Supercharged X Top Sportsman Engine
Steve Morris is an engine builder who doesn’t need an introduction these days. Not too long ago, his engine shop, Steve Morris Engines in Muskegon, MI, built the Devel Sixteen – a V16 5, hp engine that cemented him as an elite builder of boosted, supercharged and turbocharged engines. Today, his shop only builds engines that are more than 1, hp.
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To reach the pinnacle of his craft however, Steve has been gaining experience in the industry ever since high school.
“I have never done anything else from high school on,” Morris says. “I went right from high school to Fair State University, which had an automotive machine program and as soon as I left there, I went to work for a local shop.”
In , Steve went to work at Dart Cylinder Heads in the Pro Stock engine program. This was in the day when McDonald’s was sponsoring NHRA, so Steve helped build engines for Jim Yates.
“I gained a lot of experience there,” he says. “In fact, that’s probably where I gained a vast majority of my startup experience. I worked there for a few years and then decided I wanted to go out on my own.”
Steve opened Steve Morris Engines (SME), but found himself shackled by a couple bad partnerships. It wasn’t until that Steve was able to buy everybody out so he could truly have his own shop to run how he wanted.
“I just wanted to do it all on my own,” he says. “I bought everybody out and paid everybody off and I was percent by myself to make my own decisions.”
One of those decisions was to start dipping into the boosted market. Today, Steve Morris Engines specializes in all boosted motors, despite Steve’s prior experience in naturally aspirated NHRA Pro Stock.
“My niche has really been developed into boosted engines – centrifugal supercharged and turbocharged engines – and currently today we don’t do anything less than a 1, horsepower,” Morris says.
The engine shop has several full-time employees, but Steve still finds himself doing many of the different jobs on the engines. He admits that he is trying to delegate more of that recently.
SME has two dynos. Steve says tuning at these high horsepower levels is one of the most critical parts of building their engines.
“I’m gradually trying to not touch every job that’s here,” he says. “There are some jobs that we’re getting into that I don’t have to touch. But the vast majority of things I still am intimately involved with, not only from the design side, but machining, and I’m still the only one who does any kind of dynoing or tuning.”
Steve Morris Engines has two engine dynos and one chassis dyno. Steve said he just bought another balancer and a 4-axis CNC machine for block work at the recent PRI Show.
“We’re growing and moving,” he says. “I also have three 3-axis 40x20x20 machines. The original reason I even got into these machines was that I couldn’t get anybody to make parts. I had to have a simple little bracket or I had to have some simple thing and I just couldn’t get anybody to ever make anything. So I said the heck with it, I’ll just get my own machine. After I got one, then I got two and got a third one and they’re all three identical machines that keep parts going all the time. In case one breaks down I can rob from the other one.”
The shop also has a Sunnen CV line hone, a RMC boring mill for block work, an old balancer retrofitted with new software, a 3-axis T&S Machines TS boring mill and a CWT balancer.
“I do everything in-house outside of crankshaft grinding and cylinder head porting,” he says.
SME does a lot of CNC work.
One of his recent engine builds that he had at the PRI Show was a Pro Modified/Top Sportsman engine with the X platform.
“The X platform is a solid billet block and solid billet head,” Morris says. “This particular one has a Vortech supercharger on it, which is a gear-driven supercharger. The engine runs on methanol and has all of our componentry on it because I make the billet intake manifold, billet valve covers, bracketry and any kind of small fabrication work like that.”
This Top Sportsman is a 3, horsepower Vortech engine. It’s an engine that Steve believes would be a real good option for fast grudge cars, fast Top Sportsman cars, or anybody who wants the best in a centrifugal supercharged piece. It’s both durable and dependable.
“We’ve worked on everything from the piston design to valve train stuff and a lot of it was really good to start with and we just try to make things better,” he says. “We use MGP connecting rods, Diamond or CP-Carrillo pistons, and Crower, Bryant or Callies crankshafts.”
This motor has a Bryant crankshaft in it with MGP rods, Diamond pistons, King engine bearings and a Holley EFI system. It also has Steve’s camshaft profile.
“I don’t grind camshafts but I do all the design and profile work on them and then have the manufacturers grind them to my specifications,” he says.
