Project Red Storm Pt. 2: E85 And More Boost Makes Big Drivable Power

Project Red Storm Pt. 2: E85 And More Boost Makes Big Drivable Power

When we last left off with Project Red Storm F-150, the truck turned the rollers of the Ford Muscle dyno here in Southern California to 650.7 horsepower and 529.2 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, featuring one of Whipple Superchargers’ Gen V 3.0-liter twin-screw units. This power delivery came via a smog-legal calibration dialed in by Dustin Whipple. We achieved these figures in full street trim with the marginal 91 octane fuel that passes for premium in SoCal.

Remember, of course, that this Coyote-powered pick-‘em-up truck made 365 horsepower and more than 387 lb-ft of torque on the Ford Muscle dyno before supercharger installation, so the healthy gains of more than 285 horsepower and 142.2 lb-ft of torque with the smog-legal blower system were impressive, to say the least.

Owner David Lukason was looking to set it up with capabilities to run on the poor man’s race fuel — E85 — and dial in a new tuneup, which will take the truck to the next level for track days. Of course, more power with the alcohol-based E85 fuel requires more headroom with respect to the fuel system, so we’ve tackled a couple of upgrades there as well. Without further ado, let’s get into the second round of mods on Project Red Storm!

The Gears Must Go

Suppose you have been paying attention to Ford’s Coyote engine since its inception. In that case, you’ll realize that two of the critical upgrades for any supercharged car are a set of oil pump gears and a crankshaft sprocket to replace the weak, garbage factory parts. Why Ford didn’t see fit to spend an extra couple of dollars here to install billet units from the outset and prevent many engine failures will always be a puzzling question for us. Still, it’s easy to see how the aftermarket has capitalized on Ford’s inaction.

Our friends down at VMP Performance recommended a set of MMR billet oil pump gears and crankshaft sprocket (PN MMR-1114OPGCSCombo), so we picked them up and enlisted our bud Matt Perry and the team at Voodoo Autosport in Santa Ana, California, to knock out the install on these for us. We refilled the engine with our favorite DI50 direct-injection-specific oil blend from Driven Racing Oil.

The factory powdered metal gears, while efficient (and cost-efficient) to operate in a stock Coyote engine, quickly lose their luster when pushed to extremes and have been known to shatter and break in applications using two-step rev limiters and transbrakes. The CNC-machined billet gears stand the test of time and should be considered mandatory for high-revving, supercharged, and turbocharged Coyote engines. Replacing them is an inexpensive investment when compared to what happens when they fail.

Before you ask why we didn’t install these before we did the supercharger installation, keep in mind that this vehicle was the guinea pig for the Gen V 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger, so we were on their timeline for supercharger research and development. So while it was a step back to pull the supercharger off and install the pump gears and sprocket, it was also deemed necessary for durability.

We’re not going to run down the entire process of installing Coyote oil pump gears here as that’s an article in itself, and VMP already has an install video here. The main takeaways from this process are to make sure you have torque wrenches capable of measuring in inch-pounds and lb-ft and ensuring that your work area stays clean. You don’t want to contaminate the new pump before you ever get it into the engine, and more importantly, you don’t want to end up with foreign particles in the pump ruining your hard work.

Supplying More Fuel

When these F-150 trucks hit the market, there was no fuel system upgrade available for the enthusiasts who wanted pickup-truck utility features but supercar-style horsepower capabilities. We enlisted F-150 tuning guru Ken Osborne of Oz Tuning to help us sort out the truck’s performance as we added E85 and more boost. Osborne pointed us in the direction of a fuel system from JD Performance Solutions explicitly designed for the F-150 platform, and again, Voodoo Autosport came through with the solid installation.

The fuel system upgrade components are built specifically for your vehicle using the VIN number to ensure all parts are compatible. The kit from Oz Tuning includes relevant plug-and-play harnesses along with a Motorcraft-based filter assembly and will support 1,000 wheel horsepower on E85.

