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I visited the Combustion and Research Center at the Livermore Lab in California last week and had a crash course on the internal combustion engine. First off, every member here who swears that those throttle body spacers and Tornado devices don't work are right on the money. A swirling motion inside the cylinder moments before combustion does nothing. For years people thought this to be true but laser analysis of this shows that all swirling does is change the reference point of combustion. Basically the mixture burns the same but now its just spinning.

 

The real power and efficiency comes from turbulance. I know this may sound odd. Why would you want turbulance? Well it has to do with the mixing process in the cylinder. If the incoming air is directed down at the cylinder when its at bottem dead center, then the resulting deflection of air back up towards the injector creates and extreme amount of turbulance. This, while being compressed, spreads the fuel out towards the walls of the cylinder creating a more even combustion.

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First off, every member here who swears that those throttle body spacers and Tornado devices don't work are right on the money.

 

 

 

I completely agree with your assessment...IMHO those devices are unproven gimmicks...amazing how folks will spend money on anything that promises increased HP or mileage. :driving::thumbs:

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That's precisely why they recommend finishing the intake sides of cylinder heads with no more than 80 grit cartridge rolls. Some turbulence is a good thing to atomize the fuel as much as possible.

 

-Matt

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You should see the posts at fullsizechevy.com The guys on there talk about the TB spacers like they are the greatest thing. Complete crap those things are. They didn't work on TBI and they were after the injection on those things, imagine how worthless it is when the injectors are downstream.

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I always figured they were garbage. Back in the day I was a heavy promoter and modder of GM's TPI (Tuned Port Injection). The design of the 8 *stock* runners caused the air to spin into the combustion chamber and under the pressure of a charger we would run into problems during ignition.

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My experience shows that there might be some gains with one of these devices.

 

First off, turbulence in the combustion chambers is old news in many circles. I built my latest 1600DP buggy engine with 8.3:1 CR and a tight .040" deck for that very reason. The violent swirl effect shoots efficiency wayyy up. Most of the modern performance guru's know all about squish. With a small carb, I can run that buggy for miles on very little fuel. Just got back from a long run where I drove it over 4 1/2 hours and only burned about 3.5 gallons of fuel.

 

I added a Power Tower to my 96 K1500 some years ago and right away you could feel the engine run smoother through the mid-range. I think it's doing exactly the same thing - increasing the turbulence in the combustion chambers which enhances the burn. I've got 9 years of driving this truck to my other property which is 5 hrs away. For the first 5 years, it averaged 17.9mi/U.S. gal, maybe the odd 18.5 if I was lucky. Today, after getting back it was 20.3 for the entire trip. I don't believe in tin-foil Tornado's or any of the snake-oil additives but I am convinced that the helical spacer's do have a benefit.

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Good point Raymond. I almost wouldn't doubt that if you placed a spacer piece with the correct shape in the correct spot then the resulting changes could actually help. Just off the top of my head I can't recall the configuration of the intakes on the 96' chevys so again i wouldn't even doubt your gains.

 

I do however doubt that they'd work on the newest vortex intakes. Though the lab didn't test intake spacers. They only tested how the air charge should enter a cylinder to creat and efficient burn.

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I don't doubt the capabilities of the LLNL, but I still think the theory of the spacers is sound. I believe it will mimick the effect of a high-rise manifold that increases velocity. The question is, are they effective at doing that. The spacers have contact points that may add "steps" to the intake path that might off-set any velocity gain. I think if done right, meaning matching the ports (carb to spacer, spacer to manifold, like any old hot rodder would do to eliminate those steps might still work. I think there are too many variables and unanswered questions to know the setup that LLNL used - and what they were looking for.

Dog

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I don't doubt the capabilities of the LLNL, but I still think the theory of the spacers is sound.  I believe it will mimick the effect of a high-rise manifold that increases velocity.  The question is, are they effective at doing that.  The spacers have contact points that may add "steps" to the intake path that might off-set any velocity gain.  I think if done right, meaning matching the ports (carb to spacer, spacer to manifold, like any old hot rodder would do to eliminate those steps might still work.  I think there are too many variables and unanswered questions to know the setup that LLNL used - and what they were looking for.

Dog

 

 

 

 

A high-rise manifold on a carbed engine lengthens the intake runners after fuel is introduced. On a 96-up engine the injectors are in the manifold not the throttle body, so a spacer between the throttle body and the intake doesn't increase the effective runner length.

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I don't doubt the capabilities of the LLNL, but I still think the theory of the spacers is sound.  I believe it will mimick the effect of a high-rise manifold that increases velocity.  The question is, are they effective at doing that.  The spacers have contact points that may add "steps" to the intake path that might off-set any velocity gain.  I think if done right, meaning matching the ports (carb to spacer, spacer to manifold, like any old hot rodder would do to eliminate those steps might still work.  I think there are too many variables and unanswered questions to know the setup that LLNL used - and what they were looking for.

Dog

 

 

 

 

A high-rise manifold on a carbed engine lengthens the intake runners after fuel is introduced. On a 96-up engine the injectors are in the manifold not the throttle body, so a spacer between the throttle body and the intake doesn't increase the effective runner length.

 

 

 

 

 

Right on when used with carb's

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I always heard people say that spacers increased the size of the intake and that increases power. I never understood that because based on their thinking I could add a 4' long tube to the intake and increase power. Hell adding a 24' foot tube to the Intake according to that thinking oughtta really bring up the power. I always thought that was funny. My dad taught me that increasing the time fuel atomizes with air you *could* increase power which is why I assume TBI and Carbs perform better with spacers.

 

Am I wrong in assuming GM is using the long curved Intake Runners on the Vortec 4800-8100 in a way to increase the velocity of air into the combustion chamber when the intake valve opens???

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The idea behind the spacers is solid. create turblance and the fuel will mix better than without the turblance. From my expirence with engine building, when you port am intake and set of heads it is good, then when you poilsh them, again it is a little good, but not as much. In order to create the power sought, you have to flow the heads and intake, or put them in a glass bead maching and blast the newly polished ports. The idea behind the whole process is to remove the roughness and polish the ports to increase the speed of the air moving through, and flow them to create enough turblance to fully mix the gas and air for combustion. I have a TBI plate on my truck and have had it for some years, i believe there is a small difference considering the performance work done to my motor and the fact that I am getting between 18 and 19 mpg.

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