During our week in Houston last fall, we got the chance to visit several engine shops in the area, and we also wanted to spend some time seeing where many up-and-coming engine builders get their start and hone their skills, so we stopped by the School of Automotive Machinists & Technology, also known as SAM Tech.
We got the full tour of the facility and learned more about the different classes the school offers throughout the year. We also got to see some of the builds that students had in progress, as well as this supercharged 388 cid LS engine that powers a Cadillac looking to compete in mile racing. SAM Tech’s own Andrew Hachmeister walked us through the build and told us what went into the LS engine.
“This build started out as a former customer from where I used to work,” Hachmeister says. “He ended up having some issues, so he came back to me and we completely changed routes. We started out with a Dart iron block with a 3.622” stroke in it. We have an eight counterweight crank in it. We have a set of Dyers rods in there with a set of Diamond pistons. We’re sitting at 10:1 compression.”
According to Andrew, his customer had some issues in previous years not making it to the end of the mile during races, so Andrew wanted to dumb down the compression a little bit as a way to open up the tuning window and leave some room on the table.
To help in that effort, the Dart block got paired with a set of Trick Flow cylinder heads that were ported by Greg Good, which feature a set of Crower rocker arms and a set of 3/8ths Trend pushrods. Sitting atop the LS engine is a Kong 2650 blower for extra air and boost as well.
“Once we ended up getting the engine all together, we ran it on the engine dyno,” he says. “From there, we put it in the chassis and started driving it on our chassis dyno here. It turns out, we want a little bit more from the engine, and for the mile, since we’re going to be holding it wide open for a long duration, we actually wanted to put some extra cooling measures in there. We ended up getting a ProMeth kit for putting the injectors up in the hat of the blower to cool it off. That way, we can try to keep everything manageable along with having a little bit more power and have our tuning window a little bit bigger.”
Since the customer came back to Andrew for help on the build, it was an opportunity for him to get the SAM Tech students involved of course. For their part, the students got to see the build through from A to Z.
“When it first came in here, it came in with a lifted head that torched a head gasket and torched part of the head,” Hachmeister says. “We ended up melting a piston along the way too. The students got to go through how we tear everything apart and what we need to check to make sure everything’s okay and safe. Then, we get to go through the whole machining process and what we need to learn about how it was built prior and what changes we need to make it survive. They got to tag along with all of our clearances and measuring along with our assembly. They also got to help in getting the engine ready for the dyno.”
For the engine’s camshaft, Andrew decided to go with a cam that features specs of 244 @ .050 on the intake and 255 @ .050 on the exhaust with a 115 LSA and about .660 lift.
With the LS running a blower, Andrew had to make some changes there as well. In the engine’s earlier iteration, the customer was running about 18-lbs. of boost.
“We wanted to slow that blower down a little bit and try to be able to manage our heat a little bit better to make everything survive,” he says. “Now, we’re running about 12-15 lbs. at most. On the engine dyno, we’re making about 1,000-horse, and then when we put it on the chassis dyno, we’re sitting at about 850-hp without running any methanol.”
In addition to the ProMeth kit, this LS engine will also be seeing a 200-hp shot of nitrous. However, Andrew says that is only there if the customer needs it to reach his goal of 200 mph in the mile.
“If we don’t have to run nitrous during the mile to reach our goal of 200 mph, then we would much rather not use it,” he says. “That’s just going to be one of those add-ons that we can make. In theory, it should be able to make it the way that we’ll end up having it here with the ProMeth kit. We’re pretty happy with the build.”
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade1, Elring – Das Original and NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].