Pertronix Distributor

Easy Rev Limiter Tuning with a PerTronix Flamethrower

Pertronix DistributorOne of the pleasant surprises when working on The Horsepower Monster’s 427 Stroker Engine project (if you haven’t seen it, check it out here) was the built-in rev limiter on the PerTronix Flame-Thrower distributor we used.

The PertTronix unit is a really nice piece because it puts out a nice strong spark, the mechanical advance system is easily tuned for both maximum and rate of advance, and is really well made. But that’s the obvious stuff. What we also came to appreciate during the built is the ingenious rev limiter the engineers at PerTronix have baked right into the Ignitor III module for the distributor. Adjusting the rev limiter is pretty easy and requires no extra equipment.

But seeing is believing, so we thought we show you the process here.

427 Lead Image

The Ultimate Stroker: Squeezing 427 Inches into a Small Block Chevy

If you have been keeping up with the Horsepower Monster’s 427 Small Block Buildup, we’ve wrapped up the final video in the series with a dyno session–you can find it above. But if you are new to the build, we recommend staring from the beginning–all the videos in the series are posted below.

Part One

These days it’s getting pretty hard to do anything new with the classic small block Chevrolet engine. Heck, even big inch strokers have been done before.

But we promise, this is different. Before, getting over 400 inches into a small block meant weeks of tedious grinding and prefitting along with expensive custom components. The process was so time consuming and expensive it made building a Chevy bigger than the classic 383 inches more trouble than it was worth. But now, with intelligent component selection from the right manufacturers, you can build a 427 with all off-the-shelf components. And we’re going to show you how.

Not only is this engine package easy to build, but by using all readily available components it makes building this attention-grabbing stroker basically the same cost as a well appointed 350. The key is Dart’s outstanding SHP Chevy block and a set of innovative connecting rods from Callies. A new SHP block is barely more expensive than a stock block pulled out of a junkyard and machined back to spec–plus it’s capable of handling much more horsepower and can handle 3.750 inches of stroke and 4.125 inch cylinder bores without breaking a sweat. Normally, using a crank with more than 3.75 inches of stroke in a Chevy small block with a standard cam tunnel location will send the sides of the rods crashing into the cam lobes–and we all know that’s not good. But the Ultra XD I-beam rods have the fasteners on the big end of the rod offset so that the side closest to the cam lobe is moved down, creating 0.050 of an inch of extra clearance. We also ordered up a reduced base circle cam from Comp Cams to be extra safe, but the Callies rod is enough to fit an impressive four inches of stroke without having to grind the rod caps.

Our goal is to build an engine capable of 550 horsepower or more than will be happy on pump gas and can be driven every day. This is not a tempermental, high-compression race motor that’s poorly suited for street use–this is a street motor that’s should make great power, generate loads of torque and have a rumble that will turn heads. Plus, it should be strong enough to handle a strong dose of nitrous or whatever else we choose to throw at it in the future.

The first video in the series (above) features the work required to balance the rotating assembly as well as clearance both the K1 Technologies crankshaft and the Dart SHP block. Thankfully, the clearancing work required is minimal and after this the engine should practically fall into place.
Part Two

This time around we’re actually putting stuff together. In particular, rods, pistons and the crankshaft. Plus, we take a look at a new system from a company called KRAMM-Lox that makes installing piston pin locks a snap–literally.


Part Three

We worked very closely with Comp Cams to choose the perfect cam for this build. Just like everyone, we want to make great power but don’t want to give up any driveability. We also install the timing set, ATI damper and Edelbrock aluminum water pump.


Part Four

Finally, with Part Four we are starting to wrap things up. After much deliberation, we settled on a pair of Dragonslayer aluminum cylinder heads from Brodix, and now that we’ve seen them in person cannot wait to see how they perform on the dyno. We also wrapped up the valvetrain with a set of hydraulic roller lifters and a really trick Ultra Pro Magnum rocker arms–both from Comp Cams. For the ignition, we chose a comprehensive setup from Pertronix, which includes the distributor, coil, and plug wires.

At first glance, the intake manifold may look a little odd. That’s because we’ve already had the Weiand Sealth dual plane intake treated to a couple coats of clear coat. The idea is to seal off the aluminum so that dirt and grime won’t grunge it up so quickly. Otherwise, the Weiand piece is as it came right out of the box. It is one of the most aggressive dual-plane intakes we could find and should do a good job of feeding all 427 cubic inches with all the air and fuel they can handle. Finally, topping everything off is one of Holley’s new Ultra HP carbs with all the bells and whistles.


