April 4, 2007

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0306_windsor_01_z RDI_392_street_pro_crate_motor
With the exception of the 1 3/4-inch headers from MAC (which are being used in the car) this is the form in which we tested the RDI 392 Street Pro at KT Engine developments in Concord, North Carolina. The Ultra Pro sheetmetal valve covers with a powdercoating applied were a nice finishing touch.
Mmfp_0306_windsor_08_z RDI_392_street_pro_crate_motor Engine_dyno_controls
Here is the 392 RDI Street Pro motor on KT Engine Developments Super Flow dyno. This was a clean facility and the whitewalls made the job of photography much easier. Also everything was at hand at make any calibration changes.
Mmfp_0306_windsor_09_z RDI_392_street_pro_crate_motor Super_flow_engine_dyno
Our 392 was on the dyno for almost a week, so we spent a great deal of time looking at it from this vantage point. The unit performed flawlessly. No blow-by, no miss-fires, just a lot of power and torque.
Mmfp_0306_windsor_13_z RDI_392_street_pro_crate_motor ATI_super_Damper
The mass located between the outer shell of the ATI Super Damper and the number and hardness of the rubber rings is the means by which the unit is tuned to target specific crank torsional frequencies.
Mmfp_0306_windsor_12_z RDI_392_street_pro_crate_motor Torsional_vibration_signal_generator
Here we see JC Beattie setting up the torsional vibration measuring equipment. A signal generator (arrow) is located on the front of the crank. If the crank were to rotate at a uniform rate the signal generator pulses would be evenly spaced. When the crank vibrates the spacing of the signals is altered. The output of the signal generator is fed to a computer with suitable programming to crunch the signal results into numbers and charts.

We left last month's story on the RDI 392 Street Pro with the engine ready for the dyno. At this point most project engines are loaded on the dyno, broken in, a few pulls made to verify the output, and that's it. There's nothing wrong with that, but let me remind you RDI's Preston Miller is an ex-Ford Motor Company development engineer with deep ties to Winston Cup. That's a business where remaining competitive means staying on the cutting edge.

A lot of being successful in Winston Cup is knowing how to build a lot of power reliably. With the power levels RDI engines were achieving creeping up and many motors going into road-race cars such as Cobras, Preston wanted to make sure that RDI was totally on top of crankshaft reliability. Consider what a busy drag racer may do in two years is, for a road racer, only equivalent to just a single practice session. This is where we pick up the story of our Street Pro 392 this month.

The dyno facility I elected to use for testing was Kenny Troutman's KT Engine Development in Concord, North Carolina. With more than 15 years of professional experience, Kenny is a dedicated circle track engine builder specializing in Ford-based Busch Grand National motors. His engines have taken championship honors in a number of the top classes and more wins and poles than he can remember. Not only does he build engines specifically for teams, but also runs an engine leasing service. I chose to use this facility not only because of Kenny's outstanding Ford know-how, but also because his dyno has tested a lot of crate motors over the last few years. This puts him in the position of knowing what is good and what is not. This knowledge alone was to prove a valuable indicator as to how effective our RDI unit was.

The break-in procedure (on Valve-o-line mineral oil) was in part a build quality check of the RDI engine. On KT's dyno, oil is run through one of Holley's stainless steel screen micron filters. The advantage of going this route over paper filters is it allows you to see exactly what debris is being expelled from the engine and arrested by the filter. Half of what is arrested by a good paper filter is near invisible to the eye. The better the build quality, the less junk there will be in the filter.

After about an hour of low- to mid-speed cycling of the rpm at various loads and throttle openings, the engine was given a couple of pulls from as low as it would go to about 4,500 rpm. Even before setting up it was very apparent this was a stump puller with a good top end. At this point the Holley filter was opened up and inspected for debris. This proved a lot lower than I normally see. About 95 percent of what was apparent was lint from the parts cleaning paper. The rest looked to be the inevitable iron particles from the timing chain and gear break-in process. So far we were looking good.

Crankshaft Torsionals
Once the engine was broken in, ATI's JC Beattie went to work. JC's function in life, when not driving his oval-track car, is to service the needs of Winston Cup engine builders who require to have a damper specifically tuned to the needs of their race motors bottom-end combination. As RDI's Preston Miller points out, the ATI Super Damper is the overwhelming favorite among WC and BGN engine builders. Having a damper that really cracks down on torsional vibrations not only significantly extends crank life, but also adds power.