Jeep JK ProCharger Install on Sgt. Rocker: The Quest For More Power

PROCHARGER_1_edited-1Project Sgt. Rocker is back, and he’s better than ever. We’ve seen him grow from his days as a second-class private, a stock Unlimited 4×4 that was capable of so little, up through corporal, as he rocked bigger and better equipment to include tires, wheels, body armor, soft top, and more.

REWA_87Now, however, is when the Sarge will finally be able to live up to his name. He’s been gaining mass for the better part of a year, which has added considerably to his weight, requiring that we finally take a peek under the hood and consider our options.

And there it was, the good ol’ Pentastar. The 3.6-liter V6 built by Chrysler has been shared around plenty of vehicle types–minivans, cars, SUVs, all have been fair game under the Mopar banner. It’s been a solid platform since 2011, and certainly a decent fit on the Jeep Wrangler for just as long.

AIRAID‘s cold air intake managed to offset some of the power losses since we started installing parts, but following heavyweight additions such as the Currie RockJock suspension kit, Mickey Thompson tires, Weld Racing REKON wheels, and Poison Spyder body armor, something had to be done to get power bumped up in a big way.

We saw no immediate need for an engine swap while the V6 still had so much potential, and as it turned out, ProCharger had just the thing to turn Sarge into a new soldier. We could build him up. We had the technology, a supercharger kit that would force the motor to breathe in greater amounts of air, and consequently make loads more power.

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The ProCharger kit for the 3.6-liter V6-equipped Jeep Wrangler includes several components to replace stock pieces such as the intercooler, coolant overflow reservoir, air filter/intake system, and fuel injectors.

The Charge Of The Jeep Brigade

While supercharging does cut back on the haggle and hassle involved with an engine swap, it is by no means an exercise in simplicity and minimal physical labor. The process requires a number of tools, mechanical know-how, and patience to see it through. Nevertheless, the work it takes to get one of these systems installed is well worth it, if for nothing else than to see this JK blaze around the desert.

This diagram demonstrates how the ProCharger system is routed in 3-D space.

This diagram demonstrates how the ProCharger system is routed in 3D space.

We got a hold of Erik Radzins at ProCharger and talked through the logic, philosophy, and creation behind the 2012-14 JK ProCharger HO Intercooled System. “The one thing everyone knows they want is something better,” said Radzins. “With our kit, we wanted to give folks access to that betterment in a seamless transition from natural aspiration to supercharging.”

To do that, the research team had to take a fresh look at the engine bay of the typical JK. They had to figure out a way to reposition certain components, making full use of the space from top to bottom and front to back. “We went the whole nine yards, starting from a basic CAD model,” explained Radzins. “We then took measurements and had a spatial concept of what we could do.”

The efficient nature of our designs gives them repeatable performance. -Erik Radzins, Calibrations Technician & Social Media Director, ProCharger

The team quickly found out that the alternator’s odd positioning, centered up top in front of the engine, would make for the most ideal location of a new supercharger.

“Once we figured out we could just move the alternator in between the water pump and A/C compressor, it was a no-brainer,” said Radzins.

“In our minds, front and center made for the most painless spot to put a supercharger. The less you have to mess with a fluid system like the water pump or coolant reservoir, the better, since it makes it easy for the end user from a do-it-yourself standpoint.”

And it’s performance that can be had without a lot of effort. As a matter of fact, the supercharger only generates 7 psi peak pressure, a far cry from the high-hp racing applications that ProCharger is known for. But it does the trick, and does it effectively.

Regarding production, the supercharger hews to ProCharger’s longtime methods that revolve around centrifugal design. “In the debate regarding centrifugal versus Roots-type, the big thing is going to be heat,” explained Radzins. “A Roots-type supercharger moves a lot more air than a centrifugal, but it creates a lot more pressure and heat, making heat soak a problem. The efficient nature of our designs gives them repeatable performance.”

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Posted To The Barracks For Reevaluation

In our preliminary tests, Project Sgt. Rocker did its best to pass the physical as we made use of our in-house Dynojet 224LC dynamometer. It made 200.0 hp and 188.6 lb-ft of torque–hardly the kind of power we were looking for.

The Right Tools For The Job

  • Open end wrench set (standard and metric)
  • 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch socket sets (standard and metric)
  • 3/8-inch hex bit set (standard and metric)
  • 8mm nut driver
  • T30 Torx driver
  • 1/2-inch extension
  • 1/2-inch breaker bar
  • Plier set
  • WD-40
As the opening step to the installation, we recorded and submitted the JK’s stock tune to the experts at ProCharger, where it would receive a custom tune that would best make use of the supercharger once the installation was complete. To do this, we used a Diablosport XP1000 tuner to record the data, then had it emailed off before getting it back within 24 hours, and installed the new tune onto the PCM then and there, no sweat.

As to the physical installation, the front of the Jeep was the first to get our attention. A half-inch breaker bar and extension were used to deconstruct the belt drive. Like many late model vehicles, the JK’s must be torqued for a period of time before an internal mechanism disengages, and the belt slackens. We pulled the bar toward the driver’s side to get this result.

The alternator and its bracket were taken off at this point, as was the coolant overflow tank (which comes with a replacement), side markers, and front grille to free up some space while the installation progresses.

The fuel injectors and spark plugs were next on the list. After disconnecting the MAP sensor and harness connector, we removed the two screws that held the connector bracket to the intake manifold and went about removing the heater hard lines, brackets, and vacuum line as well. Seven 8mm bolts were all that stood between us and access to the intake runners.

Left to right: Off came the alternator, coolant overflow reservoir, and grille to grant us more workspace.

