LSXTV Tech Review: Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Modular CDS Gear Drive


Chris Alston’s Chassisworks has unveiled a whole new line of products designed for direct bolt-on gear and belt driven superchargers for racing or serious performance-built street motors. The new line, called Component Drive Systems (CDS) is designed for either single and dual Vortech, Paxton, or other brand centrifugal Superchargers. The CDS systems can be bolted onto a variety of engine configurations including all Chevys (including LS-series engines), plus Ford in both small block and Modular motor varieties.

Belt Versus Gear Drive
An inherent problem with belt drive systems is belt slip plus the additional stress created on the crankshaft due to the tight belt. The CDS supercharger gear drive increases reliability by eliminating belt slip and premature main bearing wear, reducing the need for costly engine rebuilds. The CDS gear drives are adjustable by changing the gear ratio for upping or lowering boost levels.

When asked to explain the main principle driving development of the CDS product line, project-leader and racer Chris Alston Jr. commented, “Generally they’re used in higher horsepower applications to help reduce problems that customers have with belt systems. The CDS supercharger gear drive will eliminate the belt system and take away the load and eliminate the stress to the snout of the supercharger and the crankshaft caused by a belt drive system, robbing the motor of horsepower.”

Nothing can ruin a race faster than throwing a belt mid race; there is absolutely nothing you can do about it as hundreds of horsepower is thrown down the drain. Pedaling during a run creates extra stress on the belt as it’s torqued after every snap of the throttle, which is energy that can be easily absorbed by a gear drive.

The billet drive systems have unrivaled stability, both under load and in back pedaling situations. The strength of the systems increases part longevity by minimizing the unavoidable side loads on both the crankshaft and the supercharger bearings that are caused by the belt drive system.

Gear Drive Crankshaft Couplers and Applications
Chris Alston’s Chassisworks paid special attention to the coupler assembly that connects the CDS gear drive to the supercharger and to the crankshaft. The coupler, and more specifically its internal bushing set, allows the drive to properly function through minor crankshaft-to-supercharger misalignment and dampens crankshaft harmonics that can potentially increase wear on the supercharger bearings.

Because of the tremendous stress placed on the bushings while under load and the flexibility required for reliable operation, the bushings are designed as a wearable component. Depending upon horsepower and boost levels, bushings can last for a full season or more and can be easily replaced for just $25 per set; an affordable and quick alternative to regular replacement of bearings or other more expensive components.

Beyond conventional engine combinations, Chris Alston’s Chassisworks can make the supercharger drive units work for unique engine configurations as well. Currently the Chassisworks team is working on mounting a CDS drive on a 500 cubic inch Pontiac motor and a 4.3-liter V6 engine. Beyond motor options, the team believes that they can make a system work for most any centrifugal supercharger.

Adding Accessories with the CDS Drive
Another beneficial aspect of the front drive is that it is forward facing, which will place the supercharger inlet directly into the incoming airflow and will allow for cooler charge temperatures out of the supercharger.

The way the drive is designed, there are multiple mounting configurations available, so that it is easier to package into the vehicle. The CDS drive will allow for different combinations of accessories to be placed onto the motor, including mechanical fuel pumps, oil pumps and/or water pumps.

The system is of a similar height and length in most situations, even with single or dual superchargers, but will vary slightly in length. Normal dimensions of the system fully installed are 14 inches wide by 10 inches high by 18 inches deep with a Vortech Supercharger. These dimensions generally make for an easy fit into full race cars, no matter the class or requirements.

Testing The CDS Gear Drive
Theo Dec of Wizard Racing, who has tested the CDS gear drive gear explained, “A supercharger is like a giant flywheel that is spinning upwards of 60,000 RPM and if you try to pedal it, it does not want to slow down. Potentially you could rip teeth clean off of the belt. With the gear design, we do not run into those problems.” Theo has built multiple vehicles with gear drives and emphasizes the importance of eliminating the side load caused by a belt drive, “Not having the parasitic loss of a belt pulling on the unit and the snout of the crankshaft, the freed up horsepower is definitely a plus,” continued Dec.

Dec has a very unique angle on seeing how the Chassisworks CDS drive works as a car builder and tuner, “I do a lot of custom builds and it is important to me to have a company who will build products to meet my customers’ needs.” Dec has built and tuned multiple cars with Vortech units and other superchargers, plus works with other cars that also run the drive. Dec has had no problems with the drives and has been impressed by the durability that it has brought to those cars.

Alston Jr. talks about the customers using the drive units, “We have customers who run them on smaller blowers on the street, and on the opposite side of the spectrum we have mounted twin superchargers for racing.” Dec has also proven the CDS drive on the dragstrip, but possibly even more impressive is that he has used the drive on vehicles that are capable of cruising on the street as well. Multiple gear combinations are available so that motors can be set up to over-drive or under-drive the supercharger to either maximize the torque at lower engine RPM’s or by reducing the power of the motor to allow for an engine that plays nicer on the street.

Helping Drive the Power Directly to your Supercharger
The Chris Alston’s Chassisworks CDS gear drive is just the first step in the Component Drive System line up. Chris Alston Jr. and his team are very excited by the positive feedback they have received thus far. The CDS product engineering team is busy right now to expand the product line and we anticipate seeing more high quality products out of the Chassisworks group in the future.

With the technological evolution of power adders over the recent years, as turbos have gone from reliability issues to reliably fast, the introduction of the CDS drive could be the beginning of great things yet to come in the centrifugal supercharger racing scene. Any product that lowers the drag on motors, frees up horsepower, and increases the performance of the car or truck on track has to be a good thing. The CDS drive is highly customizable and will be able to be used on many engine and supercharger configurations including single and twin superchargers applications as well as anything from a modular motor Ford to a big block Chevrolet, with a simple bracket change, giving meaning to the word versatility. Though the CDS gear drive may not guarantee you a round win, it can certainly help keep you from losing one.

About Brian@Vortech

I like boost!
This entry was posted in 3rd Party Manufacturers, Drag Racing, Vendor Profiles, Vortech Products. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to LSXTV Tech Review: Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Modular CDS Gear Drive

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