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Introduction to Turbocharging
In the interest of practicality, we’ll discuss supercharging via a turbocharger compared to a
centrifugal supercharger, such as the familiar Paxton or Vortech belt-driven blowers. Rather than
being driven with a belt off the crankshaft, a turbocharger’s impeller is mounted on a common shaft
with a turbine wheel, which is spun by the exhaust gas. Turbos are similar in appearance to a
centrifugal supercharger but very different in operation. The turbine wheel must deal with
unbelievable temperatures and insane rotational speeds (RPM) even under normal operating

The efficiency advantages of turbocharging are many, but the biggest is the fact that a
turbocharger is almost completely divorced from the engine’s overall functionality until it begins
producing boost. That fact alone has made the turbocharger the darling of the something-for-
nothing set.
Turbocharged 4.6L SOHC Mustang GT
If having just another supercharged
Mustang isn’t for you, take it in a
different direction: turbocharge it.
Depending on the model/year of your
vehicle, someone probably offers a
single and/or twin turbo kit for your
Without getting into the ugly calculations required to quantify these powerful little dynamos, the
basic difference between your average turbocharger and a centrifugal supercharger is low RPM
engine performance. With a crankshaft-driven centrifugal impeller, boost is proportional to RPM.
Turbocharger design mandates that exhaust gas volume and flow must be at or above a certain
energy level to efficiently drive its turbine wheel before the turbo’s compressor will reach a speed
sufficient to boost intake tract pressure.

This is very different from the belt-driven supercharger, where the impeller speed is governed
entirely by engine RPM and the under/overdrive pulley ratio. With a properly engineered
turbocharging system, there’s a more flexible relationship between the exhaust energy of the
engine and how fast the impeller spins.

The fact that airflow through the two wheels occurs in opposite directions is another fundamental
difference between impellers and turbines. The airflow through an impeller begins near its center
and exits the circumference. In the case of the turbine wheel, the exhaust gases first fill a
surrounding housing, called a scroll, where they’re directed into a curving volume with a diminishing
cross sectional area. This accelerates the gases as they interact with the circumference of the
turbine wheel. The exhaust exits through the cavities in the turbine wheel, toward the small area
near its center. From there, the exhaust flow remainder of the system is normal. This directional
difference between impeller and turbine is responsible for their radically different blade or vane
shapes, especially their smaller diameters. A turbine wheel is designed to capture as much gas
energy as possible, so these wheels feature a more enclosed appearance. An impeller, on the
other hand, must be shaped to provide less restriction and freer flowing.
Driving the impeller with an exhaust turbine is a very effective way to do it. The exhaust gases are
full of heat energy, but there are other reasons for the efficiency of the system. The first is the
presence of a continuous series of very high-energy impulses resulting from – and timed with – the
pressure waves exiting each exhaust valve as the engine operates.

Secondly, the generally high speed of exhaust gases provides the pressure to spin the turbine and
put the impeller smack dab in the middle of its sweet spot.

Of course, this all presumes that the exhaust gases are applied to the turbine almost immediately
after leaving the combustion chambers, before any diffusion or significant temperature loss can
occur. That’s the tough part in designing a turbocharging system. If you’ve studied turbo setups
that have made it into the win column of any sanctioning body’s record books, you’ve seen that
great pains were taken to present the turbine with as much heat as possible, through as little
ducting as possible.

It may look like the shape and routing of the exhaust system were relatively unimportant. However,
a closer look will reveal that the temperature of the gases takes priority over a streamlined tubing

Exhaust manifolds for turbocharger installations are often surprisingly compact – at least between
the cylinder heads and the turbocharger(s). In fact, some of the best Ford small-block turbo
systems involve what appears to be a simple (and often surprisingly narrow) tube-like plenum
running along the length of each head, with very short connections running to the exhaust ports.
The plenum tube is then routed as directly as possible to connect with a similar collector for the
other cylinder head, then pointed straight toward the turbo.
As the engine speed approaches the point where its volumetric efficiency is within about 10 percent
of its naturally aspirated maximum, the pulses issuing from the exhaust ports are carrying very high
amounts of wave energy and speed, which is what the turbine needs. The turbine wheel responds
by stepping up its rotational speed and spins the impeller within its preferred range. That’s the point
when you begin to feel the seat-of-the-pants acceleration that is typical of a turbo, and you know
you’re in for a great ride.