While the camshaft grinding is done outside the building, Steve does make the intake manifold and spends a lot of time designing and making that the way he wants.
“We actually make quite a few intake manifolds now for SBC, BBC and LS stuff,” Morris says.
While the shop has become quite good at this high-performance engine work, some things are still a struggle from time to time.
“I’ve had some issues with this engine on the dyno that are electrical related,” he says. “I’ve had this thing on the dyno for three weeks. By the time you get a part in and test it, get another part in and test it again and try to hunt down and diagnose problems, the engine ends up being on there forever. In an engine like this being dyno tested and tuned, I easily have hours into it.”
Aside from the machine work on the block, balancing, modifications and assembly, the tune is one of the most critical elements for a high-horsepower engine like this one, which Steve says should be around 3, hp and 2, lb.-ft. of torque.
“The major deal is tuning at this kind of horsepower level,” Morris says. “There are very few people who actually dyno test and tune stuff at this horsepower level. We are always offering and work with people on having a real turnkey package. I will even train them on how to use the EFI system and train them to help them get the cars down the track.
“We don’t build just the long block. We’re doing a complete engine package and really trying to help people get what they need.”
The Engine of the Week eNewsletter is sponsored by Cometic Gasket.
If you have an engine you would like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder magazine’s managing editor, Greg Jones at [emailprotected]
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At STEVE MORRIS ENGINES, we believe in offering you the best and most innovative combinations available. Our years of proven results on the dyno and racetrack have allowed our business to grow greatly. To all of our past (and future) customers - we thank you for making us who we are.
With the continual growth in our business, we have had to change our Support Policy. In order for us to provide any level of support (tuning-related, general combination inquiry, camshaft recommendations, etc), we require that the part(s) you are asking about be purchased through us directly. It is not fair to the customers who have invested their hard-earned money with us, to offer a service for free or at a greatly reduced price.
This level of support is just one of the value-added benefits when making your purchase through STEVE MORRIS ENGINES. Our experience with these combinations will ensure your overall success and happiness with your investment!
Please fill out this form for more information about Steve Morris Engines. We will respond to your question(s) and/or comment(s) as quickly as possible.
PLEASE, make sure your email address is typed in correctly, If you don't hear back from us it is because your address is bad or our reply is being sent to your junk mail.
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From the Team at Steve Morris Engines:
The team at Steve Morris Engines has a simple philosophy:
Always make things better, always improve and always provide the best service and support in the industry.
The industry didn't need another engine builder, it needed a better one.
Each year we prioritize and build less than exclusive full-custom engines. Our priority is the relationship we forge with our customers through engines, many of whom have been with us for decades.
Our engines are tailored to the client, making each individual build and tune as unique as its owner.
We start with a conversation on concept, goals and aspirations for the build; taking a holistic approach in the build. Our many years of builds have given us an opportunity to maximize returns for clients in manners they may not have previously considered.
Throughout the build, with regular updates and conversation our customers are always connected and involved with their build. And once completed and delivered, we continue to offer service and support for their product.
Our tuning process is in-depth and bespoke for each customer. We believe in testing and optimizing the engines we build. When faced with ever-increasing power output from our engine combinations, we set forth to improve our testing equipment. With our in-house prototype development and CNC machining capabilities, we developed and constructed our engine dyno to meet the rigorous demands. As a result we now have the capability to (engine) dyno tune engines that exceed 4, horsepower.
Steve Morris Engines is a boosted-engine industry leader. Our team is filled with talented and passionate individuals that posses more than 40 years experience. Our culture of innovation, discipline and process' assure the highest-quality results and satisfaction for our clients.
Based out of Muskegon, Michigan we began locally and now have a global reach with small-town business manners.
A Note From Steve:
My passion for high-performance and innovation only come from God-given talents and abilities. As a Christian, my faith and relationship with Jesus Christ guide my personal and professional life, and I am aware not everyone shares my beliefs, nor do I expect them to.
I may not fit your perception of a Christian at times, as I’m not willing to compromise my business, employees or products by giving things away or be walked on by overly-demanding customers. But I will always give my clients the best service and support I can.
Thank you again for your consideration, my team and myself are more than happy to answer any question you may have. Feel free to Contact Us.
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