The use of turbochargers as a power adder in racing applications continues to grow at a rapid pace as more gearheads adopt them for their forced induction needs. One thing that racers have discovered is that turbo systems generate massive amounts of heat, and that can rob the engine of performance or cause other issues. The teams of the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout fought the scourge of turbocharger heat difficulties with various products from Design Engineering Inc.
Heat control is one of Design Engineering Inc.’s (DEI) specialties and it has developed a thick catalog of different products that assist with combating heat-related issues. Teams participating in the $10K Drag Shootout were given access to various DEI products to help reduce heat in the engine bay of their builds. With products like Aluminum Plug Wire Sheath, Exhaust Header Wrap Kits, Cool Tape Reflective Tape, Cool Tube, Titanium Protect-A-Sleeve, and Easy Loom Split Sleeves available, there were plenty of ways each team could mitigate heat produced by its turbo system.
Jessie Adams is the lead fabricator for the Comp Cams Dream Team and has many years of experience constructing race cars. Adams discussed how he’s used DEI products on his own projects and why you want to use them in a build where a turbocharger is the power adder of choice.
“I’ve used DEI’s Velcro Aluminized Sleeving in the past for electrical wires, data acquisition cables, and hoses on many different vehicles. On multiple occasions, DEI’s sleeving saved the plug wires on supercharged HEMI’s when a burst panel popped and there was a fire. I’ve used the DEI exhaust wrap on the headers of a turbo system because they will get so hot they’ll glow red, and that can melt wires, hoses, or anything plastic from a decent distance away. Also, it’s important to keep the heat in the pipes to help a turbo spool faster, and the exhaust wrap is great for that,” Adams explains.
One of the DEI products the Comp Cams Dream Team used in its build was a full set of Aluminum Plug Wire Sheaths. The Aluminum Plug Wire Sheath is made of a high-temperature glass fiber material that’s been bonded to an aluminized material that reflects heat. DEI designed these sheaths to protect the spark plug wire and its boot from high levels of direct and indirect heat. They can also be used on electrical wires, cables, hoses, and other small parts. The Aluminum Plug Wire Sheath is rated to resist 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit of direct heat and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit of radiant heat.
The temperature generated by exhaust from an engine is the main concern under the hood of a racecar, and with a turbocharged application, there’s even more of it to deal with. Adams explains why the Aluminum Plug Wire Sheaths are a great idea to protect the spark plug wires from exposure to heat.
“A lot of things happen inside an engine compartment when a vehicle is going down the race track that cannot be seen while it’s idling in the shop. The G-forces exerted during a pass can make flexible components like wires move unexpected amounts. The Aluminum Plug Wire Sheaths on spark plug wires protect the insulation from breaking down due to the heat, which helps keep your ignition current running to the spark plug and not jumping out of the wire causing a short circuit. When the current leaves the wire it will cause a miss or dead cylinder and that can lead to some big problems,” Adams says.
Besides spark plug wires, there’s a multitude of other wires that live under the hood of a racecar and need protection from the heat. DEI developed a solution for those wires with its Easy Loom Split Sleeves that provide protection for wires from heat, abrasion, Mother Nature, and fluids. The Easy Loom Split Sleeves are simple to use since they are split and don’t require you to cut any wiring for installation. The Easy Loom Split Sleeves can resist up to 347-degrees Fahrenheit of radiant heat and have a melting point of 500-degrees Fahrenheit.
For Adams and the Comp Cams Dream Team, it was a no-brainer to include the Easy Loom Split Sleeves as a part of the build.
“When the integrity of your wiring is compromised, 99 times out of 100 it will not become evident until the worst time possible. Things like that never fail in the garage or in the pits — they always fail when you’re many miles from home, or on the race track when consistency and performance matter the most. Using the DEI Easy Loom Split Sleeves ensured our wires would be protected from all the heat generated by the turbo system,” Adams explains.
Wrapping the headers and hot side of the turbo kit with some type of heat shielding material is the most important preventative measure you can take to keep heat under control. DEI’s Exhaust Header Wrap Kits were provided to the teams during the $10K Drag Shootout as another way to protect delicate parts and wiring from heat. The wraps can deal with temperatures up to 2,500-degrees Fahrenheit, while reducing temperatures under the hood and keeping vibration to a minimum.
The Comp Cams Dream Team used the Exhaust Header Wrap on its 2-into-1 turbo hot side exhaust pipe, and it performed as expected when the car was on the dyno. What wasn’t expected was how well the wrap would deal with the intense heat of the devastating fire the Mustang was exposed to on its trip to No Mercy 10.
“The fire was so hot it literally boiled all of the gear oil out of the rearend, melted the rear differential cover, melted the aluminum wheels, burned hoses, destroyed the wiring, and liquefied every plastic component on the entire vehicle. Portions of our aluminum turbo exhaust down piping were also damaged from the intense heat of the fire. I was astonished to see our hot side exhaust/turbo inlet piping when we disassembled our disaster of a racecar was protected from the heat by the DEI Exhaust Header Wrap. When the reassembly process begins we will reuse the exhaust piping without removing or replacing the pre-fire exhaust wrap — that’s how well it held up” Adams says.
Protecting your wiring and heat-sensitive parts can be an easy task when you use the right products. DEI Inc.’s products were put to the test in more ways than one during the second season of the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout and demonstrated their value in these real-world situations.