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Avoiding piston skirt wear

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One series where engines see tumultuous life is the World of Outlaws winged sprint car campaign in the US, with 60 contests coast to coast that keep competitors far away from their engine builders - sometimes for a month or more. So to help their customers in the field, Shaver Specialties Racing Engines (SSRE) of Torrance, California, chooses a robust Mahle Motorsports piston of 2618 alloy that's coated with phosphate; skirts are coated with Mahle Grafal. Shaver's operation,...

The Napier ring

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Mention the word 'Napier' to many people and the chances are you will be met with a quizzical stare. To some, mainly engineers and scientists with an interest in history, they will talk of John Napier, the 16th century scholar and inventor of logarithms. To others, Napier is associated with rather large, industrial-type turbochargers or the classic range of multi-cylinder piston aero engines that were around just before the jet engine took over, such as the iconic Napier W12 Lion or...

Surface treatments for magnesium

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In a previous article, I discussed some of the merits of using magnesium alloys in race engines. This isn't an original train of thought; the use of magnesium was widespread in different forms of motor racing more than 50 years ago, and the car and motorcycle manufacturers embrace it willingly in an effort to reduce engine and vehicle mass. Indeed, it has been common to use magnesium covers - cam covers, for example - on production motorcycles for decades now. With a density of...

Humidity - forget it?

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In my younger days, when fuel injection was but a luxury and the roads were less crowded, the journey to work was always so much more enjoyable in the foggy early morning light than at any other time. The engine in my transport - a high-compression 'A' series unit, tuned ever so close to (and sometimes beyond!) combustion 'knock' - would run totally free of detonation and be a joy to drive around the twisting country roads where I lived. As a development engineer I put this...

More on bike-engined cars

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In the previous article on this subject, I looked at a reversing differential for a bike-engined car where the engine is mounted longitudinally. Many bike-engined cars are configured with the engine mounted transversely, as it is in the motorcycle from which it is taken. This arrangement is commonly seen in Formula Student, for example. One particularly enterprising car constructor has developed, and very successfully used, its own gear-drive conversion in place of the existing chain...