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Project Muscrate

up, up, up, and AWAY!!

Words and photos by Jay Roeder

i loyal reader and welcome back! As you may have gleaned from the title of this article things have taken a turn for the better! Since last month's edition I have raced three times and attended a couple of test and tunes at good ol’ CFR.

During one of my test sessions I noticed a definite trend in how the car was responding to my attempts to increase the performance of ol’ Muscrate. Quite simply, it wasn’t. I was trying different ignition timing with the MSD Pro Billet distributor, and switching between a couple of different designs and sizes of header collectors and NOTHING seemed to make the car any faster. As a matter of fact, most changes slowed me up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand as well as anyone that A LOT of the time spent testing ends up proving what doesn’t work but this was ridiculous! Then I started putting two and two together and decided to make a run and concentrate ONLY on watching the tach when I launched to see where the torque converter was flashing. Firstly, it was getting very difficult to hold the car on the line against the 3500 rpm MSD two-step and when I launched the converter “flash” was only 4200 rpm.

I had once again broken a torque converter. For some reason I have had a propensity to break Sprags and Sprag races in the trusty ol’ Mustang even when I used to run the 302 HO setup. Basically, what happens when a Sprag breaks is you lose the ability of the converter to “slip” and correspondingly the “flash stall” goes away. The last couple of runs I made the front tires only came off the tarmac about 6 inches and garnered a 1.56 sixty foot, not cool.

So, I decided to turn this into a positive and finally get a MUCH looser converter for the under-torqued little Hemi-eater and stop whining about it. I have always used converters from ATI and have had good success over the years winning lots of races and even setting the IHRA National Record along the way.

However, I decided to try something different and after looking around at the available options I came across an add for Hughes Performance that showed one of there “Super Class” 9.90 cars popping a big ol’ wheelie and decided that any company that would break with the normal BORING throttle-stopped turd launches of those types of car was worth checking out. I got in contact with Tony Kane at Hughes Performance and discussed with him what I was after.

First of all I have to say that I was VERY impressed with the people at Hughes Performance. I made probably 5 separate phone calls to Hughes for various different reasons and EVERY time I got to talk to someone that seemed to genuinely care about their job and company. That is becoming increasingly rare these days and I felt it needed to be said.
Tony asked me a series of questions pertaining to the combination I am running including the cam specs, gearing, tire size and type, header size, engine specs, etc. and then asked what I wanted to see for static stall on the line AND “flash stall” after releasing the two- step. I told him I wanted to be able to hold the car against the two-step at 3500 rpm without difficulty and I wanted a flash of at least 5000 rpm but preferably 5500 rpm.

As we discussed the options I asked about the possibility of sending him my spare ATI converter which is basically identical to the one I broke and having it reworked by Hughes to attain the specs I wanted. Keep in mind that normally and understandably most companies would rather build there own from scratch but as ATI is a good company Tony had no problem with the idea. My thinking was that I could save some coin right now by providing my own “core” and more importantly the people at Hughes would be able to see what I had been running and get a better idea of what to change. Truly custom torque converters are always an educated guess on unknown combinations like mine so starting with a “known” quantity was a good idea.

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