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From a practical perspective, going to a machine shop is like going to a marriage counselor. Seriously, and we’re not trying to be funny here, but there is a relationship between what your goals are and what your pocketbook and equipment can produce. Like any good counselor, the machinist should help you navigate through the tough problematic areas between wants, needs and capabilities. There is a most definitely a chance to save the marriage between man and machine, and that road leads through a good engine machinist.

Finding the Right Machine Shop for You
Not all machine shops are the same just as not all engine builds are the same. When selecting a machine shop, the engine builder should consider the things that are most important. If you are looking for a quick turn around time, a close machine shop that has less of a back log is probably a better selection or deserves more consideration in the selection process. A machine shop that has less of a back log in work deserves a little more investigation. Don’t automatically assume that a shop that is less busy than others in the local area does bad work. The shop may be newer and has not built it’s reputation yet. Most machine shops do very little advertising and rely on word of mouth advertising between racers to help their business.

Find a machine shop that is familiar with the equipment that you are working work. Checking specs and knowing the tolerances is extremely important. This is what you are paying for, expertise.

Ask Questions
Find out about the machine shops in your area. Experience says a lot about machinists, and those that have good reputations have very loyal customers that are only too happy to tell you how great their machine shop is. Ask around about the type of engine builds that the shop normally performs. A shop that is dedicated to doing machine work on daily driver 4 cylinder street cars may not be on the cutting edge of top fuel dragster engine technology. Likewise, a machine shop a couple of hours drive away may not be aware of the rules at your local track. Through lack of familiarity or experience, they may machine your engine outside of the rules and cause you a great deal of grief when you get disqualified from an event. This can be prevented by asking if the machine shop has experience in your type engine application.

Take a Look
Before committing to a machine shop, it would be prudent to visit the shop and take a look around. A shop that is in disarray is a warning sign, especially if you are bringing your own parts for the build. Parts can be misplaced or lost causing delays in your engine build and damaging the trust between you and your machinist. Organization in a machine shop is a big deal. A dirty shop can also alert you to problems. Ideally, a machine shop will have separate areas for disassembly, cleaning, machining and assembly. In the assembly area, the shop should be neat and clean. Dirt is an engines worst enemy. A machine shop that has a dirty assembly area is asking for shortened life span on your internal engine components.

Take a look around the shop. It should be well lit and have some organization.

The Next Step
Once you have found a machine shop that has the experience, the right equipment and is within your comfort level, you should talk to the machinist about your engine build. The more that you understand about the machining process, the more intelligent questions you will be able to ask. Asking the right questions and getting the best answers will assure that you will be happier with the end results. A good machinist will help guide you through the process of selecting the right parts and making the best machining decisions to meet the goal that you are trying to achieve with the build.

Talking with your machinist about the parts will help prevent fitment issues during the rebuild.

Understanding What the Machine Shop Needs to Know
We talked with Keith Clark of Rancho Performance Machine in Temecula, California. Over a twenty four year career of building race engines for the inland empire region of Southern California, Keith’s shop has built a solid reputation in the offroad, circle track and drag race communities. We asked Keith how he has been successful. “When a customer comes in and wants machining work done, we try to find out certain things about his project to ensure that he gets what he wants out of the final product.” Keith went on to explain “there are three basic areas that we want to discuss before any work is done. What is the application, how much horsepower does the customer want to make, and what kind of budget are we working with?” According to Keith, “we use different machining techniques and procedures for different types of applications. For an engine that is being built for the circle track, we tend to machine the components more for endurance than we would for a ultra high horsepower drag strip engine that requires taking the tolerances to the edge of machining.”

Keith explained that a good machine shop will sit down with a customer and go over the entire engine build and cover all the options as well as the benefits of each option. Based on the budget a customer has to work with and the target goal of the rebuild, the machinist will suggest a combination of parts and procedures that will get to the desired horsepower for the application that the engine is intended for.

Our Project Build – a 355 Chevy
In the case of our project engine build, we had a modest budget and a set of track rules to work within. Beginning with a common small block Chevy 350 engine block with four bolt mains, and a set of stock Vortec 061 heads. Keith recommended that we start with some basics. Opening up the oil drain back holes at the front and back of the block in the lifter valley was pretty much standard. Because the block was an experienced (used) block, Keith recommended a good cleaning and degreasing followed by thorough inspection and magnaflux process to check for cracks. A good inspection is essential early in the machining process to find any show stopping problems before any money is spent on parts. If a block is cracked and unusable, the parts that you have already bought may not work in a new block. The cleaning process is also a must. Even more than aesthetics, the cleaning removes buildup of gunk and crud from oil galleys and water passages.

A thorough inspection of the block before machine work begins is a must.

Starting the Work
Our block checked out fine during the magnafluxing and inspection process, so we met with Keith to discuss the next steps. Tapping the oil galley plug holes in the front of the block is another standard procedure. It’s unlikely that the press in plug will blow out in a circle track engine, but why take the chance?

SBC Blocks have press in oil galley plugs on the front of the engine. Even in a “hot” street engine they typically won’t blow out, but why take the chance?

The machinist will tap new threads into the galley ports for pipe plugs.

