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4.6L Power Adders
Mustang owners have been enamored with superchargers since Shelby offered a Paxton
supercharger as an option on the Shelby GT350. With the popularity of the 5-liter Mustang in the
1980s, the growth of the supercharger market was fueled by the Mustang sales. The 4.6 liter
expanded upon this, and by the late 1990s the 4.6-liter Cobra supercharger kit was the best selling
model for at least one major supercharger manufacturer. To say that the Mustang Cobra 4.6 took
to supercharging would be an understatement. A basic 7-psi centrifugal supercharger kit applied to
a ‘96 Mustang Cobra will increase the rear wheel horsepower from 270 to over 400. The cylinder
heads on the 4-valve version in particular flow very well, the restriction in the system being the
intake manifold.
Supercharging creates the airflow that is required to produce gobs more horsepower. Although the
Mustang Cobra popularized the supercharger kit, there were some enterprising individuals who
made up kits on their own for earlier 4.6-liter applications. I recall a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in our
area that put Paxton blowers on Mark 8 Lincolns in the early 1990s. These adapted packages often
were not all that successful, because there was no computer tuning or fuel-system upgrade to
match the homebuilt supercharger installation.

In fact, supercharging caused the demise of my first Cobra engine too. In the fall of 1995, I took
delivery of a new 1996 Laser Red Mustang Cobra, to be used as a development tool. The engine
was removed from the car and placed on the engine dyno. After messing around with some
naturally-aspirated (NA) tuning, I decided to test a neat supercharger that had come my way. This
little beauty was really a KKK turbocharger, connected to a planetary gear set that would spin the
turbo impellor to 65,000 rpm with the pulley ratio I used. This supercharger was lashed to the
underside of the engine, and blew the air into the air meter and then past the throttle body.
I crept up the RPM on the dyno, increasing the RPM limit on each pull by another 500 rpm,
watching the air-fuel ratio to make sure we did not lean out the engine. Somewhere north of 6000
rpm, making 450+ horsepower on a stock engine, the oil seal on the unit decided to leak oil into the
airflow. The oil hit the air meter sensing element and quicker than you could say oh sh*t, the engine
started rattling hard. Before I could grab the throttle control, number seven rod broke neatly in half
and windowed the block. The resulting fire wasn’t really that large, so one fire extinguisher handled
it quite well. This all transpired before the car was a month old, so supercharging 4.6s goes back a
long time with me. Fortunately, Vortech Engineering developed a dandy little centrifugal kit for the
4.6, and away we went.
Vortech S-trim supercharger for a Ford 4.6 Liter Engine
Vortech S-trim supercharger
was the first widely distributed
centrifugal supercharger for
the 4.6. Originally developed
for the Mustang, Vortech now
also offers kits for trucks and
Vortech produced the first centrifugal kits of any consequence for the 4.6-liter Ford. The S-trim
supercharger kit was released for the 4.6 DOHC Cobra, followed by the 4.6 SOHC kit for the GT.
The impeller on the Cobra kit was cut down 1/2 inch, to drop the maximum boost output to 7-8 psi
on the Cobra, versus 10 psi on the GT. Both versions were hot items with the owners of these cars.
The kits contained a fuel-pump upgrade, a coupon for a computer chip to manage the spark timing,
and complete installation hardware. There were only a couple of small issues with the early kits,
one being the idler pulley. The small idler pulley supplied by Vortech ran at a considerable RPM,
and the early ones had bearings that gave up easily. After a couple of revisions, they got a bearing
to work, and they are now fairly reliable.

