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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Aluminum Blocks
"Unlike cylinder heads, where the primary focus is making power, engine block design is more about strength and accuracy. In addition to providing stability in the cylinder sleeves and mains, the tolerances must be very precise. This encompasses where the cam is positioned in relation to the crank, and the location and roundness of the cylinder walls. Other features of our blocks include a reinforced lifter valley, splayed billet mains, widened pan rails, a raised cam location, and revised oil passages. Our aluminum big-block can be ordered in deck heights up to 10.700 inches and sleeves that can be bored to 4.600 inches, good for 665 ci. Our aluminum small-block can be had as tall as 9.500 inches with a 4.125-inch bore for a total of 454 ci. Compared to an iron block, our aluminum big- and small-blocks are 130 and 90 pounds lighter, respectively."

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Out-Of-The-Box Performance
Whether it's cylinder heads or intake manifolds, Brodix is well known for outstanding out-of-the-box performance. Brotherton says that it's not just a coincidence that Brodix casts all its products in-house as well. "You can design a cylinder head or intake that performs well, but it doesn't mean much if you can't accurately replicate that design through the casting process. We have what we feel is one of best foundries in the business. The luxury of casting our products in-house allows us to very closely monitor the accuracy of the tooling and the logistics in the foundry from start to finish. That means we can continually make tweaks in the pattern shop to ensure that our castings are as close to the original cylinder head and intake manifold designs as possible."

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In-House Foundry
Although quality control is determined by a plethora of variables, Brotherton says that having a state-of-the-art, in-house foundry is critical. Primitive foundries can sometimes get the job done, but consistency is a gamble at best. "If you rely on an outsourced foundry, then instead of being able to control how the foundry operates, you're at their mercy," Brotherton explains. "If we have a problem with a batch of heads, I can stop the foundry immediately after just 10 heads into the run by walking over to the appropriate section of our facility. Hiring an outside foundry not only eliminates that kind of flexibility but forces you to buy heads in batches of 400-500 to get a good price, so if you have issue with porosity or inconsistency, you're probably going to try to weld those heads up for repair instead of throwing them away."

Intake Manifolds
Since cylinder heads and intake manifolds work in concert as part of the induction package, Brodix manufacturers its own line of intakes to maximize the performance of its heads. "Building our own intakes in-house enables us to design a cylinder head without making compromises based on what manifolds may or may not be on the market for it," says Brotherton. "With all of our R&D data at our disposal, we know right off the bat which manifolds will work well with a new head design, which we feel gives us a leg up on the competition. In the event that a new cylinder head features revised architecture-such as raised runners or altered valve angles-we can design a new manifold for it from the ground up. That way we don't have to rely on manifolds from different manufacturers that are already on the market, or force our customers to build expensive sheetmetal one-offs."

Oval-Port Mouse Heads
If oval ports work so well on Rat motors, why not try them on a small-block? Brodix couldn't find any good reasons not to, so the company is hard at work on a raised-runner 210cc oval-port small-block head. "Despite the fact that these heads will retain the conventional 23-degree architecture, they will flow 335 cfm in CNC-ported trim," says Brotherton. "People like using standard valvetrain hardware, and these heads will be compatible with conventional 23-degree lifters, rockers, intake manifolds, and valve covers."

Heat Treating
Considering that raw cylinder heads straight from the foundry are too soft to use on a motor, heat treating is imperative to durability. "After the heads are unloaded from the unmolding station, they're not quite ready to bolt on yet," Brotherton explains. "We can't get too specific because our heat treating process is proprietary, but a simple explanation is that we heat the heads at high temperature for an undisclosed duration of time. After the heads are removed from the oven, we cool them with water, let them air-dry, and then put them back into the oven at a lower temperature for a shorter time. The process is very time-consuming, but it significantly strengthens the casting."

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Pro Partnerships
"Brodix has teamed up with some of the best engine builders in the country to bring our customers race-proven technology at an affordable price. We have some pretty good cylinder head guys at our shop, but combining the skills of championship-winning engine builders like Sonny Leonard with our manufacturing capabilities results in some of the best cylinder heads on the market. For instance, our PB2005 big-block Chevy race head is a 14.5-degree casting that was designed by Leonard and flows 560 cfm. Sonny came to us and asked if we'd be interested in reproducing his design in our facility to offer to our customers, and the rest is history. We're old-school people, and honesty and a handshake mean a lot to us. Guys like Sonny trust us, so if they send us something they came up with that makes power, and we're able to replicate their designs accurately, it saves us both time and money and ultimately gives the customer a better product."


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