Richard Holdener
February 26, 2010

When it comes time to search for that hidden horsepower in your Mustang (or other fast Ford), the oiling system is likely to be at the very bottom of the list (assuming it was lucky enough to make the list in the first place)-and I am just as guilty. Like most, my attention is usually focused on plotting some wicked form of forced induction, or at the very least, the installation of aluminum heads, cam and intake on a normally aspirated combination.

While performance cylinder heads, a radical camshaft, or a dual-quad tunnel ram (for carbureted motors) have the potential to dramatically improve the power output, so to does a good oiling system. What's that-power gains from something as simple as the oiling system? Yes, the right oiling system can not only ensure a constant supply of life blood to your motor, but can also improve the power output. Hidden horsepower indeed!

Surpassed only by the cooling system, lubrication (oiling) seems to be the most neglected sub system on the engine. The very most we can expect of an average enthusiast is to fill the well with quality oil, check the level and/or take an occasional glance over at the oil pressure gauge. In most cases, we simply assume every thing is alright (meaning our motor is receiving sufficient lubrication) and let it go at that.

On a stock motor, this is probably a pretty safe assumption, but things quickly change on a modified street/strip motor (even more so on a dedicated race motor). You would be surprised to hear how many high-rpm motors are out running around with nothing more than a high-volume oil pump or simple deep-sump oil pan!

The old adage that "if it ain't broke-don't fix it" doesn't really apply here, as there is much more to a performance oiling system than simply having sufficient oil pressure. In addition to improving the life expectancy of any performance engine, the right oiling system modifications can actually combine improved life expectancy with a sizable increase in performance. Incorporating tricks like the right oil pan and windage tray can be the difference between weekends spent on the track or in the garage performing a rebuild.

To illustrate the gains available from an aftermarket oiling system, we compared a stock 5.0L oil pan to a Milodon system consisting of a dedicated street/strip oil pan and windage tray. Though the dyno test revealed the power gains offered by the new oiling system, what the dyno could not show were the improvements in lubrication offered by the Milodon pan under acceleration, deceleration, and cornering. Having oil in the pan is simply not enough if the oil is allowed to slosh back and forth at will.

It is this movement that allows the pick up to become uncovered. Drawing air instead of oil can result in bearing and other reciprocating component damage. That this situation is more likely to occur at high-rpm operation makes a dedicated performance oiling system that much more critical. Let's not forget that a trick oil pan looks a great deal cooler than the stock stuff, though this consideration should remain third on the priority list.

Our comparison came on the engine dyno, but before we could run the back-to-back test, we need a suitable test subject. Naturally, we needed something more than a stock 5.0L, so we chose a (relatively) high-rpm 347 stroker. Actually, the short-block was supplied by Demon Engines and L&R Automotive and included a 3.4-inch-stroke steel crank and 5.4-inch forged rods from Pro Comp combined with a set of forged pistons from Probe Racing.

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