Dry Sump SBF

Most of the following material appeared in a thread on dry sump systems on the BritishV8 site. I’ve reconstituted it here and added material to provide a simpler, more contiguous look into building an SFB with a dry sump oiling system. I’m going to start this by saying that I’m no expert on dry sump systems, in fact, this was the very first one I’ve put together. Not the first one I’ve owned, but this was my maiden voyage on building my own. Along the way, I learned a ton about how they work, what parts work best, and what not to do. The folks at Jones Racing and Aviaid deserve a huge “thank you” for unselfishly sharing their knowledge and time with me. Made all of the difference.

Disclaimer: You need to keep in mind that the system described below was configured so I could run a power steering pump and that decision dictated the use of a reverse rotation water pump as well as a driver’s side alternator location. Going without power steering may let you run a standard rotation water pump although sourcing one that is short enough to work may be more of challenge.

First generation dry-sump

Street Car or Race Car?
Before you consider a dry sump oiling system, you really need to put some thought into how you intend to use the car, the car it will be in. My thoughts on running a dry sump in my street car were primarily to get the motor as low as I could but also (and mostly) because I had never built a dry sump motor (have owned several but never built one). So this opportunity to do it.

Based on my experience, unless you’re doing this purely for the learning, I don’t know that I’d recommend it for a street car no matter what you’re running for power. It’s not a particularly inexpensive system to build and absolutely adds complexity to the car—in direct opposition to one of the cardinal rules of modifying, never make something more complicated than it needs to be.

Then there’s the cost. Sure, you can buy pumps, tanks, and pans cheap enough but that’s not where the expense is…it’s in the fittings, the hose, and, most especially, in the front engine dress which needs to be kept as short as possible. You’ll easily spend at least as twice as much on plumbing it as you do on buying the major components.

Pictured above is the initial mock-up for the pump location. As you can see, I started off with the pump at the bottom on the passenger side but eventually ended up with it on the top passenger side. Not the ideal location (they all leak) but, given what turned out to be some very, very tight conditions in the engine bay, the only place it could go without having to resort to a rear drive pump.

Cost vs. Gains

Tyical 3-stage dry sump system

“In the end I went with a baffled and expanded wet sump pan that was 1/4 the dry sump cost.”

Based on my experience, that statement from one of the comments on the original BritishV8 thread is just about right on. Even buying the pump used (they’re pathetically easy to rebuild), buying everything else I needed on sale, or trading put for parts you end up with a $2400-$2500 oiling system. You could buy any one of several very nice baffled road race (Milodion, Kevko, Aviad, etc.) wet sump pans for less than $500, bolt it up and go begging the question, “Is a dry sump system really worth it?”

To me, the answer is, “That depends.”

If you’ve never built a dry sump system or are planning to road race your car the answer could be, yes. If you think the shallow pan will help you keep the motor lower in the car than a wet sump pan, the answer is, not so much. As I found out, what I thought was gong to be about a 3″ gain in reduced motor height really didn’t materialize the way I had hoped. Part of that was because you can’t easily locate the oil pump low on the SBF in the MGB bay, there’s simple too much material that has to come out of the crossmember for that to happen.

Oil flow, scavenge manifold is not used

Then there is all of the plumbing fun – routing the lines, figuring out where the pump, remote filter, breather, and tank will go, etc., it’s not a project for the faint of heart but I’d do it again in a New York minute.

One of the knock son dry sump system is that it robs horsepower but I found that claim a bit disingenuous. True, each stage of the pump (2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) adds some theoretical drag because each rotor causes friction. But if we’re talking about a 400-425HP motor in an 1800-2000 pound car and a resulting 3-4 horsepower loss, is it really relevant? Seems a lot like the reverse claims of horsepower gains by adding this or that or removing this or that. Mathematically accurate but not relevant to performance.

If, after reading this, you’re determined to push ahead read on so, at the least, you won’t have to cover the same ground I did. I’m including a parts list as well. You may want to shield your eyes from the bottom line if you have any thoughts about moving ahead.

