Before racing power steering, caster was utilized to help cars turn left. Manual steering provided great feel but required Popeye forearms to get through the corners. Many drivers of today might fall out of the seat if it were not for the utilization of advanced power steering systems. It is clear that many drivers have extended their careers due to the power assist.
Serpentine belt drive power steering pumps are more durable. Today's advanced power steering systems are a giant leap forward compared to designs of the past. These advanced systems increase horsepower by utilizing smaller light weight pulleys and lighter belts. Serpentine belts eliminate slippage that can occur in V-Belt systems. New advanced power steering packages maximize flow and are more efficient resulting in marked improvements on the horsepower dyno sheet.
Through technological advances, driver feel is optimized by advanced power steering systems and caster is now used as a chassis tuning tool. Steering effort relies on the precision built into the power steering system independent of chassis and caster settings.
Power steering pumps, and components, are precision instruments that are built with the latest manufacturing technology. Close tolerances are a requirement for power steering systems to perform. To sort through the intricate details, and variety of power steering application options, we sought out racing power steering experts CJ Jones of Jones Racing Products and Michael Deppa of KRC Power Steering. Both companies utilize advanced power steering systems. The differing philosophies of these manufacturers offer racers a variety of successful power steering package choices.
What are the recent advancements made relating to racing power steering systems?
Coil bind set ups, wide soft compound tires, high amounts of caster and fast steering boxes place more demand on the power steering system. Faster racks, small ratio steering boxes or quicker steering boxes often require more volume feeding the servo. Aggressive front end geometry and high banked tracks can place high amounts of load on the wheels. Faster rack-and-pinions require more volume to fill the slave cylinder due to the quicker cylinder stroke. Manufacturing advancements allow for managed pressure relief settings, in the pump, even at the high pressure.
Pavement late models, on semi-banked tracks, often create around 600 PSI of pressure in the middle of the corner, while Modifieds at Bristol create 1500 PSI – Dirt cars can see the same 1500 PSI. Hardware has changed to meet the new pressure challenges and changeable flow valves allow pump volume to be adjusted throughout a large range for precision tuning in varying applications.
Through research and testing, our team discovered that power steering pump performance relied on building systems with a solid foundation which allows the pump’s internals to provide excellent fluid control, pressure and flow curves along a wide RPM range. . Machined CNC Aluminum construction, manufactured with exacting tolerances, provides the rigid platform required for the best performance. A solid foundation allows the internal pump components, and flow controls, to provide optimal fluid management and pressure stability. Fluid flow curves, throughout the RPM range, can be specifically tailored due to the rigidity engineered into the CNC machined housing.
Our extensive testing illustrated that matching pumps with integrated fluid reservoirs created optional solutions for the racing market. An integrated fluid reservoir simplifies installation and is more cost effective. Removing the remote tank eliminates four fittings and two hoses. Overall system performance is enhanced, and restriction is reduced, due to the elimination of unnecessary hoses and fittings. Integration ensures fluid feed, at the source, providing advantages as compared to remote reservoir designs. The performance of the entire system is enhanced; there is never a possibility of the pump struggling to get fluid from the remote tank source.
Integrated Reservoir Tank
An integrated reservoir tank eliminates hoses and fittings increasing flow characteristics. With the tank mounted right at the pump fluid is ready available to feed the pump reducing cavitation.
Explain your thoughts on power steering fluid.
We tested all the available fluids and our group felt improvements could be made by producing a synthetic fluid designed for the racing market. Synthetic handles extreme temperatures nicely resulting in steering consistency throughout the fluid temperature range. A confident steering feel, from race start to finish, is obtained due to the performance of our proprietary synthetic fluid. Foam free and crystal clear synthetic fluid eliminates cavitation during full operating temperature even on long green flag runs.
Clear power steering fluid helps the team to keep a watchful eye on the stability of the system with just a quick glance at the fluid itself. Racers are able to spot any type of contamination in the fluid, helping to catch any problems with the rack, steering box or hoses. Catching one of these problems will protect the rest of the system.
Weekly fluid inspection should be standard practice and a complete flush and fluid change is recommended 2 to 3 times a year. If you run more than once a week, or often run in long events, then increasing the fluid change schedule is recommended. Racers should adapt their schedule based on their usage but 1500 to 2000 laps is a reasonable guide for synthetic fluid replacement based on type schedule. Contaminated, debris filled or burnt fluid should be replaced immediately.
