Engine Power Builds

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Episode Transcript

(Pat)>> You're watching Powernation.

(Frankie)>> You can get impressive power gains from your engine without even cracking it open.

(Pat)>> We'll show you how. [ MUSIC ]

(Pat)>> To run the engine needs four basic things. Spark, fuel, air, and oil. The timing, quality, and amount of those things make a big difference on how well the engine runs and how much power it makes. Today we're gonna make some adjustments and changes to ignition timing, carburetors, air cleaners, and engine oil. Some of these changes will make a strong improvement, and perhaps surprisingly some of these changes won't make much of a difference at all.

(Frankie)>> Our test bed for this experiment is a General Motors 305 cubic inch V-8 that we are cobbling together choosing the best parts from a couple of donor engines we had in the shop. Let's get started.

(Pat)>> We have our pieced together 305 back on our Superflow Power Mark to show you a few things. Now it's not about how much this particular engine will make for power. Quite frankly it won't make much. It is about what affects power in an engine, and the first thing we're going to discuss is ignition timing.

(Frankie)>> Now we're not gonna go crazy and try and blow this engine up but we want to show you what timing does to an engine. So we're gonna show you what too much timing does, and what too little timing does, and how it affects the power curve of your engine.

(Pat)>> And it all has to start somewhere. So we're gonna show you how to put a distributor in an engine the right way the first time. Start by removing the number one spark plug and put your finger over the hole. Turn the engine over until you feel the air rushing out of the cylinder enough to push your finger off of the hole, and that ensures your cylinder is coming up to top dead center on a compression stroke, not on split overlap. What split overlap is is when the exhaust valve is almost closed and the intake valve is slightly open, and when you put a distributor in there it's called 180 out, meaning it's on the wrong cycle. If you try to fire the air/fuel mix that's when you get the big fireball out the carburetor. Now that we know where our engine is at, and that it's one t-d-c number one, we'll go ahead and mark our distributor base where our number one would be on the cap, and then we take our rotor, turn it slightly before that, and the distributor's ready to drop in. As the distributor goes in its gear will engage with the cam shaft gear rotating the rotor. [ MUSIC ] It might not engage with the oil pump driveshaft. Simply turn the engine over while pressing down on the distributor base and it will fall right into place. After that the distributor cap can go on. Then you can run your spark plug wires to their corresponding cylinders. [ MUSIC ]

(Pat)>> For safety sake, and since we don't need it in the dyno cell, we'll remove the engine fan. With the distributor properly installed the engine fires right up with no fireball. Then we'll set timing at 31 degrees total. 31 degrees of timing total theoretically. The only problem with something like that is old balancers like that, sometimes the rubber slips from the inner and outer hub and it messes up where the timing mark actually is.

(Frankie)>> So to our best knowledge it's 31 but it could be off a few degrees.

(Pat)>> It could be off. So let's try to make a pull from 2,500 to 5,000. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> 249 pound feet of torque and 177.5 horsepower. Made peak power at 4,500, made peak torque at 2,900. We always time for torque and jet for horsepower. If the carburetor's in a good range, or whatever's in a good range, the fueling is in a good range, we raise timing until torque levels off. We'll stick four degrees of initial in it and that'll raise our total four degrees.

(Frankie)>> See what that does.

(Pat)>> So 35 total. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> A little bit of betterness. Is that a word? 257 pound feet of torque, 182 horsepower.

(Frankie)>> Definitely an increase.

(Pat)>> Oil pressure is still going up and power's still going up, okay. We add three more degrees for a total of 38. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> How daring are you feeling? You want to go put another two degrees in it.

(Frankie)>> Yeah, I think it'll take it. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> 267, 186, that will 100 percent indicate to me that the balancer's wrong.

(Frankie)>> At 40 degrees it should not be making that.

(Pat)>> Power per se right? We made dyno run after dyno run increasing the timing each time, eventually ending up with a supposed timing of 52 degrees total, ridiculous. I think we're there finally. Torque didn't go up and it dropped power. We are finally there. Okay you can see why right there if you're timing something and something's just not making sense but it's still going up there's something else that's wrong. There's always an explanation for everything.