The Basics
All of this is relevant only to installing a dry sump on an SBF and only in an MGB. It all goes out the window if you’re going to do this on some other power plant in another kind of car. I’m also including some commentary on why I chose each part and  detailed parts list at the end of the article. Here are the basics:

  • Dry sump oil pump – I’m using a three-stage Weaver pump I bought used off e-Bay for about $90. For street use, a two-stage pump is probably just fine but they’re tough to find used so you’ll need to be ready to shell out $300 or so for a new one. This is one of those parts where buying it used makes sense. The pumps are ridiculously easy to rebuild and used three or four stage pumps are plentiful, cast-offs from the mostly circle track crowd.
  • Oil pan – There are all kinds of dry sump pans out there – internally filtered or externally filtered. Because I’m only planning limited track time for the car, I went with a simple Canton pan that required external filters.
  • Pump mandrel – This is one of those areas that I would do over if given the choice. I bought a Moroso drive mandrel before I hooked up with the folks at Jones Racing. The Moroso mandrel is a fine part but, as you will find out if you read on to the assembly section, I would not have needed any machine work on the Jones part. In the end the mandrel and machine work needed to make it work were more than the Jones racing mandrel out of the box. Lesson learned.
  • Balancer – Keeping the engine assembly as short as possible is absolutely necessary unless you plan to run a pusher fan assembly. Speedway Motors sells a balancer for an early Ford that can be set for either 28oz. or 50oz. imbalance (or zero) that lets you lose about an 1 5/8″ of the front of the motor. It’s a must have.
  • Water pump and timing cover – Not exactly parts you’d think to find in a discussion about a dry sump oil system but, on the SBF in the MGB you need to keep everything as short as possible to make it work. The 351 short-nosed water pump and part specific timing cover are another “must have” for this system. Fortunately, both parts are readily available as a Ford Racing kit sold by any number of Mustang and Ford parts places.
  • Water pump pulley – Another one of those parts you might not think of. Once you move the balancer back as far as you can get it, you’re also moving the crank pulley back so the set back on the water pump pulley becomes critical. I found that a stock pulley off of a HiPo 302 was just the right diameter and set back for me. A little bit of machine work on the opening was necessary to make it fit over the shaft of the 351 water pump. Again, Jones Racing has some off the shelf solutions for this so it’s worth a call to them.
  • Oil tank – Another area where your available space is going to dictate where your tank goes and what size and shape it is. The most recently popular tanks are the cylinder style from folks like Peterson but I couldn’t find one that would fit anywhere without significant modification to the location. It’s also another one of those parts that simply doesn’t wear out so, unless you’re just dead set on buying a new one, it’s something you can save some money on by purchasing used. Mine is from a circle track car but the particular size and shape I have are also available from Speedway Motors. It fit very nicely in the boot, almost like it was made to go there.
  • Drive gears and drive belt – You’re going to need a drive gear for the pump as well as for the crank. I picked mine up from Jones Racing who, by the way, have several very nice out-of-the-box set ups that might be options for you. Of course, there’s a little more cha-ching involved in buying someone else’s engineering. If you mount the pump up high like I did, there’s only one place I found where I could get the correct length belt, HRP World and wasn’t cheap.
  • Pump bracket – You will need to fabricate your own or have someone make one for you because none of the currently available brackets will work with the SBF in the MGB. All of them (Jones, Peterson, Moroso, etc.) mount the pump low on the passenger side so unless you’re willing to compromise the cross member, you’ll need to make a bracket.
  • Return line cooler – You don’t want hot oil going back into the tank so a cooler is a must. Fortunately they’re not expensive (about $90) and are widely available from folks like Pit Stop USA and other on-line racing suppliers. A 4′ cooler is plenty and fit rather nicely under the passenger floor pan on my set up.
  • Breather – Just about any simple system breather will work so don’t go crazy buying something super fancy. Line in, petcock at the bottom to drain it. I’m using a Moroso that ran about $80. They’re available from all of the usual on-line suspects.
  • Oil filter adapter and remote filter mount – You need these anyway if you’re transplanting and SBF into your MG. On the filter plate though, you’re going to need the thinnest one you can find as well as relieve the frame rail on the driver’s side to make it all work – a result of the motor sitting lower than a wet sump motor.
  • Oil line, line reinforcement, and fittings – Be prepared to work the magnetic on strip on your credit card, and work it hard. Of everything you need for a dry sump system, the plumbing parts may be the most expensive components. Jones Racing recommends -12AN for an SBF making about 400 horsepower. For a three stage system, you’ll need about 25-30 fittings (maybe more) at an average cost of about $25 each. If you going to pass your lines through any bulkheads, add another 6-12 fittings. For any long runs of line, you’ll need to insert coil reinforcement to prevent the line from collapsing (and shutting off the oil supply to your engine). You should also use it on the pressure side of the system (for the same reason). As far as what kind of line to use—push-on fitting style, steel braided, or poly-braided, it’s entirely up to you, your taste, and your budget. I’m using black poly-wrapped line which is on the more expensive side with conventional fittings. Works for me.
  • Motor mounts – Another one of those things you wouldn’t typically consider part of the system, unless you’re putting your dry sump motor in your MGB. I’m using Bill Guzman’s (Classic Conversions) adjustable mounts and wouldn’t even think about using anything else’s. They give you the adjustability you’re going to need and they bolt right it on top off it.
  • Starter – yet another one of those parts you don’t normally consider part of a dry sump system. On most two and three-stage pans, the bungs come off the passenger side (I think Aviad may make a pan with the bungs reversed). Even if you’re planning to have you headers exit through the fender wells, most min-starters will not give you enough room to attach your lines to the pan so a clockable starter is a must.