Pipe plugs are fitted into the oil galleys. The length of the middle plug is critical because it could block the oil port for the #1 camshaft bearing.

Running a thread chaser through the head bolt threads is another one of those common procedures that should not be forgotten. Keith reminded us that “yes, there is a difference between a thread chaser and a tap. A thread chaser will re-form the threads while a tap will cut threads”. Make sure to ask your machine shop to use a thread chaser in the head bolt threads.

A good machinist will use a thread chaser to form the head bolt threads.

Keith’s shop removes the oil galley plug at the back of the block near the oil pressure galley with wax and a torch. These plugs must be heated up for removal because they are installed at the foundry when the block is still hot. As the block cools down, it secures the plug into the block. The only safe way to remove the plug is with a torch.

Removing the oil plug at the back of the block requires heat and thread lubricant.

This is Boring
By this point the machinist will have inspected the block enough to tell how much your cylinders need to be bored in order to clean up the cylinder walls. This is critical when ordering pistons for the build. We were shooting for 0.030 over boring on the cylinders and oversized pistons to match. Your machinist will need the new pistons to check the fit and decking of the block, so ordering these in advance will speed up the turn around time. Talking with your machinist before ordering any parts will prevent ordering the wrong piston size which will cause the process to come to a grinding (or boring) halt.

Setting up the boring machine for a precise cut.

Boring Machines
There are several types of cylinder boring machines on the market, and all of them will work successfully provided the machinist does a good job during set up. Our machinist Keith explained that “ many people don’t realize how much time the machinist spends setting up the equipment to get the machining work done in these precise measurements.”

Keith went on to show us what he considers one of the more precise boring machines. “Our Rottler unit is designed for a long life of heavy use. They mount the block off of the crankshaft bores which make it a very accurate machine. Getting the cylinders bored exactly 90 degrees perpendicular to the crankshaft is extremely important. The boring machines that mount to the top of the block can sometimes angle the cylinder bore to the front or back of the block. This puts unwanted load on the pistons and can cause early failure”. Keith even goes a step further when setting up the boring machine. Using a wet stone, he hand stones the oil pan rails at the bottom of the block and the top surface of the block to ensure that there are no burrs or gouges in the metal that may prevent the block from mounting completely flat in the Rottler machine. Keith reminded us that “there’s no such thing as being too accurate”.

Dressing the cutting tool before each cylinder boring job is the sign of a good machine shop.

Using a boring machine that registers off of the main caps is probably the most accurate for straight bores.

Leveling the engine block to the machine ensures a straight bore.

Cutting cylinder bore in the middle and then jumping one bore to the outside of the block helps keep the temperature down between bores.

Once the boring tool tool has passed the entire length of the cylinder bore, the new bore is shiny new and about 0.005″ away from the final bore size.

Surfacing the Block
If you are trying to build a dependable leak free engine, you will probably want to resurface the block. This helps on a number of levels. Primarily, you can prep the surface for whatever head gasket you are going to use. For many years gasket manufacturers claimed that a roughness average of 55 to 110 micro inches (50 to 125 RMS) was acceptable. But that was during the age of cast iron blocks with cast iron heads. As the block castings have become less rigid, flatter and smoother mating surfaces have become more important. The current wisdom is a surface finish of 30 to 110 roughness average for cast iron and recommendations for aluminum heads on bimetal engines range between 30 to 60 roughness average finish. These smoother finishes help the gasket’s ability to achieve a positive cold seal and maintain a long lasting leak free seal.

Zero Decking
If you are trying to squeeze as much horsepower out the engine as you can and maintain durability, you will probably want to “zero deck” the block. Building a competition race engine requires a machinist to use precise measurements on block deck height, crankshaft stroke, connecting rod length and compression dimensions that will work in perfect harmony together to produce the most power for the application. One of the cornerstones of this process is controlling the distance that the piston is above or below the block deck surface. The further the piston is below the deck of the block, the move volume it adds which reduces compression. Figuring in the head gasket thickness as added volume also, this compression reduction can add up to a considerable amount. Most high performance engine machinists will try to bring the piston as close to the top of the surface as possible. This is zero decking, and if done properly the only clearance is the head gasket thickness in it’s compressed state. According to our race engine machinist Keith, “increased compression can help all the way around. From low end torque, coming off the corner’s faster to higher rpms. Compression can be a good thing.”

When “zero decking”, the machinist will measure piston height to the block deck and shave the deck to the point where the piston top is flush with the block deck.

Cylinder Honing
Most machinists will bore the cylinders to within 0.004 or 0.005 of the final bore size to allow for the material that honing will remove from the cylinder walls. The actual method and honing procedure varies from shop to shop, but Keith explained that “your machine shop will need to know what type of rings you are going to use so that the proper bore surface finish to apply so that the rings seat properly”. Most ring packages that come with race pistons are manufactured with materials that require none or very little time to seat.

Honing with torque plates used to be reserved for high horsepower blocks only. Studies by several gasket companies and aftermarket engine block manufacturers have proven that even a street engine benefits from torque plate honing. Using a thick plate that is torqued down on the block with head bolts simulates the distortion created when the cylinder heads are torqued on the block. Torque plate honing allows the machinist to get the surface as close to perfect cylindrical perfection as possible.