(Frankie)>> But the engine it doesn't lie. It likes what it likes.

(Pat)>> The dyno doesn't lie and the engine doesn't like right. What it's telling you might be lying as far as the timing.

(Frankie)>> The numbers are wrong but.

(Pat)>> But what happened was right. We can show that as an increase.

(Frankie)>> Up next a carburetor's a quick change that can make a big improvement.

(Frankie)>> We've just shown you how ignition timing affects the power output of an engine. So we're gonna move on to something that's just as easy to change, the air/fuel mixture. Now obviously on our pieced together 305 we have a carburetor, but the same principles apply to fuel injection in terms of c-f-m. Currently we're running our QFT four barrel that's rated at 450 c-f-m but we have four more carburetors that are incrementally bigger. First up is our two barrel. Now before you freak out this one is rated at 500 c-f-m and is very common in many types of racing. Then we'll move on to our 750, our 950, and finally our 1,050 Dominator to show an extreme. We're gonna compare them and show you how they affect both peak and average power numbers. First up we'll swap over to the two barrel carb. We can do this because the manifold has an open plenum.

(Pat)>> From a 450 c-f-m four barrel to a 500 two barrel.

(Frankie)>> See what happens.

(Pat)>> Here we go. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> 245 pound feet of torque, 172 horse, that's actually pretty good, and that carburetor was on a different engine before that made less power. So not bad, okay. We'll take that. Go to the next one which is our?

(Frankie)>> 750, let's go! [ MUSIC ] [ engine revving ]

(Frankie)>> Not bad!

(Pat)>> I think it broke 200.

(Frankie)>> Dang, that is cool.

(Pat)>> Look at that stuff right there. 208 horse pressures and 280.8 pound feet of torque.

(Frankie)>> That's easy bolt on power.

(Pat)>> And we just went from a 450 to a 500, and now a 750. Not only did it make more peak power, it made more power everywhere.

(Frankie)>> That's awesome! Let's keep going, go to the next one.

(Pat)>> Let's go with 200 more c-f-m to it and see what it does.

(Frankie)>> It's a 950.

(Pat)>> They bolt to the same thing. Look there's no trickery, 750, 950. [ engine revving ]

(Frankie)>> I think I saw 210.

(Pat)>> This is hilarious. Not bad, 209.5 horse, 278 pound feet of torque. Well the manifold vacuum is incrementally lower. It went from like 1.4 to 1.2 to 1. Now we're at, it's almost not even registering now. So no restriction on the mixer valve on the top.

(Frankie)>> Finally the big gun, the 1,050 Dominator.

(Pat)>> Alright haven't even started it yet. Now do you think it will even start?

(Frankie)>> Yeah it'll start.

(Pat)>> Do you think it will idle?

(Frankie)>> Yeah I think it will. I don't see why it wouldn't.

(Pat)>> I'm gonna give it a little bump. I'm not even gonna touch the old throttle. Let's see what happens.

(Frankie)>> Silky smooth!

(Pat)>> And this is a 1,050 Dominator on it's idle circuit idling on 305 inches and the engine makes 200 horsepower. People think you've got to get it past the transfer slot and get it into its main circuit to get it to idle. This one right here. [ engine revving ]

(Frankie)>> See that's smooth.

(Pat)>> Is that doggy?

(Frankie)>> No that's nice.

(Pat)>> I don't know if it'll make a pull but we're gonna try. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> It protested a little. [ engine revving ]

(Frankie)>> That's almost the same I think.

(Pat)>> Basically is the same and look how smooth everything is.

(Frankie)>> It just did not care.

(Pat)>> It doesn't care. It does not care everything being the same. This one because of its sizing would start to encroach on drivability problems if you really whacked the throttle. Putzing around it wouldn't matter if you roll into it nice, but if you stab her hard from a dead stop it might protest a little bit.

(Pat)>> Up next, air cleaners protect your engine from contaminants but sometimes at the cost of lower horsepower.

