Vortech V3 Supercharger Review - V To The 3
Vortech's Internally Lubricated V-3 Superchargers
From the October, 2008 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Richard Holdener
Vortech Has just made it even...
Vortech Has just made it even easier for Mustang owners to abuse the asphalt. The new internally lubricated V3 supercharger eliminates the need to punch a drain hole in the oil pan.
In The beginning (of the late-model musclecar era, that is), there was the 5.0L Mustang, and it was good. Enthusiasts rejoiced at once again being able to own a real musclecar, something that offered both performance and affordability. This came a decade after the original musclecar era, and no one knew how long this second coming would last.
Amazingly, some 20 years later, it's still going strong, as the Mustang, Challenger, and soon the Camaro will do battle once again. To fully appreciate the performance cars of today, however, we have to look back at a time when things weren't so rosy. Before the advent of the 5.0 Mustang, American muscle was in a bit of a slump. Most 0- to 60-mph times could be registered in double digits. That all changed with the advent of the fuelie 5.0, but, being enthusiasts, we wanted more performance. Soon after the 5.0 was introduced, the aftermarket jumped on the bandwagon and started offering performance upgrades. It wasn't long before a now-familiar face entered the fray, and we all started running around with force-fed 5.0s.
Back in the day, the blower wars were waged between Paxton and Vortech. Eventually, the two juggernauts joined forces to provide customers with a wide variety of different supercharger options. One of the advantages offered by the early Paxton superchargers was the ability to install its system without having to drill a hole in the oil pan to serve as an oil return from the supercharger. Paxton originated the often-labeled "self-contained" supercharger with a planetary drive system that required no external lubrication source.
Though beneficial from an installation standpoint, the planetary-drive transmission actually limited impeller speed, and therefore boost and power potential. In the quest for more power, many enthusiasts installed external circulation pumps and heat exchangers to help cool these early self-contained Paxton superchargers, but the planetary drive system ultimately limited power production.
To cure this, Vortech stepped in and revolutionized the forced-induction industry by offering a gear-driven transmission that eliminated the heat buildup associated with a planetary-drive system. The gear-driven Vortech supercharger promised and delivered not only greater power potential, but also exceptional reliability. When removed from the author's '88 LX Mustang at 85,000 miles, Serial No. 001 Vortech was still pumping out some serious boost and power, despite being configured only as a lowly B-Trim (upgraded from its original A-Trim status). On seven different occasions (Silver State open-road races) the blower was subjected to over 30 minutes of wide-open throttle. Running your blower at the dragstrip or even on the street simply can't compare to subjecting it to full throttle for 30 minutes straight. Naturally, the blower was subjected to all kinds of street abuse (I was up for racing anything at any time with that car) and untold dyno testing-both chassis and engine-not to mention top-speed shootouts, open-track competitions, and even running a number of races in both the Bridgestone Supercar and SCCA World Challenge series. We oversped, overboosted, and overused the Vortech blower at every occasion, and never once did it so much as complain.
The big news can be found...
The big news can be found inside the new superchargers. Just having an oil reservoir isn't enough, as careful attention to oil management is critical on an internally lubricated supercharger. Note the intricate fences (much like kick-outs on an oil pan) that keep oil from centrifuging away from bearings.
To Maintain the high level...
To Maintain the high level of quality Vortech has become famous for, the company retained the bearing assemblies employed on the externally lubricated superchargers. Years of R&D and thousands of happy customers have more than proven the design.
The Internally lubricated...
The Internally lubricated design features an internal oil slinger to properly direct the oil, but note that it's incorporated into the shaft and small drive-gear assembly.
In fact, the only complaint you're likely to run across with the Vortech gear-driven system is the need to punch a hole in the oil pan to serve as a drain system. The drain system is necessary because the gear-driven transmission requires lubrication. Much like the T5, T45, or T56 transmission in your Mustang, the internal gears must be provided lubrication to cool the heat generated by the frictional forces. Without the lubrication, the drive gears would soon destroy themselves. The oil for lubrication is supplied by a high-pressure feed line, but the downside to this system is that the lubrication oil supplied to the gears must be allowed out of the supercharger. Obviously, the ideal place to run this engine oil is back into the oil pan, thus a hole must be punched (drilled or welded) in the pan to complete the drain system. Having cut my teeth on the 5.0 Mustangs, knocking a hole in the pan seemed a small price to pay for all that wonderful and reliable boost. There are, however, many who don't share this philosophy. For those looking for all the reliability and performance promised by the Vortech name, combined with ease of installation, the company has just introduced its new line of V-3 superchargers.
