Here’s what you are worried about. Can fuel injection really learn? Does it bolt-on in exactly the same manner as the carb that I am used to? Will it solve some problems? Is it complicated? Is it man enough for my big-block muscle car?
This is Kenny’s ’69 Charger. Orange, big-block, push bar and General Lee inspired graphics
To answer these questions we borrowed blues-great Kenny Wayne Sheperd’s ’69 Dodge Charger while he was touring in Europe, chucked the leaker carb and bolted on an Edelbrock E-Street throttle body fuel injection system in its place. Then we did burnouts.
First up, a new throttle body isn’t going to cure an existing problem like an engine miss, pinging, or hard starting related to a bad electrical system or incorrect timing. What it will do is cure engine run-on (also called dieseling), a choke-related starting problem, and if your carburetor is rich, trim the fuel curve to give you better gas mileage and maybe a little more power. So to make sure Kenny’s car was running correctly, we strapped it to Edelbrock’s chassis dyno and made a few pulls for a baseline number.
Yes, it also has air horns that play Dixie.
The Charger has a 494-inch 440 with Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, and that is about all we know about it. The cam is huge so we only saw about 7-8 inches of vacuum at idle and it has a detonation problem likely do to a high compression ratio and the load involved in pulling this heavy beast of a car. Combine that with a stock flat hood and a 90-degree day, and the big-block could only hold about 5 degrees initial timing before it started to ping. To get an engine with a lot of cam and only a few degrees of timing to idle requires the throttle blades to be opened far enough to uncover the transfer slot in the carburetor. This provides unmetered air and fuel to the engine causing the car to run on after the key is turned off. The result is a long rattling death when the car is parked. Kenny was losing style points.
Aside from the graphics, the Charger represents an average street machine that has had several different shops working on it. At some point, someone installed a return-style fuel system using the stock fuel tank. This was fortunate because a good fuel system is required by the Edelbrock EFI system. The EFI also requires an O2 sensor to be installed after the header collector and cannot be used with a point-style distributor. You will need an HEI or an aftermarket distributor.
There are three systems offered that fit any car with a standard (4150-style, not a 4500 Dominator) style carburetor flange.
The first is the base system (PN 3600), that does not include a fuel system. The next two include a fuel system. The PN 3602 is for cars with an EFI sump and return already in the fuel tank, and PN 3606 is for cars with a stock tank and mechanical fuel pump.All the systems include the throttle body, ECU, wiring, and all the parts to get it working. The 3606 includes a smaller auxiliary tank that has a pump and return built-in that acts as a loop between the auxiliary tank and the EFI system. Kenny's car already had a built-in sump in the fuel tank and a good electric pump so we are going to install the 3602.
The directions supplied with the kit are comprehensive and easy to follow so we are not going to rewrite them here. There is a computer and a harness that need to be installed somewhere on the vehicle and the carburetor needs to be removed and replaced with the throttle body, and that is about it. We used the existing throttle cable, kickdown, and replaced the fuel line and regulator with the parts supplied in the installation kit. The trick Edelbrock air cleaner was extra but you can reuse the one you already have.
The baseline test was performed on a Monday using the stock four-barrel carburetor. The installation took one day, and the second test was on a Wednesday afternoon. After the installation, and before the car was started, Edelbrock engineer, Mark Honsowetz walked us through the setup on the tablet supplied in the kit. With the key on, the ECU and the tablet make a wireless connection. Using the Setup Wizard, Mark answered basic questions like the size of the engine, general cam specs, what ignition and fuel systems are on the car, set the rev limit, and started the engine. Once the engine was warmed up, Mark ran through the idle setup procedure to set the idle at 950 rpm. That was it. Mark dropped the car in gear and we backed out of the shop.
The Edelbrock system uses a matrix of values that are constantly being updated to get the car to maintain idle and a preset air/fuel ratio. As we drove the car around the block, the engine characteristics changed as the ECU learned how the car was being driven and what it required to maintain the O2 set points and tune. The air/fuel set points are preset from Edelbrock, but the system is flexible enough to allow changes to idle, cruise, and, our favorite, WOT. Before the second trip around the block, Mark trimmed the air-fuel ratio to 13.4:1 at idle, 13.9:1 at cruise, and 12.5:1 WOT using big, easy to use buttons on the Adjust O2 Set Points menu. After five minutes of driving, we snapped open the throttle and flawlessly executed a first and second gear burnout without any hesitation or bog.
Back on the dyno, the engine made 434 rwhp and the air fuel ratio began to look like a curve instead of a drop down a mineshaft, we also noticed the run-on had disappeared as did most of the black and blue smoke from the tailpipe. The air/fuel ratio is something we could have tuned in the older carburetor using the Jeff Smith jet-and-air-bleed tuning trick we have published many times. Instead of us taking things apart, this system tuned itself while we stood there and watched it. The run-on problem solved itself. With EFI, the injectors shut off with the key, so run-on is impossible.
We estimate this to be a two weekend job. On the first weekend, you will need to take the car to and exhaust shop for an O2 bung and make sure the engine doesn’t have problems like bad plugs, incorrect timing, low compression, or a flat cam. The next weekend, install the fuel system and swap the carb for the throttle body, mount the ECU and plug in the wiring harness and you are set to go to work on Monday.
The new throttle body has all the timed and manifold vacuum ports to run power brakes, PVC
The EFI throttle body uses the same linkage as a standard 4150-flange four-barrel carburet
Even a properly tuned carburetor will have problems with a huge cam, no vacuum signal at i
The factory ball stud and kickdown bracket were removed from the original carb and reused.
You can compare the original fuel lines and the new system from Edelbrock with the fender-
The E-Street EFI system comes with a 7-inch Windows-based tablet with Bluetooth so it can
The ECU was hidden under the carpet. We recommend supplying the power and ground directly
The 3602 EFI kit has a fuel pump capable of supporting 600 hp and maintaining 60 psi of fu
The O2 bung needs to be welded 2-6 inches behind the header collector on an angle 10-degre
The E-Street System is easy to install, fits under the air cleaner like a carb, uses your