(Pat)>> We are continuing on showing you what affects power in your engine without even taking it apart on our 305 test mule, and we've got our 950 back on and we've tuned on it a little bit because it showed the most power both average and peak. Now the engine is making 210 horsepower, 280 pounds of torque. So it's time to move on to the next thing, which is an air cleaner. Every engine needs an air cleaner. It keeps contaminants out of the engine, and contaminants can wear out your cylinders a lot faster. So we are going to put some air cleaners on to see how they affect power. The problem with an air cleaner is they're sometimes very restrictive, but also can help make power. So we chose four different types to see how they will affect it. We will go from a bone stock one. Go to one that you would have on something like a hot rod, to a 10 inch one that has minimum clearance, all the way up to a racy cleanable filter trying a couple of different tops. This should be pretty interesting to see what happens. So let's get to it.

(Frankie)>> First up, a classic o-e-m style.

(Pat)>> This is the actual air cleaner assembly off a 1974 Javelin with a 360 in it. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> That is not as bad as I thought it was gonna be.

(Frankie)>> Yeah that was actually kinda surprising.

(Pat)>> That is unbelievable. I thought it would kill way more. That little tiny hole in it.

(Frankie)>> It still broke 200, that's crazy.

(Pat)>> We'll lay that over the other one. It's not down much. Five pound feet and six horse. I'm extremely surprised. It's very common to put like a hot roddy type front scoops or whatever. This is for like a T-bucket or something like that. Go ahead and slap that one on, and we'll see what that one does.

(Frankie)>> See if it's any better or any worse. It's fun to guess how different air cleaners will affect power. Depending on your taste this one looks the coolest but it also looks like it could be a little restrictive.

(Pat)>> On engines like this, especially with this power level, I don't know if any of them are going to have a greater effect. We are going to have to repeat this test on something that makes like 500 horse.

(Frankie)>> Something that flows a lot more air where there's a noticeable loss.

(Pat)>> I think we're gonna do that in the future. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> It's down a little bit. 270 pound feet, 205.8 horse.

(Frankie)>> They're both pretty close. I mean they're taking some but not taking a lot, but like you said on a smaller engine like this that's not building a lot of horsepower the difference is gonna be a little bit less noticeable. Still there is a loss.

(Pat)>> Put that 10 inch low profile on there.

(Frankie)>> We'll see what that one does.

(Pat)>> A lot of times people will stick this in their car because nothing else will fit.

(Frankie)>> Just cause of hood clearance. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> They're all making it through the pull rather nicely. 205 for horsepower, almost 270. Not doing anything crazy anywhere though. We're five horse down from wide open and we're 10 pound feet down.

(Frankie)>> At least we're determining that if you're not making over 400 horsepower you can kinda run whatever you want and not have a drastic loss.

(Pat)>> Just go put the last one on and forego the solid top all together and put the nice top, the flow through top on it. We are showing from perhaps the most restrictive to the least restrictive and numbers have been showing that. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> Well if it's above 205 I think we're in good shape. Yep, 209, 278. We are within two pound feet and basically one horsepower of completely open. That's what should have happened. That's not always what happens but that's what should have happened.

(Frankie)>> Thinner oil should always make more power right? Maybe, maybe not!

(Pat)>> Our final test subject is oil. All of the dyno runs so far have used conventional 10-W-30 engine oil. We're draining the oil, swapping the filter, and filling the engine with a higher viscosity 20-W-50 conventional oil. We want to see if it makes a difference in power good or bad. Have you ever done an extreme oil test before?

(Frankie)>> Not like this. I know the theory behind it but I've never actually got to do it because I never had a dyno to play with. This is kind of exciting. I think I know what's gonna happen but I want to see.

(Pat)>> Okay so to be fair we're gonna have the engine at the same temperature and the oil at the same temperature. The oil is at 180 degrees. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> It definitely has more oil pressure. It has about 10 p-s-i more. Okay we'll we are basically right where we are at the baseline. Power 208.7, pretty close. We were at 210, 280 for torque. It sure didn't hurt anything did it?

