5.0 Mustang & Super FordsHow To Engine
Techco Supercharger Kit - Whine Seller - Techco Supercharger
Newcomer Techco Is Making Noise In The S197 Supercharger Market
Mustang fans are used to being showered with new go-fast trinkets, but even by Mustang standards the new Techco blower is a blind-side hit. Fairly bursting onto the market with minimal advance notice, not only is the Techco supercharger all new, so is its general layout and the company that makes it.
The organization is new, but the Techco personnel brim with Mustang experience. The Techco Reverse Revolution supercharger is new too. It's a clean-computer-screen design; a 3.0-liter, water-to-air charge-cooled, twin-screw for Three-Valve Mustangs. Its place in the market is at the top, a fact immediately seen in its $7,500 price. At that price it's obviously playing for keeps and delivers leading-edge performance. Also, for that price it includes absolutely everything needed, including fuel injectors, fuel rails, charge cooler, pumps, hoses, brackets, the works.
Techco's blower has several unique features, the most obvious is it ingests its intake air through the front, hence the Reverse Revolution name. This eliminates the need to turn the incoming air almost 180 degrees to reach the rear of the supercharger, as is done on all other twin-screw Mustang blowers.
Because the inlet side of the supercharger is naturally aspirated, forming a straight shot into the blower is a meaningful step forward in blower efficiency, especially at high airflow. This arrangement also allows rationally sized inlet plumbing, devoid of over-sized elbows that flow air but require so much cross sectional area airflow gets lazy at lower speeds.
Now, because much of the blower's front case is dedicated to inlet air there is insufficient room for conventionally arranged drive gears. Other blower makers have accommodated such packaging concerns by mounting their twin-screw backward, so air can enter the supercharger in the same place, but without having to make a big turn. The supercharger drive would then be taken to the rear of the blower via a jackshaft, which works, but introduces another shaft, more bearings, plus a small drive belt from jackshaft to blower drive. It's monkey motion, adding weight and complexity.
Techco's solution is more elegant. The blower drive still enters the front of the blower and drives the female rotor directly. The female rotor is then used as a driveshaft and fitted with a gear at its rear, which mates to the male rotor gear, driving it. There are thus no extra drive gears or other parts than with a conventional drive; the usual players are just arranged differently so weight and complexity are unaffected.
Another defining characteristic is the Techco's separate drive belt. Instead of piggy-backing the blower drive onto the engine's existing serpentine belt, the Techco blower adds its own eight-rib crankshaft pulley, belt, idler, and tensioner.
The separate drive was chosen for several reasons says Bill Tally, Techco's chief slide-rule jockey. He wanted no belt issues--ever--and with a high-output 3.0-liter blower this meant an eight-rib belt; a locked-down, manual belt tensioner; generous belt wrap; and no sharing of drive loads with the water pump, A/C compressor, and so on. All of this was much easier to achieve with a dedicated blower drive, even if much of it is academic at the silly slow blower rpm and boost pressures the Techco gets by with to whip out a mere mid-400 rear wheel horsepower. Everyone knows more boost and power are always in a supercharger's future.
A dedicated drive belt also gives two pulleys--the supercharger and crank--to play with when dialing in blower speed. Another advantage is it makes adding a cog belt a cinch when some crazed individual decides they want to make 1,000 hp. And the Techco will flow that much air in case you feel so compelled.
Horse Sense: Techco durability testing included a 35-hour road trip from California to New Jersey and back last Christmas. Two Techco engineers had family in New Jersey and rather fly home for the holidays, the pair expropriated a test mule. A southern route was taken eastbound and a northern route westbound; this gave cold temperatures and up to 11,000 feet of elevation. Besides environmental testing, the engineers worked on the calibration during the 6,000-mile trip. The blower "never missed a beat."
Techco elected to have its compressor discharge upward, same as these same engineers did when they designed the Saleen screw superchargers years ago. But instead of having the discharge air blow through a flat panel charge cooler (intercooler), the charge cooler was split into two separate halves. These two heat exchangers are then tilted up to form an "A." So arranged the numerous cooling fins act as flow straighteners, helping to organize and turn the discharge air into the intake runners. And those runners are 12 inches long, preserving torque-producing intake tuning.
Fundamental to the charge-cooler efficiency is they are the largest coolers on the market today. They simply offer more cooling area than other charge coolers.