Utilizing Clear Fluid
Whether you choose a full synthetic fluid or a petroleum based fluid, utilizing clear fluid provides the opportunity for system checks with a quick glance. Clear fluid that is discolored gives teams a heads up in identifying potential problems in the power steering system. Hose issues or other problems are quickly resolved when clear fluid suddenly becomes discolored. Purchasing small bottles for top offs and large bottles for full system fills ensures efficient use of your fluid.
We like petroleum based fluid as it is incompressible and safe for internal system components. Low viscosity petroleum based fluids flow through the passages of the pump with a constant density through pressure change. Petroleum based fluids cool nicely and are readily available. Fluid issues, such as boiling, give racers an opportunity to inspect the entire system. Corrections can be made right at the problem source that is creating the fluid boiling point.
Pavement cars sealed off tighter for aerodynamic purposes may benefit from a cooler. Lower fluid temperatures provide fluid integrity but generally a cooler is not mandatory. If a cooler is used, the best place to mount a cooler is in front of the radiator so the ducting forces the clean cool air through the cooler.
We recommend the fluid be changed roughly two to three times a year in most racing applications, but it should be changed immediately, along with a thorough flush, if the fluid is discolored or smells burnt. It also should be changed more often if you race more than once a week on a regular basis. Before every race we recommend checking the power steering fluid level. Using clear fluid as a diagnostic tool makes it simple to spot problems and discoloration.
Other weekly maintenance includes checking your belts and pulleys for wear, checking belt tension, clearing pulleys of debris, and inspecting your hoses and fittings for any leaks.
How do you determine pulley sizes for power steering systems?
For racing applications you should ensure you do not over spin pumps at RPM levels above the pump rating. Special caution should be utilized with an OEM pump to avoid excessive RPM. Manufacturing pumps, specifically for racing, allows for increased RPM’s in the 9000 range.
To determine the correct power steering pump pulley size, you should consider that most constant flow vane-style power steering pumps achieve maximum flow rate at 1500 RPM at the pump. A well designed pump will flow at a constant rate from 1500 RPM of pump speed on up. Over spinning the pump will not increase the flow rate of the pump. We recommend turning our pumps, on most engine set-ups, at around 4,000 to 5,000 RPM of pump speed. In some instances, such as dry-sump mounted pumps, the pump may not be spinning fast enough at low engine RPMs to get maximum flow out of the pump. This may cause the steering to feel tight in the pits. The key is to make sure the best feel is found at race speeds. Racers can go online for the pulley RPM formula or consult or techs for specific information to ensure all variables are taken into account.
We recommend that racers identify power steering, pulleys and mounting hardware based on the engine RPM range and the accessories on their car. Power steering pulley size is used to fine tune the pump speed for optimal pressure and flow curves. Ensuring a cool running pump, that is mounted properly, is obtained by utilizing the vast array of configurations available. A call to our techs can help teams to achieve the best system for their application. Equal effort can be placed in improving existing systems for maximum performance even if a team is enhancing their existing system verses starting from scratch. Regardless of the scenario, expert tech support can make dramatic improvements in power steering performance.
Why are serpentine belt systems better?
Serpentine belts are capable of withstanding higher RPM’s without the belt stretch that can be seen with V-Belt systems. V-belt stretch causes slippage and rapid pulley wear. The Serpentine belt structure requires less material, thus the belt itself is lighter. Serpentine belts provide greater grip to the pulley allowing smaller pulleys to be used. Pulleys can be made in smaller diameters reducing rotating weight adding horsepower and acceleration. With appropriate tension, Serpentine belts last longer and coupled with smaller pulleys the long term cost savings are significant.
We searched for alternatives to V-belts over 30 years ago and found serpentine systems improved the drive of accessories at optimal RPM. Serpentine pulleys offer multiple light weight ratios that are more reliable at the high RPM found in racing. The variety of pulley options reduces belt induced horsepower loss. The serpentine concept increases reliability and is a superior alternative to V-Belt designs. Serpentine reliability and longevity are a dramatic improvement over V-Belt systems.
How do you determine the correct pump for a given application?
