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Directional strength of steels

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There is little doubt that, in many ways, steels have improved markedly in recent years. Fatigue properties in particular have seen a large improvement owing to better steel cleanliness. However, it is not only the cleanliness that affects fatigue behaviour, but the processing of the steel, and this processing introduces anisotropy into the steel. Anisotropy is the effect whereby mechanical properties vary according to the direction in which they are measured. By the use of directional...

Alternative energy: flywheel batteries

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The subject of 'alternative energy' is soon to be covered in the pages of RET magazine (issue 53), and will cover various technologies aimed at making motor racing more environmentally friendly. One very topical subject is that of the various hybrid technologies that seek to make our race vehicles more efficient by storing and re-using the kinetic energy normally converted to heat under braking. This is being very actively developed by roadcar manufacturers - for example in the...

A question of lead

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In 1949, British industrialist Tony Vandervell bought a contemporary Ferrari Grand Prix car - not a straightforward exercise in the aftermath of World War II, as it required an import licence, while the export of currency to Italy required special permission. Vandervell argued to the British powers that be that he needed the car as a test bed for his innovative Thinwall bearings. For its part, Ferrari appreciated the significance of those bearings, even if getting hold of them meant...

Tight times!

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The most common aspiration of just about all power unit engineers is that of greater engine performance. Better fuel economy, improved toxic emissions or simply better torque over a wider range of operating speeds - much of it but certainly not all - is down to the selection of the cam profile and its timing. In the search for greater efficiency, compression ratios have increased in recent times, resulting in much smaller, more compact combustion chambers. To avoid mechanical mayhem and...

DLC for pistons

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Pistons are part of the fundamental mechanism of most internal combustion engines, and are certainly very widely employed in racing. While roadcar producers still persist in development of the rotary engine concept, it has been pretty much abandoned by racers, especially by those who produce bespoke race engines. Although rotaries might yet enjoy something of an unexpected revival as range-extenders in electrically driven vehicles, reciprocating (piston) engines will continue to dominate,...