Using a head gasket under the torque plate helps simulate the torque load on the block.

Using a torque plate will allow the machinist to duplicate the torque load on the block that creates distortion in the cylinders.

Torque plates are manufactured to allow the hone to pass through the plate while still providing the torque pressure against the block.

Align Boring and Honing
If you plan on using an aftermarket crankshaft or a nice trick set of engine bearings, you probably want to consider getting the block align bored and honed. If the goal is to build a high horsepower motor, align boring and honing is a must. Keith tells us that “a lot of customers believe that align boring and honing is a step that you can skip to save a few bucks in the machining budget, but I disagree. Tolerances are very tight in these areas and if you are out of specs far enough where you have metal on metal contact, the engine will eat itself in no time”.

Basically, align boring is measuring the inside diameter of the main journals and machining them to the correct measurement. Then a long boring tool is used to bore the journals in relation to each other and finished with a honing tool. This procedure will ensure that the crankshaft will rotate freely and with less parasitic friction.

Align boring and honing is recommended, especially on older blocks that have seen some action.

To sum this up in a couple of words; A Must. Even a mild street engine with stock replacement parts will benefit from balancing the rotating assembly. Balancing will ensure that dynamic components are compatible with each other. This is cheap insurance if you are mixing aftermarket components from different manufacturers. The basic idea behind balancing the crankshaft is checking the weight of the pistons, rings, rod and wrist pin against the counterweight of the crankshaft. Our machinist Keith explained that “an internally balanced crankshaft can be balanced without the flywheel/flexplate or balancer but an externally balanced crankshaft must include these in the balance process”.

Balancing the internal rotating assembly is critical for long engine life under race conditions.

Summing it up – Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Dealing with a Machine Shop
There are some clear advantages to understanding what services you are paying your machinist for and it is obvious to us that talking with your machine shop operator will help you avoid some common pitfalls that can be real show stoppers.

  1. Find a reputable machine shop that has experience in the type of engine application that you are working with.
  2. Work with the machinist on the engine build plan, the parts that will be used and the budget that you have to work with. You’ll be surprised how much time and money a good machinist can save you in wrong parts or parts that won’t work well together.
  3. Always get the block cleaned and inspected before ordering any parts.
  4. Bring the new parts in for the machinist to measure. Tolerances are very close on internal engine components, and a machinist will need to know the specs on your new aftermarket engine components to make sure they fit properly with the machined block.
  5. Understand that your machinist spends a lot of time measuring and checking clearances. Rushing your machine shop operator will limit the checks and double checks that machinists normally do which can end up costing you horsepower or engine life.
  6. Get the block surfaced and bored. It’s never wise to try and get by with a power honing. It’s best if you get the cylinders bored with a machine that references off of the main journals.
  7. Have the bores honed with a torque plate. This will ensure a more cylindrical bore with the heads bolted on the block.
  8. Don’t skip on the align boring and honing, especially when you are trying to make a dependable engine.
  9. Never bypass the rotating assembly balancing. Getting the crankshaft balanced is a must if you are using aftermarket parts.
  10. Build a good relationship with your machinist. A machine shop that earns your trust is worth being loyal to.

Rancho Performance Machine

As much as we love performance and horsepower, these days fuel efficiency is an important part of any new car conversation. The automakers are keenly aware that new CAFÉ standards mean they must meet a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg by 2020. That means even the muscle cars must pull their weight, lest they go the way of the dodo bird.

The official EPA numbers are in for the Ford Mustang, and they are better than expected. The 2011 Ford Mustang V6 with the new 3.7 liter engine gets 19 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, making it the first car with over 300 horsepower to get over 30 mpg claims Ford.

Picture: Ford

Fuel economy and performance don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With 305 horsepower on tap, the V6 2011 Mustang makes nearly as much horsepower as the outgoing 2010 Mustang GT. Now it can even serve as a reasonably priced, fuel efficient commuter car as well. The 31 mpg rating is available when the Mustang is mated to Ford’s new six-speed automatic transmission and the 2.73 stock rear end gear ratio.

Ford is also planning a performance package for V6 model, which adds more aggressive gears, and a dual exhaust among other enhancements. The new MPG rating beats out the Camaro by 2 mpg, while edging out the horsepower rating by 1 pony. While it isn’t much, it is enough for Ford to give itself a pat on the back. Now we wonder what company will be the first to break 30 mpg out of a 400 horsepower car. It might be closer to happening than you think.

Press Release

DEARBORN, Mich., March 4, 2010 – The 2011 Ford Mustang today breaks new ground, cracking the record books as not only the most fuel-efficient Mustang ever, but also the first production car in history to produce more than 300 horsepower and more than 30 mpg highway.

The Mustang’s official EPA ratings – completed this week – certify that models equipped with the 305-hp 3.7-liter V-6 and available six-speed automatic transmission achieve 31 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city. The standard six-speed manual transmission is rated at 30 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city.

Mustang is powered by a lightweight, all-aluminum 3.7-liter dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) V-6 engine that uses advanced engineering to deliver its combination of power and economy. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) adjusts the valvetrain in microseconds depending on driver inputs, further contributing to the engine’s overall efficiency.