(Frankie)>> No, interesting, okay.

(Pat)>> We are going from one extreme to the other. We're gonna have 0-10. Now we're going from a conventional 20-50 to a 0-10 synthetic, full synthetic, race oil. This is a very common thing to do when you're at the track trying to pick up e-t in these little increments, and again, you're gonna see an oil pressure difference but maybe we're gonna see a pumping loss difference. Not normally on something with this kind of power level but we'll see if the thinner oil at the same temperature and the same engine temperature makes more power, and the only way to really do that accurately, the dyno. It's pretty slick isn't it?

(Frankie)>> I see what you did there cause of the oil. That's funny, that's funny! You got me!

(Pat)>> Alright oil pressure's decidedly lower. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> It still made 280 pound feet and 208 horsepower.

(Frankie)>> That's interesting because you would think it would make a little bit more, less drag.

(Pat)>> You'd think.

(Frankie)>> I wonder if it's because this engine doesn't make enough power to make a difference?

(Pat)>> I would venture to guess that's what it is.

(Frankie)>> Might be something where we have to repeat it later on with a bigger engine.

(Pat)>> There is one more thing that we can try that usually always does something no matter what the engine is. These headers have the provision for the evac in them the valve covers have those a-n fittings in them. Lets hook the evacs up just to see from non-evac to evac on the crankcase does.

(Frankie)>> That always helps, 99 percent of the time.

(Pat)>> At this point it's a little numb to change. Go hook those up.

(Frankie)>> We'll see what those do. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> I guess it might have helped a little. Look at that, we picked up a couple pound feet of torque and we are back up still at 210 horsepower.

(Frankie)>> Improvement.

(Pat)>> That is 23 dyno pulls of just changing things and not cracking the engine apart. We always leave a lot on the table, seems like, when we're working on them because we don't get to tune them as much because we don't get to try as many things as we'd like to try. This was one of those opportunities where we were able to try a bunch of different things on an engine that we know exists and knows it runs. It came out of something that ran decent. We're not gonna set the world on fire, but the four things the engine needs right? Air, fuel, spark, and lubrication, we covered all four of those, and I think we've shown that you can do some very, very simple things. Hard to do without a dyno I will admit, but some simple things that drastically affect an engine's power because from where we were to where we are we've picked up significantly. So what did we learn today, plenty. Timing adjustments make a noticeable difference. At an alleged 31 degrees of total timing the engine made 177.5 horsepower and 249 pound feet of torque. After many adjustments stopping at 52 degrees total timing we made 190 horsepower and 269 pound feet of torque, proving that our old worn out balancer is giving us inaccurate readings. The timing numbers are useful for comparing one adjustment to another but they are not accurate. There's no way that 52 degrees of total timing would run this well.

(Frankie)>> The choice of carburetor made the biggest difference by far. The 500 c-f-m two barrel was only good for a peak of 172 horsepower and 245 pound feet of torque. The 950 c-f-m carb blasted out peak values of 209.5 horsepower and 278 pound feet of torque. A substantial improvement of 36.9 horsepower and 33.2 pound feet of torque.

(Pat)>> Air cleaner selection makes a difference. The high flow unit was the least restrictive running almost as well as running nothing at all. the other options produced lower horsepower and torque numbers but only suffered single digit losses. Not a bad tradeoff for delivering clean air to your engine.

(Freddie)>> On a low power engine like our beat up 305 the choice of oil made little difference. If you've got a high powered bullet on the race track or drag strip thinner oil could be the best choice. Otherwise you can run whatever weight works best for your engine and operating environment. Also if your engine allows running an evac setup can add a few extra horsepower and torque.

(Pat)>> We started the day making 177.5 peak horsepower and 249 peak pound feet of torque. We ended the day making 210 peak horsepower and 283.5 peak pound feet of torque. That's an 18.3 percent gain in horsepower and a 13.8 percent gain in torque without even tearing into the engine. To learn more about today's episode visit Powernation TV dot com.
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