EngineLabs Retrospective: A Look Back At 2019’s Top 10 Articles

In this final EngineLabs article of 2019, we take a look at your favorite articles of 2019. One thing is loud and clear: Pretty much everyone really likes high-RPM and extreme engine projects. Aside from that, there are distinct groups of fans. Some like pushrods, some like overhead cams.

Some like Ford, some like Chevy, and some of you even like Mopar. Everyone seems to like good, solid tech, and we’ll be bringing you plenty of that in 2020. For now, let’s take a look at the top ten most popular EngineLabs articles of 2019. (Note: each heading is a link to that article.)

Volume UP!OPERATION SPINAL TAP IS DONE!11,230 RPM LS7 engineAfter nearly 3 years my life’s professional work all boils down to this moment…I could not have possibly come this far without support from so many…starting with my wife Suzanne!Thanks to COMP Cams for their unwavering support and belief in me and this project. Billy Godbold vouched for me and they got behind us 1,000%Thanks to RHS Racing HeadsJesel Valvetrain InnovationGibtec PistonsTotal Seal Piston RingsLiberty RacecraftEmtron Engine Management ElectronicsHolley EFIWinberg CrankshaftsAnd so many more!Come visit me in our Competition Engine Development course and gets first hand look at what’s inside! www.efi101.com/CED

Posted by EFI University on Monday, November 18, 2019

1. Project Spinal Tap Makes An Insane 11,230 RPM Dyno Pull

The most popular article of the year just eked out the number two spot, and that was news of EFI University’s long term project, a 358 cubic-inch LS engine dubbed Spinal Tap, finally getting onto the dyno and successfully spinning to 11,320 rpm under its own power.

Not only did it just spin to that impressive RPM, but it did so with the valvetrain completely controlled. The genuine emotion showed by Ben Strader in the video seemed to resonate with everyone, and three years of effort was finally realized. For those of you who found the project interesting, stay tuned, as we have an exclusive breakdown of the project coming up in the new year.

2. The Ford Pushrod Returns With The New Godzilla 7.3L OHV Big-Block

Only edged out of the top spot by two-tenths of a percent was the announcement that Ford Motor Company would be getting back into the pushrod engine game. Their long-rumored “Godzilla” big-block was finally officially announced in February, within the announcement for the 2020 F-Series Super Duty pickups.

With a ton of modern features, this is a far cry from the previous Ford 385 big-block platform, and we’ve been waiting with bated breath for one of these to pop up in a Mustang chassis thanks to an innovative engine-swapper, but so far, we’ve only heard talk of how cool the swap would be.

3. The Equal 8: Inside Dan Jesel’s New Clean-Sheet 12,000-RPM V8

Stemming from the 2018 PRI Show, Jeff Smith dove deep into Dan Jesel’s clean-sheet new engine design. This bespoke engine was designed from the start to be a big-bore, short-stroke 427 cubic-inch design, as evidenced by the short 8.50-inch deck height and wide 5.0-inch bore centers.

The goals for the engine are to spin north of 12,000 rpm while producing almost 1,400 horsepower, naturally aspirated. While those might seem lofty, the fact that everything from the block to the valvetrain has been designed specifically around these goals, make it far more likely to happen.

4. TECH QUICKIE: Camshaft Lobe Separation Angle And Power Relationship

This article, while published several years ago, is still a fan favorite thanks to the timeless technical content. Discussing the relationship of a camshaft’s lobe separation angle on power production and powerband shape, the article dives into both naturally aspirated and forced-induction theories.

Also discussed is the relationship of LSA numbers to the other specs of a camshaft, with input from some of the leading camshaft designers in the country. More than just making power, LSA can be used to modulate the production of power as well, and this article serves as a great primer in the spec.

5. Firing Order Swaps: What’s Best For Your Engine?

Another subject which is a timeless classic camshaft discussion is the firing-order swap. It’s something that is often heard in hot-rodder circles but isn’t often fully understood. To explain this, the article dives into what a firing-order swap actually is, along with what it does (and doesn’t) accomplish.

With a lot of input from COMP Cams head camshaft designer, Billy Godbold, as well as one of the originators of the well-known 4-7 swap, the article is an extremely informative reference on the subject, potentially even being considered a definitive source on the subject.

6. The New GM L8T Engine Is A 401ci Gen-V That Hot-Rodders Will Love

Much like the announcement of the Ford Godzilla engine, the announcement from GM of a brand-new large-displacement Gen-V engine — dubbed the L8T — struck a chord with readers, as Jeff Smith explored the new 6.6L design in as much detail as possible, with the limited information available at the time.

Like the Ford 7.3L, the 401-cube L8T was designed to be a gasoline-powered truck engine, meaning there is a lot of room for power gains to be had by the aftermarket. However, since the announcement, we haven’t heard much more of the 6.6-liter L8T.

7. Making An Easy 500 Horsepower From A Junkyard 4.8 LS With Comp Cams

It’s no secret that Richard Holdener spends more time on the dyno than some dyno operators do. In his countless hours of parts-swapping, combo-testing, and horsepower-making, he’s generated some really interesting information and informative content.

This particular video sees him take the lowliest junkyard LS engine and add a well-matched COMP Cams off-the-shelf camshaft and a little bit of Zex giggle gas to spin the dyno to north of 500 horsepower. That’s 170 peak horsepower (and a ton under the curve) from two simple part numbers.

8. Video: Inside of NRE’s 1200-HP 260-CI LS After An Hour On The Dyno

This video was actually a second in a series. The first one showed this twin-turbo, 260 cubic-inch LS engine at wide-open throttle on the dyno for five full minutes. This video showed the engine doing it eleven more times, for a total of one-hour of wide-open throttle run time, making north of four-digits of horsepower.

Not only did the video show the runs, but then the following teardown of the custom-built river-racing engine, showing a surprising lack of wear. The pair of videos are an interesting look at what can be done when you use the right parts and assembly techniques.

9. Little Iron Orphan: A Budget Iron-Block 5.7L LS From A Scrapped 5.3L

This article by Jeff Smith is actually a story of making lemonade when life hands you lemons. Starting with a junkyard block, Smith turned the engine into a solid, inexpensive iron-block 5.7L LS, making in the mid-400-horsepower range. This project was just a simple, solid engine build, that anyone could accomplish in their garage, and you — the reader — loved it.

10. Little Spinner: Inside A Nitro-Burning 119ci V4 Small-Block Chevy

This is probably one of the most unique engines we wrote about all year long. Configured for a Bonneville class, the engine started life as a small-block Chevrolet V8, and then had four rods and pistons removed, the remaining cylinders sleeved, and a 3.0-inch 283 crankshaft, for a final displacement of 119.6 cubic inches.

In addition to the interesting configuration and displacement, the little 7,000-rpm mill burns nitromethane as a fuel. With the goal of earning a very specific class record and not all-out horsepower production, there are some very interesting choices in this engine.

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent fifteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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