The fact that Mustang achieves its top fuel economy rating with the convenience of an automatic transmission also marks a shift in conventional wisdom. Ford engineered a modern six-speed automatic transmission with carefully calibrated gear ratios and shift programs to maximize economy, while still delivering high-horsepower driving fun.

“Advanced powertrains like our Ti-VCT V-6 and six-speed automatic really speak to the future of Mustang,” says Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Global Powertrain Engineering. “We’ve proven that, using technology, Ford can deliver both power and fuel economy.”

In addition to engine improvements, upgrades to Mustang’s body, powertrain and chassis design contribute to the higher fuel economy numbers for 2011. Examples include:
New Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions allow lower cruising revs without sacrificing off-the-line performance
Aerodynamic changes include improvements like a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal

The new 2011 Mustang already has more than 11,000 orders. Half of all the nationwide orders are for the car’s fuel-efficient 3.7-liter V-6 engine. The 2011 Mustangs are also being equipped with record levels of technology, giving customers the option of choosing navigation, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and rearview cameras.

The new 2011 Mustang goes on sale this spring and will be built at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

COMP Cams’ new Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms are engineering works of art. Just one look at the redesigned version of the very popular Pro Magnum line of rocker arms shows the ingenious thought process behind the rocker arm’s design. We wanted to go to school on these rocker arms and see what kind of report card they earn.

Watch the Video on COMP Cams New Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms:

Art Appreciation Class

Seeing is believing. At least that’s what my art appreciation professor told my college class as we were required to look at a Picasso and describe what we saw. As I recall, most of my classmates saw something akin to a kindergarten finger painting as we gazed at that piece of art. Now, looking at Comp Cams new Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms, I finally understand what true art appreciation means. Yes, seeing IS believing! Not only are these new rocker arms true works of art, but anyone can plainly see the advantage of their stellar design. Even stronger and lighter in weight than COMP’s own best selling Pro Magnum Rocker Arms, this Ultra design earns an A+ in humanities.

Reduced mass for increased retainer and spring clearances.

History Class

Once upon a time there were only two choices in rocker arms; stainless steel, which tended to be used for applications where strength and reliability were needed, and aluminum, for lightweight and lower cost applications. Almost twenty years ago, COMP Cams released the uber popular Pro Magnum Rocker Arms which combined strength and reliability with lightweight low cost rocker arms made from 8650 chromemoly steel. Continuing computer advancements and superior design technology have led COMP Cams to restructure the already successful Pro Magnum rocker arms with a web-like structure adding even more strength and reducing even more mass. Dubbed the Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms, COMP Cams has made another historic improvement in rocker arm design. We talked with Chris Mays at COMP Cams about taking a very successful rocker arm and redesigning it. “There’s always the opportunity to make something better,” Mays commented. “As technology changes and information changes, the opportunity to make parts stronger, more user friendly, and apply across a wider variety of applications presents itself.” Another set of high marks for the academic scorecard.

Physics Class

Through restructuring at the most basic liquid molten level, COMP Cams uses an advanced web-like structure to add strength in the rocker arms while allowing the engineers to reduce mass in low stress areas of the components. This results in maximum lift and valve train control at high RPM. Reducing mass also increases retainer and spring clearances allowing larger valve springs, retainers, and locks without fitment issues. Mays also told us that the new rocker arms “have truer ratios and the valve spring clearances reduce many issues with big block engines. Valve spring clearance with higher lift cams are always an issue in big block engines whether it’s Chevy, Ford, or Mopar.” Making the rocker arms “more user friendly” and capping it all off with a black oxide finish that inherently sheds oil for a more efficient valve train with even less mass earn high grades in this class. Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms = A+ squared.

A good looking piece that is refined with technical advances.

Statistics and Analysis Class

  • Manufactured from 8650 chromemoly steel
  • 300% stronger than extruded 7075-T6 aluminum
  • Weighs 5% less at the valve than most aluminum rocker arms
  • Through extensive Spintron and dyno testing, the Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms are proven to be 29% stiffer than the original Pro Magnum Rocker Arms
  • Featuring an over-sized trunion and precision sorted needle bearings for use with high load valve springs
  • Hardened roller tips reduce friction and elimination of premature valve guide wear
  • Available for most popular Chevy and Ford, street and race engine applications

Less weight and deflection from the fulcrum point to the roller tip.

Physical Education Class

The new Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms are made of 8650 chromemoly steel, which is 300% stronger than extruded 7075-T6 aluminum; it is the strongest of aluminum materials. Unlike aluminum rockers, the new Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms offer rigidity for maximum lift, limited flex, and cycle strength that will last a lifetime with the added bonus of reduced deflection from the fulcrum point to the roller tip. As a result, Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms weigh 5% less at the valve than most aluminum rocker arms. Less weight in the valve train means less load on the valve springs which in turn allows the engine to turn more rpm for more top end power. Putting your valve train on a diet without losing strength and reliability earns a 4.0 grade point average.

COMP Cams goes to the head of the class with this rocker arm.

Economics Class

The redesign of the Pro Magnum Rockers allows for a larger trunion with added needle bearings to spread the load more evenly which helps promote a longer lifespan of the component. The Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms are also rebuildable, which means that they can be disassembled for inspection or for replacement of the roller tips, axle, or bearings making the rocker arm like new. Through normal use, these rocker arms will last more than a lifetime. COMP Cams even guarantees the rocker bodies for life against breakage. Buying one set that never has to be replaced is the best economic value going!

