Performance products are all about pushing boundaries. The effects of higher engine speeds and increased power production require turning toward not only stronger internal components, but unorthodox and revolutionary designs, as well. This is true, even in something as simple as an oil pump. No one recognizes this more than the people at Melling Engine Parts
Back in 2003, Melling joined forces with Roush Industries on contract from Ford Motor Company. The two firms had been tapped to fix a few “hiccups” Ford had encountered with its supercharged 5.4-liter, Four-Valve engine. Destined to be installed within the forthcoming 2005-’06 Ford GT supercar, this project paved the way for what many consider to be the pinnacle of dry-sump oil pump engineering.
Not only would this later be recognized as the first domestic OE (Original Equipment) dry-sump oil pump of its kind, but a cornerstone from which Melling Engine Parts could continue to build a performance-focused Ford portfolio. Today, Melling offers 20 oil pumps for late-model Ford modular V8 engines, 11 of which are of a stock replacement configuration, with the remaining nine being purely performance application-oriented.
But before Melling could outfit vehicles like the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 Ford GT and the supercharged 2020 Mustang GT500 5.2-liter Predator motor with its oil circulation systems, some serious engineering scrutiny had to first be implemented.
Pushing Ford’s Factory Engines Further
Forever looking to push the boundaries of OE-grade engines and the lack of performance capabilities of stock oil pump designs, Melling has dedicated countless hours of research to investigating lubrication issues within engines. What Melling’s engineers have discovered is that time after time, manufacturers have opted to streamline production by applying the same oil pumps across the board.
For instance, Ford utilized the oil pump from the 5.0-liter Coyote engine in the 2020 Mustang GT500’s 5.2-liter Predator engine. Sure, the stock Coyote oil pump did a solid job at first, but when Ford’s engineers started hitting higher revs consistently during testing, all manner of oil-oriented fiascos unfolded.
Both volume and pressure were far too low to keep the supercharged fangs of the snake filled with adequate amounts of venom. So, Ford turned to Melling Engine Parts once more, with high hopes that the solution would be a simple and affordable one.
Design solutions of this magnitude rarely materialize from thin air, and so Ford and Melling set to reviewing notes pertaining to prior projects and entertaining fresh design pitches. It would not be until Melling began reviewing a series of notes left over from Melling’s experiences with the first Ford GT project nearly two decades prior, that something substantial would manifest.
Needless to say, the fix was anything but inexpensive, as the level of development that went into the GT500’s oil pump fix required a fully bespoke unit to be developed. This was done to meet the requirements set in place by Ford Performance, for the last thing Ford wanted was an underperforming flagship vehicle.
And thus, a nested spring-set prototype was designed for the GT500’s oil pump unit. This made the GT500’s oiling system specific to the 5.2-liter Predator engine, and that engine alone.
The oiling solution that both automotive firms so desperately sought had finally been found. And with the Predator engine now safely producing 760 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, a fresh contract between Melling and Ford was struck. Further proof that failure is little more than a springboard to success when viewed in the right light.
When we spoke with Melling’s VP of Aftermarket Products, Mike Osterhaus, about this particular project, he had quite a bit to say on the matter. The biggest takeaway? Osterhaus confirmed that to alleviate the GT500’s 5.2-liter oiling issues Melling used no carry-over parts from the Coyote pump to accomplish the high-pressure relief setting of 130 psi.
A Little Wile E. Coyote Creativity
The success of those highly visible programs resulted in the development and production of other significant contracts, all oil pump oriented, and all intended to enhance longevity, durability, and outright performance.
Ever seen a brand-new Melling Performance pump up close, and wondered why in the hell it looks so dark? Both bone-stock and hardcore engine variants within Ford’s lineup have long benefitted from Melling’s proprietary hard-coat anodized finish, along the length of its aluminum pump housings, and intended to improve wear resistance, additional steps such as these have proven to be very beneficial.
With the relationship between Melling and Ford becoming forged all the stronger, further development in a derivative of dry-sump pump ingenuity was implemented. And this time around neither company was focusing on high-performance prototypes.
Press Fit Cup Plugs?! Yikes!
When Ford released its first pack of 5.0-liter Coyote engines in 2011, cup plugs were used to retain the pressure relief valve and spring within the oil pump.
Melling did not follow in Ford’s footsteps and instead opted to create Coyote pumps with threaded retainers. Doing so increased cost, but also assured that a cup plug failure resulting in a complete loss of engine oil pressure would never happen. This is something that surely nags a few Ford engineers even to this day.
“From our experience and lessons learned on prior OE oil pump projects, we decided not to follow Ford’s change in 2010 to cost-reduce their oil pumps, we decided to replace the cup plugs used to retain the pressure relief valve with threaded versions,” says Mike Osterhaus, VP of aftermarket engine products, Melling Engine Parts.
Melling’s improved pump design not only eliminates the risk of plug leaks, but also results in more oil flow being delivered to the engine components within. This reduction in leakage has a positive effect on the oil windage around the front of the crankshaft.
Melling Billet Rotor Sets
Issues associated with oil pump rotor failure began with aftermarket-inclined Ford Modular engine owners. Running aftermarket superchargers on high boost wasn’t the only cause of failures, though. The naturally aspirated 6.2-liter Boss oil pumps have been known to exhibit the same symptoms, as well.
As a result, Melling now provides an array of performance oil pumps specifically designed and assembled with billet rotor sets cut from 4140 chromoly steel.
As Melling grew, it recognized the importance of supplying oil pumps to both aftermarket, performance, and original equipment customers in the automotive industry. But to do so, the Melling company had to expand and divide, as it sought to supply all three of the following aspects of the automotive market: original equipment, replacement parts, and performance parts.
Ingenuity is An All-Inclusive Effort At Melling
Over many decades, every division bearing the Melling name has found that customer diversity provides unique opportunities. All forms of internal combustion engines require lubrication solutions in some form or another.Nowhere is this more apparent than within the OE segment. Customers of this caliber require innovative and cost-effective products that can withstand daily abuse. Fortunately, Melling is prone to leaning heavily upon its aftermarket clientele to provide the answers it seeks. Many of Melling’s most revolutionary OE redesigns have sprung from performance customers pushing the boundaries of OE requirements and presenting a solution in the process.
Our development testing of the first 4.6-liter Two-Valve oil pump, indicated the need for a stronger cover plate to retain the oil flow created by the pump. We chose cast iron as the material for improved strength and coated the machined cover to eliminate the potential for galling. Mike Osterhaus, VP of aftermarket engine products, Melling Engine Parts
As the knowledge and experience gathered from one aspect of the automotive market provide benefits to the other two arms of the Melling brand, a cycle begins.
OE projects requiring advanced R&D testing to develop and validate new oil pump designs form the expansion of manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure. In turn, Melling’s effort (and utter dedication) to meet ISO TS16949 standards is applied not just to its OE programs, but every aspect of replacement and performance products, as well.
The result is a zealous infatuation with meeting OE customer cleanliness requirements. If you ask any Melling employee, this remains the benchmark for every manufactured product that leaves the factory.
Oh, and as for all of us aftermarket enthusiasts, let’s just say that we benefit the most from everything we just mentioned.