Part Five

Finally, we get down to the brass tacks–the dyno session. You don’t want to read any more, go ahead and check out the video:

In case you want to stare at it some more, here’s that dyno sheet once again:427 Dyno Chart

 

And finally, if you want to try this build yourself, here’s the printable parts list. Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.

If you need to grind the ring to open up the gap some more, simply push the tool back down into the bore and remove the ring. Now the square tool is in place and ready to go as soon as you want to check your ring again, saving you time and aggravation.

New Ring Squaring Tool Makes Engine Assembly with Low Tension Rings More Accurate

Unlike other ring squaring tools (left), RTS Tooling’s invention (right) actually goes below the ring and helps support it while you measure end gap. It can also save you money because it can cover a wide-range of cylinder bores so you normally need to purchase only one tool instead of an entire set.

Unlike other ring squaring tools (left), RTS Tooling’s invention (right) actually goes below the ring and helps support it while you measure end gap. It can also save you money because it can cover a wide-range of cylinder bores so you normally need to purchase only one tool instead of an entire set.

If you have ever built your own engine, then you are familiar with the process of gapping your piston rings. When the engine heats up, a gap in each piston ring is required to keep it from expanding and damaging both the cylinder wall and the piston. When the ring gaps are properly sized they will close up almost completely when the engine is running to maximize power losses while still protecting the engine from damage.

Nothing new there–engine builders have been gapping rings for decades. But what is new is advancing technology has allowed low-tension piston rings to be thinner than ever before. A top ring that’s only one millimeter thick does a great job of minimizing friction and parasitic horsepower losses as the piston moves up and down the cylinder bore, but it is so flexible that it can be quite difficult to accurately measure the ring gap. If the gap is too large you are allowing cylinder blow-by which costs you power, and if the gaps are too small you run the risk of the ends of the rings butting and damaging your engine. In street car engines it’s all about efficiency, but in racing we’re so constrained by the rulebook that the winning engine builders are the ones that can build every component in the engine as accurately as humanly possible.

We recently visited with inventor Rick Touchette of RTS Tooling (You may remember our videos on Touchette’s innovative tool to help head porters map and improve cylinder head flow.) His latest creation is designed to help engine builders gap their rings more accurately and with fewer hassles. RTS Tooling’s Ring Squaring Tool flips the traditional process of gapping piston rings on its head–now the squaring tool goes in before the ring instead of the other way around. This way the tool not only ensures the piston ring is square in the bore, but it also supports the ring to make sure it stays square while inserting a feeler gauge to measure the ring gap.

Touchette’s Ring Square Tool is one of those deceptively simple creations that makes a ton of sense when you see it in action, but the device has gone through a lot of design iterations as Touchette worked to perfect it for the application. One of the biggest hurdles, Touchette says, was trying to find the right material to make the tool from. Touchette says he finally find the right plastic that is hard enough that it will be durable and hold up over years of use, but also soft enough that it won’t scuff the cylinder bore. If, for some reason, there is any trash in the bore, metal particles will embed into the tool instead of damaging the cylinder bore’s precise crosshatch pattern. Then the tool can be cleaned with fine-grit sandpaper and/or soap and water.

The tool is also cut from a solid chunk of plastic rather than injection molded, which Touchette found helps increase precision, and the clamshell design means one tool can cover a wide range of bore sizes. Touchette has done the math and come up with a couple of tool sizes that can cover the widest range of cylinder bore diameters, but he says if an engine builder has a particular set of bore sizes he works with, he can usually cut a Ring Squaring Tool specifically to that range.

The tool is machined from a special plastic that is chosen for its strength and durability while still being soft enough that it won’t scratch your cylinder bore. If trash gets embedded in the plastic, it can be cleaned with soap and water or fine grit sandpaper.

The tool is machined from a special plastic that is chosen for its strength and durability while still being soft enough that it won’t scratch your cylinder bore. If trash gets embedded in the plastic, it can be cleaned with soap and water or fine grit sandpaper.

The first step is to slide the Ring Squaring Tool into the cylinder bore. The two tangs on the ends make for an easy place to squeeze the clamshell design together. When you release it the spring is just strong enough to hold the tool in the same spot in the bore.

The first step is to slide the Ring Squaring Tool into the cylinder bore. The two tangs on the ends make for an easy place to squeeze the clamshell design together. When you release it the spring is just strong enough to hold the tool in the same spot in the bore.