The time it takes you to get to that sweet spot is called turbo lag. An extremely well matched turbo
and engine will have less lag, but it will always be there to some degree. Some of that lag is caused
by the need to overcome the inertial mass of the rotor and bring it up to speed. This can be
somewhat alleviated by using a smaller-size turbo, perhaps a pair of much smaller turbos, or by
making refinements in the exhaust system to intensify the exhaust pulses as much as possible,
providing more energy against the turbine wheel.

The last point encompasses the various factors involved in the selection of engine components
such as its camshaft(s) and valvetrain components, valve sizes, and port shapes. The actual size or
volume of the exhaust system tubing is one of the most crucial decisions to be made, because it
must be small enough to avoid diffusing the pulse energy, yet be large enough to accommodate a
much higher flow created when your small-block Ford is operating under heavy boost.

Of course, most well-designed street turbocharger systems will also feature a blow-by valve, or
wastegate to relieve excess turbo boost, and there isn’t a Ford small-block turbocharger application
worth its salt that wouldn’t directly benefit from the introduction of a heat exchanger or intercooler of
some type. Obviously, all of the above makes for a tough balancing “act,” and for that reason the
street turbocharger industry is more of a “tuner” industry than a commercial bolt-on kit enterprise.
Working with a specialist who understands your specific goals is the best approach for most
turbocharger enthusiasts.
Turbo Kits and Components
The street turbocharger segment of the automotive performance aftermarket is more of a tuner’s
niche market than a bolt-on kit market. Just look around and you’ll quickly discover that for every
small-block Ford street turbocharger kit available (5.0L, 5.8L, or 4.6L), there are at least a good
half-dozen centrifugal, twin-screw, and/or Roots-based street supercharger kits available.
But why is this? We thought that we would ask Full Throttle TV show co-host Eric Kozeluh, who
along with twin brother, Marc, operates Twins Turbo, one of the nation’s top small car tuner shops.

“The main reason behind the lack of (although not complete absence of) small-block Ford-based
turbo kits is because of the complex nature of the turbocharger versus the easy bolt-on nature of
your average street supercharger kit. With a street supercharger you have your headers and you
have your exhaust system. All you have to do is bolt one up (supercharger) to your engine, run
your oil feed and return lines, and you’re good to go!

“A turbocharger is so much more sophisticated a system than a supercharger. For example, you
have to fabricate a new exhaust system and new down pipes. And you have to have a proper set of
headers built to support the weight and torque curve generated by the turbocharger or the system
may crack, and you’ll lose crucial boost and power.

“With a turbocharger system, you also need to have a wastegate, or blow- by valve, and an
intercooler, which are both essential components to the operation of any well-engineered
turbocharger system. You’ll also have to have the electronics to control the wastegate along with
governing fuel and timing control functions. I guess you could say that while the supercharger lends
itself to the backyard kind of mechanic, a turbocharger needs to be set up by a competent
automotive technician, and be set up properly!”

With this in mind, where might budding turbocharger converts go to have a competent turbo
specialist install a street turbo system on a 260-302, 351W/351-C, or 4.6/5.4L SOHC or DOHC
small-block Ford V-8?