Front cross piece trimmed to the upright

Putting It All Together 

Making room –  Fitting an SBF into the MGB is already a challenge (made easier by folks like Pete Mantell who are now making bolt-in kits available) but is particularly difficult when you add 6 more inches to the front of the motor. Where, exactly, can the radiator go? The answer is, “forward”.

To accommodate the drive mandrel, you’ll need to modify the front cross piece and box it back in. Fortunately, its ahead of the suspension crossmember and doesn’t have much structural significance so I was able to use structural adhesive to close everything back in after removing the necessary section. You can weld it in if you’re so inclined but the metal is thin an prone to warpage, so go slow if that’s the way you want to go.

Rear motor clearance

Modifying for set back

You’re also going to need to move the motor back as far as you can. This has an added bonus as, if you’re using a T-5 transmission and if it’s properly done, it will result in the gear shift lever coming up in exactly the same location as the original. How cool is that!?

To drill or not to drill – That’s the question. After doing some reading on dry sump systems, one of the things that came up time and again was whether (or not) to drill a relief hole in the lifter valley. But, no matter how much research I did, there seemed to be no definitive answer on whether it was a must, a maybe, or a no. So, I decided to ask the experts, the folks that build and sell these systems for a living. Lo and behold, there was no difference in the answer. Of the three companies I was able to actually talk to, one said absolutely you need to drill a hole, one said it was absolutely not necessary, and the last said it was really a matter of preference but wouldn’t create any issues with my set up.

So, after all the questions, there really seems to be no absolute answer. I didn’t drill my lifter valley so time will tell if that was a good or bad choice. Stay tuned for any reports back on the subject. You’ll need to make your own decision.

Early balancer w/modified HiPo pulley

Front motor dressThe drive mandrel. No matter which drive mandrel you buy, you’ll need to replace the balancer with the early style Ford part from Speedway Motors. There may be other outfits that sell them, but Speedway was the only one I could find on-line. If you’re using the Jones mandrel, it should bolt right up, If you’re using the Moroso mandrel, you’ll need to machine the plug that was intended to fit into the original balancer down to about 1/8″, otherwise it won’t bolt up. No matter which mandrel you use, you’ll need to reduce the shaft length as far as you can and still fit the oil pump dive gear on it. My crank pulley to drive the water pump came from Jones Racing.

Here’s the modified drive mandrel installed. It’s been shortened and the back has been machine nearly flush (just enough left to engage the harmonic balancer so it centers correctly). You can also see my modified stock water pump pulley. An important part of creating enough room for the mandrel is being able to move the pulleys as far back as you can get them.

351 short-nosed pump

Front motor dress – Water Pump and timing cover – My recommendation is to buy the Ford Racing kit and save yourself some time looking around. To be sure, there are other solutions out there but I found the FR part to be reasonably priced and readily available, plus it works right out of the box. The kit includes the 351 style short-nosed pump (reverse rotation in my case) as well as  the correct timing cover. It may not seem like much but this will save you 5/8″ or so which, as it turns out, is absolutely necessary to get the whole business to clear the radiator and fan.