Because of the high marks that COMP Cams Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms have earned, we award an advanced degree in higher education with the “Magnum Cum Laude” distinction. It’s true, seeing IS believing! For more information on the Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arms or any of the other fine products from COMP Cams, visit their website at

COMP Cams Inc.
Web: COMP Cams – Performance Camshafts, Valve Train, & Much More
Phone: 800-999-0853

Comp Cams’s Trick Break-In Oil

Friday, December 18th, 2009
Ronald Reagan, my personal hero and a great American, is quoted as saying: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” I’ve thought about that statement a lot in the years since the Reagan presidency. It occurs to me now, that the greatest pains that I have felt in the automotive industry have been by virtue of government regulations.

Check out the video we put together all about the COMP Cams Engine Break In Oil!

Let’s take the ZDDP rules, for example. As a result of extensive testing, mostly paid for by the automotive buying public, the EPA has determined that zinc, phosphorus, molybdenum, and detergents that are major components in motor oil, are bad for the environment. Zinc and phosphorus are the primary targets of the EPA’s regulatory agenda. Never mind that zinc and phosphorus are naturally occurring elements, the EPA is from the government is and here to help, so they restricted their use.

Bottles of COMP Cams’ new engine Break-In Oil.

Restricting the use of zinc and phosphorus in motor oils had an immediate impact on gearheads like us. Camshafts began failing at an alarming rate. Lobes on new camshafts were getting wiped quicker than Kanye West could interrupt an acceptance speech. Almost immediately, fingers were being pointed at camshaft manufacturers, foundries, and inferior metals. When the dust settled, it became clear that the absence of adequate levels of ZDDP was the true culprit in the camshaft failures.

An assembly line full of bottles of Break-In Oil.

My good friends at COMP Cams have come up with the ultimate solution for the hardcore gearhead – the guy who actually puts his engine to the test on the track. COMP Cams, the company that came up the oil additive that helped eliminate premature camshaft failure due to the lack of zinc, has now

taken the next step by refining and marketing a break-in oil.

They may not be from the government, but they are here to help.

Up until now, engine builders and mechanics have been forced to add protective oil additives to oil while breaking-in an engine. It’s also done periodically during an engine’s maintenance cycle, to ensure long lasting performance.

COMP Cams teamed up with Endure Performance Lubricants to develop the break-in oil. This is the start of a complete line of performance lubricants from this partnership.

The break-in oil also allows for maximum performance by improving the surface mating of valve train components, especially flat tappet lifters and camshafts. The rotating assembly, rod journals, piston rings, valve guides and other vital areas of the engine mating surfaces also benefit from the surface coating. This proprietary formula includes the optimum amount of the critical additives ZDDP, Molybdenum, detergents and high-grade base oil.

The multi-viscosity, mineral-based oil is fully-formulated and requires no additives or supplements. It is fully compatible with gasoline, methanol and high octane racing fuels.

Boxed and ready to ship.

Due to existing government regulations, COMP Cams break-in oil is labeled “not street legal” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but nothing says you can’t break-in your motor on the engine dyno with this new blend. As for all of us at PowerTV, our non-street race cars (wink, wink) will be running with COMP’s break-in oil.

Doesn’t matter if you have a 350 for the dirt track or a 555 for the drag strip, all engines can benefit from using this oil.

As for the government guys, I’ll leave you with another quote from President Reagan: “Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

Facts are stubborn things.

You can learn more about the COMP Cams Break In Oil by visiting

Peterson Fluid System’s R4 Oil Pump

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
The long awaited oil pump from Peterson Fluid Systems is finally here and we got to see it at the 2009 PRI Tradeshow in Orlando. We talked with Mike Morten of Peterson Fluid System and he explained that the R4 oil pump was the most advanced pump offered from Peterson Fluid Systems

Watch the PRI video on Peterson’s R4 Oil Pump:

Featuring a four lobe aluminum rotor design that provides excellent flow and “rock steady” pressure, even at very high temperatures. Morten also told us that the R4 Pump “is not only advanced but also is affordable”.

Features of the Peterson Fluid Systems R4 Pump:

  • Lightweight design (stage 6 pump is only 10 pounds).
  • Modular mount system. Allows for a variety of mounts for the same pump.
  • Rear Drive available.
  • 4 lobe rotor design.
  • Made in the USA.

The R4 pump can be used in virtually any class of racing and with the modular mounts and variety of fittings, the R4 will mount on practically any engine.

For more information on Peterson Fluid System’s R4 pump, visit their website at

Inside Holley’s New Cutting Edge EFI Systems

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Hands down, the electronic fuel injection system has become the fuel delivery system of choice for enthusiasts looking to make real power without a lot of hassle or adjustment headaches. Holley’s new “intelligent” EFI systems are without a doubt the most exciting thing to come out of Bowling Green, Kentucky in the past 20 years. The Holley Avenger, HP and Dominator EFI systems are doing to fuel delivery what the smart bomb did to warfare, make it surgically precise with a “fire and forget” type actuation. These won’t be available until the first quarter of 2010, but we got a preview look at these precision strike weapons at the 2009 SEMA show.

