Editors Note: California native DJ Reid is a veteran drag racer who has competed in the heads-up world with his 1968 Camaro in and around the West Coast. DJ is now assembling an all-new LSX powerplant, sporting a Vortech supercharger, for 275 radial tire racing, and is taking us on a guided, multi-part walkthrough of the various steps to his engine build-up and preparation as he works toward a return to the track.
Many have followed our journey to build a barn-burning drag radial monster capable of 4-second blasts down the strip on narrow 275 radial tires and perhaps the occasional trip on the even smaller 235 radials.
Our build started with a solid foundation from Dick Maskin and the team at Dart Machinery. From there, we pulled together a stout short-block that included the likes of Total Seal Rings, a Winberg billet crank, GRP billet rods, Ross Racing’s custom flat top pistons, and even ARP showed up to help us bolt it all together.
From there, we capped it off with one of the most wicked top end packages offered for LS-based powerplants. It started with a set of Mast’s canted valve Mozez heads and matching tunnel ram. Within, we used Comp hardware that’s connected to Ferrea valves by T&D’s absolutely stunning stainless rockers. After Mike Consuelo and the gang at QMP pulled all these pieces together, we ended up with a package that’s almost too pretty to run down the strip.
That said, we aren’t into building show queens, and after all the effort that went into the hardware to construct our 440-inch LSX beast; the easiest way to turn all those expensive parts into useless molten metal would be to skimp on the oiling system.
Knowing nothing about high-performance oiling, we contacted Mike Lorenzo at Peterson Fluid Systems who hooked us up with lead technician, Pat Haberkorn, to help us design an oil system capable of keeping our short-block and valvetrain lubricated. We ended up with one of Peterson’s twisted four-lobe design, billet 6 stage pumps, a hand crafted oil tank, an oil filter mount with their really trick integrated system primer, and a bunch of other goodies, like their open air element vacuum regulator. We sat down with Haberkorn to cover a range of topics that not only helped us with our oiling needs, but will be a benefit to anyone curious to learn more about oiling systems and maintenance for high-horsepower cars.
What are the biggest considerations when designing a drag race oiling system from scratch?
Pat Haberkorn: “What are the customer or engine builder’s goals for the dry sump system from a performance standpoint? What amount of vacuum and oil pressure are you targeting? The oil pan design and size of oil tank are all considerations.
The typical drag race system is a 5-stage pump, where we scavenge three points from the oil pan, and one typically from the lifter valley. The benefit of setting a system up this way is that windage is drastically decreased, as the lifter valley can be completely sealed up so oil from the valley cannot make its way onto the rotating assembly.”
What are some of the mistakes you have seen in planning out a drag race oiling system?
PH: “We’ve seen just about every mistake that can be made over 30 years in the industry. The most common thing are incorrect drive ratios, oil pumps that are not set up properly in terms of scavenge rotor/pressure rotor combination, and incorrect filtering. Pump drive ratios are all special to the engine combination and maximum operating RPM of the engine, so taking the pump and ratio off of one engine and putting it on another doesn’t always work out. Most of the time, we can get the ratio updated by only changing one pulley and a belt.
When it comes to rotor sizes, we offer two different sizes in our patented, twisted four-lobe design: a 1.2-inch rotor, and 1.4-inch. The 1.4-inch rotors we use on the scavenge side of most the drag racing pumps to maximize the amount of vacuum the pump can produce. The 1.2-inch rotor is our typical pressure rotor for most applications. Very few applications in the drag racing world require our 1.4-inch rotor, which is capable of flowing over 30 gpm.
We try our best to produce automotive jewelry when it comes to all of our products. – Pat Haberkorn, Peterson Fluid Systems
Filtering is another area where things can be easily misconstrued. Our most popular filter is our 09-0452, which is a -12 60 micron stainless pleated element which filters down to about a .0023 particle size. Too loose of a filter element, you’ll scar bearings; too restrictive of an element and you’ll starve the engine for oil at higher RPM as oil demand increases. Our remote filter mount with the integrated primer option is also a great option for those looking to run a spin-on style filter that they may be more comfortable with.”
What is the advantage of a 6-stage R4 pump over a smaller 4-stage pump?