There are a number of top-flight turbo specialty shops located throughout the country. Names that
immediately come to mind include Innovative Turbo Systems, Bob Norwood Autocraft, Rusty’s Total
Performance, Texas Turbo, Turbo City, and of course, Twins Turbo. You can also go on the
Internet and find any number of competent turbo tuners by logging on to

However, all of these shops share one thing in common. They all get most of their domestically
manufactured turbos from one of three manufacturers.
Cutaway of a Garrett GT40 turbocharger
The Garrett GT40 turbocharger is
factory-rated for engines displacing
3.5L to 5.0L. This turbo is ideal for
both V-6 and V-8 small-block Ford
applications operating within the 370
to 650 hp range. This cutaway
clearly shows the GT40’s key
components including the
compressor housing and compressor
wheel (right), turbine housing and
turbine wheel (left), and the bearing
housing and main shaft(center).
Garrett Air Research
First you have the Garrett Air Research “GT” Performance Distribution Network, which features a
total of five national distributors for Garrett Air Research Turbochargers and Intercooler products.
To locate the nearest Garrett GT Turbo retailer and/or a qualified Garrett GT Turbo installer, log
on to
Garrett GT-45R Turbocharger
Garrett’s quick-spooling GT-45R
model is ideal for 4.6L to 8.1L engine
displacements. This turbo produces
between 600 and 1,200 hp, depending
on the engine installation. The “R”
connotation stands for “race only.”
Borg Warner/Air Werks
You also have Borg Warner Turbo Systems Air Werks aftermarket turbocharger program, which like
Garrett Air Research’s GT Performance Distribution Network, also boasts a complete list of national
distributors and dealer/installers. They can be found by logging on to

Another big player in the street/ strip turbocharger game is Turbonetics Turbochargers/Spearco
Intercoolers, which is a division of Kelly Aerospace Company. However, unlike Garrett Air Research
and Borg Warner’s Air Werks aftermarket turbo programs, Turbonetics/Spearco not only sells to
dealers and turbo specialty installation shops, they also sell direct retail. To learn more about these
products, you can log on to, or you can call the Turbonetics/Spearco
technical hot line at (805) 581-0333.
polished Turbonetics Spearco 62-1 Series turbocharger
Shown is an optional polished version
of one of the oil-fed
Turbonetics/Spearco 62-1 Series
premium performance turbochargers,
which features a larger-size
compressor housing with 4-inch inlet
and 2.5-inch scroll. This unit features
10 percent greater airflow than the
standard Turbonetics 60-1 models,
and can deliver up to 12 psi safely.
This turbocharger is ideally suited for
4.6L mod motor Mustang applications.

This has been a sample page from

How to Build Supercharged and Turbocharged Small Block Fords How to Build Supercharged and Turbocharged
Small Block Fords
by Bob McClurg
The supercharger and turbocharger in their various forms and
applications have both been around for well over a century.
What makes them so popular? Looks, power, performance,
sound, and status. And how do they relate to, and improve
upon, the performance level of a small-block Ford pushrod V-
8 engine like a 289-302, a 351-Windsor, a Ford 351-
Cleveland, or even the latest generation 4.6L / 5.4L “modular”
small-block V-8 engines? That’s EXACTLY what this book is
all about!

While Ford dabbled in supercharging and turbocharging on
production cars all the way back in 1957 with the legendary
Thunderbird, and then again with Shelbys and over-the-
counter kits, and then again in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s
with turbocharging 4- cylinder applications in Mustangs the
real revolution in supercharging and turbocharging Ford
products has come through the aftermarket in more recent
times. The Fox Mustang, created in 1979, and the platform
that would eventually feature fuel injection in 1986, allowing
much more boost, created a genre of lightning-quick and
affordable performance cars.

Featuring legendary supercharger and turbocharger
manufacturers like Paxton, Vortech, Pro-Charger, Garret-
AirResearch and Power Dyne, as well as traditional Roots-
style systems, this book covers everything you need to know
about supercharging and turbocharging your small-block
Read the sample pages to learn more!
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter
Chap. 1 - Considerations
Chap. 2 -
Roots Superchargers
Chap. 3 -
Centrifugal Blowers
Chap. 4 -
Eaton / Magnuson
Chap. 5 -
Twin-Screw Blowers
Chap. 6 -
Tuning for Boost
Chap. 7 -
8-1/2 x 11"
oft bound.
128 p
Approximately 425 b/w photos
Item # SA95P
Price: $22.95
Click Here to buy now!
This is a great book that anyone considering the
installation of a supercharger on a Ford should own!
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