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There are a wide range of materials used in the racing powertrain, but although much progress has been made since man started motor racing more than a century ago, the vast majority of a modern race engine and transmission is still made of metal. However, this has been slowly changing for some time. Currently there are few applications of composites in race engines, although development is limited in many cases by regulation. In the past decade we have seen various engines sporting...

Losses in electric motors

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In designing or developing a race engine, we traditionally spend a lot of time, effort and money on mitigating frictional losses. We try to minimise heat rejection to oil and water. Efficiency equals performance, so we try to make the engine as efficient as we can; we want as much of the energy contained in the fuel as possible to be converted to kinetic energy. Much is made of the advantages that electric hybrid systems will bring to production vehicles and to racing. Pure electric racing...

Future cracked

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Defined as "a device supporting a mechanical component and enabling relative movement to another with the minimum of loss of power", a bearing is not just about the selection of the most appropriate material but also - you might not be surprised to learn - about its shape. So while the fatigue strength, embeddability, resistance to wear and seizure are all important, the running clearance between the journal and bearing surface is equally important. This is especially so as engine...

Asymmetrical profiles

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"What goes up must come down." I'm sure we've all heard that at some time, and a true enough statement most of the time (but not as it seems to gasoline prices at the pump). But what has this to do with cam design, I hear you ask? Well, if you substitute the words 'goes up' for 'opens' and 'come down' for 'closes' you can begin to see what I'm getting at. The fact is that, in designing a cam profile, we have to lift the valve assembly off...

Electroless nickel

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The technique of electroless nickel plating has been used widely in race engines for a long time. Electroless nickel is a family of coatings rather than a single coating, and a number of electroless nickel 'composite' coatings are available. Even where the coating is a plain nickel coating rather than a composite, there are different types of coating. Basic electroless nickel plating generally contains a high percentage of other elements, most notably phosphorous but sometimes boron....