If you decide to go standard rotation, there are many more options available including a number of v-belt set ups that might be particularly intriguing if you’re looking for a more “period” look.

Oil pump bracket w/PS pump mount

Jones Racing bracket will not work

Front motor dress – Oil pump brackets – Bust out your fabrication skills for this one as there are no (at least I couldn’t find any) commercially available high mount brackets available for a SBF. I even tried adapting the Jones low mount bracket I had but to no avail. In the end, it isn’t that tough to do.  A piece of 1/4″ aluminum and an afternoon and you’ll have it done. Make sure you consider the lengths of the available drive belts when you design you bracket so there’s enough room for some adjustment. You’ll also need a top steady arm and I found that a stock early Ford top alternator arm, bent in reverse, was a perfect fit. It has the added bonus of looking like it belongs in the engine bay.

Pump w/steady bracket

Driver’s side alternator mount

With the motor in, the pump clears the fender by about 2″‘ with room left for adjustment to keep the drive belt tight. You can also see the oil pump steady arm in this shot. The arm was made by reversing the bends a stock early Ford upper alternator mounting arm and mounting one end through one of the water pump bolts. I sized my stand-offs to make sure I had the pump pulley, water pump pulley, and crank pulley all lined up. If you find yours is off a bit, the pump and crank oil pump pulleys can be shimmed to align correctly.

Belt routing

To accommodate everything hanging off the front of the motor, I moved the alternator to the driver side and used a stock early Ford alternator bracket. The alternator bolts through to the block via a handmade lower bracket (made to look like a stock 289 mount). Upper bracket is bone stock. Alternator is a 65-90 amp mini-race type—another e-Bay find. It will work in this application as there are no accessories being driven other than the charging system. There are plenty of options for this style alternator out there, from the reasonable (4200 or so) to the insane ($450 and up). To me, this is another one of those parts where you can save some money by picking up a good used part. I typically this kind of stuff from racers because the parts don’t have many miles on them and tend to be well taken care of.

Driver’s side

Passenger side

The pan – Pans are available from a variety of sources – Aviaid, Moroso, Canton, and others – either through the usual on-line suppliers or, in the case of Aviaid, directly from the manufacturer. For a street system’s limited requirements, I couldn’t justify the expense of one of the fancier internally filtered pans so I went with the Canton, which is your basic, garden variety dry sump pan. Most two and three stage pans have the bungs on the passenger side (as does my Canton pan). If you absolutely must have them on the driver’s side be prepared to pay for your choice as it’s going to limit your selection to the high end suppliers.

Please note, in the image of the driver’s side pan, the filter adapter plate is incorrect. You will need one that is ported on the side, available at most of the usual suspects.

Oil filter relocation – I ended up mounting my filter in the passenger side fender well (inside). If I wasn’t running the Heidt’s valve to regulate the power steering pressure, I think it could have been mounted in the engine bay on the driver’s side. Besides sheer necessity (for me), mounting the filter to the inside of the fender well helps with line management and reduces the run lengths from the filter to the pan, resulting in fewer lines crossing from one side of the car to the other. it also keeps the filter, and the mess, outside of the engine bay. At the end of the day, where you locate your filter will come down to your space available and you personal preference.

Oil tank line routing

Oil tank mounting

Oil tank – My oil tank is an older model, baffled, for your typical dirt or circle track car. I chose the shape and size based on where I wanted it to fit and the needs of my system. It also seems to look right at home in its location. You can still find this style on e-Bay or at a few of the race parts suppliers but the round ones (like the Peterson) are what’s popular today. The top line is the breather line, the upper line on the side of the tank is the return line, and the lower line is the outflow. The return routes through the boot floor and into a line cooler that is attached to the bottom of the floor pan.

Radiator is early Ford Mustang conversion style with the inlet/outlets in the correct locations for the 302. Fan and shroud were from Mustangs Plus and were designed for the radiator although some trimming needed to be done on the shroud to have it fit between the frame rails. In the pic the clearance between the fan and the drive mandrel looks closer than it is. The fan has been moved up a bit basically creating some offset so the mandrel sits below the fan center.

