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Back to Back Dyno Test PI 215s & Ai CNCd GM 5.3

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Old 08-08-2011, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default Back to Back Dyno Test PI 215s & Ai CNCd GM 5.3

My adventure started nearly 18 months ago when I purchased a 02 Camaro SS from another forum member. The car was a solid clean bolt-on SS, fairly rare being white, 6sp, CME, and no traction control...so I knew I wanted to do something respectable with it. Around this same time, Performance Induction had just released their all new 11 degree cathedral port head, and not long before that FAST released the 102 intake. So I thought, why not create what I would call the ultimate daily driver, and pick a superior cylinder head with a ported matched Fast 102, get a good shop to spec a decent sized custom cam, put together a solid group of supporting mods and create a powerful, fun yet economical daily driver.



So I contacted a supporting vendor on the forum here, I ordered a fairly long list of parts, the centerpiece of which was the PI LXR 215 heads, custom cam, portmatched FAST 102, FAST 102 TB, 42lb injectors, ATI superdamper, EWP, melling oil pump, ARP rod bolts, ARH 1 7/8" LT's, ORY 3 1/2" opening into 4" DMH electric cutout, into magnaflow catback, LS7 clutch/flywheel, tick master, a host of suspension parts, yet maintaining the stock 10bolt and 3.42 gear for MPG.



I was quoted to expect in the neighborhood of 480rwhp with this type of setup considering my cam specs were low 23x/upper 23x on a 113, but little did they know I was on an HONEST dyno, some call it the heartbreaker, which it "IS" a dynojet We have dyno'd cars back to back vs Mustang dyno's and this dynojet reads consistently lower (just for keeping things in perspective of absolute #'s, which despite my best attempts I'm sure some of you will analyze).

The cam was degree'd, pushrod length checked for, etc etc. Phillip Smith (Bluecat) who is well known in our neck of the woods tuned the car at his shop on said dynojet, he made a number of runs searching for an optimal sweet spot of AFR, fuel and timing, the final numbers are the ones it left the shop with and will be shown on the graph below. Long story short with regards to this setup, after a few swaps of pushrods and several tuning sessions, I felt a little let down with regards to my numbers. The car ran OK, it did set the stock SB ls1 dyno record on Bluecats dyno, but after reading some of the threads on here (and this is where I emphasize you CANNOT get hung up on absolute dyno numbers...trying to compare what your car makes on dyno A in KY with dyno B in oregon yada yada... is futile) I felt like I had failed my somewhat rare 02 SS in creating a special combo for it.

So like most folks (I hope) I referred back to a vendor that I had good success with on an earlier build. I had a TBSS, which I had run an Advanced Induction CNC ported 243 casting on, with their custom cam. The TBSS ran very strong and despite inferior weather was amongst the quickest and fastest full weight AWD TBSS's on the board. After spinning the infamous rod bearing #6, I built a 418 LS3 based short block, with aspirations of running boost at some point, we went only 10.1:1, and admittedly sacrificing ultimate power, I reused the stock intake. I ran my AI CNC 243's, and had Futral custom spec a cam for this combination. After going back to the track, the TBSS, despite being on a rather bald set of original rubber (stock 20's), and only 10.1:1 compression, set the Fastest NA AWD TBSS 1/4 mile on the board. Bluecat had even gone to special measures to swap out the transfer case just so he could dial the TBSS in on his 2wd dyno, then swap it back to AWD thereafter (dude is a heck of a guy as well as tuner FWIW!).

So I decided, lets see what Phil @ AI has for this 02 SS, he obviously knows the ole' LT1, and he did well with the 243's on my TBSS and on several GTO's around the country, I wanted to give him a shot to help me out here. So I called him and told him about my situation and he suggested I give their CNC'd 218cc 5.3L head a shot. So I said cool, I was out soo much money from before, and my car had been down sooo much time, I just wanted to get a budget head and get the car back on the road so I could enjoy it. He just asked me to do 1 thing, he wanted me to run the exact same setup so he could get a decent comparison of how is budget 5.3L head compared to this 11 deg PI top shelf entry. So I complied. I ran the exact same setup top to bottom except for swapping in his 5.3L heads for the PI 215's. To be fair he sent me a stock FAST 102 base for his 5.3L heads, since the base on the previous FAST was port matched to the PI 215's.