A major consideration is identifying how the pump is to be mounted. Will the belt drive be on the front of the engine or off the bell-housing? Will the power steering pump drive off the dry sump pump or cam shaft? Once the pump is mounted, the last step is to fine tune the pumps flow rate to the application. Standard flow rates work in a majority of applications but differences in rack-and-pinions, steering boxes or steering gears may require simple flow valve changes to optimize the flow rate to the steering system. 1600psi of pressure relief is the highest safe rating we recommend. We can adjust the relief valve from 1000-1600psi. Other considerations relate to the tank – will it be pump mounted or remotely mounted?
Power Steering Pump
Power Steering Pump manufacturers have developed a variety of mounting options to suit nearly any application. Consulting your power steering company of choice will provide you with many problem solving mounting options.
Explain the advantages of a pump designed for racing as compared to past or stock designs?
GM Saginaw pumps are built for mass production with low cost at the major factor.
Designing a racing pump from the ground up allowed for input from industry expert Tony Woodward. The evolution of pumps specifically designed for racing allows for the use of superior materials and very tight tolerances. Diameters can be held to tolerances of 1 micron. Honing and hard coat processes create longer lasting better performing pumps that go beyond the technical abilities of a stock Saginaw style pump. Improved manufacturing processes provide greater power assist when you need it. Efficiency improvements result in temperature drops of 30 degrees or more illustrating the advances of modern technology.
Power Steering Pump
A power steering pump designed specifically for racing applications reduces fluid temperatures and increases performance resulting in a smooth steering package.
What other power steering system knowledge would you like to pass on to readers?
Most steering issues we come across on a daily basis are due to plumbing issues. The feed line for remote systems should be no longer than three feet and should be a hose designed specifically for power steering with the correct vacuum rating. Push-lock and braided-stainless hose will not work for a power steering system. Once hot, if oil is pumped through these non rated lines, they can soften and will more easily be sucked shut, starving the pump of fluid.
Remote tanks should be mounted above the pump and care should be taken to ensure the line is insulated from header heat. If the line is routed below the pump, and then enters the pump from above, it can create air pockets in the line creating steering with hard spots and inconsistency.
We check the fluid level with the engine off. Care should be used to prime and bleed the air from the system. Primed and bled properly - the fluid level should not change once the engine is turned on, unless there is a leak in the system. The fluid level should be well above the return line where it enters the side of the tank. If the fluid level is not above the return port, excessive fluid aeration will lead to cavitation.
Dyno testing each power steering pump, to verify and document flow and pressure characteristics, improves on track performance allowing for specific tuning for individual drivers. Dyno testing is something we feel very strongly about and we believe every pump should be run on a specialized pump dyno. Continual improvement processes are enhanced through the rigorous daily dyno testing.
Serialization allows baseline numbers to be matched so that Saturday night short track racers, or Super Speedway Cup stars, can maintain the steering feel that is best for their situation utilizing years of technical support experience. Storing documentation allows drivers to repeat the feel desired from the steering system for future needs.
Serializing pumps allows for storage of information that can be pulled up for baseline comparison at anytime.
Utilizing the correct steering wheel size will help your driver to be fresh at the end. Larger diameters reduce back pain and find the correct "feel" is very driver specific. One driver likes the slightly slower and smoother performance of a large wheel and other drivers like the quick reactions of a small wheel. Small wheels can make it more difficult for drivers to be smooth. Working to find the optimal size for each driver is another tool that can make your stopwatch produce smaller numbers.
Power Steering Wheel
Using a top quality steering wheel gives the driver maximum feel and feedback. Quality steering wheels are round where as knock off wheels can be oblong creating an erratic feel. Mounting your steering wheel as close to your chest as possible reduces back strain. The best steering pad available should be a must have item for any team.
Quality power steering systems provide excellent feel and keep drivers up on the wheel for the entire race – there is no need to “ride” to conserve driver energy. Running hard every lap is possible due to the design of a good steering system. To maximize feel, your steering shaft should be mounted solidly with the steering wheel located in a comfortable position.
A rigid steering column mounting system gives your driver reliable and consistent steering feedback. Steering columns that flex or have bent steering shafts create unpredictable steering motions. Using the proper mounting hardware is an easy way to ensure your advanced power steering components are fully utilized.
Mounting the wheel as close to the chest as is reasonable allows more leverage to be applied to the steering system and back strain is reduced. Proper positioning gives the driver more power in the turns they can stay in the seat for the entire race. A racing steering wheel should be paired with a precision machined steering wheel quick disconnect. Close tolerance splines connect providing the safety of a quick release system..
