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Pumped up: A big-block oil pump for the next century.

Story and photos by RICHARD EHRENBERG. Copyright © 1995 Richard Ehrenberg. Used by permission. For more muscle car action, read Mopar Action!

Mopar Action logoPistons. Heads. Cams. Valve gear. Intakes. Con Rods. Bigblock (and Hemi) Mopar racers have their choice of some of the most sophisticated equipment around. If you've got the Gold Card, it's all there. Except oil pumps. Wet sump pumps for Mopars reached the pinnacle of their development over 25 years ago, with the high volume, high pressure street pump, and the dual-inlet "California" race system. Since then, little has changed. To increase the volume, manufacturers simply kept increasing the length of the pump's rotors. Hey, you couldn't go any larger in diameter, since you were limited by the bolt pattern on the block, right?

It's 1995, and Mopars, which always went faster than anybody else, are going faster than ever. The engines are getting bigger than ever, too. In fact, with the new blocks that are coming down the chute, don't be too surprised to see 600-inch Mopars. To make a mill like that live at 8000 or 9000 RPM requires huge bearing clearances-something on the order of 0.004". This, in turn, increases the oil demand big-time (like, squared!) To make a standard-diameter pump with enough volume for a beast like this would require rotors so long they'd probably hit the frame rail, to say nothing of the headers, engine mount, and anything else in the vicinity. Actually, this problem already exists with some of the dual-inlet setups currently in use.

The engineers at Ray Barton Racing Engines (Wernersville, PA) looked far and wide for a pump that could keep up with the hoggiest Hemi, and yet fit in the confines of a S/S A-body. Finding none, they decided to confront the problem head-on: they engineered a completely fresh design, one that neatly gets around the small-rotor enigma. What they came up with is so simple, and yet so clever, you just stare in amazement and wonder why it took 30 years! Barton simply fabricated a bolt-on adapter ("A" in fig. 6) that screws on to the block at the stock attaching points. Then, an all new, CNC-machined pump, with a outer rotor measuring 3.475" diameter by .750" thick bolts to the adapter. Result: a pump that delivers at least 20% more oil than any Mopar pump yet seen, and yet qualifies as a block hugger design. In fact, the Barton pump actually places the filter closer to the engine than a stock, standard-volume pump (see fig. 5.)

Ray Barton oil pumps

It has generally been thought that super-volume pumps required super power to operate. The Barton pump, however, is frugal with power, due to several fresh design principles and manufacturing methods. Unique is an inner rotor that pilots on the cover instead of just hanging out of the pump body, and the precision clearances provided by the CNC machining keep the power demand to a meaningless 0.5hp, even at maximum output.

mopar oil pumps

Besides the clear advantage of having extremely high volumes of lubricant available, this pump is chock-full of other, less-obvious advantages. First is a set of no less than three inlit fittings, allowing this pump to be used with virtually any engine mount setup, be it wedge or Hemi. There is also a fourth accessory port, which can be used whether for an oil temp sender, or to plumb an accumulator type (Accusump) device.

more Mopar big block oil pump photosThe reduced protrusion from the block also permits easier disassembly. Say, you've had valve gear failure, and some debris jams the regulator valve. With the Barton pump, it's a simple task to dismantle the pump. In fact, it could easily be done between rounds.
The aforementioned precision ma chining and computer-aided design bring with it still more advantages: reduced drain-back, and, therefore, reduced priming time. Since a major percentage of engine wear occurs during startup, when there's no oil pressure, this feature is significant. Cavitation and pulsing has also been almost totally designed out of this pump, ensuring a continuous, air-free oil supply to the bearings. As we all know, that's the key to high-rpm durability.

For now, the Barton oil pump is designed solely for hard-core race use, and is an external-entry unit only. Plans are afoot, though, for a more streetoriented version, which would utilize the stock internal block inlet passage and pickup. Such a design, we're confident, could easily produce the pump's rated 75 PSI during cranking.

So there you have it. A phone call away: the missing element to keep your Mopar in the record books now, and 30 years from now.

For more by Rick Ehrenberg, click here!

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