We finally got around to getting the parts installed and getting the car dyno'd. Below you will find the dyno sheet from the best runs from both setups, exactly how it left Bluecats shop. Again, everything was the same, save the swapping of the heads and intake bases. Same gas, same tuner, same dyno, same intake, same exhaust, same compression, same chamber size, same head gasket etc etc. The PI head was dyno'd back when it was cooler winter/spring, and the AI head was dyno'd this summer fwiw.



I will say from a practical aspect, in terms of drivability, the AI head is a superior piece. I figured I would just throw on a budget head, it would perform OK, and this setup would get me by, until I could just build a bigger motor later on. WOW!! Was all I could say. Not only did it make power, but the low end TQ is noticeably more useable around town. Lugging the car on the hwy or in the city, it is very responsive from a very low rpm range (1500 +). Before it felt sluggish, and seemingly you had to give it ALOT more gas to move the thing out (say in 5th gear running 35-40mph), now it pulls away smoothly and with pep. Despite alot of the comments I always hear around here, "What are you asking about MPG if your putting in a cam!?!", "If you wanted a honda why didn't you just go buy one!?!" etc, I AM concerned about mpg. This car was going to be one that my wife and I could enjoy, drive to events, show's cruise-ins, etc, it wasn't planned to be a drag car. I don't like compromises, I think we are advanced enough as a car society that you SHOULD be able to create a car that is fast, reliable and economical, and IMHO the 4th gen is setup well to do that. So far in steady hwy driving Im knocking down 27 mpg running 75-80mph with my 6sp and 3.42's. Yeah, I know I'm giving up some performance by not running 4.10's, but for my needs (as this car has recently become a daily driver) it works well. And FYI Kentucky isn't flat land; we have a lot of hills, and climbing a hill @ 80mph burns fuel! Bluecat has tuned it such that its VERY drivable on a daily basis with AC on in 100+ heat, the car idles good, AC blows cold, and Im getting V6 type fuel economy from a very powerful and enjoyable car to drive. Alot of folks end up modding their cars to the point where they hate driving them, lose interest and eventually sell them...before you go down that road, from reading all the bad info and misinformation you can grab on-line, I'd give AI a call, tell them your goals, your budget and how you will use your car, and let them set you up with an affordable top end solution. You will be glad you did, I am!

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Old 08-08-2011, 10:34 PM   #2
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Very nice post and thorough. Did AI say what gains could be had from port matching the 102 to the AI heads or was that already done(thought i read he sent you a stock 102 base).
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:18 AM   #3
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Not bad at all. any thoughts on a 12 bolt or is the car just a road racer? A 12bolt and 4.11's will cost you 20hp. My ls1 did 463hp 414tq with a lil 205 afr head,12 bolt,steel dr shaft,non ported fast 90mm and 4.11 gears on a stang dyno i lost 25hp over a dyno jet and ran near 10's n/a in a 3,700lbs car. you are not going to a track with it at all? By the way,the car looks great,real clean,nice pic. The fast paint job looks great too.
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:13 AM   #4
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Nice write-up. Its rare when you see a back to back test such as this. It appears the AI heads are quite the performance piece. Congrats on the build, you seem to have it all in a very streetable package.
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:24 AM   #5
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AI FTW! Thanks for taking the time to post this up and making it well written! I'm sure Phil will appreciate ur post! I plan to send any heads I get in the future to AI for CNC work, I love my AI 243s now.
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:21 AM   #6
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Very good thread, I really enjoy reading this type of success story. Many give up & don't have the resilience to do as you did. You know in your mind the results are not what they should be, it annoys the **** out of me when you take the extra steps & expense then have less than expected results.

