Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsHow To Engine
Kenne Bell Supercharger Upgrade - Storm Warning
Kenne Bell And Johnny Lightning Performance Push A Gen 2 Lightning To 805 Rwhp With A 2.8H Supercharger Upgrade.
The Gen 2 SVT Lightning ('99-'04) has a special place in Ford performance history thanks to its supercharged 5.4L Triton engine and an enthusiastic group of owners. They have modified these trucks extensively, and despite having been out of production for nearly half a decade, the Lightning market is still advancing. One of the leading Lightning performance shops, Johnny Lightning Performance (JLP) invited us to its New Providence, Pennsylvania, digs to checkout the latest boost maker from Kenne Bell Superchargers.
Truthfully, we thought Lightning owners were satisfied with the current supercharger offerings, which have brought output near/over 700 rwhp-without nitrous. We were definitely wrong on that one. Johnny Wiker (aka Johnny Lightning) of JLP continually designs better parts and finds new ways to extract more horsepower from the Two-Valve truck engine.
"The Kenne Bell 2.6H is more than enough for the average guy. It can produce up to 650 rwhp, but as you know, there are others who want more," commented Wiker. He then pointed to the latest Kenne Bell 2.8H blower sitting on the counter. The monstrous box (nearly 13-inches long) should be a familiar product to MM&FF readers, as we showed it off on the 725hp Shelby GT500 Super Snake several issues ago ("Snakeskin Suit," Feb. '09). The 2.8H blower was the main ingredient to the car's 10-second performance. We also sampled the 2.8H's power in the '03 SVT Cobra Terminator project car of freelance extraordinaire Vinnie Kung. The blower pushed the Terminator to 643 rwhp at 21 psi of boost on an otherwise-stock 4.6L Four-Valve powerplant ("Wooly Mammoth," April '09).
Kenne Bell brought the "H" blower into service to meet the horsepower demands of its customers. The engineers came up with a more efficient rotor design for greater output without relying on a larger unit. The solution was a rotor combination of six female and four male lobes packaged in a select group of blower casings (2.1L, 2.6L, and 2.8L). The company focused on efficiency to reduce parasitic loss when turning the blower. The new rotor combination pushes more air into the engine while generating less heat, thus leading to more horsepower. In our test, the 2.8H was inhaling 82-degree ambient air. The inlet air temp after the supercharger was showing a reading of only 120 degrees. That was at 25 psi of boost on the stroker Two-Valve mod motor.
Until this point, Kenne Bell had produced 2.8H kits for most mod motor applications and left the beloved Gen 2 Lightning trucks off its production list. Wiker knew he had to make a conversion kit for the Lightning after witnessing the 2.8H's awesome power on the shop's in-house Shelby GT500. "I worked with Jim Bell to get this kit put together and it is available exclusively through JLP," noted Wiker. Bell worked on a base plate to mount the blower to the existing Lightning lower manifold. JLP designed and produced the spacers and adapter plates required to fit the massive unit on top of the engine.
While the Kenne Bell staff worked in California on the blower, Wiker worked on the "bolt-on" accessories for the 2.8H, namely a new JLP PowerFlow inlet plenum and cold-air kit. The PowerFlow inlet plenum bolts to the back of the supercharger, and wraps around the side of the engine to where the throttle body is mounted. It was designed to accept the monster Kenne Bell Mammoth twin-bore throttle body (75mm holes) and offer little restriction for the sucking capabilities of the 2.8H. Removing restrictions in front of twin-screw blowers is an effective way to pick up horsepower. In-house testing on a customer's Lightning with a 2.6H blower showed the JLP staff that its PowerFlow inlet system is worth 62 rwhp over a cast factory one. A little known fact: The JLP PowerFlow inlet is the only aftermarket inlet that Kenne Bell will allow under its blower warranty program. JLP also designed a new cold-air inlet for its Air Induction kit in order to fit the larger throttle body.
A 2.8H blower is not meant for a mild Lightning with stock internals. This blower has the ability to spit the stock pistons, rods, and crank through the side of the block. Luckily for us, there are plenty of Lightnings out there with built engines. Dave London, a longtime JLP customer and former MM&FF Lightning Shootout participant, dropped off his truck for an upgrade from a Kenne Bell 2.6H huffer to the more powerful 2.8H combo, and we stopped in to cover it. London's Lightning features a 355ci JLP stroker engine, JLP 'R' Two-Valve heads and cams, the aforementioned 2.6H pumping 25 psi of boost, and essentially everything else out of the JLP catalog. This street machine cracked off 655 rwhp and 748 rwtq during the baseline pulls. The timing was set at 20 degrees and, as Wiker put it, "I don't mess with pump gas on trucks like this-we run them solely on VP C16."
Andy Brown of JLP handled the installation, and he made a few changes to London's truck due to the anticipated airflow. First on the list was swapping the 60-lb/hr injectors for a larger 80-lb/hr set. That was the only fuel system upgrade needed as this truck relies on a bed-mounted fuel cell, larger fuel lines, and Aeromotive's fuel rails, fuel pressure regulator, and A1000 pump.
JLP sells a street version of this fuel system that includes a Fore/Lethal triple-pump fuel hat, larger fuel lines, and JLP fuel rails. An interesting note about the fuel system is that JLP retains all of the factory wiring, which will run the stock twin pumps (or aftermarket pumps, including Aeromotive, JLP triple-pump, and Weldon units) at low voltage for part-throttle driving. Once the truck hits a certain TPS reading, the factory system will add more voltage to the pumps, thus increasing the output.
Brown also upgraded the alternator because they added a 16-volt battery during the blower swap. A voltage regulator was also installed to prevent the headlights and other accessories from blowing out due to the extra voltage. The 16-volt system will run the fuel pump harder and create a better ignition spark, which all helps power output.
On the dyno, the 2.8H didn't disappoint as it worked the stroker engine to 805 rwhp and an astonishing 880 rwtq. At peak, the gains were 150 rwhp and 132 rwtq! This was done at the same 25 psi, which happened by accident as Wiker took a "guesstimate" when he swapped the pulleys. He went from a 12-inch crank pulley to a 10-inch one, but kept the 3.50-inch blower the same since that is the largest blower pulley available. We couldn't run the 12-inch lower pulley because it would have added too much boost. Wiker tuned the ECU using DiabloSport software, and he set the timing at 20 degrees, just like the baseline test.
Just when you thought the storm was ending, the SVT Lightning strikes again-this time with over 800 rwhp.