Jamie Decker, the owner of JDPS, explains his path in developing the F-150 fuel system used in Red Storm. Initially, he set out to adapt a Mustang-based return-style fuel system from another manufacturer by using a modified GT350 fuel pump module to house the pumps. This was necessary as no one in the aftermarket made a proper dual-pump ’15+ F150 fuel pump module yet. He built the prototype return-style module but soon realized he could make something nearly OEM-like in form and function with a way easier install — with some help.

The OEM-style returnless fuel pump basket and pickup shown broken down into individual component parts.

“After I completed my return-style module and I was satisfied with the final product, I ordered a Mustang GT fuel system and ID 1050X injectors from Oz Tuning. While awaiting the arrival of my parts, I started looking at the leftover parts from the GT350 module. I mentioned to Ken Osborne at Oz Tuning that I thought I could build a functioning dual-pump returnless fuel system. His response was, ‘No one has been able to make that work properly, but if you build it, I’ll help you with the tuning side of things,'” says Decker.

“At that point, it was ‘Challenge accepted’ for me. I ordered a second GT350 fuel pump module and two F-150 fuel pump modules and put the pump together.  Once we started testing it, Ken was extremely positive in the data he saw from the logs, so much so that he eventually convinced me to build these and sell them through his site. I formed my company and made an agreement to have Oz Tuning as the sole dealer that would sell these systems due to their collaboration on the development process.”

Replacing the pump assembly is as simple as removing the stocker and dropping the new piece from JD Performance Solutions into place.

The system JDPS developed can support 1,000 wheel horsepower on E85 fuel, which is perfect for this application. Additionally, it retains the OEM siphon system to ensure fuel starvation isn’t an issue at low fuel levels.

Decker builds every pump to order by VIN to ensure it will work correctly in the destination application. Every pump is tested, calibrated, verified, and logged before shipping.

Additionally, the system retains the OEM EVAP system. It includes a plug-and-play fuel filter kit using an OEM Motorcraft filter with a custom-fabricated fuel line and a plug-and-play harness that includes a second fuel pump driver module and billet mounting bracket. The dual FPDM system gives the PCM and ultimately the tuner full control over fuel pressure via full PWM voltage control of both pumps. Finally, since the system uses factory-based parts almost exclusively, should the vehicle need to be returned to stock, it is easily reversible.

DeatschWerks 1,000cc, or 95 lb/hr, fuel injectors were a mandatory upgrade to supply the 30% increase in fuel needed for E85 as well as the increased boost we planned.

A set of 1,000cc fuel injectors (PN DW17U-04-0095-8) from DeatschWerks completed the fuel system upgrades. DeatschWerks provides full characterization data with every injector it sells, which allows the calibrator to build a tuneup that will be efficient and powerful. There are several steps to the company’s Dynamic Flow Matching process.

Each injector is characterized at Low Range (1-2 milliseconds of pulse width) to optimize idle, light throttle cruising, and deceleration, Transitional Range (2-4 milliseconds pulse width), and Linear range (4-10+ milliseconds pulse width), which is used during medium and high load conditions. Ultimately, if the tuner has the necessary information about the calibration at his disposal, he can line out the specifics of the tuneup more easily. Having balanced and characterized injectors is a large part of the power-production puzzle.

Emptying The Cylinders And Preventing Oil Ingestion

With so much more air being forced into the high-winding 4-valve Coyote engine by the Whipple supercharger, Lukason decided to go ahead and open up the exhaust with a complete system from Kooks Custom Headers. The owner-installed exhaust system features free-flowing primary pipes, high-flow catalysts, and a full cat-back exhaust designed to open up the Coyote’s howl at high RPM.

The 1 7/8-inch T-304 stainless steel primary tubes (PN 13612400) provide plenty of breathing capability necessary to take full advantage of the F-150's performance on the track. The complementing Y-pipe and 3-inch stainless exhaust add a little snarl to go with the grunt.

Underneath, there's plenty of room for the catted midpipe to slide into place. Out back, the dual tip provides an aggressive appearance without being overbearing, and the legendary Kooks sound announces Red Storm's arrival.

