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Powder metallurgy steels

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Steels make up a large part of a typical race engine: while most race engines have the main castings made of aluminium or cast iron, steel remains the favourite for a number of other components, notably camshafts and crankshafts. While cast iron can be used for both of these components, for highly developed, minimum-mass, high-stress applications we invariably find that steels are used. The piston pins in most race engines are still made from steel too. Despite the fact that steel-making...

Electric motors: cooling concepts

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The rise of hybrid drive technology, both in the production automotive sphere and latterly in racing, is something I hope will breathe new life into both realms of engineering. Years of racing powertrain regulation have led to some fantastic pieces of machinery powering cars and motorcycles around the circuits of the world, but they have become increasingly irrelevant to the direction of mainstream production vehicles. If we take the energy storage aspect of hybrid powertrains (electrical...

Ceramic bearings

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In recent times the push behind developments in bearings containing a ball or rolling element has been that of improved, 'cleaner' steels. Because of its high hardness and therefore resistance to wear, chromium steel has been difficult to beat, and reducing the level of impurity - the number, type and size of any rogue inclusions - to improve the fatigue resistance has made them more so. In many cases when bearing selection is driven, at least in part by cost, mass-produced steel...

What makes a good cam?

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As a car/engine buff first and an engineer second, I'm always interested in the views (however misguided) of my fellow enthusiasts. So when it comes to the question of what makes a good camshaft, their thoughts can be revealing. To one individual, a weekend racer of some skill, the perfect cam is one that gives ultimate top-end power with maximum torque only a couple of thousand revs lower. Using his ultra-close ratio gearbox and slick, flappy-paddle gear change system, swapping places...


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Diamond-like coatings (known universally as DLC) are a type of coating that has really taken the racing world by storm. There are a whole range of coatings that come under the description of DLC, with varying levels of hardness and coefficient of friction. They are also very thin. They are not though something that can be applied without due thought to any situation that the designer feels may merit such a coating. The geometry of the part and the underlying material must also be...