Isolated Component Testing

Isolated Component Testing
By Don Terrill © -

Thinking theoretically has huge value, but when it comes to getting every last horsepower (or other desired outcome), it's all about testing. Of course you have track testing and dyno testing, but if you're really serious you need to also isolate components and test them individually.

Reasons for component testing:
  • You don't own an engine dyno or race track.
  • It's easier to find every last horsepower.
  • You can drastically reduce variables during testing.
  • You can see small changes.
  • Some items are easier to test in isolation, like a wet sump oil pump.

How to build a component test rig:
  • Use an electric motor to drive the component and then measure electrical draw.
  • Use anything to drive the component and then measure drag with a load cell -- like your typical engine dyno.

Some items lend themselves to component testing better than others. The best are things that drag on the engine, like accessories.

Possible Applications:

Of course this applies better to wet sump engines as a dry sump pump can be easily optimized on the engine during dyno testing.

What to measure:
  • Pressure.
  • Volume.
  • Efficiency.
  • Power loss.

What to test:
  • Different oil pumps -- manufactures, designs, etc.
  • Reduced rotor height.
  • Change/adjust bypass spring.
  • Different pick-ups.
  • Different oils.
  • Oil temperature.

I'd probably use a junk block to build a water pump test rig. This way I could also measure where and how coolant flows.

What to measure:
  • Pressure.
  • Volume.
  • Efficiency.
  • Power loss.

What to test:
  • Different water pumps -- manufactures, designs, etc.
  • Underdrive pulleys.
  • Modified pump blades.
  • Of course you could use an electric water pump and move the drag to the alternator.

You'll have to figure out a way to load the alternator like race conditions. You'll also need to know the peak draw created by your car.

What to measure:
  • Output.
  • Efficiency.
  • Power Loss.

Things to test:
  • Different alternators -- manufactures, size etc.
  • Underdrive pulleys.
  • Turning off the field.
  • Fully charge battery.
  • Different batteries.
  • Multiple batteries.

Things to watch out for:
  • Frictional losses in your test rig that vary with temperature.
  • Testing in the wrong conditions -- like at an rpm that's too low.

There is one item I would never consider testing in isolation and that is the oil pan. The only way to do valuable testing on the oil pan is at the track, which is not very convenient.

The number of things you can test in isolation is only limited by the total number of components.

I've been talking about the engine in this article, but you could apply this to every part in your car.

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