Steering Wheel Disconnects
Steering wheel disconnects are a must have safety item. Tight splines transfer feel from the tires directly to your driver for enhanced feel. There are many quick disconnects to chose from and this is an area where the old saying "you get what you pay for" applies.
Each track, car type and driver style presents many variables. Today’s power steering system manufacturers have the resources to offer the correct hardware to maximize the potential of nearly any car. Smooth and dependable steering feel, with proper power assist, promotes better feedback to help drivers dial in set ups. Drivers can utilize the power assist to go the distance better than ever before and taking the time to work with your power steering supplier will help your team to easily turn into victory lane.
Keeping It Cool
As cars go faster, air openings feed engines with an ever decreasing amount of air. Watching Bobby Allison slide his Penske Matador through the turns on a half mile or at Daytona was cool – the engine had plenty of air for cooling and the Matador nose could double as a snow plow during a heavy Michigan winter. In those days, the front opening on the car was so big you could use a racecar grill for a BBQ cook top that would hold enough steaks to feed the entire...
Adjustable Radiator Mounting Brackets
Adjustable radiator mounting brackets allow for quick experimentation. The roll bar clamp on brackets lets teams adjust the mounting angle quickly. Down force and radiator surface area can be optimized in seconds. Over time, teams can identify the optimal mounting position utilizing hardware that is designed to promote easy adjustment.
Going back in time, stock cars were built to bump, grind and to slide around - aero down force was reserved for Formula 1 and Indy. Dents in the fenders had little effect on speed. Today, an 1/8” variation on a stock car front fender width can take the car from loose to an aero push with the slightest of bumps. Grill of today perform only one hot dog at a time.
A Penske Matador, with an Allison at the wheel, could actually use muscle to power on to victory lane. Cars that rely down force are required to baby their way around the track and the grill opening feeds a finely metered amount of air to the radiator. While old school was more fun, it seems we are stuck with finding more aero advantage and driver muscle is reserved for Sharpie’s and autograph lines.
Since it seems unlikely that stock car grills will be coming out of ’55 Chevy’s anytime soon, teams face the challenge of keeping the engine at optimal operating temperature while maintaining an anorexic grill opening. The optimal grill shape - thin with nothing other than well placed tape directs air precisely. You would think stock cars were getting ready for the Red Carpet and Hollywood Paparazzi verses lining up for the starting grid.
When it comes to the coolant system, proper radiator mounting is an area where cooling can be maximized and speed can be gained. From experience, with plenty of room for debate depending on the car type and track, 7 degrees of forward mounting angle at the top of the radiator increases the radiator surface area while producing additional front down force. Air ducting from the grill opening needs to be tightly sealed and shaped properly to provide maximum cool air while traveling through a minimum space.
Radiator duct panels should be wide and flat (nearly parallel to the ground) at the bottom. Extending the bottom panel of the radiator duct work out at the nose piece is a “semi-legal cheat” that helps seal the nose area of the car with a “belly pan” that is disguised as radiator duct work.
Often, teams build the grill duct work the same width as the radiator. By extending the width of the bottom panel at the front of the car, you can gain some down force by using the bottom sheet metal radiator duct panel, at the nose piece, wider than the radiator. The duct work sides can still seal at the grill opening extending back to the radiator. Proper radiator duct shape enhances air movement for efficient cooling. “Stretching” the bottom panel outside of the grill width gains you a few inches of belly pan and it is likely that it won’t be noticed by the competition and often gets through tech without issue.
At the nose, the top panel of the radiator duct work should start nearly parallel to the ground with a few degrees of upward angle for the first 6” or so to reduce lift. The top panel transition, after the first 6” or so, should smoothly round up to the top of the radiator producing maximum cooling while producing extra down force. Working the ducting shape in your favor can provide for better down force numbers while improving cooling efficiency.
Since reliance on aero for handling is here to stay, then teams must find ways to manage consistent and controllable engine temperatures while striving for the minimum front end air opening. A variety of options are available to keep things cool in the heat of battle. Like all things in racing, finding many small areas of advantage works much better than hoping for a fix that comes from a single magic source.
IR pyrometers can help teams to identify hot spots providing an opportunity to direct air through duct work to critical areas in the cooling system. Isolating potential hot spots with an IR pyrometer can display areas where more air flow or improved radiator duct shapes will help to drop water temperatures.