My first 346 was like that, it took me a year to get it right. Then I toasted #7.

The replacement LS3 stroker has the same bad attitude, less than expected results. So a new cam is going in soon & then I hope to have story like yours. I'm fed up with it's shitty manners & less than stellar power.

I have to ask about you pushrod changes, you were moving the preload around correct? What were the results of doing that?
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:28 PM   #7
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Nice write up and awesome results!
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:32 PM   #8
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This is the kind of useful post that this section needs. It really helps any and all of us who are considering which heads to buy or what type of setup to run. I really wish more would do what you did. I'd love to see someone with some AFR or TFS heads swap them out for a set of the AI heads and see what the difference is, or if there is any difference at all. Anyway, great post and thanks for the results.
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:44 PM   #9
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You had me at 'my adventure...'

Good read. Your car and goals for the car seem almost identical to my goals. I'm still sticking with the 10 bolt, 3.42 combo myself.
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Old 08-09-2011, 06:08 PM   #10
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Good post
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:48 PM   #11
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Nice post and great results.

I'm very happy with my Ai setup as well.
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:12 AM   #12
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itsslow98-I’ll let Phil chime in on that port matching question if he shows up in the thread.

Mike C- No immediate plans to go 12 bolt or 9” just enjoying driving the car for now. Car is certainly not going near a drag strip anytime soon (for fear of embracement with street tires, or rear end carnage with DR’s).

Ctd-pushrod changes were based upon suggestions from the original vendor and the first graphs we had after install. We had some high rpm irregularity in the graph. Due to deck thickness this head requires a fairly long PR…so their was some thoughts that PR wall thickness should be more, etc, after running several different ones and shimming to appropriate seat pressure, the graph improved in shape, but didn’t make any more power.

Rise of the Phoenix-I can tell you that a few of the other combo’s that did make good power on stock SB on THIS DYNO, one was AFR 205 and another was TFS 215, the PI head make equal or greater power with an equal or lesser cam (in terms of aggressiveness of lobes and int/exh duration). I don’t have the exact specs of each setup, nor exact cam specs, but in general, the PI combo I initially ran, did make power comparable with the best stock SB #’s, Phil had seen on his dyno. As you can see the AI head did outperform the PI head (back to back on this SAME DYNO), and on the same dyno the TFS and AFR heads were run, so you can draw your own conclusions, but considering we know that I didn’t have a bigger cam, and most supporting mods were equivalent, it will give you an idea of the cost/power potential of each head.

-Thanks for the comments and compliments guys! Being a pharmacist, and always having been involved in science and research, I hate the lack of good solid evidence that we as car guys have to base our decisions on. Most of us can afford to put on our own self-funded dyno comparisons, where we control all the variables. I know this isn’t absolute (it wasn’t done all on exactly the same day etc). But I think this is about as close to an accurate real world unbiased comparison as you can really get. I have no dog in the fight, I’m just a consumer like you…I just happened to have the opportunity to be able to run 2 different sets of heads and systematically report my results...hopefully this helps someone who is about to make a similar top-end buying decision.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:10 AM   #13
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Nice! I'm glad it worked out so well. Thanks for your commentary on responsiveness etc. Response, recovery on gear change, etc. are things we attempt to enhance, and customers often mention, but rarely is it really discussed online.

Quote:
Originally Posted by itsslow98 View Post
Very nice post and thorough. Did AI say what gains could be had from port matching the 102 to the AI heads or was that already done(thought i read he sent you a stock 102 base).
All of our heads are designed such that they should work well with a stock FAST manifold. You typically don't stand to gain more than a few #'s by altering the last couple inches of the manifold, and the rest of the runner is thin to the point that "extensive" porting is often nothing more than providing the illusion the port has been appreciably altered in our experience. So, gains are possible since the manifolds vary slightly, but for test purposes we felt an unmodified manifold would not hurt power enough to worry about. Also, since the owner wanted to do a head comparison, he needed to ensure everything was done to mitigate or eliminate other variables.

