Mast M-90 ECM
"Our M-90 ECM offers many advantages over programmable OEM-based systems that rely on mass airflow sensors, closed-loop operation, and fuel enrichment modes. Our modeled air control strategy combines speed density air metering, a throttle model, a backpressure model, a cam overlap model, injector models, and transient models that make our M-90 ECM capable of the most accurate open-loop calibrations in the aftermarket. The M-90's improved wideband knock capability can accurately detect the slightest of knock events even with substantially increased valvetrain noise and engine harmonics. This improves the accuracy of the spark calibration and also prevents engine failure due to a tank of bad gas.
"Other functions such as idle and redline governors offer more tunability as well, and all calibration adjustments are made in real time. The M-90 ECM's combination of capability, ease of use, and accuracy becomes apparent when driving a vehicle equipped with one of our crate engines. By offering an optional wideband O2 sensor that communicates directly with the ECM, the sensor readings are shown in real time and the system can be run in open- or closed-loop. For those that aren't as computer savvy, we offer precalibrated ECMs.
"Our performance packages have produced some amazing results in daily-driven vehicles. One of our first projects was transplanting an L92 SS performance package into an '01 F-body. This car ran a 10.99 pass in the 2007 LSX shootout before most people even knew what an L92 engine was, much less that there was company out there that had already developed an ECM, harness, VVT camshaft, and calibration for it that was producing results on the track."
Jacks of All Trades
The Mast Motorsports staff has impressive credentials. The staff includes mechanical engineers, machinists, head porters, fabricators, software developers, and electrical experts, all in one building. According to Horace, this breadth of talent is what enables the company to offer some of the best LS components on the market. "First off, it allows us to yield substantial efficiencies in the design, testing, and production process. Second, it yields a superior product in terms of quality, power, durability, and time to market. Lastly, there is a constant flow of good information between departments, which ensures the highest-quality product available without compromise," says Horace. "The personnel on the team is really what makes this company work. Every Mast Motorsports employee is passionate about what they do, has vision for the future direction of the company, and knows what they must do to accomplish it. We are really all on the same page, and it gives us a competitive advantage."
It wasn't long ago when enthusiasts were stuck with resleeving a stock LS1 block and praying that it didn't leak coolant. Fortunately, between production GM and aftermarket castings, there are now over a dozen different types of LS blocks to choose from. "As for the stock versus aftermarket debate, it's difficult to place a power rating on production blocks because every application and torque curve places different stresses on the base block. The stresses of a 600hp engine that peaks at 6,200 rpm are much different from the stresses of a 600hp engine that peaks at 7,200 rpm," Horace explains.
Production blocks have proven themselves as an extremely durable foundation for most crate engines. Horace says that main clearances and the addition of premium ARP main studs also help increase the durability of the LS platform's six-bolt main architecture. "The majority of the engines in our Hot Rod and Musclecar series utilize the stock LS3 and LS7 blocks as their foundation. For our LSX 454ci crate engines, we use the GM LSX block for its bore size and cylinder wall depth in order to achieve our target displacement. On our engines that produce in excess of 700hp, we only use aftermarket blocks. However, once the LS9 blocks become available, we expect to be pushing it well over 700hp."
Dynos and R&D
"The engine dyno is a critical and mandatory tool for any level of engine design, development, and testing. During the construction of our facility we built four soundproof engine dyno test cells equipped with closed-loop cooling towers and independent isolated foundations. The closed cooling system is capable of absorbing 2,000 crank horsepower continuously at an outside ambient temperature of 100 degrees F. This means we could run four engine durability tests, each at 500hp, as long as we wish and would only have to worry about the fuel bill.
"Our engine dyno gets put through the ringer to say the least, as we rely on it for all of our OEM-level point-by-point calibration work for every engine we offer. Each calibration has 160 volumetric efficiency and spark points mapped in. Moreover, the dyno is also used to break in and test every engine that leaves our facility. This way, we are 100 percent confident in the quality and the performance of each engine when the customer fires it up. The engine must maintain a certain power curve compared to its standard base engine counterpart before it is cleared for shipment. Any discrepancy in the power curve is investigated to make sure that the customer is receiving what they were promised.
"As a result of our extensive testing, we have accumulated mountains of data for hundreds of engine combos, which give us the unique advantage of having loads of data on the Gen IV platform. In my opinion, I don't believe that any engine shop can properly function without an engine dyno for research, development, and product verification."
"Standard corrected power figures are the accepted method of presenting power figures by most performance and race engine builders today. The way we are different from other shops isn't in the correction factor that's applied, but in the accuracy of the raw data that is collected from the load cell. Many shops have not used calibration weights since the day their dyno was installed. Others calibrate their load cell during yearly maintenance. In contrast, our calibration weights literally have a permanent home three feet from the dyno. The load cell is recalibrated before every engine that goes on, which usually means several times a day.
"Enthusiast must realize that there are large discrepancies from dyno to dyno, and from and one dyno manufacturer to another. I personally wish that the aftermarket would adopt a newer standardized correction factor, and that engine shops around the country would take more care in the accuracy of their published data. However, this is a competitive business where horsepower sells, so I don't see changes coming anytime soon."