The other issue was the discharge duct connection at the throttle body. The oval throttle body on
the Cobra model required a connection to the thermoplastic discharge duct with a piece of silicone
hose. The high underhood heat in the south would cause the duct material to get pliable, and this
could cause an air leak at the throttle body from the deformation of the plastic material.
Occasionally, the inlet duct between the mass air meter and the supercharger would deform under
heat and create an air leak on the inlet side. This could be a disaster, as the air meter would see
less airflow than the actual amount of air being ingested by the engine. The air/fuel ratio would lean
out, and the engine would go poof. In time, the ducts got thicker and more rigid, and eventually,
Paxton made the discharge tubes in aluminum castings instead of plastic. The Paxton aluminum
tubes will fit the Vortech systems, and this is a worthwhile upgrade if you have an original Vortech
system. The tubes are also available polished from Paxton for the show car crowd.
Vortech aftercooler lit for a 4.6 Ford Mustang
The Vortech
aftercooler is an
air-to-water heat
exchanger that will
drop the discharge
temperature of the
supercharger air,
increasing efficiency.
The aftercooler is best
suited to drag racing at
10 psi or below.
Another thing to watch for on the ‘96-‘98 Vortech supercharged Mustang systems is the FMU. The
kit comes with an FMU (fuel management unit), which increases fuel pressure as the boost
increases. This is how Vortech gets around the fact that the stock injectors will not supply enough
fuel for the increase in airflow the supercharger will provide. The Cobra kits increase the fuel
pressure 8 lbs for every lb of boost. The GT increases fuel pressure 10 psi per lb of boost,
because they use a smaller 19-lb/hr injectors versus the Cobra’s 24-lb/hr injectors. This is
accomplished by restricting the fuel return to the fuel tank with a variable restriction. The signal to
increase the fuel pressure comes from the vacuum line hooked to the intake manifold. If this line
leaks, blows off, or gets kinked, the FMU will not raise fuel pressure and the engine will go poof.

So, a couple of years go by and Ford comes out with the ‘99 Cobra. I get a brand new Laser Red
1999 Cobra to do development work with. The ‘99 model has the new returnless fuel system, and
Vortech does not immediately have a kit developed for this new model, so I decide to create my
own. The Vortech S-trim kit will bolt up to the ‘99 with little modification, so we added some 36-lb/hr
injectors, and a custom computer calibration and away we went. The engine lasted 6 miles. The first
time I launched the car from a standstill, the traction control system shut off the fuel, and the engine
went poof. Since then, we disable the traction control on any ‘99 and newer Mustang so equipped,
and the fuel shut-off has not caused us any more problems.
The returnless system required additional fuel volume, and the in tank pump was marginal, so we
put in the 255-lph in-tank pump that was universally used in fuel-injected Mustangs for years. The
returnless system in the ’99-up model, though, uses a variable output pump, controlled by the
engine computer. The standard Walbro 255 lph pump would fail and this would manifest itself with
severe part-throttle driveability problems. I did not realize what was happening at first, since the
pump was still working to some extent, but the car would not drive properly unless at wide-open
throttle. It really was not until the ‘03 Cobra came out with its dual pumps that there was a proper
high-volume setup for the returnless system. Even today, some manufacturers will supply ‘99 up
Mustangs with Walbro 255-liter pumps; so change it out if you receive one, as it will cause problems
down the road.

After the success of the S-trim supercharger, Vortech released the T-trim about 2 years later. The
airflow potential was considerable higher on the T-trim, but the unit also required more power to
drive the supercharger. The increased effort caused the original 6-rib belt system to slip, so we
developed an 8-rib drive to complement the T-trim.
Power levels rose again, but as the boost level climbed, it became apparent that some form of
intercooling was required. The discharge temperature of the supercharger air was over 275
degrees with 15 lbs of T-trim boost. I received an air-to-water aftercooler core from Vortech that
was designed for a Camaro. Although it would not package on a Mustang, we were able to install it
on our engine dyno with a 700-hp 4.6-liter engine. Circulating ice water through the core at 15 lbs
of boost, the aftercooler was creating 4 lbs of pressure drop, and the power fell off by over 80 hp.
There was too much restriction in the aftercooler for the volume of air the supercharger was
producing, so we decided to develop an air-to-air intercooler for street/strip applications.
Paxton Novi 1000 supercharger for a 4.6 engine
Paxton Novi 1000
supercharger is ideal for
street cars with up to 600
horsepower. The helical gear
drive is quiet for the street,
and the boost curve
complements the 4.6-liter
John Mihovetz was also using an air-to-air intercooler on his race car about the same time, and
seeing good results. Dyno development on several prototype intercooler designs led us eventually
to a package that supports 800 hp, and still fits in the stock Mustang chassis without chopping the
front end up too much. The temperature of the air will drop from 250+ to only 10-15 degrees above
ambient temperature.