Install the ring you want to check into the bore. It doesn’t matter if the ring is touching the square tool right now.

Install the ring you want to check into the bore. It doesn’t matter if the ring is touching the square tool right now.

Make sure the notch in the Ring Squaring Tool is lined up with the ring gap and slide the tool up until the ring is fully seated on it.

Make sure the notch in the Ring Squaring Tool is lined up with the ring gap and slide the tool up until the ring is fully seated on it.

Here you can see everything is set up for your to check your ring gaps with the feeler gauge. The notch in the tool is designed to make room for you to use a feeler gauge while still supporting the ring. Don’t try to line up the ring gap with the opening in the tool (at the 3 O’clock position), this won’t provide optimum support.

Here you can see everything is set up for your to check your ring gaps with the feeler gauge. The notch in the tool is designed to make room for you to use a feeler gauge while still supporting the ring. Don’t try to line up the ring gap with the opening in the tool (at the 3 O’clock position), this won’t provide optimum support.

Now you can accurately check ring gaps on even the thinnest, flimsy racing rings accurately because the tool keep the ring from flexing when you slide the feeler gauge in place.

Now you can accurately check ring gaps on even the thinnest, flimsy racing rings accurately because the tool keep the ring from flexing when you slide the feeler gauge in place.

If you need to grind the ring to open up the gap some more, simply push the tool back down into the bore and remove the ring. Now the square tool is in place and ready to go as soon as you want to check your ring again, saving you time and aggravation.

If you need to grind the ring to open up the gap some more, simply push the tool back down into the bore and remove the ring. Now the square tool is in place and ready to go as soon as you want to check your ring again, saving you time and aggravation.




We also shot some video while we visited with Touchette so you that can see the tool actually in use.





For more information, you can check out RTS Tooling’s web page.

How to CC

How to Measure the Chamber Volume of Your Cylinder Heads

How to CCBeing able to check volumes is critical for anyone building engines. You can calculate your engine’s compression ratio based on what you think the combustion chamber volume in your cylinder heads might be, and what the catalog says the volume of the valve pockets in your pistons should be–but you are really just hoping unless you can verify it.

Checking volume is as simple as pouring liquid from a marked buret into the space your are measuring and then seeing how much remains in the buret. Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, and we’ll show you all the tricks in the video.

Checking combusation chamber volume is by far the most common use for a CC’in kit, but once you’ve got the particulars down it can also be quite useful to check intake and exhaust port volumes, cylinder volume at piston TDC, intake manifolds, heck, anything you can think of.

And by the way, the CC’ing kit I used in the video came from Powerhouse Products. The same is true for the cylinder head stand. The cylinder heads are aluminum Dragonslayers for a Chevy small block from Brodix that will be showing up again soon on our 427 cubic inch small block project engine. Check it out when you get a chance.

Crane Ignition Dyno Test

Testing to Find the Best Distributor for Your Race Car or Hot Rod

Chevy SB2It is easy for any relatively well-made distributor to perform well at 2,000 rpm. But where’s the fun in driving around just slightly above idle?

When your engine is at higher rpm levels, that added engine speed makes it harder for any distributor to hit the timing target accurately. And its this loss of accuracy that can cost you horsepower. Whether you are racing, having a little track-day fun or just the occasional blast from stoplight to stoplight, nobody wants to give up any horsepower unnecessarily. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Setting engine timingEngine builder Keith Dorton of Automotive Specialists employs a pretty rare piece of diagnostic equipment on his engine dyno that actually gives him the ability to accurately track ignition spark timing in all eight cylinders individually ever one hundred rpm across the span of a dyno pull. As you can guess, this produces information that can be much more useful than you can gather with a timing light, and he regularly uses it to tune his race-winning engines. Thankfully, he also allowed us to document some testing he was doing with several different distributors to determine their accuracy.

The results were pretty enlightening. Obviously, the distributors with the fewest moving parts consistently proved to be able to maintain the greatest accuracy across a wide rpm range. Check it out for yourself in the video above.

There are also several charts in the video, and it can be hard to soak it all in on the screen. If you want to take a closer look, we’ve included several of the charts below.

Please make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!

Crane Pro Race Dist

Crane Pro Race Distributor

Crane Pro Race vs Crane Fiber Optic

Crane Pro Race vs
Crane Fiber Optic

Pro Curve vs Pro Race

Crane Pro Curve vs
Crane Pro Race

Averages

Distributor Averages
Across Range