Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Only the dyno knows

Getting your engine tested with a dynomometer is the best way to accurately determine performance

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Every spring when the Manitoba Street Rod Association (MSRA) hosts its annual Rondex Rodarama car show at the East End Arena in Transcona, a pile of great prizes are given away by the event's many sponsors.

At this year's show, Ralph Thomas -- a member of the MSRA since the early '90s and the owner of a stunning 1930 Model A Ford coupe -- was the lucky winner of a dynomometer (dyno) session at Dragmart Performance at 1248 Main St.

Dave Rogers, the owner of Dragmart, purchased the company's Mustang-brand dynomometer in 2008 and has since put hundreds of local cars and trucks through the paces. Dragmart's Eddy-current dynomometer, a unit valued at more than $115,000, utilizes an electrically conductive core moving across a magnetic field to produce resistance.

In addition to being curious about how much horsepower his car's engine makes, Thomas also wanted to help sort out why the engine was running rich with fuel and suffering from poor fuel economy.

"It's just a stock GM crate-350 motor so it didn't put much strain on their dyno," said Thomas. "It made 200 horsepower at the rear wheels, and an estimated 260 horsepower at the flywheel."

After running the car on the dyno, Rogers offered Thomas a few simple solutions to improve the car's performance and fuel economy.

"I'd been meaning to swap out the intake and distributor anyway, but the dyno gave me the nudge to do it," said Thomas, who purchased a new Edelbrock dual-plane intake manifold and a Pertronix distributor. Thomas installed the new parts himself in his well-equipped backyard garage.

"A dyno is the safest and most accurate way to test a vehicle's performance and diagnose any issues," said Rogers. "It also provides a baseline to build on."

Vehicles tested on Dragmart's dyno have ranged from a stock Honda Civic that produced less than 80 horsepower, all the way up to the Camaro race car Rogers owns that makes more than 2,400 ponies.

If you're planning on doing some performance modifications to your classic or special-interest vehicle this winter, before you get started you'd be well advised to get it dyno-tested. Things usually slow down at local speed shops now that drag-racing season has wrapped up for another year, and a dyno session typically costs less than $200.00. As an added bonus, you get to hear your car's engine revving at maximum RPMs -- without getting a ticket.

willy@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2013 F2

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