Pumping up the F-150 volume

  • 17-Mar-2009 09:23 EDT
F-150 HD.jpg
The 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150's exhaust system is a key differentiator of the truck built off the 2009 Ford F-150. The truck 's unique features include standard 22-in low-profile performance tires (the largest in the F-Series lineup).

The 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 emits a unique noise that underscores the collaborative attention given to this unique four-wheel vehicle.

The latest F-150 Harley-Davidson, unveiled at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, marks the 14th incarnation of a Harley-Davidson F-Series truck. "This version is probably the most differentiated in terms of the amount of suspension tuning we've done, the exhaust tuning, and just from an inside look compared to the base vehicle; this is the best Harley-Davidson edition we've ever done," said Matt O'Leary, Ford F-150 Chief Engineer.

Achieving the unique exhaust sound of this new Harley-Davidson F-150 edition "involves a split-chambered single-in/dual-out design. The system also utilizes sound diffusers in the dual slash cut exhaust tips," noted Mike Massara, an F-150 engineer. Added O'Leary, "We changed the muffler design and some of the filters and attenuators in the muffler itself as well as (doing) a little bit of tuning on the pipes to get the sound."

Ford's NVH team identified and clearly defined the "sound that they were looking for. The technical innovation involved Tenneco managing flow shearing effects to turn the muffler internal Helmholtz tuners on and off at specific flow rates, thereby creating the signature sound that our customer was seeking," explained Tim Jackson, Tenneco Chief Technology Officer.

Added Jackson, "This would not have happened without the ability to translate theoretical knowledge into practical application. A concurrent set-based approach was used. This allowed us to efficiently filter through design concepts and identify those that brought us incrementally closer to the customer's goals. Our predictive tools enabled our engineers to turn around approximately 15 to 20 design concepts each day. Beyond this, our CFD tools were used to model the shearing effects across the Helmholtz tuners."

The Harley-Davidson F-150's exhaust rumble is not the same sound as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle's exhaust note. "We haven't figured out how to do 'potato, potato, potato' on a V8 yet," O'Leary said with a laugh. A 5.4-L three-valve V8 engine, rated up to 320 hp (238 kW) and 390 lb·ft (529 N·m), and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, will power the 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150.

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