PH: The amount of vacuum will be stronger with a 6-stage pump versus a four. You also achieve better oil control, as you can scavenge from two more points on the engine.
What are the advantages of running a your R4 over a stock LS internal oil pump or an external aftermarket wet sump oil pump?
PH: The main advantage of our system is externally adjustable oil pressure and the ability to draw vacuum from the same unit. You’re also typically limited in the size of line you can run in the factory configuration. Most dry sump set-ups are run with a 12 AN or 16 AN feed to the oil pump and are always returned to the tank with a 16 AN line. Plumbing this large of a line in the factory configuration can be a little frustrating due to space constraints.
What are the optimal points for scavenging in a drag engine with a 6-stage pump?
PH: Most customers who run our 6-stage pumps run them in conjunction with a segmented oil pan, where four of the scavenge lines are run to the pan and each crank journal is compartmentalized and windage is even further reduced.
Too loose of a filter element, you’ll scar bearings; too restrictive of an element and you’ll starve the engine for oil at higher RPM as oil demand increases. – Pat Haberkorn, Peterson Fluid Systems
PH: In all honesty, it’s depends on what the engine is set up for. Some high-end naturally-aspirated applications are set up to run 22-inches of vacuum, while most are safe in the 10 to 12 inches of vacuum range. The one factor we cannot control is the quality of the engine build. The more time and attention that’s paid to ring seal and the overall sealing of the engine, the better the results you will get from our pump. We’ve seen some vacuum leaks be worth 5 to 8 inches of vacuum; also if ring seal is less than optimal, the pump is spending it’s time trying to get all the combustion chamber gas that’s snuck past the rings out of the crankcase, rather than trying to keep the crankcase under a depression.
How much vacuum should we be aiming for with our Peterson set-up, or does the engine builder dictate this process with ring and clearance choices?
PH: In our experience, most engines are safe running around 10 to 12 inches of vacuum. Once again, if they’re set up for high vacuum with extra clearance in wrist-pins, oiling through the connecting rod or accessory oiling, such as wrist pin squirters, the amount of vacuum can be increased.
Our 5 stage drag racing pump, on a typical 565-inch bracket build, should be able to pull anywhere from 10-15 inches of vacuum, depending on how tight the engine is seal-wise. If you’d like more vacuum, an accessory vacuum pump may be a viable option at that point.
You offer a multitude of canister, inline, and varying micron oil filters. Why and how does someone building an oil system know which and how many to use?
PH: Different applications require different micron ratings. We offer a 10-micron cellulose element that’s typically used as the primary filter between the pump and the engine on the pressure side. Our 45-micron is primarily used as a fuel filter, and our 60-micron is most commonly used as a primary filter between the pump and engine, but can also be used as a fuel filter when filtration is required on carbureted methanol applications.
Our last two elements, the 75-micron and the 100-micron, are typically used as scavenge return filters on dry sump setups to keep the oil clean going back into the tank. Although, I should note, the 75 and 100 micron have been used in some primary filter applications where tolerances inside the motor allow for a larger particle size to pass. This is why we recommend placing a call to our tech department to get a recommendation on filtering, as there are so many different ways a system can be configured, it’s best that we get all the information so we can give you an accurate assessment of your combination.
What is the optimal pulley speed?
PH: There unfortunately isn’t ‘a-one-size-fits’ statement when it comes to pulley ratios. Each ratio is set up to each particular engine, based off of the maximum operating rpm the engine will run at. I would say that for most drag racing applications running in the 8,000 to 8,500 rpm range, a 56 percent ratio is preferable. For an engine operating in the 10,000 rpm range, a slower 48 to 50 percent ratio should be chosen.
It is important for us to work with the builder to determine the application and what is correct for his or her needs. – Keith Jones, Total Seal
What factors play a role in determining optimal oil pressure?
PH: The engine builder typically dictates those factors as he knows the tolerances set internally in the engine and what he likes to see for pressure. The general rule of thumb we follow is that if the engine is at 8,000 rpm, anywhere from 70-90 psi is acceptable. We shoot for about a 20-pound window around the maximum RPM.
What considerations go into an oil tank and how is a Peterson tank better than other designs?
