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The main constituent parts of a modern race engine are very similar to those we would have found in their ancestors of 40-50 years ago. Unless dictated otherwise by rules, we are likely to find aluminium structural castings, aluminium pistons, steel camshafts and a steel crankshaft. The Ford-Cosworth DFV Formula One engine conceived in the 1960s differs little in these respects from its descendant, the Cosworth CA2010 Formula One engine. However, although other engines might differ from...


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Unless you have been living on the Moon for the past 40 years, the news stories about the scarcity of oil - there are always "only 25 years' worth" of it left - and global warming can't have escaped your notice. The imperative to do more work while using up less of the Earth's fossil fuels has given us ever more efficient engines for our roadcars, and racing is going the same way. A great deal of press coverage has been given to alcohol fuels, and they are fast becoming...

Bearing wear

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Even after more than 30 years in the engine business, the bearing systems in modern internal combustion engine still amaze me. Made from a mixture of aluminium and tin on a steel backing (for bi-metallic examples) or a mixture of copper, silicon and nickel topped off with an aluminium-tin overlayer, even after many hours of running, after stripping the engine I have seen bearings as good as new. And of course this is what the designer is aiming for because in theory, once rotating, the...

Peace and harmony

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I suppose you could say that the valvetrain in any engine is a bit like my grown-up family. So long as everyone away from home stays in contact with the matriarch, all is well. However, as soon as that contact is lost - a late birthday card, for instance, or a promise to phone not honoured - then there are, shall we say, consequences. The same can certainly be said of the valvetrain, for when components in the system lose contact with each other the consequences can be more than simple...

Polymer coatings in race engines

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This month's RET-Monitor article on materials discusses some of the uses of polymer materials for manufacturing race engine components. Polymers, in comparison to most engineering metals, generally lack strength and stiffness. They are also often more limited than metals in terms of temperature resistance and corrosion. They do have some useful properties though, which can be put to good use in a racing powertrain. In general they are electrically non-conductive and have low thermal...