Brodix Cylinder Heads, Engine Block & Intake Manifold Insight - CHP Insider

Jeff Brotherton of Brodix Schools Us in the Art of Cylinder Head, Block, and Intake Manifold Design & Manufacturing

Stephen Kim Feb 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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If you want the cheapest deal in town, look elsewhere. Brodix isn't shy about the fact that its products aren't the least expensive on the market. The company is confident that its cutting-edge R&D capabilities and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility yield the highest-quality cylinder heads, intake manifolds, and aluminum blocks in the industry. And the last time we checked, Brodix isn't having any problems selling parts. For the better part of four decades, Brodix has powered race-winning machines in everything from NHRA Pro Stock to World of Outlaws sprint cars to grassroots-level drag, circle track, late-model dirt, and tractor-pull racing. The company developed its first aftermarket cylinder head in 1971, and with one of the most advanced in-house foundries in the business, it has been refining its manufacturing techniques ever since. Intrigued at what exactly the manufacturing involves, we picked Jeff Brotherton's brain to learn how things like testing, tooling, casting, heat treating, machining, racing, and even networking all come together. It's a fascinating and enlightening science, to say the least. So, gentlemen, may we have your undivided attention?

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CNC Setup
People throw around the term "CNC-ported" but don't often think about what the process involves. The effort put into setting up a CNC machine has a dramatic impact on the quality and repeatability of replicating a port accurately. "A human has to shape the first set of heads by hand, and CNC porting is only as good as the programmer setting up the machine," explains Brotherton. "It takes even a good programmer three to four sets of test heads to get a program completely dialed in. After that, quality is based largely on how fast you want to run the machine. Running the machine slower allows for tighter stopovers and better flow but also reduces productivity and your profit margin. On the other hand, you can make a CNC machine run so fast that it will actually bend the tool in addition to reducing the accuracy of the port. It's all a compromise."

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Virgin Aluminum
It's true that big flow numbers are key to making serious power, but the durability of the head casting itself is paramount in making that power reliably. Brodix uses A-356 virgin aluminum extensively in its castings, which consist of manganese, nickel, strontium, and copper "It's a lot like baking a cake, and we've perfected the recipe over the last 30-plus years," Brotherton explains. "The more money you pay, the purer the base metals and ingredients. By strictly utilizing virgin ingots, the result is a casting that is more forgiving and holds up better to cracking and repairs. The formula needs to be modified depending on the application, and sometimes you'll run into a bad batch of ingots that need to be replaced."

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Company Roots
"Brodix has been in the aftermarket cylinder head business for close to 40 years, and the company literally came together as a marriage. My dad, J.V. Brotherton, was an avid hot rodder, and my mother's dad, Francis Dix, was in the foundry business. By combining J.V.'s fascination with cylinder heads and Francis' expertise in high-strength alloys, Brodix developed a clean-sheet aluminum Hemi head in 1971. With Mopar's reintroduction of its own Hemi head cutting into Brodix's sales, we regrouped and developed an all-new small-block Chevy cylinder head in 1973. Through the years, Brodix has been involved in just about every form of amateur and professional competition, including NHRA Pro Stock and World of Outlaws Sprint Car racing. Consequently, we've earned a reputation for our ability to produce high-strength, close-tolerance castings with excellent power potential. Our 15-degree SBC casting, launched in 1987, has become one of the most successful heads in sprint car racing. Our company expanded beyond cylinder heads with a complete line of intake manifolds and the introduction of an aluminum SBC block in 1996. That was followed up with a new BBC aluminum block in 2003, which went on to win in NHRA Super Comp at the '04 U.S. Nationals. Today, Brodix has a diverse product line for everything from street/strip components to full-on Pro Stock race hardware."

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