Power Play: How a big-block and a big blower made an easy 1,197 horsepower
Richard Holdener Jan 3, 2018
As loyal readers of Super Chevy, we know there is no way you missed the first two installments of our Mad Adder series. For those just joining the party, we have subjected our 540-inch big-block crate engine from BluePrint Engines (BPE) to two different power-adders: nitrous and boost (roots). According to the info supplied with their crate 540 stroker, the BPE combo was ready for boost and/or nitrous right out of the box. We liked the fact that the BPE 540 featured plenty of intestinal fortitude in the form of forged internals. Starting with their own heavy-duty, four-bolt block they added a 4340 forged steel crank, forged H-beam rods, and matching forged aluminum pistons. The forged rotating assembly was topped by a set of as-cast aluminum BBC (rectangular port) heads that featured 119cc combustion chambers. The heads combine with the forged pistons to produce a boost-friendly compression ratio of 8.5:1. Also present was a healthy, solid roller cam that checked in with 0.652-inch lift with a 255/262-degree duration split and 114-degree LSA.
After receiving the big-block in the crate we ran it on the dyno in naturally aspirated trim, even though the engine came with a dyno sheet from BPE. Having verified the engine was ready to rock and roll, we immediately applied the first of the power-adders in the form of a Zex nitrous kit. Run with a 250hp shot, the nitrous injected 540 Mad Adder produced 937 hp and 891 lb-ft of torque. Next up we applied some boost from a 6-71 supercharger (incorrectly labeled as an 8-71 in the story. Sorry, folks). Run with the blower kit from Speedmaster and The Blower Shop, the Mad Adder produced 939 hp and 866 lb-ft of torque at 11.1 psi. Little did we know that we were just scratching the surface of the power potential of the BPE 540, but we liked the fact that this thing just took each licking and kept on ticking. Looking to reach four-digit power levels with the BPE 540, we decided it was high time to apply a more serious power-adder. Enter the F-1A-94 centrifugal supercharger from ProCharger, which is the largest 9-inch supercharger they make.
Having run the F-1A-94 previously on an LS application, we can say for certain it was possible to not only reach the 1,000hp mark, but comfortably exceed it. ProCharger supplied a carbureted BBC kit, but we decided that rather than run it with a blow-through carb, we wanted to employ fuel injection. To satisfy our EFI craving, we performed an intake swap, replacing the Speedmaster blower intake with an Edelbrock 454-R converted for EFI use with the installation of injector bungs. This was an intake Westech Performance had on hand, but Edelbrock does offer such an intake without the need for any welding. The intake was further configured with 120-pound Holley injectors, a 105mm throttle body, and a billet elbow from Wilson Manifolds (a serious work of art). This allowed us to configure the aluminum discharge tube from the blower, through the supplied air-to-water intercooler, to the massive throttle body.
To say that exceeding the 1,000hp mark was as easy as bolting on the ProCharger supercharger is an understatement. The ProCharger kit installed without any drama, all we had to do was clock the discharge properly to line up with the intercooler tubing. The supplied air-to-water intercooler worked perfectly, dropping inlet air temps by over 100 degrees (using dyno water). The blown, injected big-block was tuned using a Holley HP management system and all testing was run on race fuel. In addition to being plenty powerful, we liked the fact that the F-1A-94 was self-contained and required no drilling or tapping of the oil pan. The kit was supplied with a standard 7.65-inch serpentine crank pulley and dedicated 8-rib belt to drive the blower (12-rib serpentine or cog beltdrives are optional, as are a choice of either V-belts or a serpentine belt to drive the accessories) ProCharger supplied a number of different blower pulleys, but we nailed it on our first try with the 4.25-inch (12-rib) combo. With the blower pumping out a peak of 11.8 psi (the unit is capable of well over 30 psi), the supercharged BPE 540 produced 1,197 hp and 953 lb-ft of torque. Because it continued to pull strong with the rising boost curve offered by the F-1A-94, we revved the 540 out to 7,000 rpm. Rest assured there was considerably more power to be had with one of the many smaller blower pulleys but we were only looking to exceed 1,000 hp with this combo, and boy did we succeed!
1. The BPE 540 crate engine was supplied in long-block form and featured their own heavy-duty block stuffed to the gills with forged internals. Toss in a set of BPE aluminum heads, a healthy roller cam, and the best warranty in the business and you have the makings of some serious power potential.
2. Since we ran the engine previously in carbureted trim with nitrous, and then again with a 6-71 blower, we figured it was time to make the switch to EFI. We installed this Edelbrock 454-R intake converted for EFI use. Edelbrock offers a few different intakes designed for this application.
3. The Edelbrock intake was set up to accept eight injectors. To ensure adequate fuel delivery, we installed a set of 120-pounders from Holley.
4. Wilson Manifolds was kind enough to supply this 105mm throttle body for our ProCharger test.
5. The throttle body was attached to the two-piece CNC inlet elbow. In addition to working well on our blow-through application, the Wilson products screamed quality.
6. Since we planned on exceeding the 1,000hp mark, we augmented the dyno fuel pump with a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump. With 17 volts, the fuel pump was more than up to the task of supplying the necessary fuel for our blown big-block.
7. Run in naturally aspirated trim, the low-compression, power-adder-ready 540 produced 646 hp at 6,100 rpm and 627 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.
8. Installation of the ProCharger supercharger required the removal of the stud girdle supplied on the BPE 540. This was necessary so we could install a shorter valve cover to clear the supercharger. ProCharger does offer different bracket options, but this was the fastest way to move forward on the dyno.
9. To ensure we could easily exceed the 1,000hp mark, ProCharger supplied an F-1A-94 supercharger. One of the reasons we like centrifugal blowers is how easy they are to plumb in comparison to turbos.
10. The boys at Speedmaster came to the rescue with a fabricated valve cover that fit over our rockers and under the ProCharger F-1A-94. This shot illustrates the proximity of the supercharger to the new (shorter) valve cover.
11. Impressively compact, the ultra-efficient impeller design of the F-1A-94 was capable of supporting over 1,200 hp. ProCharger makes a host of different superchargers to fit whatever power you’re trying to churn out.
12. The ProCharger kit included a 7.65-inch, 12-rib crank pulley that allowed sufficient impeller speeds, even when teamed with sizable blower pulleys.
13. Our testing began and ended with a 4.25-inch blower pulley that produced a peak boost reading of 11.8 psi. This is far less than the F-1A-94 can put out, but more than enough to motivate our big-block to bigger numbers.
14. Knowing we planned on running elevated boost levels, ProCharger supplied this air-to-water intercooler. Don’t let the size fool ya, this baby offered plenty of flow, minimal pressure drop, and plenty of charge cooling.
15. We monitored the pressure and temperature drop across the intercooler core. Running dyno water, the intercooler dropped the inlet air temps by over 100 degrees.
16. To eliminate the pressure surge that accompanied lifting off the throttle at high rpm and boost levels, ProCharger supplied this massive blow-off valve.
17. The graph illustrates just how easy it was to coax over 1,000 horsepower from a blown big-block. The Mad Adder BPE 540 produced just under 650 hp in naturally aspirated trim, but increased substantially under boost. After installation of the 4.25-inch blower pulley, the power output of the 540 jumped to nearly 1,200 hp (at 11.78 psi), with peaks of 1,197 hp and 953 lb-ft of torque. Best of all, we knew there was plenty more left in the amazing ProCharger F-1A-94.
Photos by Richard Holdener