What makes the Holley EFI systems different than the current crop of EFI controllers on the market?

Bill Tichenor, Marketing Director for Holley, briefed us on the differences in Holley’s new EFI systems and the predecessors by telling us, “All of the systems feature self-learning strategies, so users who are not EFI experts can be confident knowing their fuel curves will be very accurate. They come with wide band control to let the self-learning strategies continually adjust for current conditions. Our optional 5.7” touch screen is another feature that sets us apart. Once you get the initial set up done with a computer you don’t need it any longer. You can even do your set up on your desktop and then transfer the files to the touch screen through and SD card, so you don’t have to own a laptop. Best of all, we made sure the pricing on the systems were the best on the market for the features you get.”

Holley’s Dominator EFI Management System.

Granted, hand held controllers and touch screens are not new in EFI systems, but a hand held controller or touch screen controller that allows the user to manage sophisticated engine controls with “self learning” software is unique. Add in that the fuel base table is displayed in actual lbs/hr instead of co-efficient calculation value based throttle position and engine speed. The bonus in this is that you can change injector size and enter the desired lbs/hr. into the fuel map and your fuel rate will be pretty close. The actual vs rated flow is corrected in the System Setup for specific pressure and dead time response curves vs voltage for each injector tested. What this basically does is tighten the margin of error for the desired input lb/hr vs actual flow.

Fuel Tuning Screen shot

The Avenger EFI Kit:

Holley has developed three EFI systems with specific user applications in mind. Although they are not available on the market right now, Tichenor assured us that the new systems would be worth the wait, “Holley has been working hard behind the scenes to make sure these new EFI systems are the best available systems in their competing markets. Street users will love the base Avenger system. It comes with a hand held tuner, so no laptop is required. Just answer a few basic questions and it will start tuning for you.” Tichenor explained that the Avenger system is a complete plug and play EFI system that was “ideal” for enthusiasts making the switch to electronic fuel injection. The Avenger has the same powerful self-tuning software technology that is featured in the other systems. This is a “Bolt on and Go” EFI system that is available in TBI, Four barrel MPFI or Stealth Ram systems.

Holley’s EFI Idle Setting Screen


  • Self-tuning fueling strategy tunes while you drive – Designed for the user that wants ease of use without having to be a “tuning expert”
  • Requires no laptop computer to set up or tune – Included full color LED hand-held tuner offers simple setup and easy tuning of basic parameters such as engine idle speed. Still allows for users to change other parameters to further fine tune base calibrations
  • Comes complete with all hardware to retrofit EFI on a non-EFI vehicle, including fuel pump
  • Dedicated fuel and oil pressure inputs
  • Allows for computer controlled ignition timing if desired
  • System can be upgraded in the future to a Holley “HP EFI System” if desired
  • Small Block Chevy multi port kits come with 36 lb/hr injectors and are designed for up to 500 HP
  • Big Block Chevy multi port kits come with 48 lb/hr injectors and are designed for up to 600 HP
  • Three versions of 4 bbl TBI kits available: 700 CFM with 65 lb/hr injectors (up to 400 HP), 900 CFM with 75 lb/hr injectors (up to 525 HP) or 900 CFM with 85 lb/hr injectors (up to 600 HP)

The “Avenger” kits are intended to not be laptop programmable. You can laptop tune them if you want though, but typically the user of this system wants nothing to do with a laptop. If you want the ability to laptop tune, the HP systems would be what you want to get.

Coolant Temperature Enrichment Screen

The HP EFI Kit:

The HP EFI engine management system is a full feature system with laptop tunability and the self tuning capability and it’s user friendly software. The intuitive, easy to use software allows the user to dial in their fuel curve by controlling power adders and several other functions. Tichenor explained that the HP EFI was perfect for LSx engine swaps. The HP EFI system will be comfortable for Street, Drag Race, Road Racing, and is hardy enough to handle Off Road and Marine applications with ease. Available in TBI, 4bbl MPFI or Stealth Ram systems, or as a stand alone ECU and harness kit.