What's more, Techco runs the cooling water through each charge cooler once. Almost all other charge coolers are two-pass designs where the coolant enters at the front of one half of the cooler, runs to the back, turns 180 degrees and heads back to the front through the second half where it is routed to radiator at the front of the car. That means the cooling water is heated twice as much as in the Techco design, where the coolant runs in the front and out the back of each cooler. All told, the innovative Techco A-Frame charge cooler looks like a superior air chiller.
Inspect the Techco blower and you'll quickly realize the intake runners are separate castings from the supercharger's extruded housing and A-Frame sections. Unbolt the intake runners and you're left with an 8 1/8-inch tall, relatively narrow supercharger and A-Frame charge cooler assembly that easily adapts to almost any V engine and sneaks under nearly any hood.
Furthermore, the drive-belt arrangement is fairly independent of the host engine. Combine that with the easily adapted core blower section and it's plain Techco can rapidly adapt its 3.0-liter supercharger to almost any domestic performance engine.
This modularity is of little direct benefit to us end users, but does pay an indirect benefit of making the blower system a viable business opportunity for Techco. In fact, the initial application of the new supercharger was on the Dodge Challenger and Charger musclecars, with the Mustang GT version we're looking at here. Next up is a Corvette fitment, and we're guessing a GT500 application is not far behind that. Given the incredibly rapid prototyping and tuning capability at Techco, they'll soon be able to amortize the supercharger's cost over a wide range of cars, meaning we Mustang fans won't be carrying the whole supercharger bill for several years.
Because of challenges in the complex charge-cooling systems on the Saleen S7 and Mustangs, Techco did not overlook the coolant flow in the Reverse Revolution's charge-air cooling system. They knew considerable air is trapped in the labyrinth of cooling passages during the initial fill and takes forever to purge.
"We worked on getting all the air out and having good water flow," said Tally. "We tried a bunch of clear hose, water meters (during development testing)... we tried for the most clear water as possible... like the S7 cooling system, we made it bleed all the time."
Air trapped in the corners of the Saleen Mustang charge cooler was a particular concern, so the A-Frame charge coolers are fitted with bleed holes, and the system is plumbed to bleed constantly into the reservoir. This keeps a solid water flow in the heat exchangers, where it counts.
Techco elected to CNC its own fittings in the water system, rather than buying off-the-shelf. The reason is to preserve large, smooth transitions through the fittings; that's rarely done in commercial plumbing hardware. The fittings are built to AN standards, so racers and marine customers can easily thread in AN fittings and hoses if desired.
Electronic tuning is handled via a DiabloSport Predator. Techco supplies two software files, one for 91-octane pump fuel, the other for East Coast 93 octane. Techco's engineers use the same electronic tuning black boxes as OEMs such as Ford and GM employ in their engineering departments. These are much more expensive than the usual aftermarket tuning hardware, but they get to the basic code level of the engine management system so they promise better driveability. It's also a holdover from Saleen days, when John Spruill was writing code as an OEM, not as a tuner.
"I hate gaskets," Tally sneered more than once as we poked around the new supercharger. He's fed up with traditional paper gaskets that tear, squish and fail to seal well. So there are no paper gaskets in the Techco blower, only simple O-rings and a few complex rubber-coated gaskets. These gaskets were all selected from existing automotive stocks to keep costs down and supply sources numerous.
Techco went to fastener specialist ARP for all the significant hardware in the blower. This is an expensive way to thread things together, but the torque consistency and overall quality of the high-strength yet ductile ARP hardware make it worthwhile say Techco engineers.
Furthermore, the entire blower is dowel-pinned to maintain the precise alignments made possible by the CNC machining. While there are many places in a screw blower where precision is paramount, from a hot rodder's perspective pinning the intake runners to the case means the Techco blower is port matched for all practical purposes.
The Techco blower installs like other familiar screw or Roots supercharger. For example, Techco supplies its screw blower in a main assembly consisting of the supercharger, intake manifolding, charge cooler, drive, bypass valve, 36 lb/hr fuel injectors and fuel rails. These parts are shipped in one assembly, so fitting it is much like changing an intake manifold. You'll definitely want at least one helper when humping the blower assembly onto the engine.
Connections atop the engine are plug-and-play with no wires to cut or lines to bend. The stock fuel supply plugs into the Techco fuel rails as does the injector wiring harness, sensor wires, and so on. New hoses are supplied as required, as is a jumper harness to accommodate the reversed alternator.
