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?
Vortech: 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
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
SCOL: How does Vortech decide which new vehicles are worthy
of a Vortech supercharger, and which ones get left in the dust?
V: 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
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
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?
V: 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.
SCOL: 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
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
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
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
SCOL: What new systems can we look for out of Vortech in the
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!