Boost on Top: Vortech 351W

By Richard Holdener

If you haven’t already checked out the two-part series we did on the junkyard 351 Windsor Ford, shame on you, because it was cool stuff. We pulled a 5.8L EFI motor from the engine bay of a full size F-150, slapped it right on the dyno, and were rewarded with roughly 250 hp. While that seems like a small number for a V8, especially one sporting over 350c.i., such was the state of affairs back in 1995 truck land.

Knowing there was more to be had, we replaced the stock heads, cam, and intake with a top-end kit (pt#2090) from Edelbrock. The kit included a healthy hydraulic roller cam (.573/.582 lift split, a 235/239-degree duration split and 112-degree lsa), a set of E-CNC 185 heads and Performer RPM Air Gap intake. Run in carbureted trim with a 750 Holley, the power output of the top-end equipped 351W jumped to more than 450 hp. This was reduced slightly (to 433 hp) in part 2 when we replaced the carburetion with an EFI RPM II upper and lower intake. After running EFI on the 351W, we started wondering what it might take to top our top-end kit?

In case you haven’t figured it out, the answer is boost. In fact, the answer to any performance question is always boost, and if a little boost is good, more must be even better, right? To illustrate just how good boost is, we decided to top the 351W with an efficient Vortech supercharger.

Given the impressive maximum specs of 1,150 cfm, 22 psi and 750 hp (a conservative rating by Vortech by the way), it is not surprising we chose the Vortech V3 SI trim for our Windsor. We had no intention of reaching, let alone surpassing the maximum power level listed by Vortech, but we liked the fact the SI V3 offered such a high adiabatic efficiency rating (translation: lower charge temps under boost).

Though we planned on keeping boost to a minimum on our non-intercooled combination, we did want to maximize the power output at those lower boost levels. We also liked the fact the V3 featured self-contained oiling, thus eliminating the need to supply oil to the blower or punch a hole in the pan. Yes, the Vortech V3 offered an impressive combination of power potential, reliability, and ease of installation.

We installed the Vortech V3 onto the awaiting Windsor using a 3.625-inch blower pulley. This was teamed with the supplied 6-inch crank pulley, which produced a maximum boost pressure of 5.9 psi at our peak engine speed of 6,000 rpm. Quick math told us that using the 3.625-inch blower pulley and 6-inch crank pulley combined to produce a drive ratio 1.655:1 (6.0/3.625).

When we factored in (multiplied) the internal step ratio (gearing inside the blower) of 3.6:1 and a maximum engine speed of 6,000 rpm, we got a maximum impeller speed of 35,751 rpm. This was obviously well under the maximum of 52,000 rpm listed by Vortech, so we knew there is much more power to be had from the V3. We purposely started out on the safe (low-boost) side of the equation. Equipped with the Vortech producing just under 6 psi, the supercharged 351W produced 559 hp at 6,000 rpm and 518 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Running under 6 psi, the Vortech improved the power output of the 5.8L Ford by more than 125 hp!

As impressed as we were with the results of the supercharged combination, we couldn’t help but smile knowing there was much more to be had, and how easy it was to unleash it.

The great thing about supercharging is more power is never more than a pulley swap away. Do you want more power? Just add more boost. Of course, there is a limit to the fun, but we were nowhere near that limit on our low-boost Windsor. So, we swapped out the 6.25-inch blower pulley for a smaller 3-inch pulley. This increased the impeller speed to 43,200 rpm, a jump of almost 7,500 rpm. This increase in blower speed pushed the peak boost pressure up to 10.5 psi and the power right along with it. Run at 10.5 psi, the Vortech 351W produced 645 hp at 6,100 rpm and 584 lb-ft at 5,100 rpm.

It bears mentioning that you should consider intercooling at this elevated boost level, and Vortech offers systems designed to help lower the charge temps (especially important on pump gas).

We loved how the Edelbrock top-end kit increased the power output of the 351W by more than 180 hp, then loved it even more when the Vortech topped the top-end kit by 213 hp. The question now is, how do we top this?

The stock 5.8L EFI Ford (351 Windsor) was upgraded with an Edelbrock top-end kit that included a healthy hydraulic roller cam, E-CNC 185 heads, and the RPM II EFI intake. Run in normally aspirated trim, the modified 351 produced 433 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. After topping the top-end kit with a Vortech V3 supercharger, the power output jumped to 559 hp and 518 lb-ft of torque at a peak of 5.9 psi. As much as we liked adding more than 125 hp to our 351W, we knew there was more to be had. Stepping down from a 3.625-inch to a 3.0-inch blower pulley increased both boost and power. Running a maximum of 10.5 psi resulted in 645 hp and 584 lb-ft of torque.

RELATED: Topped Off: Edelbrock 351W Power Packages

RELATED: We Like RPM II: Edelbrock EFI Top End

Sources: Accufab;accufabracing.com, Edelbrock;edelbrock.com, Holley/Hooker;holley.com, Lucas Oil;lucasoil.com, MSD;msdignition.com, Vortech Superchargers;vortechsuperchargers.com

About the author

PPN Editor

Power & Performance News is the source for news, tech and products that help you get more performance from your vehicle. If powertrain performance projects and hardcore technical content are your interest, Power & Performance News is the publication designed for you. Our acclaimed editorial staff covers all aspects of engine and driveline upgrades with a mission of presenting information that is both interesting and achievable for the “average car guy”.
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