  • Works with 4, 6, 8 cylinder engines
  • Unique lb/hr based fueling strategy greatly simplify tuning
  • Advanced idle, closed loop, and enrichment strategies allow for very stable operation
  • ECU is fully potted and can be mounted in the engine compartment or interior
  • Sealed automotive and marine grade connectors
  • Allows for use of common OEM sensors as well as customer sensor calibration input
  • Ignition Plug and Play with GM 24x and 58x LSx engines, GM HEI, Ford TFI, magnetic and hall effect trigger, and other ignition systems. New Plug and Play applications in process. Custom settings can be configured to allow many other applications.
  • 1-5 Bar MAP sensor capability
  • Two channel knock control sensor Inputs for both one or two wire knock sensors
  • Dedicated fuel and oil pressure inputs
  • Controls both stepper and PWM Idle Air Control (IAC) motors
  • Speed density, Alpha-N, or combination fueling strategies
  • 4 Programmable high or low Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) outputs and 4 fully configurable inputs can be configured for use with the following features:
  • 4 Stage nitrous oxide control
    • Fully featured nitrous control eliminates the need for a separate nitrous controller device
    • Can be configured “Wet” or “Dry” with closed loop feedback
    • Progressive control based on time, RPM, or boost, requires part # 554-111
    • Lean or rich safety cutoff
    • Full timing retard/control confi gurability per stage based on RPM or time
  • Integrated Water/Methanol injection control
    • Uses Holley Water/Meth solenoids specially designed and calibrated for use with this EFI system to allow the user to enter Water/Meth flow as a percentage of fuel injector flow for Water/Meth tuning precision unmatched in the industry
  • Advanced idle, closed loop, and enrichment strategies
    • Allows for two nozzles to be controlled
    • Nozzles available from 400 to 1000 cc/min
    • Complete control of pump activation and low system safety features
  • Turbocharger boost control
    • Fully featured boost control capability eliminates the need for a separate boost control device
    • Can be configured to control boost based on time, gear, speed, and manual inputs
    • Gear based boost control configurable by several different methods
    • “Boost Builder” functions offer the ability to assist building boost on the starting line by altering ignition timing, fueling, as well as nitrous oxide activation. Also can be used as an anti-lag function
  • User configurable input and output programming
    • Outputs can be programmed as pulse width modulated or switched
    • Unique circuitry allows inputs to be programmed as speed/frequency, 0-5V, 0-20V, thermistor, or switched high or low
  • Configurable for: dual cooling fans, dual fuel pumps, AC inputs, basic TCC lockup, and multiple timing retard inputs and rev limiters
  • Vehicle speed inputs
  • User programmable caution and warning outputs for all sensors

Fuel Learn Table Screen

The Dominator EFI Kit”

According to Tichenor “The Dominator is a feature rich system where users will only need one box instead of multiple boxes. Your imagination is the limit.” The top end of Holley’s new EFI systems which is usable across the board, from the bolt on and go mechanic to the hardcore laptop tuner. The Dominator EFI will handle any power adding device that you can throw at it and still allow the user to hone in the fuel curves with the user friendly but very sophisticated software programs. There are also enough inputs and outputs to allow the Dominator Vehicle Management System to serve as their own data acquisition and control module.

Dominator EFI Features include all the features of the HP EFI plus these additional features:

  • Twelve sequentially driven 8:2 peak and hold injector drivers, capable of driving up to 24 low or high impedance injectors as a standard feature. Multiple staged injector strategies.
  • Twelve channel Distributorless Ignition (DIS) outputs capable of directly driving “Smart” ignition coils or Holley DIS coils. Will drive 2 wire coils with the addition of PN 554-112 high current coil driver module
  • Plug and Play control of factory GM 24x and 58x LSx engines
  • Integrated electronic transmission control. Controls GM 4L60E and 4L80E transmissions with more to come in the future
  • Integrated dual channel wide band oxygen sensor controls. Works with NTK or Bosch sensors. More channels can be added via CAN bus.
  • Integrated drive by wire throttle body control. Can control two drive by wire throttle bodies
  • 4 stage progressive nitrous control
  • Turbo boost control
  • Integrated water/methanol injection control
  • Integrated “Data Acquisition and Control” allowed with massive amount of programmable inputs and outputs
  • Internal data-logging standard with a huge 2GB of memory
  • Self-tuning fuel table strategy makes for a simple tuning process
  • Store and change between four calibrations
  • Individual cylinder fuel and spark control allows you to unlock your engine’s potential
  • Optional 5.7” full-color touchscreen LCD allows easy on-the-fly tuning, data-logging or can be used as an easy to see graphical gauge panel

Fuel Acceleration Enrichment Screen

Final Word

The Holley EFI Avenger, HP and Dominator EFI systems will hit the market during the first quarter of 2010 so they should start showing up on the street and track by March. The guys at Holley are stressing that this system will be very reasonably priced, and based on what we have seen so far, these EFI kits will be on everyone’s “must have” list. The intelligent controller with the self learning capability makes this a tool for even the most novice EFI user.

We couldn’t have said it better than that. Looks like Holley has another award winning device to add to their long list of ground breaking fuel delivery components. We can’t wait to get our hands on these EFI systems and put them through a round of hammer down testing!

Holley Performance Products

Phone: 270 782-2900

Additional Screen Shots are available below:

EBC is a British manufacturer that produces all of it’s brake pads in the EBC factory in the United Kingdom, using fibers like Kevlar and Twaron. EBC Brakes Andrew Bartosiak told us that they are “Dedicated to stepping up to sportscar racing for 2010 in the USA.” It’s very likely that you will start seeing these brake pads showing up with greater frequency this next year at parts stores and racetracks in North America. EBC has a unique blend of pad material for each style of driving and they have color coded the pads to make identification easier.

The Ultimax brake pads are a normal black color and is designed for normal street use. From there the brake pad line is named based on color. The next step up from the Ultimax brake pad is what EBC calls the Greenstuff pads, designed for “spirited street use”. For “Faster street use on muscle cars and premium imports”, you’ll need to use the Redstuff brake pads. For short races and time trials, the Yellowstuff brake pads are offered. Finally, when you get into higher performance racing, EBC recommends the Bluestuff brake pads.