Insofar as Bluecat's reported dyno #'s are concerned, another customer posted his results recently from that shop. I had actually addressed/commented on dyno discrepancies a bit in this post on his thread: https://ls1tech.com/forums/14973785-post11.html

Thanks for your work & time, Brad! It is a rare occasion that someone goes through the expenditure to actually test various setups. Typically a guy doesn't care I just wants to spend $ once, change everything over to a superior setup, and get on with enjoying the car. Some guys just have to get deeper into it.

Had a chance to get some photos up last night on the page for this particular head for those interested: http://www.advancedinduction.com/LSX...cGM706Head.php

-Phil

Last edited by Advanced Induction; 08-10-2011 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:18 PM   #14
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Phils dyno is known for reading low. Strongest stock SB he's had on his dyno is always nice to hear I imagine...
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:08 PM   #15
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OP im with you 100% on the gas mileage thing. i understand people still get 24 mpg with 4.11s but i get 28+ with 3.42s going 80mph. 4.11 guys cant say that. ill take the extra 4 mpg extra plus i can drive 10 mph faster while getting it lol.

anyways i had AI run their 226 cnc program on my 243s. i get them next week and i cant wait. seeing threads like these really make me glad i went with my gut and went to AI. we need to get AI in the next HOT ROD MAG ls head porting article.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Advanced Induction View Post
Nice! I'm glad it worked out so well. Thanks for your commentary on responsiveness etc. Response, recovery on gear change, etc. are things we attempt to enhance, and customers often mention, but rarely is it really discussed online.



All of our heads are designed such that they should work well with a stock FAST manifold. You typically don't stand to gain more than a few #'s by altering the last couple inches of the manifold, and the rest of the runner is thin to the point that "extensive" porting is often nothing more than providing the illusion the port has been appreciably altered in our experience. So, gains are possible since the manifolds vary slightly, but for test purposes we felt an unmodified manifold would not hurt power enough to worry about. Also, since the owner wanted to do a head comparison, he needed to ensure everything was done to mitigate or eliminate other variables.

Insofar as Bluecat's reported dyno #'s are concerned, another customer posted his results recently from that shop. I had actually addressed/commented on dyno discrepancies a bit in this post on his thread: https://ls1tech.com/forums/14973785-post11.html

Thanks for your work & time, Brad! It is a rare occasion that someone goes through the expenditure to actually test various setups. Typically a guy doesn't care I just wants to spend $ once, change everything over to a superior setup, and get on with enjoying the car. Some guys just have to get deeper into it.

Had a chance to get some photos up last night on the page for this particular head for those interested: http://www.advancedinduction.com/LSX...cGM706Head.php

-Phil
Thanks for the insight. Ive been dying to get to the point of having you guys work over a set for me. Great job I hear nothing but good things.
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:42 AM   #17
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This car is beautiful!!
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:48 AM   #18
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Phil i just sent you an email about my build. Thanks
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #19
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OP what was the chamber volume on the PI heads versus the 5.3 heads and also what were the gasket thicknesses used on both? Not bashing your results at all but just curious
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pharmd View Post

We finally got around to getting the parts installed and getting the car dyno'd. Below you will find the dyno sheet from the best runs from both setups, exactly how it left Bluecats shop. Again, everything was the same, save the swapping of the heads and intake bases. Same gas, same tuner, same dyno, same intake, same exhaust, same compression, same chamber size, same head gasket etc etc. The PI head was dyno'd back when it was cooler winter/spring, and the AI head was dyno'd this summer fwiw.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GTOworshiper9 View Post
OP what was the chamber volume on the PI heads versus the 5.3 heads and also what were the gasket thicknesses used on both? Not bashing your results at all but just curious
Probably just missed it in the long post.
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