Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Parasitic Power Play
Installing the JDM Engineering electric fan, water pump and lower blower pulley.
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Parasitic drag is one of the many evils facing racers or anyone looking to improve performance, for that matter. Parasitic drag or parasitic losses are found in parts that have friction or parts that are driven by the engine and must be rotated or turned. Piston rings and drag slicks are examples of parts that create friction, while a heavy flywheel or heavy steel rims are examples of components that take energy to turn. But it doesn't matter which type we're dealing with because any type of parasitic drag slows us down due to the mechanical drag it imposes.
It's been known in racing circles for some time that if you can reduce mechanical drag you will free up power that will be available for accelerating the vehicle. Over they years Mustang owners have done a great job of reducing parasitic drag--even if they didn't know they were doing so. Installing parts such as an aftermarket aluminum driveshaft, light wheels and underdrive pulleys all reduce mechanical drag and free up horsepower. In fact, all it takes is a close inspection of your car or truck and I'm sure you'll find a few ways to reduce mechanical drag.
Recently we decided to attack those pesky parasitic parasites in our 1999 Lightning and surprisingly it wasn't that hard to find some ponies hiding in there. First we looked under the hood and noticed the huge clutch-style engine fan hanging on the front of the 5.4 Triton engine. Instantly a light bulb went off in our heads. We remembered that changing to an electric fan on a 5-liter is worth a few horsepower, so replacing the monster fan on the Lightning has to be worth even more. Mark that on the checklist.
While under the hood we also saw that the lower blower pulley is solid steel and quite heavy looking. Was there a way to improve this? The answer is yes. A call to JDM Engineering confirmed that we could replace both the clutch fan and the lower pulley with new components sold by them. In addition, Jim D'Amore of JDM told us about a new aluminum water pump that would also reduce parasitic drag. Sign us up for one of those, too. Naturally, I was enthused about the parts and wanted to get them on the truck as quickly as possible. I scheduled a day for the install and D'Amore and his crew were ready for us when we arrived.I got my first gander at the parts, which not only look impressive, but are professionally engineered and feature OEM quality. The fan kit includes a factory-type shroud and all the hardware and wiring to complete the install. According to D'Amore it moves plenty of air to keep the engine cool, but it takes much less power to run when compared to the stock unit. Included in the fan kit is also a 170* thermostat and an coolant sensor, which activates the fan. In addition, JDM offers an optional toggle switch and relay setup so the fan can be activated when the engine is not running. This is perfect for cooling the engine between rounds of racing, but we recommend bringing a battery charger because running the electric fan excessively will drain the battery of its charge quicker then you might think.
Also helping to keep the engine cool is the JDM aluminum Cobra R-style water pump. The aluminum housing of the pump dissipates heat better than the stock iron pump, but that is not the only benefit. The new pump benefits from a revised impeller that moves the coolant more efficiently, while reducing parasitic drag in the process.
Lastly, we installed the JDM lower blower pulley, a component offering a couple of nice benefits. First off, the pulley is a few pounds lighter than the stock unit. And as we mentioned before, this reduces parasitic drag and gives us free horsepower. Secondly, the new pulley is larger than stock, which will cause the blower to spin faster and create higher boost levels. JDM claims about a two-pound increase with the pulley we installed. (JDM also offers a larger drive pulley for a higher boost increase, but we chose the smaller of the two.)One thing we liked about the JDM parts is that each kit comes complete with parts that fit and with perhaps the best installation manual and special tools that we've seen from any aftermarket manufacturer. This includes a step-by-step manual with clear photos, hints and tips to ease installation and special tools needed to complete the job right.
As with any high performance parts, the true test is either at the track or on the dyno. For this test we selected to hit the dyno at the "new" Crazy Horse Racing, now located in South Amboy, N.J. Chris Winter of Crazy Horse loaded our bullish truck up on the rollers and then we let the engine cool down to about 120*. We also used a bag of ice to cool off the top of the intake to best simulate track conditions. With the engine at what we'd call "race temperature" Chris jumped in and fired the 5.4. He hit the little green button on the controller and eased the throttle to the stop. The truck accelerated the rollers quite quickly and Winter clicked it off at redline. The pull sounded powerful and smooth and the numbers didn't disappoint. Our efforts were well worth it as the engine now produced 403.4 horsepower at 5000 rpm and an amazing 486.8 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3900 rpm at the rear wheels. For the record, that is up from a best of 387.8 horsepower and 457 lbs.-ft. of torque that we recorded during our last dyno session (found in the September 2001 issue).
While those are some impressive numbers, we'll be more impressed after we lower our quarter-mile elapsed time. Thankfully the weather in the northeast is just about perfect for low elapsed time hunting and we'll be there shooting for something better than 12.55 at 108 mph.
So stay tuned because next month we're going to get you up to date drag strip numbers along with a current timeline of parts and pieces that have found their way onto (or off) our test mule.