Whipple Supercharger Systems - Blown Away

PJ Rentie Mar 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0103_01_z Chevy_long_bed_silverado_truck_whipple_supercharger 1/2
Sucp_0103_01_s Chevy_long_bed_silverado_truck_whipple_supercharger 2/2

It used to be that when the conversation turned to superchargers, you'd immediately start having visions of a monstrous, fully polished 6-71 blower-replete with dual quads-poking defiantly through the hood of a nasty street machine. Add to that the large pulleys conveying a 3-inch wide belt with its ever-so-distinct whine, and the fact that the driver had to take right turns with extreme caution due to the aforementioned appendage blocking his vision, and you had a pretty clear picture of one awesome street beast. But that was yesterday, and looks aren't always equivalent to performance.

While that archaic air mover is still available today for those who want it (and those machines that can get away with running it), there's a whole new generation of superchargers that are small, quiet, and discreet-almost tailor-made-for today's high-tech vehicles. To the untrained eye it could easily be mistaken for just another engine accessory. Technology has advanced so that bolting on a supercharger can be almost as simple as swapping a carburetor and intake, and with the progress of electronic fuel injection and computer control, the engine merely "adapts" to its new conditions and goes along with the improved performance. In addition to that, many of the new superchargers are smog-legal.

The Basics Defined
Let's take a look at how a supercharger works. In order to operate, the engine needs a mixture of air and fuel. The mixture is burned and the leftovers leave the "pump" in the form of exhaust gasses. Increasing the amount of air and fuel the engine can gulp down increases its power output. However, on a normally aspirated engine, even after the cam has been changed, the carburetor has been swapped, and the heads ported, there's still a limit to how much air and fuel it can take in. Increasing the engine's displacement can improve things, but again, there are limits. A supercharger is a pump mounted in the intake stream of the engine, and driven by the crankshaft. When operating, it pressurizes the air going into the engine, forcing more air and extra fuel-via a recalibrated fuel delivery system-inside the cylinders than normally could be ingested. The end result is that with the increased amount of air and fuel inside the cylinders, the engine makes more power, because it's now "acting" larger than it really is. One of the huge reasons why blowers are so popular is because they're more forgiving than a big nitrous system, and they don't require all of the creative exhaust plumbing that a turbocharger does, nor do they generate as much under-hood heat.

One company that has capitalized on the new supercharger market is Whipple Supercharger Systems in Fresno, California. With their patented screw-type blower design, they have created a niche for themselves in the world of under-hood power enhancers. One particular area of the supercharger market that is steadily growing is trucks and SUVs. One of the reasons for the growing popularity of supercharged trucks is that; although you can buy a brand new truck complete with big block, they just don't have what it takes to haul a fully loaded trailer with any confidence up a steady grade. That was the dilemma that the owner of this '98 Chevy 3500 Crew Cab, faced. While the truck's 7.4-liter Rat had more than enough power around town, it was a complete slug with a full load connected to the hitch and mountain roads on the horizon.

Whipple Charger
Whipple's supercharger system seemed to be the perfect solution. Along with its complete supercharging kit, Whipple sent along Richard Ruiz-Johnson to perform the installation in-house at the Primedia Tech Center. Before we began the installation, we strapped the truck down to the DynoJet chassis dyno to establish a baseline power figure. The result was 246.1 rear-wheel horsepower at 4,100 rpm with 355.9-ft-lb of torque at 3,400 rpm. That makes for 307.6 horsepower and 444.8-ft-lb of torque at the flywheel, accounting for a 20 percent horsepower loss through the drivetrain. After installing the supercharger, those numbers jumped to 329.3 horsepower at 3,900 rpm and 446.7-ft-lb of torque at 3,600 rpm, or a gain of 83.2 hp and 90.8-ft-lb of torque to the rear wheels. The calculated flywheel numbers rose to 411.6 hp and a whopping 558.3-ft-lb of torque!

Although the goal with this project was to show how the hauler you use to get your show or race car to the events can be made to handle the job better, it should be noted that Whipple has systems for virtually every application. As for the installation, it doesn't require a degree in mechanical engineering, and can be done in your garage using an average selection of tools. It does, however, require attention to details. As with all late-model machines, there is a level of electronic controls and connections that surpasses anything from the "muscle car era." So be aware what wire you're pulling off and from where. On a more positive note, all special tools required for the job are supplied in the kit. Concerning the time it will take to install, give yourself a long weekend to accomplish this task. Something this good has to be earned with a dose of hard work. Once it's finished, though, you'll be able to appreciate your efforts every time you plant your right foot.

On the new supercharger market is Whipple Supercharger Systems in Fresno, California. With their patented screw-type blower design, they have created a niche for themselves in the world of under-hood power enhancers. One particular area of the supercharger market that is steadily growing is trucks and SUVs. One of the reasons for the growing popularity of supercharged trucks is that, although you can buy a brand new truck complete with a big-block, they just don't have what it takes to haul a fully loaded trailer with any confidence up a steady grade. That was the dilemma that the owner of this '98 Chevy 3500 Crew Cab, faced. While the truck's 7.4-liter Rat had more than enough power around town, it was a complete slug with a full load connected to the hitch and mountain roads on the horizon.

Although the goal with this project was to show how the hauler you use to get your show or race car to the events can be made to handle the job better, it should be noted that Whipple has systems for virtually every application. As for the installation, it doesn't require a degree in mechanical engineering, and can be done in your garage using an average selection of tools. It does, however, require attention to details. As with all late-model machines, there is a level of electronic controls and connections that surpasses anything from the "musclecar era." So be aware what wire you're pulling off and from where. On a more positive note, all special tools required for the job are supplied in the kit. Concerning the time it will take to install, give yourself a long weekend to accomplish this task. Something this good has to be earned with a dose of hard work. Once it's finished, though, you'll be able to appreciate your efforts every time you plant your right foot.

STOCK BASELINE DYNO TEST
RPM HORSEPOWER TORQUE
3,400 230.4 355.9
3,500 231.5 347.4
3,600 235.4 343.4
3,700 237.6 337.3
3,800 239.8 331.4
3,900 243.7 328.1
4,000 244.3 320.8
4,100 246.1 315.3
4,200 242.5 303.2
4,300 242.4 296.1
4,400 236.0 281.7
4,500 233.5 272.5
4,600 230.2 262.8
4,700 222.4 248.6

WITH WHIPPLE SUPERCHARGER
RPM HORSEPOWER TORQUE
3,500 300.1 450.4
3,600 319.9 466.7
3,700 318.4 452.0
3,800 324.0 447.8
3,900 329.3 443.5
4,000 313.5 411.6
4,100 308.7 395.5
4,200 302.6 378.4
4,300 299.3 365.6
4,400 295.0 352.2
4,500 291.2 339.9
4,600 289.5 330.6
4,700 283.7 317.1

Sources

Whipple Supercharger Systems
Fresno, CA 93722
« Prev 1 2 3 Next »

COMMENTS

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
TO TOP