Tom Wilson
September 1, 2004

Horse Sense:
When we asked the folks at Vortech how pleased they were with the way the V-24 XC- Trim performs, we were surprised when they said, "We don't know." It turns out their official testing results are awaiting a new 250hp blower dyno now going together in their Channel Islands headquarters. Guess you won't be turning a V-20 with a six-rib belt!

Supercharger companies seem to enjoy putting the boost on each other almost as much as they like putting intake pressure in engines. The competition helps deliver great products to consumers. Vortech, which once ruled all the popular Mustang drag racing classes, moved its focus away from the all-out classes in the late '90s. Investments in state-of-the-art machining centers, a new building, the quiet V-2 street supercharger, and a bit of legal jousting with industry competitors explain Vortech's street-oriented approach to racing visibility.

However, a new supercharger from Vortech is signaling the company's return to the higher-visibility end of the Mustang drag racing world, namely Pro 5.0, Super Street Outlaw, Renegade, and Drag Radial racing classes. Dubbed the V-20 series, the new blower is a robust centrifugal characterized by a totally new drivetrain and case that promises a distinct jump in severe-duty durability.

So, what questions was Vortech answering as it penned this all-new blower? President Jim Middlebrook explained that the central idea was a stronger gear case. On-off acceleration loads are troublesome for centrifugal superchargers and their high-speed internals. Drag racing may not seem to offer many on-off supercharger loads, but it does. Rapid rpm changes begin in the burn-out box, with a ton of throttle and a dropped clutch. Most burnouts are at a steady, high rpm, followed by brutal deceleration when the tires hook at the end of the burnout. Next is the impact-gun-like standing start where the supercharger is caught between 7,000 rpm and hot sticky slicks glued to a prepped launching pad. Hard manual-gearbox shifts and a rapid shutoff at the end of the run only add more stress to the supercharger drivetrain.

In fact, all these loads slam the impeller, the drive gears, the bearings and the related shafts and pulleys with tons of pressure. Vortech engineers say the tire-chirping end to a big burnout can almost make the impeller seem like it's moving backward for an instant. Put a massive impeller on the blower and then drive it with a cog belt-the problems get much worse as the weight involved rises and shock-absorbing belt slippage is all but eliminated.

Other applications also require a take-no-prisoners drivetrain and case durability. Marine-and a smattering of aviation-ventures are dependent on long terms between overhauls, with definitely no hassles tolerated in-between services. More fiscally important, the industrial side of Vortech-Vortron-demands heavy-duty performance in applications where the supercharger blows high-pressure air for thousands of hours.

Vortech was also after much more accurate machining. "There are eight ways of screwing up the alignment of the V-1-type blower case with its locating and dowel holes and other attachment points," Jim says. Even Vortech's impressive aerospace-grade machining centers will deliver variations with this many holes and alignments to drill. So while the standard-issue V-1 Vortech does OK with merely great machining and super-accurate, ground-dowel-pin alignment, the new V-20 blowers are located off the single center hole bored in the gear case and cut using the same high-end machining centers Vortech is so proud of. With only one hole to locate and work off of, machining accuracy is vastly improved.

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Just as the modular V-8 engine family can be built in many configurations, the V-20 has been designed to accept nearly any compressor section Vortech needs to hang on it. Thus, this new gear case will accept almost anything from the tried-and-true V-1 S-Trim impeller up to the biggest pizza wheels Vortech has on its digital drawing boards. Granted, an S-Trim V-20 makes no sense because the V-1 S-Trim delivers the same air for much less money, less underhood real estate, and less weight, but it is physically possible.

For Vortron, the V-20 offers a major leap in durability for long-haul, high-volume air blowers. This is important for car enthusiasts because the profit-able Vortron business sure helps even out the bumps on the car-crazy side of the ledger.

Finally, Vortech was looking for a flagship for its automotive line. Every-one in Channel Islands knew when the company slipped from grace in the top classes at the racetrack, but Vortech consciously let some of that business go in order to invest in other parts of the company. Those investments are now in place, and Vortech has wanted to return to its roots in a big, splashy way. The V-20 fills that bill.

Nom de Boost
As with most of the other centrifugal blower builders, deciphering Vortech's blower designations is similar to playing with the noodles in alphabet soup. To have a go at it, the V stands for Vortech, the number is the blower family, followed by the impeller trim.

So, the V-27 YSi is a V-20-series blower, with the V-2X designating the supercharger family. The 7-YSi is the impeller and volute, and yes, they are the identical parts as those used on a V-7 YSi blower.

Many other combinations are possible, of course. There could be a V-24 XX if it used the V-4 impeller, for example.

Who'll Use It?
Two trim levels make sense for the V-20-the V-27 YSi for Renegade and Drag Radial and the V-24 XC for Street Outlaw and Pro 5.0. Of the two, the V-27 YSi will be the first to hit market. Now that we know the V-2 in the designation denotes the V-20 drivetrain, and the 7-YSi is the identical trim to the V-7 YSi blower currently used in the Renegade and Drag Radial classes, we can also divine the V-27 YSi will deliver the identical volume and quality of boost as the V-7 YSi. The difference is the V-27 YSi will be much more durable than the V-7 blower.

When and How Much?
Late this summer is when we'll start seeing V-20 superchargers, with increasing volume and trim levels coming online as the year progresses. Too late to have much of an effect on the '04 racing season, we suspect the V-20 will play a real part in the '05 championships.

Vortech says the V-27 YSi will be released in "mid-summer" of this year. This 1,200hp-rated supercharger will get us used to the V-20s visually blocky drivetrain housing and whatever mounting system is developed for it. Later in the season, look for the V-24 XC, the largest V-20-based supercharger, according to Vortech. It should deliver 1,800-2,000 hp worth of air to take on the competition in Pro 5.0.

As for the dent in your checkbook, it's far too early for final pricing or even educated guessing. But just think "really expensive," as whispered to us in a candid moment during our visit. And why not? It's all new, it uses the best materials, it doesn't enjoy particularly good economies of scale, it has plenty of bits and pieces on it-so it should be expensive. But, as Mike Reagan of Vortech pointed out, "It's a racer part. We're not looking for high profit margins." The idea is to have these things out there winning races, and premium pricing doesn't help get that done.

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