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What Is a 5-Blade Turbo?

Lower fin count confirms the “less-is-more” theory.

Sep 10, 2020
Hard-core diesel enthusiasts already know that "5-blade" is the current hot term in turbo talk that's posted on web forums and social media networks. For the uninitiated, yes, turbochargers, not cutlery. That's right, the term is associated with one of the most important pieces of an oil-burner's overall makeup.
Breaking things down a little further, while the 5-blade nickname is used for referencing a turbo unit as a whole, it specifically defines a compressor wheel and the number of fin-like primary "blades" it uses to force air into an engine's combustion chamber.
Given the aforementioned internet chatter, which is all very positive, it appears the 5-blade wheels are proving to be more efficient and effective at improving performance than their 7-, 8-, 10-, 11-blade (and so on) counterparts. Since this blows traditional "more-is-better" theories out of the water, we're really interested in learning more about 5-blade technology, its history, and exactly why and more so how the low-blade compressor wheels are able to be so effective.
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In six years, Johnny Gilbert of Stainless Diesel in Middlebury, Indiana, has made tremendous inroads with 5-blade theory and design. Diesel Power editor KJ Jones recently sat with Johnny in a Zoom conference and asked him to let us know exactly what 5-blade turbos are and, more important, why they're so good.
This report kicks off what we hope will be a series of Zoom discussions (of no more than 30 minutes in length) with movers and shakers throughout the entire diesel and pickup-truck spectrums. The main purpose of the chats is to learn about various subjects directly from the people who know best. So, if you're curious or have ideas about a topic and feel that others may also benefit from the information an expert provides, send us an email (dieselpower@motortrend.com) and let us know.


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