With the wiring complete and the engine running, the purple wire (seen capped off here) needs to be grounded for 5 seconds while the engine is held at the desired engagement rpm. That, along with a manifold vacuum dial on the controller box, determines the activation of your injection.
|Methanol Injection Test