PH: What seems to make our tanks stand out would be that each tank is hand fabricated and the utmost attention is paid to fit and finish. Kudos go to our talented fabricators and welders for their attention to detail when building our products — we try our best to produce automotive jewelry when it comes to all of our products. We’ve spent countless hours refining our internal baffling system inside all of our tanks so that no matter which pump they’re hooked to, rock solid oil pressure, excellent oil de-aeration, and oil control are all achieved. Our popular 7-inch drag racing tank, with a catch can, was developed in conjunction with Warren and Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock and, over time, has become the standard in nearly every class in drag racing. We’re thankful to be trusted by such great customers, like Pat Musi, Reher-Morrison, Proline Racing Engines, Bennett Racing Engines … and the list goes on.
What is the proper maintenance protocol for the oil pump, tank, and filters?
PH: When it comes to service on the oil pump, anytime debris goes through the pump, we need to take a look at it. Other than that, you should expect years of problem-free service from your R4 pump. The oil bypass spring should be changed out every off-season to ensure consistent performance. We also recommend taking the tank apart every off-season for cleaning and inspection. When it comes to filters, they should be cleaned every oil change and you’re probably safe replacing the stainless element every two years. Most choose to have multiple elements that they can rotate in and out, which also extends the life of the element.
Connecting It All
In our previous Gen I small-block build, we used a more conventional wet sump pump for oil control. The design placed the oil pump in the oil pan with a pick-up that pulled oil from a 7-quart pool in the pan and fed it directly into the block though a galley behind the rear mains. To the contrary, our new dry sump oiling setup locates the pump and its corresponding pool of oil in locations that are independent of the block and oil pan. The result is a heavy plumbing requirement.
To get started, crew chief Erik Kvilhaug and I spent an evening out in the garage to visualize and then whiteboard an oiling system schematic down to the hose length, size, and fitting angle.
The most common mistakes we see are incorrect drive ratios, oil pumps that are not set up properly in terms of scavenge rotor/pressure rotor combination and incorrect filtering. – Pat Haberkorn, Peterson Fluid Systems
It takes a lot of hose and fittings to fully plumb a dry sump, external pump oiling system. When is comes to AN plumbing, there are a number of manufacturers in the space. We specifically decided to go with Earls Performance Plumbing for two factors: they’ve never failed us in the past where others hadm and they boast a huge assortment of fittings — in black. We spoke to Bill Tichenor at Holley Performance group (Earls’ parent company) to get the skinny on what we would need. After consideration, we decided we would go with all swivel seal fittings for ease of installation. Here’s what that final list looked like:
2x EAR-AT800108 8AN Straight
2x EAR-AT809008 8AN 90°
1x EAR-350612 6′ 12AN Hose
1x EAR-352012 20′ 12AN Hose
3x EAR-AT800112 12AN Straight
2x EAR-AT800112 12AN Straight
1x EAR-AT800112 12AN Straight
2x EAR-AT804612 12AN 45°
4x EAR-AT809012 12AN 90°
9x EAR-AT809112 12AN 90°
1x EAR-350616ERL 6′ 16AN Hose
1x EAR-AT800116 16AN Straight
1x EAR-AT804616 16AN 45°
2x EAR-AT809116 16AN 90°
For our hose needs, we stayed with Earls and continued the black theme by going with their Pro Lite 350 braided hose. The hose is covered in a nylon braid and true to it’s name, carries a 350 PSI rating. Earls also manufactures a Pro Lite Ultra that is rated to 500 PSI but we didn’t need the additional 200 PSI of coverage for our oiling system as we don’t expect to see more than 200 PSI during use. Although the hose is easy to cut and assemble, we used a set of heavy duty cable cutters from Lowe’s to make quick, simple and even cuts on the hose. The Pro Lite 350 is designed for use with Swivel-Seal, Auto-Crimp & Auto-Fit Hose Ends.
Wrapping It Up
The engine now sits nicely between the frame rails of our 1968 Camaro, and with the help of Earl’s, Peterson, and Aeromotive, the essential fluid systems are now plumbed.
A year in the making, and we’re almost there. The drag strip better be ready.