No changes to the fuel pump or lines are required, so there's no need to drop the fuel tank. Likewise, no oil line plumbing is required as the Techco blower uses self-contained lubrication. In fact, there's nothing to do under the engine unless accessing the crankshaft pulley is easier that way for you.
The Techco blower drive attaches via brackets to the front of the engine and requires reversing the alternator so its drive pulley faces the engine. The alternator pulley is changed to a lower-profile piece that retains the same pulley diameter, but gives more clearance.
Mounting the charge cooling system radiator and pump is best done by removing the front bumper cap to allow maximum access. If this seems bothersome, the radiator and pump can be installed without removing the bumper cap, but Techco workers say they find the job easier that way.
Techco technicians have the installation down to a single day, but first-time shops should figure on more than eight hours, and home-based enthusiasts need to block out a weekend for this job. Techco guestimates 10 hours for a home install. If it were us, we'd start on Friday night if we needed to drive the car to work Monday morning.
We're showing a few photos of the installation highlights, but are not showing the entire job. That would take up too much room, and what we witnessed was a blower and bracket change on the Techco engineering mule, not a virgin installation.
Thanks to our close relationship with the Techco staff we were able to write this story early, before final tuning or power ratings had been set. We were also not able to drive the test mule GT because it was either being worked on or strapped to the dyno during our three-day visit--which definitely leaves us something to look forward to.
That said, we did observe pulley testing on Techco's in-house, eddy-current Dynojet chassis dyno while the engine was in near final tune.
The torque and horsepower results are below, and clearly the Techco blower makes power on par with other screw blowers, and shows signs of superior output. Using the Shelby GT500 for comparison our experience shows the Four-Valve churns out 10 pounds of boost and 435 to 440 SAE-corrected rear-wheel horsepower given typical weather and engine temperature conditions (once the factory engines get hot the power falls off considerably).
We could have picked almost any number for the Techco blower as we saw numerous dyno runs using various pulley sizes and tunes, but we'll conservatively say it peaked at 420 rwhp using our regular SAE correction (or 435 rwhp uncorrected and 433 rwhp using Dynojet's Standard correction). This was from a later pull with production size pulleys and a fair work-in-progress electronic tune. This was with only 6 pounds of boost. Give the Techco another 4 pounds of boost and it would run away and hide from a stock GT500.
In fact, what Techco was zeroing in on was keeping the power to a gentle roar as the 3.0-liter blower is a bit large and efficient for a 281-cubic-inch engine. It was nothing to make 450 rwhp with just slightly different pulleys--call it one more pound of boost--plus there is likely another 5 rwhp in the final electronic tuning. We think Techco will call their blower at 430 rwhp (500-plus at the flywheel) when final specs are set.
Another highlight was the low temperature rise of the charge air while making boost. Each run started at just over 100 degrees and finished just over 120, so call it a mere 20-degree rise from cruise to max boost, which was, again, just 6 psi. The ambient air was cool and wet during the testing (a winter storm was pummeling SoCal with rain at the time) and Techco had three powerful fans running and the hood open, but still, that's a minimal rise in charge air temperature. Clearly the Techco blower wasn't even trying while making 420 rwhp; not much of a surprise as it has the capacity and apparent efficiency to blow 1,000 hp worth of air. That, and the Techco was repeatable as sunrise on the dyno. This indicates good thermal stability from the charge cooling system.
If the Techco supercharger has a downside it's generous 3.0-liter size is it. A boon for big power upgrades, the big displacement means the Techco 3.0-liter is operating at the lower edge of its efficiency envelope on stock displacement, stock rpm street engines with low boost (under 6 lbs.). If a polite power bump is all that's needed the Techco is certainly nice, but might be an expensive way to go.
Of course, having the blower loaf along is a comforting thought because it has so much potential waiting to be tapped. With that logic, buying the Techco for your daily driver S197 means never needing to buy another blower. Of course, if the goal is big power, the Techco looks like a good choice, and we're sure we'll see big Techco numbers soon.
Another Techco advantage is fit and finish. There's nothing out there with quite this level of power capacity and fine detailing, so if having the finer things in life matters the Techco is definitely worth a look.
And that's what we'll be doing, watching, and reporting, while the Techco develops its Mustang line.
