Instant Power for Trucks and Cars
For those of you who haven’t seen the late-1970’s cult classic movie called Mad Max, be certain to watch it soon.
Mad Max features a young Mel Gibson when he was still a relative nobody on the movie scene. It offers loads of kick-ass action with no holding back on car chases, large explosions, and dead bodies. Our hero stars as “Max”, a police officer caught in a post-apocalyptic dystopia and battles ruthless road-raging gangsters who commit unforgivable crimes.
While macho Max chases the bad guys in an already beefy 1974 Ford Falcon Police Interceptor, at a desperate crux in the movie he and his buddies decide his car needs a “secret weapon” to give Max the edge on the bad guys. After countless hours of labor in the dark bowels of a machine shop, Mel’s black chariot emerges like a Phoenix reborn from the flames. With a gigantic nasty-looking hunk of metal perched atop of the air intake manifold, the engine starts up and makes known its presence with an uncanny thunder sure to send the enemy scurrying with their tails between their legs.
The new weapon makes the engine so screamingly hot, it has an excess of power that causes Max’s police interceptor tires to squeal while shifting from gear to gear – even after coming up to speed. Needless to say, the prized contraption gives Mel such an edge, that he is able to blow away some serious gangster butt.
So what was Mel’s secret weapon? A real-world work of technology called a… supercharger.
What is a Supercharger?
A supercharger – also known commonly as a blower – had its beginnings in the late 1800s American industrial era. Brothers Francis and Philander Roots of Connersville, Indiana, patented an early design for a blower used for air-fed blast furnaces and other industrial processes.
Later known as a “Roots” blower design, a derivative technology was later developed by German auto designer Gottlieb Daimler of Daimler-Benz and Mercedes-Benz fame. Later on, a centrifugal design was patented and used by French car maker Renault.
How Does It Work?
The Roots-style blower worked in a manner similar to other superchargers of that era. Its general features even carry over to this day. See the accompanying photos of a modern-day Roots blower.
Superchargers use high-speed blades to compress intake engine air before rushing it into the engine intake manifold. By forcing this rush of air at high speeds into the engine, this super-compressed charge of air can be matched with a similarly larger charge of fuel. The high intake rate and pressure provided by the supercharger allow this dense charge of air and fuel to be packed into the engine before ignition. Upon combustion, the overall increase in air and fuel in a tightly packed space results in significantly greater engine power.
Unlike its popular cousin the turbocharger (which operates using expanding exhaust gases), superchargers are usually driven by mechanical power taken directly from the engine itself. Power is usually delivered by a pulley system, which in turn distributes the power to a set of air intake compressor blades regulated by an oil-filled gearbox. As engine RPMs spin up or down, the supercharger matches the engine in perfect unison. By keeping pace with the engine in real-time, a supercharger delivers smooth and well-proportioned assistance to the engine whenever it needs – or doesn’t need – that extra boost in power.
For the driver of a supercharged car, this equates to faster acceleration, more speed, and overall boost in horsepower.
What Are Superchargers Good For?
Over the decades the supercharger saw further development in the power-packed engines of World War II aircraft such as the Messershmitt Me-109 fighter, which (not surprisingly) sported a German Diamler-Benz supercharged engine. Other fighter craft such as the Supermarine Spitfire and Focke Wulf Fw-190 used supercharged engines along with acetone_injection and water_injection. Supercharger technology in turn lent greatly to the development of jet turbine applications we enjoy today, such as the jet engines used in air travel.
While the post-war era ushered in jet and turbine engine technology, the notion of using superchargers with piston engines did not die out. Its application in automotive, marine and industrial technology continues to this day. Folks enjoy the extra power that superchargers deliver for street-legal applications. More extreme fans buy tickets to see pimped up monster trucks and the racers commonly seen on funny car strips, drag races, and high-speed rallies.
Among its more practical applications, superchargers are used to help aircraft engines deliver more power in the air-starved climes of high-altitude flight.
My Friend Lance Has One
My friend Lance called me up recently to say he just installed a supercharger to beef up his already monster-sized 4-wheeler rig. He wanted me to come have a look. Lucky for you, he let me take some pictures. See the pictures, and witness a modern Roots-style supercharger installed under the hood of his truck.
Lance attributes an increase of at least 25% in overall power to his new supercharger. He says it helps him pull heavy loads (such as his boat or RV trailer) up and over hills with relative ease.
See a video of Lance’s truck supercharger at work by clicking here.
Interview with supercharged truck driver Lance Meyer
John Melendez’s experience as an apprentice aircraft mechanic with The Confederate Air Force