GM 60-degree V6 Power Tricks: Solutions for Corralling More Horses

GM 60-degree V6 Power Tricks: Solutions for Corralling More Horses
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GM 60-degree V6 Power Tricks: Solutions for Corralling More Horses - Page 3

Trick #12: Power Charger

tn_charger.jpg (3898 bytes)
The Power Charger smooths airflow to the TBI.

Hypertech's Power Charger is rivaled only by the lid flip for tricks that are easily accomplished. Mounting is very simple, as the unit sits between the throttle body and the filter housing. The result is a lifted housing as the 3" or so tall Charger lifts the housing up. In our Trooper we were forced to modify the hood reinforcements to allow adequate clearance. Were it not for Trick #6 this would likely not have been a problem

Despite the fact that our unit was meant to fit 5.0, 5.7 and 7.4L '87 to '95 Chevy trucks, it still mounted perfectly on our '89 Isuzu Trooper. In fact, the Power Charger enabled us to remove our filter housing altogether, as the 10" K&N mounted exactly on the charger's rim. This made for a really clean setup, although not without replacement of the center shaft onto which the wing nut goes. Top that off with its 50-state emissions approval and you have a nice improvement to your system. Gains on 5.7L engines have shown increases of between 5 and 8hp on the dyno.

For an alternative product consider the similar but as yet untested by the author Turbo City Air Flow Enhancer.

Because the mounting ring diameter of a GM TBI matches that of most other throttle bodies and carbs, some items can be adapted to more applications than were envisioned by their creators. Hypertech's Power Charger is a perfect example. The product, which serves to smooth air flow down into the throttle body, is shaped like a bowl, and is constructed of spun aluminum. Extremely simple in nature, the Power Charger improves flow and therefore power. The results I have seen are best observed at higher RPM's as the engine strives to draw in adequate air and fuel. There, top end limits and response times are improved. Thus from 4500rpms on up the Trooper no longer struggles, but instead pulls smoothly to red line, never apparently wanting for fuel or air. These gains make it a plus for the 2.8L which has little grunt but will respond well to being wound out given a few of the previous tricks (see sidebar for more details).

MSD wiring and Power Charger.

This trick has also allowed me to squeeze in the 402 Chevy air cleaner housing and thus the 14" Amsoil filter. Because this housing has an inset bottom, it sits low over the air horn. However, its diameter allowed me to cut out a segment of the bottom slightly smaller in diameter than the top of the Power Charger. I next put silicone on the freshly cut bottom, covered it with plastic food wrap, and proceeded to squish the Charger into it. Once dry I had a perfect fit between them. This yielded an outstanding setup, both for fit, power, and cleanliness. As an added bonus it meant sound levels dropped; the open filter element allowed much more engine noise to escape. It also allowed me to fabricate an adapter to link a 3" flex hose to an ABS snorkel. This modification offers a really nice improvement, as it not only means the engine draws in all-important cool outside air, but it also allows for cleaner air. It accomplishes this through placement (on the roof) and through use of a Centri precleaner. Made for industrial machinery facing dusty air conditions, the Centri uses centrifugal force generated by the engine's induction to throw off particulates, including water, bugs, dust, etc.

Trick #13: Electric Fan

Like the Power Pulley, the use of an electric cooling fan in lieu of the mechanical stock fan in the 2.8 can free up the motor to work on moving you along. Replacement with a quality electric fan such as Flex-a-lite's Black Magic will give a few horses back to the rig. While fit can be tight, the result is a fan that doesn't need to always come on. If you ever tangle with deep water crossings this is yet another reason to consider this trick. However, if you live in the heat of the South and do much crawling this may not be suited for your needs. Consider upgrading to a dual core radiator in the process.