An Infrared Pyrometer can be utilized to instantly measure cooling system adjustments. As teams experiment with their coolant system efforts, the IR pyrometer can be used to spot check multiple system locations with precision. Improvements can be recorded and experiments that have a detrimental effect can be quickly rectified by taking multiple measurements with an IR pyrometer.
When experimenting with radiator ducting shapes an IR pyrometer can help you determine if you are making gains. Assuming you are at the same track, with the same outside ambient temperature, you can take an IR reading on piece of sheet metal that is temporarily mounted behind the radiator and in front of the engine. The is plenty of room for error with this method but, if you can repeat the number of laps, time it takes to get to the car, outside air temps and as many variables as possible then you can find improvements over time by taking an IR reading on your test sheet metal and compare temperature changes based on the changes you make.
Examples of cut and try items for improved cooling are radiator mounting angle, radiator duct shapes, grill tape and more. Since short track racers have limited engineering and testing time of Cup teams, it may take weeks to learn which experiments are producing positive results. Still, gains can be found if you are willing to cut and try and spend more time than your competition.
Freeze plug adaptors allow racers to tap the water system, changing flow as needed. With the right hardware water flow can be managed to meet any requirement.
Quality water temperature gauges will provide you great information relating to the average temperature of your coolant. If the IR pyrometer helps you to identify a hot spot in the engine compartment then directing air precisely can help to lower the overall under hood temperature created by outside forces. Saving money on a water temp gauge may seem like a good idea but to produce long lasting horsepower your team must work with your engine builder to identify operating temperatures that produce maximum horsepower. Accuracy is needed to monitor temps to create the ultimate horsepower available.
Locating your water temp gauge probe in the ideal position can help your team to find the “ideal” measuring location. Temperature Tee’s can be installed in line in selected water hoses helping you to measure how your innovative ideas relating to water temperature are performing. For testing purposes, more than one water temp gauge can be installed and your team can use multiple Temp Tee fittings in line on various hoses. Multiple water temp gauges can be used for testing so your team can get take measurements of the water system at critical locations. By checking your water temps in strategic locations, your team can visually see how water treatment ideas are working out.
Temperature Tee';s come in a variety of line sizes and allow water temp gauge probes to be located in nearly any location in the cooling system. Successful teams experiment by connecting multiple Temperature Tee';s in several locations. Using multiple water temp gauges at key system locations can help you to sort out coolant system issues.
Some engine builders route engine water to manage temperatures at precise locations. Freeze plug adaptors provide easy access to tap into the water system and hoses can be easily installed to route water as needed.
Coolant additives can help the longevity of your cooling system components. Anti corrosives and lubricating properties can be a big benefit and even save money over the long haul. Water cooling claims made by additive manufactures should be considered by each customer and their specific needs – a well designed system is needed and simply pouring in an additive will do little to fix a system that is designed poorly.
Ported Water Outlet fittings, at the intake manifold, are another area where the coolant system can be easily tapped to improve water flow. Adding a Thermo Spacer provides a clean mounting location for water temp senders right at the engine intake – temps taken as water enters your engine provide a great way to verify if your water cooling efforts are headed in the right direction. The additional ports, in Ported Water Outlet Fittings, allow racers to direct water flow to meet nearly any requirement.
Ported Water Outlet
Ported Water Outlet fittings can be located right at the intake manifold and are a reliable place to monitor cooling system improvements. Extra ports allow for a quick tap of the water system to directing needed coolant in a simple fashion. An O-ring seal ensures that your system stays water tight.
On cool nights, more grill tape may be needed to get your engine up to operating temp. Heat is horsepower and I can think of many early spring nights where the grill opening was nearly sealed off completely. The added front down force made the car faster as long the corresponding amount of rear down force was added. Down force nearly always wins out over aero drag on short tracks.
Water Expansion Tank with a Billet Cap Flange
A water expansion tank with a Billet Cap Flange has the muscle to perform. Utilizing high pressure lines and quality water coolant components allows teams to run maximum cap pressures. A Billet cap connections ensures a perfect seal as compared to stamped aluminum cap flanges that can fail under pressure.
Optimizing horsepower, by keeping the water temperature in heat range that creates the most horsepower, is managed on a race by race basis. Tape, jetting, fans and the like are tailored based on the conditions that vary each week – sometimes each hour.
