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Top Fuel piston secrets

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When it comes to prepping pistons for their NHRA Top Fuel rail, Don Schumacher Racing’s Antron Brown-driven team relies on co-tuner Rob Wendland. This year, the team led the ‘regular season’ of 18 races and finished third in the point standings, 49 behind six-time consecutive champion (and teammate) Tony Schumacher. Wendland said the team uses a variety of pistons, depending on the nature of the circuit. Their primary choice is a hard anodized JE piston, “Because they...


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One of the most recent innovations in piston ring technology has been the invention of diamond-like-carbon coatings. The progressive move away from cast or ductile iron towards much stronger but less durable steel designs, made the development of suitable surface coatings a distinct priority. Some time ago I had occasion to view the results of a study into engine friction. The engine, a quad-cam V8 of modern design and a ladder frame bottom-end, was motored in the fully hot condition up to...


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In a previous article on the subject of surface treatments, RET Monitor contributor Tom Sharp discussed various surface hardening methods for crankshafts, and the method of nitriding was expanded upon in a subsequent article on the subject of nitride hardening. Not only does nitriding of steels offer a more wear-resistant surface, but there are substantial benefits from the introduction of compressive residual stresses with regard to fatigue behaviour. Literature is littered with accounts...

Reliability testing in Formula One

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With the ban on in-season testing, one of the greatest increase in uses of any other testing equipment is that of the power train transient dynamometer. Costing millions of pounds to buy and even more to run, these are used to simulate precisely the events experienced by the engine and transmission as if it were installed in a vehicle circulating around the track. Controlling not only the engine speed and load but just about every other parameter you can think of – air temperature...

The Pull Clutch

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The appearance of the pull type clutch in the race car world in the last decade was driven mainly by considerations of efficiency, consistency, and component life. These factors are improved by an increase in the mechanical advantage of the release mechanism. Starting with the basic operation of a conventional ‘push’ clutch, the ‘push’ that is delivered by a slave cylinder refers to the force that is required to disengage the clutch plates. Upon depressing the clutch...