Though Vortech has been in it to win it since the early days of the 5.0, the new V-3 supercharger shows it's not content to simply sit back and rest on previous success. The highlight of the V-3 supercharger is the internally lubricated transmission. What this means is that the new V-3 has combined the best of the gear-driven supercharger originally introduced to the industry by Vortech with the self-contained oiling system of the original Paxton supercharger. Basically, the new V-3 provides the unmatched performance and reliability you've come to associate with the original gear-driven Vortech with the ease of installation offered by the original planetary-drive Paxton. The great thing about the V-3 is that the new, internally lubricated transmission does not sacrifice any reliability. This obviously took a great deal of research and development on the part of Vortech, but the results were well worth the effort. Additional features on the V-3 included a helical gear design with a 3.6:1 internal step ratio. This internal step ratio is combined with the external ratio created by the crank and blower pulley to accelerate the impeller relative to engine speed. Using a common 2:1 ratio offered by the crank and blower pulley, this provides a total drive ratio of 7.2:1 or an impeller speed of over 46,000 rpm at an engine speed of 6,500 rpm.
One Of the great things about...
One Of the great things about the new internally lubricated transmission is that it has been applied to a number of different Vortech superchargers, including the Si, the SC, and the T-Trims. This means that a wide variety of both complete and tuner kits are available with the new internally lubricated V3 supercharger.
To further the ease of installation, the new internally lubricated V-3 can be installed into any existing V-1, V-2, V-4, or V-7 bracketry. The V-3 can be configured in a number of different trims, including Si, SC, and T, to meet specific power and boost requirements. Man, we would've killed to have an internally lubricated T-Trim on a 5.0 back in the day.
Naturally, an internally lubricated transmission requires dedicated oil-simple motor oil won't suffice for this drive system. Vortech performed extensive durability and temperature testing on both the dyno and in the real world before selecting the ideal synthetic fluid that allowed the company to retain their existing bearing and gear assemblies without any reduction in reliability. (After all, Vortech may have some idiot try to run a V-3 blower in a Mustang at wide-open throttle for 30 minutes straight.) The synthetic fluid was but one hurdle to overcome, as proper delivery to the internal gears and bearings was every bit as important. Proper distribution (and control) was accomplished through a combination of integrated gear-case baffling and a simple, but elegant, oil-slinger design. The oil slinger designed by Vortech for the V-3 didn't require a separate shaft or bearing set, but ensured proper fluid delivery. Another critical design feature was the use of a ventilated gear case. Much like the PCV system on your engine, the ventilated case eliminates internal pressure issues associated with nonventilated cases.
Need More attention to detail?...
Need More attention to detail? Check out this slick, steel-braided drain line. Since the internally lubricated design requires maintenance, such as oil changes, Vortech included this drain system so the blower doesn't have to be removed for servicing. It's touches like this that make for happy customers well after their original purchase.
Another Nice touch is the...
Another Nice touch is the dipstick that is provided to allow customers to check the oil level. The dipstick can be inserted in a number of different locations which allow variations in the orientation (clocking) of the supercharger.
What Better way to demonstrate...
What Better way to demonstrate the potential of the new V-3 (internally lubricated) supercharger than to install it on a new Bullit?
Not Only did Vortech install...
Not Only did Vortech install its new V3 supercharger on the Bullit, it even decided to give us a crack at the new V-Power, its ultra-high-output Mustang GT system.
Since Vortech went to such great lengths to ensure proper internal oil control of the new internally lubricated transmissions, it takes further precautions by shipping all of the V-3 superchargers prefilled. The fluid level is every bit as important as the fluid chosen or the delivery system, as insufficient fluid can limit lubrication while excess fluid can cause windage issues (just like in the crankcase of your motor). The V-3 superchargers not only come prefilled to the optimum level, but each kit includes sufficient fluid for three additional fluid changes. To facilitate the necessary fluid changes, Vortech includes both an integrated dipstick to keep the fluid at the optimum level and a unique drain system that eliminates the need to remove the blower for fluid changes. The V-3 blower casing comes with two different positions for the dipstick, depending on the orientation of the blower. These positions ensure accurate level information. The fact that Vortech cares about its customers well beyond the initial sales is indicated in the fact that the company designed a drain system for the V-3 blower that eliminates the need to remove the blower for fluid changes. The drain system featured a fitting and length of braided steel line that allowed fluid to be directed to a suitable catch can without spilling all over the area directly below the supercharger
As excited as we were about the new V-3 line of superchargers, we were equally excited to see one of the new blowers installed on a brand-new Bullitt Mustang. In fact, not only was the Bullitt equipped with a new V-3 internally lubricated supercharger, but the Mustang was equipped with a new V-Power Ultra H.O. system. What is the V-Power system, you ask?
