Improving performance has become customary for Steve Morris and the visionary engine builders at Steve Morris Engines. It usually goes something like this–a racer in search of more power makes the phone call, and the guys answer it with a solution.
In this case, that racer is Felix Mendoza. The engine was in need of some updates and upgrades, but was an older piece that Morris and his team determined was in need of quite a bit of improvement once the parts were laid out on the bench. It was touted as “ready for big power”, but that was not the case, from Morris’ experience. However, the team was ready, willing, and able to make the adjustments to the overall package to get it to come correct, as they say.
Those adjustments included updating Mendoza’s reverse-mounted, belt-drive old-school F-3R 139mm ProCharger supercharger with SME’s ProVolute system, which includes internal modifications to the blower as well as a new external bellmouth. The ProVolute system, which you’ll learn about in an upcoming article here on the site, is designed to improve horsepower by contouring the supercharger’s internals to provide better efficiency.
The 540 cubic inch engine uses one of Morris’ slick low-profile billet intake manifolds and a custom camshaft in conjunction with all of the valvetrain tricks they’ve developed over years of producing ultra-high-horsepower engines for their customers. When the engine arrived, it was using a converted tunnel-ram style intake that was nowhere near ideal for this engine configuration.
Morris-modified Profiler 12-degree Hitman cylinder heads are used on top.
Possibly the largest challenge to producing an engine that will thrive at elevated horsepower levels is valvetrain life, and Morris credits the progress learned through working with engines like Tom Bailey’s supercharged Sick 2.0 project and Steven Neimentas’ twin-turbo BBC as catalysts for this development.
Morris has also discovered what works in terms of piston design and ring pack in a boosted application. It’s our guess that hundreds of pistons and rings have been sacrificed on the SME dyno in order to pinpoint the correct dimensions for these components.
As this engine runs on methanol, an immense amount of fuel is required in order to supply the engine at full song. To that end, there’s an Enderle belt-drive pump and two sets of fuel injectors onboard–an octet of 160 lb./hr. units and then an additional set of 550 lb./hr. Precision squirters, all controlled by a Holley Dominator EFI system with individual SME coil packs for each cylinder.
The methanol fuel provides a number of benefits, chief among them the removal of an intercooler from the equation due to the fuel’s tendency to cool the chamber. Excess weight is also pulled out of the package–the cooler, the extra tubing to and from, and even the weight of the water all affect the performance of a racecar, and Mendoza will now be able to place the required weight in a more efficient location for performance.
“We maintain the proper air/fuel ratios and EGT readings,” says Morris. “The EGTs seem to be real critical in this methanol and ProCharged version. We see a different EGT temperature with the turbo stuff.”
Even with the dyno needle stopping at 2,720 horsepower and 1,964 pound-feet of torque, Morris feels there is still a tremendous amount of room for Mendoza to grow with this engine package. The engine was only run to 7,400 rpm, as there is simply no need to run it any higher in the RPM range; the moderate RPM levels will promote a long, healthy life in this application. More boost, an upgrade to a dry-sump oiling system, and other upgrades are possible in the future. We can see the dyno software displaying 3,000 horsepower already…