Since then, larger air-to-air intercoolers have been developed, capable of supporting 1500+ hp.
Vortech did produce an air-to-water aftercooler kit for the Mustang, complete with reservoir, pump,
and core. It is suitable for street or drag cars up to 10 lbs of boost. Above 10 lbs, the core airflow
restriction is too high, and the core area is not large enough to remove significant temperature for
very long. Drag racers who top off the reservoir every pass can utilize this method, but the
temperature rise in the air-to-water system over time does not make it the best choice for road-race
or street applications. A road-race car we worked with had a Vortech air-to-water aftercooler on a
600-hp, supercharged package, with a 25-gallon water supply in the back seat area. Datalogging
showed that 2 miles into a 90-mile open-road race, the aftercooler was not reducing the air
temperature at all, in spite of still having a large volume of cold water in the system.
ATI Procharger P-1SC for a 4.6 Liter Ford Engine
Procharger P-1SC is ATI’s
entry-level street
supercharger. Their blowers
are unique in that they carry
their own oil supply, rather
than using the engines oil
system to supply the
supercharger’s requirements.
The bypass valves supplied with the Vortech street supercharger kits are adequate to 10-12 lbs of
boost. Above this level, the race bypass valve needs to be installed, to manage the larger volume
of air. In some cases, particularly with cog drives, two race bypass valves may be required in order
to have sufficient flow volume. Vortech makes two sizes of aluminum bypass valves, depending on
your requirements. ATI also makes a nice bypass valve with 360-degree discharge; so more air can
be passed by the same diameter of valve. There is usually a rubber seal with these valves, and
often they can dislodge, causing an air leak. It is worth checking the valves frequently to ensure
they are operating properly.

As power levels continued to climb, the 8-rib system, although adequate for the street, could not
transmit the power to drive the supercharger without slipping or chewing the belt up. John Mihovetz,
racer, and master machinist, single handedly designed, tested, and produced cog drives for
Vortech, Paxton, and ATI superchargers. His Ontario California based shop, called Accufab,
produces billet cog-drive brackets and pulleys in a range of sizes to suit various applications. John
experimented with several belt sizes and widths, before settling on a 60-mm-wide Kevlar belt that is
all but indestructible. His mobile 6-second test lab was the proving ground to work all the
development bugs out, and now racers can purchase a ready-to-go system for their cars.
Previous | Next

This has been a sample page from

How to Build Max Performance 4.6 Liter Ford Engines How To Build Max Performance 4.6 Liter
Ford Engines
by Sean Hyland
This revised edition features new and current
information throughout the text, an additional 16 pages,
and all black and white photography.
When the ’96 Mustang came out with the 4.6-liter V-8, some
performance enthusiasts were scared away by its technology. But
those days are long gone. Ford added horsepower and torque to
its 2- and 4-valve V-8s over the years, and the number and
quality of available aftermarket performance parts has exploded.
Ford took things to the next level with the new 3-valve Mustang
GT engine and the 5.4-liter GT and Shelby GT500, adding even
more high-performance options.

In this updated edition of How To Build Max-Performance 4.6-Liter
Ford Engines, Sean Hyland gives you a comprehensive guide to
building and modifying Ford’s 2-, 3-, and 4-valve 4.6- and 5.4-liter
engines. You will learn everything from block selection and
crankshaft prep, to cylinder head and intake manifold
modifications. He also outlines eight recommended power
packages and provides you with a step-by-step buildup of a
naturally aspirated 405-horsepower Cobra engine. This is the
definitive guide to getting the most from your 4.6- and 5.4-liter

Temporarily Out of Stock - More On their way!

Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter.
Chap. 1 - Engine Block
Chap. 2 - Crankshafts
Chap. 3 - Rods
Chap. 4 - 4.6 Pistons
Chap. 5 - Cylinder Heads
Chap. 6 - Int. Manifolds
Chap. 7 - Fuel Injection
Chap. 8 - 4.6 Camshafts
Chap. 9 - 4.6 Exhaust
Chap. 10 - Ignition
Chap. 11 - Lubrication
Chap. 12 - Cooling
Chap. 13 - Power Adders
Chap. 14 - Packages
Chap. 15 - 405HP Engine
8-1/2 x 11
44 pages
445 B/W Photos
Item #SA82P
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any modular engine owner or enthusiast will enjoy!

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