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Vortech Q&A

When you think “supercharger” chances are you’re thinking “Vortech”. The term “Vortech” has become almost interchangeable with “supercharger”. It’s what Kleenex is to tissues, what Aspirin is to pain relievers, and what Rollerblade is to inline-skates. One might wonder how this relatively new entry into the centrifugal supercharger industry has become such a dominant force. Is this company worthy of the title “King of Superchargers”? In seeking an answer to this question, we sat down with our Sales Representative at Vortech Engineering. Here’s what we learned: We’ve heard you have a $6 million machine that basically cuts a supercharger out of solid block of aluminum. What’s it all about?

Our machinery is state of the art. Our machine shop is 10,000sq feet. Our super chargers are actually cast in a foundry. This rough casting then comes in and needs to be whittled into the pieces that make up a supercharger. The machines can automatically grab a pallet of material load it, machine it, and remove it at the end. All small parts are machined from bar stock(literally a solid chunk of aluminum).

SCOL: Last year, Vortech Engineering bought Paxton Automotive. What is the difference between these two companies today?

V: Paxton has been around since the 50’s and was factory equipment on the Studebaker, Avanti and a factory option on many vehicles such as the Shelby GT350. Paxton has always and will always stay in the mustang market, but now they are branching into the Dodge/Chrysler market. You will also see Paxton on high-end vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Denali and the Hummer H2. Vortech will stay focused on the Ford and Chevy car and truck market.

SCOL: Did you have anything to do with the designing the GM Vortec engines?

V: The engine company is Vortec we are Vortech. There is no relation or association, except we can add a lot of power to a Vortec with a Vortech!

SCOL: How does Vortech decide which new vehicles are worthy of a Vortech supercharger, and which ones get left in the dust?

All of our systems are built based on demand. Once marketing and sales identifies the demand, a vehicle is brought in for evaluation. If a system can be designed, they then determine if it is safe for the motor and can be produced for a reasonable price. If so, they then move on to the R&D process.

SCOL: Why should I choose a Vortech supercharger over a competing brand?

V: In the last 13 years Vortech has become the leader in the centrifugal supercharger industry. Simply pick up any issue of a mustang magazine and you will see nearly all features have Vortech’s on them. We have accomplished this by offering products that are well engineered, triple checked, and still offered at a competitive price. It’s steps like theses that have excelled Vortech to the top. The amount of science and engineering in every unit is what make the Vortech products work better and last longer then any other. This is why Vortech makes over 2 dozen different chargers.

SCOL: If I install a Vortech supercharger on my car / truck, how will it affect my gas mileage?

V: This is a common question. It depends on the driver. If you can control you speed urge it’s possible to get better mileage because you are not making the engine work as hard to produce the same amount of power. However, if you are a speed racer, you have to remember it takes fuel to make power.

SCOL: What’s the difference between all these head units that Vortech makes – are some for racing and some for the street?

V: Vortech makes over 25 head units and nearly all are dual purpose. Each unit has different flow and pressure characteristics. Vortech uses a SAE approved test stand to map each compressor. We then look at the characteristics of the engine and see which unit will work best. There is always a right tool for the job. You cannot simply assume only a few chargers can meet the needs of all types of engines.

SCOL: What’s the difference between an S-Trim head unit and an SQ S-Trim head unit, and which one should is the best for a daily driver?

The S-trim head unit is and the SQ-trim head unit both use the same impeller and the same volute. The only difference lies in the gear case. The SQ-trim uses a helical style gear and is virtually silent. The S-trim unit uses a straight cut spur gear and has a pronounced gear whine at idle speeds. However, at driving speeds this charger produces a subtle near silent whistle.

How many miles of trouble free driving is a Vortech supercharger good for before it needs to be rebuilt or replaced?

V: Our chargers typically go 100,000 miles before the slightest maintenance or check-up is needed. One particular customer passed 250,000 miles on his first charger and is approaching 200,000 after his rebuild.

SCOL: Many people think that ProCharger’s self-lubricated compressor design is superior to Vortech’s, which requires tapping of the oil pan for lubrication. Why doesn’t Vortech switch to a self-contained setup?

V: 5+ quarts of filtered cleaned engine oil is better suited to act as a lubricant and provide cooling for the charger then a small pool of 6 ounces. The Vortech method requires a little more work initially but requires virtually no maintenance. The competitors require costly and often labor intensive oil changes for the unit itself.

SCOL: Vortech intercoolers utilize a water sump and radiator to cool the incoming air charge instead of the more common air-air intercoolers we see on Paxton and ProCharger kits. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this intercooler design?

V: Water is nine (9) times more effective for cooling then air is. Think of a stove hot frying pan. Frantically wave it in the air, or shove it in a sink of water. Water is a much better cooling medium. The other benefit of the more effective charge cooler is that it can be smaller. Air-to-air coolers typically loose 2-3psi of boost because of the amount of air it takes to fill the large core and the piping all the way down to the bumper then up to the throttle body. Air-to-water is much more direct and typically looses less then one-forth (1/4) of a psi.

SCOL: Vortech makes many truck and SUV supercharger systems these days. For heavy vehicles, many people think that a twin-screw or roots supercharger is the way to go. Can a Vortech centrifugal supercharger really compete with a roots or twin screw in the low to mid-range power portions of the power band?

V: A centrifugal supercharger has a linear power band. The higher the RPM the more boost and power. It works and drives much like a stock vehicle with a much bigger motor. The centrifugal blower is usually 20+% more efficient then a roots or screw type charger. This allows for more boost and a lower discharge temperature. Lower temperatures mean it’s less prone to denotation and will have better power and throttle response.

SCOL: Why are intercoolers only available for some supercharger systems and not for others?

V: A charge cooler is not necessary on our systems (with exception to vehicles with a compression ration of 11:1 or higher) because the chargers have a high adiabatic efficiency. This yields a higher flow at a lower temperature. This lowers the detonation threshold thus allowing more boost without a charge cooler then our competitors. However, when a charge cooler is added even more power can be obtained.

SCOL: If I already have a Vortech supercharger, and I’m looking to get more boost out of it, can I change to a smaller pulley and run it, or do I have to get a new supercharger and/or make other changes?

V: You can simply swap a smaller pulley in place of the stock one to achieve the desired boost level. You can also upgrade the compressor trim.

SCOL: What other modifications are recommended to use in conjunction with a Vortech supercharger? Which ones are NOT recommended?

V: No changes are necessary in any application. However upgrading the clutch can help to manage the increased horsepower. We do not recommend the use of power pulleys because they can change the belt routing and speed of the accessories.

SCOL: Does Vortech exaggerate its dyno figures, or are the numbers pretty much accurate? Are these things really making around 50% more power?

V: Our numbers are based on a percentage increase on a stock vehicle. All rated numbers are flywheel and are typically conservative.

SCOL: For $3000 - $4000, what an average Vortech supercharger costs, I could get an array of other modifications for my car / truck. Why should I drop such a huge amount of money on just one modification?

V: You can spend thousands on pulleys, filters, chips, headers etc… However all those small parts still will not give you the up to 75% horsepower increase that a supercharger system can deliver on a totally stock vehicle.

SCOL: What new systems can we look for out of Vortech in the upcoming months?

V: We are expanding our C5 Corvette line and you can also expect to see a Focus and Focus SVT system soon.

SCOL: Are there any questions you wished we asked, but didn’t?

V: NO, I think you asked enough!

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