In Search of The Best Combination

In Search of The Best Combination
By Don Terrill (c)

If the winner of the engine masters challenge gave you his exact parts list, could you go out and buy the same parts and match his horsepower? Not likely.

What if he wrote a book telling you exactly how to do it? Nope, you'd more than likely still come up short.

Why? Because identical is not always identical.

I took up the game of golf a few years back and, like any good racer, became immediately obsessed with optimizing my equipment. Specifically the driver. I was amazed how little effort golfers put into tweaking their equipment. The most interesting discovery during testing was finding a 7 yard difference between two identical driver heads.

I've seen the same thing with carburetors and torque converters. Identical is not always identical.

As for finding the best combination...

You can:
  • Get advice from others - Don't reinvent the wheel. Instead, stand on the shoulders of others. Man, I love clich├ęs.
  • Use simulation software - Wisdom is getting the big things right. This is where simulation software shines.
  • Do your own testing - The above methods will get you close, but if you want to get to the top, you'll have to do your own testing.

Tips for Finding the Best Combination:
  • Always be testing - Track testing, dyno testing, heck, even bench testing.
  • Never sell an effective component that is not easily duplicated, like a carburetor or torque converter.
  • Don't modify a known working component, buy another.
  • Not everything makes sense or can be explained. Trust the results.
  • It's not possible to test everything, there are just too many variables. Focus on the important stuff first, like airflow.
  • Intangible variables - Some variables we don't see or even know about. Ask yourself, what am I missing?
  • Some variables don't seem to matter - Any change can make a difference. Don't rule anything out.
  • Some variables don't seem picky - For example, you do a freshen-up on the valve job and lose power.

There may be thousands of ways to make (x) amount of horsepower, but there is only one combination that will make the most and testing is the only way to get there.


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