For more information about EBC or their brake products, visit them at

New to PROFORM’s already copious array of licensed engine dress up parts, is the Ford Racing line. These head turning additions offer Ford enthusiasts the chance to individualize their engines with a full range of emblems – including the extremely popular Cobra, Ford Racing and Mustang emblems. Officially licensed by Ford Racing, these dress up items will be offered in a variety of colors. At the 2009 SEMA show, PROFORM had a couple of these items on display to announce the new line. We saw the premium valve covers that were coated in a Ford Racing blue with inlaid paint. Talking with Booth Platt of PROFORM, he indicated that these components would be available in several color choices like the polished black, Black crinkle, brushed silver, polished aluminum and of course the Ford blue.

Platt promised us that PROFORM had some other items coming out this year for enthusiasts in street applications and racing applications.

For more information on the factory licensed performance parts, the latest releases and news, visit their website at For the entire line of PROFORM parts, you can visit their website at

Moroso’s booth at the 2009 SEMA show was filled with a plethora of newly released performance items for your high performance cars. From fabricated aluminum valve covers to coolant expansion tanks, Moroso’s new products cover every make of car and every type of application. We talked with Moroso’s Marketing Manager Thor Schroeder about the item that they were most excited about, the Throttle Cable Mounting Kit (#65047) for Holley 4500 Series, Holley Dominator 4500 series, and Barry Grant King Demon Carburetors.

Schroeder explained that the new throttle cable mounting kit offered a fixed and stable platform from which the throttle cable could be mounted without the fear of flexing and inconsistent throttle response.

Features of the Moroso Throttle Cable Mounting Kit:

• Kit facilitates mounting of throttle cables to a fixed point while providing adjustability to compensate for variances in cable length and cable ends.
• Comes complete with Morse style throttle cable bracket, universal return spring assembly and all necessary hardware.
• Four hole under carb design provides security of a linkage safety plate.
• Accessory brackets bolt to plate separately instead of stacking up on the carb studs.

Allows easy access for carb servicing and the option of additional accessories while providing clearance to linkage.

For more information on the complete line of Moroso products, visit their website at

Banks Power: Power You Can Bank On With Banks IQ

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
Banks engineering has been a force in making power since it’s inception in 1958, now Banks unveiled another unique power device, the Banks IQ. If you are hauling your racecar to the track with either a diesel truck, gas truck or motorhome – you may want to consider putting some control back in your hands with the Banks IQ dashboard PC.

The unit has a super clear 5” touch screen that is capable of 753,984 possible screen configurations. This powerful micro-computer tells you what your dash gauges won’t – what’s happening in your vehicle’s ECU. You can set alarms, adjust gauge colors, read and clear engine codes, log data and find out how your vehicle is really working. The Banks IQ also acts as a fully functional entertainment device. You can play music, watch videos and play games. If you do a lot of management from the field you can review your MS Office documents with the Banks IQ.

Features of the Banks IQ Dash Computer:

  • Choose from 10 different operating environments: Power, Control, Economy, Compass, Diagnostics, Safety, Information, Productivity, Performance or Entertainment.
  • Different onscreen layouts: Digital or Analog gauge.
  • Changes Gauge Colors to match your dash lights or your mood. Automatically changes gauge colors and dims the screen for day or night.
  • Allows the user to pick the information that you want to see and how it’s displayed or choose from 36 pre loaded settings.
  • Displays in English or Metric
  • Set visual and audio alarms for various engine monitoring like EGT, Engine Temp, Trans Temp, Engine oil and many others.
  • Able to calibrate your true speed using advanced GPS technology.
  • Acts as a performance tester and records vitals. Can save and store multiple runs.
  • Able to diagnose engine problems. Can check and clear diagnostic trouble codes. Logged events are displayed in English not just codes.

The Plus Features of the Banks IQ Dash Computer:

Entertainment Environment

-Playback of MP3, WMA & WAV files
-Basic playback controls such as play, pause, stop, next and previous
-Playback includes repeat (repeat track/all/off), normal sequence
-Play list support
-Supports JPEG/BMP/PND format
-Implement operations, such as slide show, view, rotate, delete
-Rotate photos clockwise and counter-clockwise
-Delete photos
-View text, books or documents saved in TXT format
-Supports ANSI, Unicode and UTF-8 coding formats
-Supports MPEG-1, MP4, AVI, WMV, ASF, 3GP, and DivX format files
-Basic playback controls such as play, pause, stop, next and previous
-Switch two functions between full screen and standard screen freely
-Play list support
-Choose from three pre-installed games: FreeCell, Connect and Solitaire 
-Launch compatible Windows® CE game formats (from desktop)

Productivity Environment

-Start work with any of the pre-installed applications on your Banks iQ in a familiar environment
-Manage your files: load, save or delete
-Use the stylus and virtual keyboard to type and save notes
-Open up Word documents, make and save changes
-Use the number pad to enter and perform mathematical calculations
-View stored documents created in Excel
-View and sort images stored on the device, micro SD card, or USB thumb drive (each sold separately)
-View images individually or as a slide show
-Rotate, cut, crop, adjust hue, change the brightness and resize your photos
-Save your changes
-View documents stored as DPF files
-View stored PowerPoint documents & presentations

For more information about the Banks Power products, visit their website at


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