/tech/60degreeV6/tn_flex-a-lite.jpg /tech/60degreeV6/tn_MSD_off-road2.jpg
The Flex-A-Lite electric fan will free up some power from the motor Here is a close-up of the MSD 6 Off-Road ignition upgrade

Trick #14: Ignition Upgrades

A number of performance ignition systems are available for the 2.8L. Typically they will be matched to plug wires, a performance coil and, sometimes, rev limiters. For trail usage and to address lugging at low RPM's, a zone where these motors show their lack of grunt, I chose the MSD 6 Off-road. It is virtually a plug-n-play application, is compact and is offered with an adapter specifically for the GM components. I also got their HEI replacement coil and the massive 8.5mm Super Conductor wires. For all this I have gotten just what I expected; a lack of low end stumble thanks to the dual spark below 3,000rpm, and an easy to install product.

Trick #15: Cooling through Ceramic Coatings

Ceramic coating on some of the engine parts helps keep down the heat under the hood

Cooling the motor, as stated earlier, can only lead to more performance gains. A unique way to achieve this is through the application of ceramic coatings. This process of professionally sprayed and baked-on finishes not only improves looks but also helps retain heat so that it can be passed out of the engine and engine compartment. Treating of exhaust manifolds and headers have been the most common uses to date. However, other parts can be done as well due to the thinness of the coating. My own use has been on valve covers, intake manifold and headers, and was done by Performance Coatings. Obviously this trick should be considered in conjunction with other changes to avoid redundant labor and to maximize performance gains of each upgraded component. Performance Coatings' finishes are very durable and are available in a wide range of colors.

On the Horizon

There are a lot of little ways to improve the performance of the GM 2.8, and some are more effective than others. Some tricks should be coupled together to reduce labor, but many are simple do-it-in-10 minutes procedures. This is good news for a group of owners who have long-endured tired old iron and can't wait another minute to see things improve.


There are a lot of little ways to improve the performance of the GM 2.8, and some that are more effective than others. Some tricks should be coupled together to reduce labor and/or gains, but many are simple do-it-in-10 minutes procedures. This is good news for a group of owners who for so long have endured this tired old iron and who can't wait another minute to see things improve.

If you are looking to more serious improvements, shell out $17 or so for Tom Currao's How to Rebuild Your GM V-6 60° Engine. For more tricks on power, read Chevy Power -- though it includes only one chapter on the 60-degree motor, it is still a worthwhile read. Also plan on investing in one or more manuals on your vehicle (e.g., Chiltons or Haynes).

As a word of caution though, the net gain from all of the above changes may yield increases of as much as 50hp, but much of those gains are occurring at the higher rpm end of the spectrum. That said, the real question may just come down to whether the power needs of an owner are on par with the potential of these different alterations. If the answer is no, then the options become that much clearer: live with it, get a new rig, or install the 3.4L V6 that GM provides as a replacement for the 2.8L, or better yet just get one from a ‘93 to ‘95 Camaro or Firebird. But that is another story altogether. And a whole different power range as well.

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Contacts & Related Information:
  • Amsoil
    AMSOIL Building
    Superior, Wisconsin 54880
    800-956-5695 (ORDERS ONLY)
    715-392-5225 Fax

    820 Industrial Court -- P.O.Box 454
    Baraboo, WI 53913-0454
    Centri Pre-Cleaner Manufacturers
    715-392-5225 Fax

  • Comp Cams
    3406 Democrat Road
    Memphis, TN 38118
    901-366-1807 fax
  • Flex-a-lite
    P.O. Box 580
    Milton, WA 98354
    253-922-0226 fax

  • Holley
    1801 Russellville Road
    P.O. Box 10360
    Bowling Green, KY 42102-7360
    800-2HOLLEY Dealer Locator
    502-781-9741 Tech Service

  • Hypertech
    3215 Appling Rd.
    Bartlett, TN 38133

  • MSD Ignition

  • Performance Coatings
    60 - 37th Street NE
    Auburn, WA  98002-1716
    253-735-4466 fax

  • TurboCity
    1137 West Katella Avenue
    Orange, CA 92867
    714-997-1196 fax

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