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Vortech Power Cooler - Chilled To The Core
Drop Your Intake Temperatures And Pick Up Power With Vortech Supercharger's Power Cooler.
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The Vortech centrifugal super-charger for the 5.0 Mustang has now been around for more than a decade, and it continues to be one of the company's best-selling parts. It has given many 5.0L enthusiasts bragging rights and win lights, and we're going to show you how to make it even better.
The Vortech Power Cooler is an air-to-water intercooling system that uses a pair of heat exchangers to pull heat out of the intake charge. Think of it as running your car in 50-degree temperatures compared to 90-degree heat. The benefit is that the lower intake charge temperature allows you to run more boost and timing for increased horsepower and torque, all without the fear of engine-damaging detonation.
We had a ready and willing candidate in the form of an '89 5.0L notchback belonging to the author's brother, Brian Baur. The supercharged Pony sports a V-1 S-Trim Vortech blower pullied for a healthy 12 psi of boost to increase the power output. Behind the supercharger is an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, E303 camshaft, Performer cylinder heads with 1.90-inch intake valves, and a stock short-block.
While we handled the majority of the installation in our own garage, we completed it at HP Performance in Orange Park, Florida, where HP's Jason Combs and frequent MM&FF contributor George Xenos handled the wrench turning. Meanwhile, HP proprietor Tony Gonyon keyed up the SCT custom-tuning software. Gonyon also employed the SnEEC datalogging system for EEC-IV processors, and this allowed us to monitor everything from rpm to intake temps to injector pulse width.
The latter caught our eye during the baseline pulls, because injector duty cycle was near 100 percent. With 42-lb/hr injectors and a 255-lph in-tank fuel pump, we were expecting a duty cycle closer to 80 percent. We'll come back to this later.
Installation of the Power Cooler was fairly easy, but we decided to mount the reservoir in the trunk and the water pump at the back bumper, which took some extra effort. This modification necessitated an extra 20 feet of hose and longer wiring for the pump. Our subject vehicle was also equipped with a Vortech Mondo bypass valve, which employs a 2-inch tube for venting the boosted charge when the throttle body closes. We could've used the smaller standard Bosch bypass valve, but we didn't have one from the original S-Trim kit. Vortech Motorsports Director Ricky Best recommended keeping the Mondo valve, given the amount of boost we were forcing into the engine.
In order to make the Mondo valve work, we called upon Tracy Grimm of Speedfab in Orange Park, Florida, who modified the Power Cooler case for us. Grimm has helped us in the past, his work is always impressive, and he usually has some cool customer cars in the shop to check out. To make the Mondo valve work with the Power Cooler, Grimm milled down a piece of aluminum tube stock to provide a lip for the hose to catch on. He then TIG-welded the tube onto the bottom of the Power Cooler and used a hole saw to open the cooler passage to the 2-inch size.
Our baseline numbers were unfortunately skewed due to the maxed-out fuel injectors, which caused a lean spot at the top end of the dyno pull. Still, the 402 rwhp and 382 lb-ft of torque was close to what we had seen on another Dynojet. Intake charge temperatures were in the 170-degree range. With the Power Cooler installed, we saw 387 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. We expected to see a drop in boost pressure, but it remained at 12 psi. The drop in peak power doesn't tell the whole story though, as looking at the dyno graph showed that the 42-degree drop in air charge temperature improved power and torque across the rpm range.