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On-demand fuelling

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The best businesses, so we are told, are those that provide customers with precisely what they want at precisely the time they need it. ‘Just in time’ was the mantra of the 1990s automotive industry, and with it came the complexities of scheduling and the task of ensuring things turned up at the production line at the correct time and in the correct order. But the supply side of modern manufacturing is not the only place where the supply needs to be matched to demand. Another...

The importance of air filtration

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The primary function of the engine air filter is simply to remove airborne contaminants – road or trackside dust, dirt, tyre and other organic detritus in the environment – from the intake airstream and prevent it from entering the combustion chamber. Once inside the combustion chamber, much of what isn’t consumed by the advancing flame front will find its way out through the exhaust system and eventually out of harm’s way. However, what is left will inevitably become...

Variable-displacement oil pumps

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Most automotive engines, whether they are use for road or racing use, have fixed-displacement oil pumps. Most are directly driven by the engine, so in order to ensure sufficient oil supply at low revs – when the pump is turning slowly – the pumps are oversized for what is required at high rpm, where the pump is turning faster. Traditionally, the excess pressure is dealt with by an oil pressure release valve that bleeds oil back to the sump if the optimum pressure is exceeded....

Pin bores

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I’m sure someone will argue a different point of view, but my opinion is that the piston is probably the single most demanding component in an engine in terms of detailed design. There is so much at stake in terms of performance if the piston is too heavy or creates too much friction that people push piston design more than any other component. The penalties of getting any single design aspect wrong can turn an otherwise good piston into a liability. The pin bore is a case in point. If...

Chromating applications

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It would be wrong to say that conversion treatments such as chromating aren’t used in race engines, but they certainly aren’t used as widely as on race transmissions. One of its main uses in engine parts is the passivation of components with metallic platings such as zinc or cadmium. Chromating on top of these metallic platings prevents early oxidation of the plating – zinc itself, for example, is highly reactive. Plating works by using zinc, say, as a sacrificial coating,...