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The spark plugs are gapped to .035 inches–down from .038 inches–before being reinserted into the engine. “To make sure power delivery is smooth, and to lessen the possibility of a misfire, we recommend the spark plugs be gapped down,” said ProCharger’s Erik Radzins.

With those off, the manifold was removed and tape was used to protect the runners from contamination. With the injectors and coil connectors unplugged, the coils themselves were removed, as were the spark plugs. Per the instructions, we gapped the spark plugs to the proper length–.035 inches–and then applied anti-seize compound before reinserting them back into the block.

The stock injector (left) is compared with the ProCharger injector (right). Note the grouping of the jets on the ProCharger unit, as well as their slightly larger diameter.

The stock injector (left) is compared with the replacement injector (right). The replacement is actually an OEM unit used on LS3s and LS7s, and delivers 50 pounds/hour to keep up with the demands of the supercharger.

The stock injectors and their O-rings were tossed out, replaced by the new and improved ProCharger units. The larger and more closely grouped jets would play a role toward generating the dyno numbers we would later see.

Onto the transmission cooler, one thing that struck us was the relatively small size when compared to the stock cooler. This is due to fitment issues that come into play when the intercooler has to be installed, as it will take up the upper half of the radiator front when the time comes.

Once the hard lines running into the cooler were disconnected, a supplied rubber hose was cut in two and slipped on over the hard lines, and then secured with clamps. The new cooler was inserted and fastened with the plastic rods, but not before being hooked up to the plumbing lines.

The alternator's new home is situated on the driver's lower side of the engine.

The alternator’s new home is situated on the driver’s lower side of the engine.

Afterwards, we went about dismantling the alternator and its bracket, reassigning the alternator to the timing cover on the left lower side of the engine, below the A/C compressor and water pump. A special brace did the trick of getting the bracket to stay secure, a must for any off-roading Jeep.

The following steps were all about the flat black coolant tank and its location, which shifted to the passenger side of the vehicle and aft of the fuse box. Due to the previous installations of the battery tray and intake kit, some slight modifications were necessary to get everything lined up, but it fortunately was not a big deal.

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The supercharger is installed, followed by the serpentine belt looping around the pulleys and finally, reapplying tension to the system with the breaker bar.

The big deal, rather, was seeing things start to come together as we mounted up the main bracket and head unit. The supercharger was installed and bolted in with six SHC screws of varying size and length. Now came the difficult task of routing the new belt over, under, and throughout all of the pulleys (nine in total), which we did in a matter of minutes. Out came the breaker bar again to apply pressure to the tensioner, and off it came once we were satisfied that the belt was situated perfectly on every pulley.

The intercooler is secured, and now the molded rubber hoses are clamped onto either side.

The intercooler is secured, and now the molded rubber hoses are clamped onto either side.

Next up, we had the intercooler system to tackle. Two molded hoses were situated to flank the radiator, and went in after some elbow-greased persuasion. The intercooler was dropped in following the installation of brackets on either side of the grille, and was centered to gain optimal airflow without touching the condenser resting just behind it.

Out went the AIRAID cold air intake, and in went ProCharger‘s provided parts, which were designed to carry air quickly to the head unit for faster response. The tubing was clamped tight on either side, and we were ready to start on the surge system.

The alternator cable extension is plugged in.

The alternator cable extension is plugged in.

The Proflow bypass valve is part of the new breathing setup, directing excess boosted air away from the motor when it’s not needed. It receives its own filter once installed and points downward to stay clear of other parts of the engine bay. Likewise, the PCV system, in proceeding steps, was routed out of the way of the belt drive to keep everything in check.

Approaching the end of the installation, we fitted the air inlet to the supercharger with a #56 hose clamp and connected the PCV line to a bung, using a #10 hose clamp. Our final assembly hooked up the alternator, adapted MAP sensor, and new engine cover grommets to conclude a couple of day’s labor. Now it was time to see how things had improved on our dynamometer.

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The ProCharger’s Performance Blows Us Away

True to its word, the ProCharger kit performed as expected, and then some. It kicked ass on the Dynojet dyno, singlehandedly adding over 114 hp and 76 lb-ft of torque, for a grand total of 314.1 hp and 265.0 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. Stellar results for a stellar Jeep, and one we were all too happy to drive–but where to?

The power really comes to life once the Pentastar hits 3500 RPM, and keeps going all the way to 5000 RPM.

As you can see, the gains come in the low RPM range (perfect for rock crawling!) and continue all the way through the rev range.

For dedicated off-road adventure, a prime choice here in Southern California is the famous Ocotillo Wells SVRA. More than 100 square miles of desolate desert are cordoned off for off-highway vehicles, and the Truckhaven 4×4 Training Center is just one of the areas that make up the vast sandy expanse.

Filled with flex tests, inclines, declines, and other obstacles to choose from, the location is a blast to drive through, and the experience was all the more enhanced by our high-pitched ProCharger adding all that oomph to the engine. The only thing that kept us from bombing around there all day long was the extreme heat, as temperatures topped out at 116 degrees Fahrenheit near mid-afternoon.

The Truckhaven 4x4 Training Center in Ocotillo Wells offers excellent areas for horseplay. High ridges, obstacle courses, and flat stretches of open sand were the perfect place to really put the new supercharger to the test.

Of course, the temptation to “get on it” during the drive there and back did the body and soul good too. We could really feel just how unleashed the Sarge was when we mashed the gas on an open stretch of highway.

So what did we learn today, folks? We learned this: six cylinders can equate to a whole lot of fun when the right elements are in play, translating high-speed wind into churned-up earth.

REWA_89Check out all of ProCharger’s gear and upgrades by visiting its website, and head to the official Facebook page for more forced induction madness.

Article Sources

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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