Changes TO the V-Power kit,...
Changes TO the V-Power kit, from the already impressive standard supercharger kit, included a larger Maxflow air-to-water intercooler. Nothing beats an air-to-water system for dropping those all-important inlet air temps. In addition to the additional cooling provided by the larger core, the new Maxflow cooler also reduced the pressure drop across the core to increase the boost pressure to the motor.
Essentially the V-Power system is a boost and intercooler upgrade for the '05-up 4.6L Mustangs that improves the flywheel power output of the stock 300hp GT motor to something near 480 hp. The power gains are impressive enough, but especially when you consider that they came on 91-octane pump gas using a stock 4.6 GT motor. This particular installation featured the V-3 Si-Trim blower. The V-Power upgrade consisted of a blower pulley change to increase the boost pressure from a peak of 9 psi to 11 psi. Keeping the extra boost cool and minimizing pressure drop was a larger air-to-water intercooler. Given the general lack of space in the engine bay, it's impressive that Vortech was able to fit anything larger than the standard cooler, but when it comes to supercharging, cooler is always better.
While the boost and intercooler upgrade were responsible for the majority of the extra power offered by the new V-Power kit, there were a few supporting players in the upgrade. Where the standard supercharger kit featured 39-pound injectors, the V-Power kits relied on 60-pounders. The extra flow offered by the pulley change also necessitated a compressor bypass valve upgrade. As we've come to expect from Vortech, all of these upgrades have been seamlessly incorporated into the new V-Power kit, including the new V-3 internally lubricated supercharger. Extracting near GT500 power from the smaller 4.6 in pump-gas trim is impressive, especially since we know there's much more power to be had from the system.
Yours truly ran an otherwise-stock '05 Mustang equipped with a Vortech supercharger in a shootout for Road & Track magazine, to the tune of 192 mph at 16 psi. Run on Vortech's own Mustang chassis dyno (lower numbers than a comparable Dynojet), the stock Bullitt produced 239 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with the standard Vortech kit, the peak power numbers jumped to 329 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. Once the V-Power system was installed, these numbers climbed even further to an impressive 371 hp and 322 lb-ft. All this performance is available with a one-year limited warranty, but a 3-year/36,000 mile powertrain warranty is available as an option. Talk about V to the 3.
It's Difficult to see just...
It's Difficult to see just how much bigger the new intercooler is in the car, but outside, this side-by-side comparison illustrates the differences nicely.
The New V-power kit employed...
The New V-power kit employed the same V3 internally lubricated supercharger as the standard kit tested (V-Power is also available with V-2 blower), but the pulley change helped increase the boost pressure. The combination of the pulley change and larger intercooler increased the peak boost pressure from 9 psi to 11 psi.
The V-Power kit also included...
The V-Power kit also included a compressor bypass valve upgrade to deal with the additional airflow supplied by the increase in boost pressure.
|Mustang Chassis Dyno Power Numbers|
|'07 Bullitt N/A VS. Vortech VS. Vortech V-Power|
| ||NA||Vor. SC||V-Power|
Naturally, Additional tuning...
Naturally, Additional tuning was necessary for the boost increase, as was an injector upgrade. Where the standard supercharger kit employed a set of 39-pounders, the V-Power kit required stepping up to a set flowing 60 lb/hr.
The Vortech kit-both standard...
The Vortech kit-both standard and V-Power-also included a new aluminum MAF with stock electronics. The high flow rate also required use of the MaFia to effectively extend the range of the mass air meter.
Tested On the Mustang chassis...
Tested On the Mustang chassis dyno, the standard supercharger kit increased the power output of an otherwise-stock '05-up GT from 239 hp and 243 lb-ft to 329 hp and 309 lb-ft. The V-Power system increased these numbers even further, to 371 hp and 322 lb-ft.