A Thermo Spacer, used at the intake manifold, provides easy access to the water system. Creativity can be maximized while maintaining a clean and professional installation. O-Rings keep the water in your engine so your team can focus on making more power.
Competition gets tougher every week and teams that strive to find the smallest gains win more often. I deal with Cup teams that have custom parts made that save only 1 gram of weight. As short track racers, we often think of saving pounds at a time. Cup teams use the finest resolution possible and think in terms of saving a single gram. Over time, the single grams saved pile up and the result is a car that is as light as possible. The same philosophy applies to the cooling system. The teams that strive to explore cooling system improvements will beat the heat and their teams will run consistently hot.
Oil Flow to Go
Engines are expensive. Helping them last is important for every race team and finding extra horsepower is always a gift that keeps on giving. For horsepower and longevity, the oil system pumps black gold through the veins of your car while facing extremely demanding conditions. Dry sump pumps are the heart of many race engines and understanding a few basics will allow the heart of your car to extend the life of your engine while maximizing power.
Remote Oil Filter Mount
A Remote Oil Filter Mount allows teams to locate the oil filter nearly anywhere. A mount that rotates will compensate for bars that run on an angle so you can keep the filter level.
AC Nutter is an engine builder that builds high horsepower engines that have won numerous championships. AC has earned his reputation as a top builder through hard work and self learned creativity. Nutter engines include many ideas developed by AC through his years of hands on experience with top race teams. To support his Nutter engines, AC felt he could help his teams by designing and manufacturing his own dry sump pumps. The combination of being an engine builder and a pump manufacture gives him a unique perspective in understanding how to feed engines with oil properly.
What are your thoughts on a dry sump venting system?
With a dry sump, the vent system must be designed to allow the engine to breath. A proper vent system prevents leaks and keeps precious oil in the car. Too often, tracks are oiled down due to venting system problems. With a three stage pump, it is a good idea to vent the engine valve covers along with the oil tank. You can use breathers on the valve covers or run a line from the valve cover to the tank and use the same vent for both the engine and the dry sump tank. I agree with AC and from my experience vent systems experience less trouble when you run a #12 line from the valve cover back to the tank and let the system breath with a vent back at the dry sump tank.
Valve Cover Breather
If you need to vent your engine at the valve cover, a breather kit can easily be welded at a location that allows teams to install the engine without impacting chassis bars.
With a 4 stage dry sump pump, only the tank needs to be vented due to the added vacuum created by the additional stage. Utilizing a small baffled breather tank, with a vent on the top, nearly eliminates venting issues. Be sure to mount the breather tank as high as possible and as far to the left as you can. Connect the dry sump tank to your breather with quality hose. G force will help force oil that collects in the vent tank back down into the dry sump tank. With the breather tank mounted high, there is enough line length to allow gravity to keep the line clear so air can pass through easily. Be sure to avoid any droops in the vent hose to prevent oil from pooling in a low spot. Pooled up oil in a line can prevent the block the vent creating an oil mess that can potentially take you out of a race.
Oil Filter Cutter
A good Oil Filter Cutter allows you to quickly cut open paper style filters. A quick inspection allows teams to find particles and debris that may indicate a serious engine problem. Paper filters are excellent at filtering out fine particles and are often used in conjucntion with cleanable mesh style filters.
With a dry sump – what do you recommend for line sizes?
The line size question is a big one with many variables and lots of diffenent answers. The most common system would be #12 lines from the pan to the pump. #12 is used to feed oil to the engine with a #16 line to provide a free flow of oil to the tank. Often, I think a #10 line from the pan to the pump is a better way as it provides more overall vacuum and improved performance.
How many stages do you need in a dry sump pump?
My first answer is to let your engine builder decide. Most engines that require a dry sump are in the high end category and your engine builder will understand all the variables that apply to your type of racing. Rules come into play as well and an experienced engine builder can design a dry sump package that meets the needs or your rules, race series and budget. On the surface, this seems like an easy question but there is much to consider and your engine builder will have a philosophy that creates an oiling system that meets the needs of your engine package and series requirements.
Three Stage Pump
A three stage pump supplies ample oil to the engine. A four stage pump creates more vacuum. The added vacuum moves oil away from the rotating crankshaft assembly, producing more horsepower.
