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Valve spring life and reliability are key

valve-springsStarting the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock season with a brand new Ford engine and car this year, veteran driver/tuner Larry Morgan faced many challenges. It's been a trial-and-error situation for the Ohio-based entrant, particularly in the area of valve springs.

"I've been using PSI springs for over a year and I have to give those guys, particularly Larry and Steve, a lot of credit. They want to make the valve springs fit our engines and that is good; they don't just want to sell me valve springs. We are working with different cams and setting the pressure over the nose - that's what we pretty much work off."

He will admit to running 450 pounds of pressure on the seat and 1300 over the nose. "It's not higher than normal. We are working on different cam profiles and we are going to need a little more over the nose pressure. There is so much to be gained here in the valvetrain - and that is how we do it over here," he explained.

Morgan admitted to trying 7-8 springs since he started development work on the Ford programme last year. "It's taken a lot of trial-and-error on the dyno, and once we figure it out, we go on the track with it to see how it works there. To be honest, these things will lose 30 pounds and take a seat and they stay good.

The Max-Life PSI triple spring has flat heads. It's a light spring, but Morgan isn't exactly sure of the weight. "On the water side the weight is 0.239, I can tell you that. Another manufacturer's stuff is 0.252 so in comparison it is quite a bit different," he confirmed.

What makes Morgan happiest about the valve springs he is using on his new Ford engine is the service life and reliability. It is very, very reliable. I keep them in for six runs and then I take them off, whether they show wear or not. I don't want to take any chances, because if you break one, you destroy a lot of parts. I don't like taking chances so that is what we choose to do," he told me.

Three races into the season - and with one semi-final round in his pocket - Morgan has tested half a dozen iterations of his valve spring on the track, but he continues to "rely on what the dyno tells us. We have to do that. After we figure what we want on the dyno, we make sure it's good on the track."

In this development year, Morgan expects to change cam profiles fairly regularly. "As we change the cam profiles, we anticipate another valve spring change. I hate that part but that's what you have to do. If we can pick up two horsepower on the cam, you got to go for it. You can't turn down two horsepower," he laughed. He expected to have the next change in time for Charlotte, at the end of March.

Fig. 1 - Larry Morgan is on his eighth different valve spring as he develops the new Ford Pro Stock engine

Words and photo by Anne Proffit

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