Lukason installed Kooks’ 3-inch catted midpipe (PN 13613200) and stainless steel cat-back exhaust system (PN 13614000), which hook right up to the factory mounting locations and offer simple installation with a massive improvement in exhaust note on this high-performance Coyote. The single-pipe muffler and tailpipe flow into a dual-tip complete with polished stainless, double-wall, slash-cut construction for a robust appearance improvement.

Of course any highly boosted Coyote should get some sort of catch can, and thankfully UPR Products had a plug-and-play Single Valve Oil Catch Can with Electronic Clean Side Separator (PN 5030-229-1-CSS), so we didn’t have to fab any brackets to make it work.

The final component chosen to upgrade Red Storm in this project installment is the Single Valve Oil Catch Can with Electronic Clean Side Separator (PN 5030-229-1-CSS) from UPR Products. This system is a plug-and-play deal that comes with every possible piece you need for installation. The design prevents oil from entering the intake tract and reducing horsepower through its exclusive four-stage design.

The can has an eight-ounce capacity, which means you should only need to empty it at oil changes, and improves fuel economy and throttle response as a function of its operation. One of the key features is the Multi-level Multi-Stage Diffuser system, which passes the air/oil vapors through several sections of filtration media and forces the oil vapors to drop out of the airstream and condense into the can, not into your engine.

The kit comes with high-quality oil-resistant 5/8-inch Continental braided hoses, Plug N Play quick-connect fittings at all connections, and an adjustable mounting bracket for ease of installation. An optional magnetic drain plug catches anything that might find its way through the can, while the optional drain line kit makes cleanup a snap.

The Wizard of Oz

The first round of modifications included the Whipple Gen V 3.0-liter supercharger, and as part of this installment, we tried a couple of different supercharger pulleys on the dyno and at the track with the E85 upgrade.

“When we installed the supercharger at Whipple with the 3.75-inch pulley, and it made 650 wheel horsepower (whp), we had quite a bit of Boostane in the tank. I’m not sure how far Dustin pushed it, but I’m sure it was on the edge. When I got it back to Ford Muscle and put it on the dyno with just 91 octane, it made right at 600 whp with Oz Tuning. Ken Osborne wasn’t willing to push anymore due to our wonderful 91-octane fuel,” says Lukason.

With the E85 addition and other modifications complete, Lukason and Osborne completed testing on the dyno with the 3.75-inch pulley and the 3.25-inch pulley to give the Coyote-powered, Whipple-supercharged Red Storm all the lightning in a bottle it could handle.

In search of more power, we selected less pulley and were handsomely rewarded for our efforts.

“It may seem counter-intuitive, but power/WOT tuning on E85 is much simpler than on pump gas. This is because E85 offers much greater knock protection due to the increased octane of the fuel. So the tuner is never really walking a tight-rope of balancing ignition advance versus cylinder pressures. Most Coyote engines are completely non-octane-limited when running E85. You can keep advancing ignition timing, and the engine will never knock. You WILL, however, exceed MBT timing, and the engine will make less power, but it will not knock. Most Coyote engines require an extreme amount of boost (think 30+ psi) before they would ever reach the knock threshold on E85. So, your margin for error is greatly increased under load, which makes that portion of tuning a bit simpler than pump gas,” says Osborne.

“The biggest challenge when tuning for E85 is maintaining stock-like drivability and general engine manners. All alcohol-based fuels require substantially more fuel quantity than gasoline-based fuels, and that extra fuel can become an issue when the engine is cold, especially. My goal when tuning any vehicle is to give the customer the impression that ‘this is how the vehicle should have come from the manufacturer.’ So I spend lots of time dialing things in like cold-start, idle quality, part-throttle transitions, and overall drivability. That’s where the real magic comes in when tuning any vehicle, and it’s especially more challenging with an alcohol-based fuel. Oz Tuning also strives to build all of our tunes with EPA compliance in mind, which is another reason we spend so much time tuning the areas of the calibration where the vehicle spends 99-percent of its time.”

