When it comes to building an engine, the oil you use is usually one of the last parts of the equation. Sure, you might know what brand and what product line you want to use, but your final bearing clearances will dictate the exact viscosity that’s right for your engine. However, in this case, the oil was the primary reason for building the engine, as AMSOIL wanted to build a killer powerplant in order to showcase the durability and performance of its products.
To do this, the team at AMSOIL decided to build an LS-based engine that would make 1,000 horsepower while doing everything asked of it, well. “We were looking at different ways to showcase what our oil can do,” says AMSOIL’s Len Groom. “We wanted a relevant way to show off what we can do, which is what lead us down the LS path. It’s such a universal platform, we decided we wanted to build an engine that someone could put in the car and drag race, autocross, and daily drive.”
Now, making 1,000 horsepower with an LS isn’t anything new. However, building a 1,000-horsepower LS that can do everything is a little more challenging. Then, add in the stresses of doing it all on 91-octane pump gas, and things get a little bit interesting.
“We landed at that 1,000-horsepower mark because we thought that we could do that well, while accomplishing all of those things. We took some of our learnings from competition like Engine Masters Challenge and our racing efforts and put them into this engine project,” says Groom.
Building The AMSOIL Test Bed
To build this beast, the AMSOIL team didn’t even have to look outside of the organization, tapping the talents of Chris Orr. Orr has been building race engines for his personal endeavors for decades, and more than has the requisite expertise to handle this LS.
“The biggest caveat on the 1,000 horsepower number is that we want to do it on pump 91-octane sourced from outside,” Orr explains. Building an engine that would make 1,000 horsepower on the street, at the dragstrip, and on the cone course, all while running on legit pump gas, means the engine would probably need to be overbuilt.
“We aren’t aiming to test the durability of the engine parts, we want to test engine oil.”
Starting with a rock-solid foundation is important, so Orr opted for a Chevrolet Performance LSX iron block. The bore was opened up to 4.065 inches by Line Performance, and a Molnar forged 4.00-inch-stroke crankshaft was fitted with a FCW billet 58-tooth reluctor wheel before being bolted into the main journals. A set of Molnar’s LS Power Adder 6.125-inch connecting rods were bolted to the rod journals, while a set of JE pistons were hung off of the rods.
Clevite bearings keep both the crank and rods running smoothly, while the oiling system was the focus of significant upgrades. “Early on, everyone brought up the potential pitfalls of the factory LS gerotor oil pump setup. Chris brought up the idea of dry-sumping it, and it seemed like a no-brainer since our goal is longevity,” says Groom. The team opted for one of Dailey Engineering’s dry-sump systems as they have been proven performers, especially in LS applications.
In an effort to not stack the deck during testing, Orr opted for an unusually small capacity system. “It’s the smallest tank Dailey offers; an 8-quart tank. Usually, you’d run a larger capacity system for doing what we’re doing. The less oil you have, the less additives you have, so you’re at a disadvantage. We wanted to be as real-world as possible and not stack the deck,” says Orr.
Topping off the short-block are a set of Air Flow Research 12-degree Mongoose cylinder heads. They feature CNC’d ports out of the box, and are running stainless steel 2.165-inch intake valves and 1.600-inch stainless steel exhaust valves. Controlling those valves are a set of Manley valve springs, tool-steel retainers, and locks.
A Bullet Racing Cams solid-roller camshaft was chosen for simplicity’s sake. Translating the lobe motion into valve motion is a set of Jesel LS1-style .937-inch solid-roller lifters, with a set of Trend Performance 3/8-inch-diameter .135-inch-wall pushrods riding up top. Actuating the valves are a set of Jesel’s AFR-specific LS3-style rocker arms built specifically for the Mongoose heads, with the factory 1.70:1 rocker ratio.
Feeding of the cylinders is handled by a Whipple 3.0-liter twin-screw supercharger. A 109mm throttle body regulates airflow, while a set of FIC 127 lb/hr fuel injectors, fed by an Aeromotive variable speed fuel pump provide all the 91-octane gasoline the engine needs. A Holley Big Coil ignition system keeps the fires lit, while a Holley Dominator ECU manages all of the components of combustion. A set of Schoenfeld sprint-car-style dyno headers get all of the spent gasses out of the cylinders as efficiently as possible.
“Parts-wise, everything was chosen for reliability and consistency in engine performance,” says Groom. Orr continues, “Largely, parts were chosen based on vendors I’ve dealt with outside of work. The LS platform isn’t something I use in my personal builds, but the parts suppliers I know and trust all make LS components. They are companies that I know provide good quality parts that hold up.”
Since the purpose of this engine is to highlight the reliability and versatility of AMSOIL’s products in real-world use, the engine will be lubricated exclusively with AMSOIL’s Dominator engine oil. Specifically designed for high-performance and racing engines, the AMSOIL Dominator oil utilizes a chemistry to prevent mechanical shearing, while zinc and phosphorus anti-wear additives hold up to severe conditions. Dominator is also optimized to work in a variety of temperature ranges, so that it frees up horsepower when cold, and maintains film strength in high-heat scenarios.
Putting The LS To The Test
With the engine assembled, it’s time to get it on the dyno and get the tests running. For this project, not only will the engine dyno be used to get power numbers, but also to simulate an entire year’s worth of use in all of the different applications. “We looked at how many passes the average person would make on a track night at the drag strip, multiplied that by how many trips would be made in a season, and came up with 40 hits for the drag racing portion,” Groom explains.
“Then we looked at how often someone with an autocross car would take it out, and how much track time that would equal, and we came up with 8 hours of autocross. Then we went around the office and averaged out how many street miles we all put on our fun cars in the summer. I can’t remember the exact number of miles, but at the end of it all, it averaged out to 40 hours on the engine in a season.”
The AMSOIL team has developed a variety of dyno run profiles to simulate each event, from full-throttle quarter-mile passes to cruising to the local drive-in for burgers and milkshakes on a summer evening. That is, of course in addition to a typical engine power test profile. Although Orr mentioned that the sweep rate is higher in that scenario to reduce the load on the engine, at the potential cost of displayed power.
“So far we’ve run [the boost] from 8 psi to 18 psi,” says Orr. With better fuel we could make more power and throw another 4 or 5 degrees of timing in there — we are far from maxed out. If you were to build this for a moonshot, it would make quite a bit more power, but we are after ultimate reliability on 91 octane pump gas.” The AMSOIL team is currently holding the dyno numbers close to the vest, but will be releasing all of the data once the entire suite of testing is completed. So you’ll have to stay tuned for the results in an upcoming article.