The Techco Story
Don't feel badly if Techco is a new name to you; it's a new company. Originally a collaboration of Wayne Grafton and Steve Saleen, Techco (www.techcointl.com) is now solely Wayne Grafton's company. It's dedicated to engineering and building high-end domestic performance parts; their first retail project is the supercharger detailed in the main story.
While owner Wayne Grafton--a Vancouver, Canada, based hands-on car enthusiast who made his considerable fortune in real estate and civil engineering--is often found at Techco, the daily grind is handled by the core of the old Saleen engineering braintrust, several of whom are no strangers to this magazine. Billy Tally takes the mechanical engineering lead, John Spruill handles emissions and engine calibration, Jimmy Moore ramrods production, Carlos Duran spins the marketing story, Bill Krieg focuses on chassis, Randy McGee runs the fabrication shop, Milton Sharp wires the electronics and Andrew Veniziado works mechanical design.
This is an experienced crew. Decades of developing and manufacturing Saleen street and racing Mustangs are on tap here, plus some rather more sophisticated projects, such as developing and building the Saleen S7 supercar, including racing it everywhere from Laguna Seca to Le Mans. Last summer they brought forth the SMS 25th Anniversary Mustang. That was when Saleen's car-building venture SMS was allied with parts-maker Techco, but since then the two companies have elected to operate completely separately.
Now the Techco crew is firmly entrenched in an immense 155,000-square-foot facility in Anaheim, California. All the equipment is new, state-of-the-art stuff, with an emphasis on the latest developments in rapid prototyping and computer-driven manufacturing. From the bank of high-output CNC machines, to Zeiss quality control tables to SLS prototyping, the Techco team has the tools to do the job right--and quickly.
Look for Techco to fill domestic performance niches with surprising speed. Started just a year ago with nothing but a handful of core people and a bare shop floor, Techco has already added impressive design, quality control and machining capabilities, built the SMS 25th Anniversary car, brought their new blower from scratch and developed it for Dodge Charger, Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette applications. Projects underway include suspension bits, plus a line of turnkey hot rod engines, so stay tuned.
Given the Techco supercharger's easy horsepower ways, wouldn't it be fun to see it huffing out serious boost atop a built engine? That's coming, with Techco looking at building their take on what we know as the Saleen Parnelli Jones 5.0-liter Three-Valve V-8. These all-aluminum engines are typically 10.5:1 compression in naturally aspirated form and 9.0:1 as blower engines. Highlights of a Techco blower engine would be CNC ported cylinder heads, funny cams and boost somewhere in the high teens. Tally guestimates 800 to 900 hp, which sounds reasonable from an engineering if not a cost perspective! It also sounds like a great article, so we'll be there for you when it happens.
On The Dyno
Below are the rear wheel horsepower figures for the T1 kit as run on Techco's eddy current Dynojet chassis dyno. All numbers are SAE corrected. Flywheel horsepower is approximately 15 percent greater.
The Techco Lineup
Techco offers their blower in several configurations for '05-'09 Mustangs, starting with an emissions-legal Base kit. The Base kit retains the stock Mustang air intake, including the air box with its built-in carbon trap. This kit carries a CARB E.O. number and is street legal in California and thus other states.
Next up is the T1, which replaces the stock air filter box with a cold-air kit employing a conical air filter and heat-dam. Like the Base kit it is pullied for 6 pounds of boost, but makes more power due to the freer-breathing intake. This is a street kit that will certainly help on grudge night at the track. It should prove the most popular kit.
All of the T1 kit is included in the T2, which adds upgraded sparkplugs, fuel-system upgrades and is pullied for 8 pounds of boost. This hot street kit also suitable for fun track use. It is the highest level the stock 4.6 short-block can handle, says Techco.
At the T3 level you get the T2 kit pullied for 10 pounds of boost. A prepared short-block with forged pistons and good connecting rods is required. For all out racing the T4 kit is listed with 14 pounds of boost and a somewhat flexible equipment list, as racers all want something different.
Techco is establishing a dealer network, and that is the preferred retail outlet, but in the meantime is selling direct to help meet demand, so contact Techco directly if there is no dealer in your area.
|Base||CARB exempt||6 psi||4XX||$7,200|
|T1||w/cold air intake||6 psi||420||$7,500|
|T2||T1, sparkplugs, fuel system||8 psi||XXX||$|
|T3||T2, pulleys, shortblock req.||10 psi||XXX||$|
|T4||Full race||14 psi||XXX||$varies w/application|