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Merlin X Manifold Test April 25, 2012
Merlin X Manifold Test

As all racers, and the endless pursuit of more power Mark A. Goulette, the owner of Owner & Driver, Livin’ The Dream Racing Dragster. Has offered to document a comparison test of our Merlin X Manifold vs his current Edelbrock Intake Manifold. Here is Part 1, written by Mark himself…

Well, where to start.  I guess I'll start by saying this:  If I was Joe Average Racer Dude that just buys parts and bolts them on, and I saw your intake and the Edelbrock side by side, wanna guess which one is going on my motor?  Out of the box the Merlin is SUBSTANTIALLY better than the Edelbrock.  While the surface finish of the casting is just a bit rougher, the overall quality of the casting is far and away better.  The Edelbrock is a lot like Dart heads.  With few exceptions, they are for builders in the condition they come in, and require considerable work to be a decent manifold.  The only thing I'd do to yours is a port match and that's it.  As per Billy's request however, the first runs with yours will be as delivered.  I'm also going to run it the same way I ran mine last year, without the 2" spacer and shear plate.  I have a NOS plate that I used for a spacer and then the scoop tray mount.  My best run last year with the Edelbrock was an 8.54 @ 158 using that setup, and the intake was port matched and plenum was cleaned up.  If I put the spacer and shear plate on it now, there will be considerable overhang interfering with flow from the carb and will cause some pretty bad reversion.  I figure the better way to do this will be to compare it to what it's closest too now.  Out of the box vs. partially ported, then heavily ported vs. port matched and plenum work done.  I'll try to bring the manifold to as close to modified for the second test that my Edelbrock is to keep it fair.  I'm betting yours will do better than it may seem.

Just a few other things I noticed.  One, the machining of the intake is better than the Edelbrock.  On my intake, there was a ridge on both sides of the intake that hit the end rails of the block I had to grind away so it would sit correctly on the motor.  Your intake doesn't have that issue.  The flanges on your intake are also much thicker than the Edelbrock and it's about a 1/4" taller if my measurement was accurate.  I'll check again once they are both on the bench.  A very nice feature of yours also is the slotted and spot faced bolt holes.  Nice touch.  The Edelbrock isn't spot faced and the holes are round.  If you've machined your block or heads, or are running unusual thickness head gaskets, the possibility of the Edelbrock's bolt holes not aligning is pretty good.  I have several that are at the top edge of the manifold's holes.  The slotted holes in your intake will prevent that and ensure they are open.  The plenum on yours is wide open below the carb pad, and doesn't even require relief for the gasket.  As I mentioned before, the Edelbrock needs considerable material removed in that area.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the quality of the intake.  Definitely can be run out of the box without issues, and in my opinion, a better entry level manifold for the racer who just puts stuff together.  There isn't the prep work required to run it that you'll have with the Edelbrock.  I'm sure with porting, it's more than capable of running right up there with the rest of them and will likely outperform them.  Oh yeah, almost forgot.  Your intake also has somewhat more material around the ports, and the walls between them are thicker than the Edelbrock.  I had to be careful when I was removing material on my intake, so that I didn't break through somewhere or get the walls too thin, but your intake I can get a little more aggressive if I want.  Just a warm fuzzy on that......

Anyway, that's it so far.  I'm testing again Sunday and hopefully have fixed or at least improved upon my current issues.  I'll let you know how things go, I have two more total test dates before the first race to go.  I'll test your intake after the first race.