Oil breather through the bulkhead

Breather – This shows you how the breather (Moroso) goes through the bulkhead and into the passenger compartment ahead of the foot rest. I’ll either need to attach and route a drain hose through the kick area or just be careful when I need to bleed the breather. I mounted it using the stock mount supplied by Moroso. Originally, I had the tank mounted outside but found it was going to interfere with some of the other ancillaries. I think this gives you a good idea of how challenging getting all of the pieces to fit is.

Rear bulkhead fittings

Plumbing the system – Part of keeping all of the components on the passenger side was to minimize having to cross over the frame for hook ups and to reduce the run lengths as best I could. The breather line and the feed line both run through the rear bulkhead, along the sill, through the front bulkhead, then through the fender well for the breather line and inside the wheel well for the line to the filter or to the pan. The return line goes under floor pan on the passenger side, through a line cooler, then back to the tank. That means the only line I have crossing over from one side of the car to the other is the line to the oil filter adapter on the driver’s side of the engine.

As of this writing, I still need to complete the engine bay plumbing and install a couple of bulkhead fittings in the passenger side forward well. I’ll update this page with the results and additional images when I’m done. In the meantime, this should be enough information to get anyone contemplating a dry sump system for their MGB in enough trouble for a little while.

Parts list – Click on the image to see full size

Parts List – As promised, here’s my parts list. A few caveats:

  • When I could I bought parts on sale, especially fittings and hose, but the prices shown are for what’s available today
  • The oil tank I have is not offered anywhere I can find (Speedway used to have them), but you can buy what’s called a “lefty” (for circle track cars) that’s pretty similar to what I have. They’re also not terribly hard to make if you are possessed of aluminum welding skills.
  • The fittings listed are unique to my system and configuration but should serve as a good starting place for someone undertaking a similar system.
  • The pan I have is no longer offered so what I priced is what is currently available. The only difference between the part listed and what I have is $200 and a coat of black paint. Go figure.
  • I also couldn’t find the part number for the oil filter adapter I have but it ports to the sides and not the top, something you need to consider depending on where you end up mounting it (mine is inside the right front wheel well).
  • I didn’t include small stuff like the clamps I’m using to keep the hoses tight to the sill, various line clamps to help tie up hoses here and there, large AN washers needed for the bulkhead fittings, and the like so you’ll need to budget for those as well.

Keep in mind that I bought two of my major components used – the oil tank and the 3-stage pump. Purchased new, you’re probably looking at $300 or more for a decent baffled oil tank and about the same for a 2-stage oil pump. Those two parts would add another $500 to the price tag. As I’ve said a couple of times, it’s not the hard parts that cost – it’s the fittings and hoses that sneak up on you.

You should be sitting down when look at the bottom line. If the weather stays warm, I’ll get out in the garage and take a couple of shots of my oil filter relocation as well as the return line cooler.

oil-lines1/1/2013 – An update on the dry sump.
Upper oil lines are in. The two with the filters (Peterson) are from the pan, the last one is from the tank. All of the lines pass through the fender well using bulkhead fittings. It makes for a bit of extra work but reduces the length of the line runs and, in the case of the lines from the tank, keeps them away from the exhaust. All of these lines have been reinforced with an inner coil to prevent them from collapsing.

I also plumbed the filter bypass (no pic) so all that’s left is to run the two lines from the pan and the line from the tank to the fittings in the fender well (they’re made, I just ran out of steam tonight) and finish plumbing the remote oil filter.

oil-filter1/13/13 – Oil Filter Re-location
Finding a home for all of the stuff that goes into a dry sump system is a challenge. Witness the filter location. On the other hand, there’s a lot of empty space in the wheel wells that’s not taken up by, well, the wheel, so I might as well use it. This location also facilitates running the last of the lines while at the same time presenting new challenges when I run the exhaust headers through the fender well. Sometimes, completing the ‘B’east feels like working one of the world’s largest Sudoku puzzles.

Unfortunately, I ran out of the correct fittings and a bit of hose so I wasn’t able to complete the last of the line hook ups in this outing. I’ll order up what I need and (hopefully) be prepared to complete things in the coming weeks. Once the plumbing is complete, I’ll fill the tank with oil and prime the system by spinning the pump. At the same time, I’ll plumb a pressure gauge directly into the outlet pipe on the engine and see what comes up for pressure. Almost as exciting as starting the engine!