The performance numbers of this truck on E85 must be seen to be believed — and we’ve got the proof just below in the form of dyno sheets and timeslips.

Essential to Osborne’s strategy is dialing in the A10 automatic transmission.

“We ensure that the torque calculations in the PCM are correct. All Ford vehicles since 2005 have used a torque-based control logic, and the logic has become more advanced with each subsequent generation of vehicles. The current system in the Gen 3 Coyote is the most complex and advanced yet. All engine and transmission functions are dependent upon having an accurate torque model. So when we increase torque, which is considerable when going from 91 to E85, we need to address that in the torque model and make sure it’s correct. This not only impacts drivability, but the 10-speed transmission itself uses a 100-percent torque-based control logic for commanding things like line pressure, clutch fill times, and slip times for clutch engagements,” he says.

With the larger, 3.75-inch pulley and E85 onboard, Lukason piloted the full-weight pickup to a 6.99 eighth-mile elapsed time at 101.32 mph – an improvement of 1.94 seconds and 20.36 mph over its best performance in stock, non-supercharged form (8.93 on one pass, 80.96 mph on another).

Here we have two dyno sheets from Red Storm. On the left is the base Whipple tune versus the final Oz Tuning tune on E85, as tested at FordMuscle HQ. On the base tuneup with the 3.75 pulley and 91 octane fuel/Boostane mix, the truck made 607.9 whp and 530.3 lb-ft of torque. On the Oz Tuning calibration, the truck dropped a whopping 919.3 whp and 720.4 lb-ft on the Dynojet. Staggering numbers for sure. The second graph is the 3.75 pulley on E85 versus the 3.25 pulley on E85. Here, the power gap is not as large: 852.5 whp and 668.2 lb-ft on the big pulley and the same 919.3 hp/720.4 lb-ft combo on the small unit. These are massive gains that Lukason credits to the extensive efforts of Oz Tuning to get the truck's performance 'just right.'

The half-inch reduction in pulley size to the 3.250-inch pulley with E85 brought out all of the performance from Red Storm. The eighth-mile elapsed time dropped to 6.41 at 111.20 mph for a 2.52-second drop and 31 mile-per-hour gain in top speed. Most importantly, Lukason was able to earn a 9-second quarter-mile slip, as the final ticket reads 9.943 at 137.79 mph. Remember that in factory form, the truck clocked in around 4,500 pounds.

“One of the things I think is key in David’s truck, and with the vast majority of our customers with similar trucks, is that David still uses this truck pretty much every day. He hasn’t lost any of the truck’s usability, and it’s quick enough to be faster than the vast majority of vehicles he might see on the street. That is the takeaway for me. Technology is so good now that we can really have our cake and eat it too. Yes, some trucks are much faster than this truck, but in reality, those trucks are purpose-built race vehicles with tens of thousands of dollars pumped into them. That’s great for the small percentage of guys that want to spend tons of money and want to chase records, but that’s not the reality for most people. Most guys need a truck. Whether it’s for work or for towing one of their other toys, they use their truck as a tool at some point. The fact that they can now also have a fun and fast vehicle — and not lose the ability to use it as a tool when they need to — is what’s made this truck market explode over the last couple of years. Those guys are our core customers. The guys that want to utilize their truck but enjoy it too,” says Osborne.

Left to right: Stock F-150 with E85 fuel (three runs), Whipple supercharged with 91 octane fuel and Boostane octane booster, Whipple with E85, and finally the Whipple supercharger with 3.25-inch pulley and E85 fuel.

“Red Storm has gone from a stock 2018 5.0-liter A10 4×4 going high 13s to a modified 9.94 vehicle. Stock runs were on the factory Goodyear 17s, and the modified runs have all been on Toyo ST3s. No lightweight drag stuff — exactly as I drive it except for tire pressure and shock settings,” says Lukason.

We’d say that’s a pretty impressive improvement. Stay tuned for the next installment of Red Storm’s journey!


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About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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