For a general answer, a three stage dry sump system works as well as a four stage system when it comes to prolonging engine life. 3 stages are plenty adequate to provide a steady supply of fresh oil to the engine. 3 stages obviously saves cost over additional stages as the pump cost is less and the car plumbing is simplified. Your team saves the work and the expense of added lines and AN fittings – those things add up in the cost column.
However, four or more stages will create more horsepower. 3 stages supply oil to your engine just fine – the added stages create vacuum in the oil pan and crank case area. Vacuum causes the oil to lie down in the pan to be efficiently picked up by the dry sump pump scavenging system. With the excess oil pulled down in the pan, oil is not picked up by the rotating crank and rods that spin at high RPM. Reducing the amount of oil that gets wrapped around the rotating assembly, results in horsepower gains. The engine can simply spin more freely.
Oil splashing around the pan and onto the rotating assembly robs horsepower. A fourth dry sump stage creates vacuum and reduces the amount of oil that splashes around inside your engine allowing the rotating assembly to rotate freely. Oil is thick and viscous. If the crank assembly has to beat its way through a pig pool of oil it will have to work harder. The beating action reduces oil life and can cause unwanted foaming. Basically, it is easier to walk down the street than it is to walk neck deep in a swimming pool. By removing oil from the pan, by utilizing vacuum created by the dry sump pump, you will find gains in horsepower. In our testing, we have found as much as 12 additional horsepower with a 4 stage dry sump pump as the rotating assembly can spin without having to fight through a pool of oil in the bottom of the pan.
Creating 8 to 12 inches of vacuum is all that is required to keep the rotating assembly free of excess oil. If your engine runs low tension oil rings you might need 18 inches of vacuum, or more, to keep oil away from the rotating assembly. Your engine builder can assist in making decisions. Something as simple as changing oil ring tension has an effect on the dry sump pump system and the vacuum needs are completely different depending on the ring design you run. Customers will experience less engine trouble if they recognize that a high performance engine is a package and even small changes can be interrelated – one thing affects another and each change needs to be thought completely through.
What do you consider in a dry sump system?
When using dry sump pumps you need to consider the entire oil system. Just a few considerations are dry sump reserve tank size, vent tank type and size, number of stages needed, plumbing line sizes and more. Pan design is a very important element. When it comes to oil pan designs, you want to use a pan that is as wide and deep as possible.
Dry Sump Breather Tank
A Dry Sump Breather Tank should be mounted high so oil can easily flow back to the tank. Lines should be routed free of droops so oil can';t pool up and plug the venting system. This tank has a drain valve in the bottom so teams can verify that oil is not backing up in the oil system.
Scavenge filtering and engine oil filters must be considered. I prefer oil filters without a bypass. The dry sump pump mounting and drive system varies from car to car and choices must be made that ensure that your dry sump pump is mounted securely with a drive system that will perform 100% of the time. Nearly every dry sump pump on the market is of good quality. I recommend that teams purchase what they can afford and design an overall system that mates up with their rules while placing emphasis on their individual budget. It does little good to install a system that you can’t afford to maintain. In general, the more you spend on a dry sump pump then the more expensive it is going to be to maintain.
What to your recommend for oil filtering?
Paper filters clean oil just fine. Cleanable filters provide the added benefit of allowing you to easily check your engine for debris. Early identification of particles in the filter can save big money on repairs. I like a 60 micron filter with no bypass. If the filter plugs, the oil pressure will drop and your gauge will warn you that there is a problem. The same warning gauge has no way of telling you that dirt is going through the engine so a bypass is a not something I use on my engines.
For the scavenge filter I like a 60 micron filter for the initial start up on a new engine. After a proper warm up, I install a 100 micron scavenge filter before he car goes out on the track.
What about dry sump servicing?
Anytime you freshen or repair the engine you should service the pump. Dry sump pumps are designed so that there is not much that goes wrong. Basically, go through the pump whenever you go through the engine so that you can make sure that the pump was not damaged by a past engine problem. If you have just freshened your engine, then of course you want to protect your investment by ensuring the pump is up to spec.
What about engine oil?
One thing I believe in is that on most engines I like to use thin oils. You should certainly consult with your engine builder but, for my stuff 20 weight oil is most common and 30 weight is the absolute maximum.
By thinking out your dry sump system, you can increase your engine life and find more horsepower. The investment pays off in less rebuilds and improved performance. If your rules allow it then a dry sump pump is highly recommended. Quality oil can be thin and a vent system that supplies clean air to your engine will help your car to flow straight to the front.