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Coatings: phosphating

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There are a number of surface treatments which go under the generic term 'phosphating', but not all are used for the same purposes and equally not all will be potentially of use to us as engine designers or in specifying parts which will increase performance or reliability. Phosphate is itself not a substance, but a negatively charged ion which may be found in solutions in a number of forms. The form which we might remember from chemistry (if we haven't used selective recall to...

Applying Matinaglia's good advice

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In the author's article on the mitigation of stress concentration in critical areas of crankshafts last month (Crankshafts: Stress-concentration mitigation), we mentioned the 1943 paper by Matinaglia. Some of his findings are repeated in the books by C.F. Taylor, which, if you don't have a copy of these, you would do well to avail yourself of. The paper by Matinaglia is worth reading but, having been published many decades ago in a trade journal, is not easy to get sight of. The...

Wall wetting - the 'Tau' factor

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In a conventional multi-point port injected gasoline engine the fuel is introduced into the air stream in the form of a jet of liquid. Atomising into small droplets, these mix with the air, begin to vaporise and eventually get carried off past the intake valves and into the combustion chamber. In between, varying amounts of this fuel might condense on the wall, travel along it and eventually vaporise back into the air stream. However the presence of this fuel, often referred to as a...

A most unusual engine

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An engineer should not only have solid grounding in the fundamentals of his discipline but an interest in history too. A thorough understanding of the principles involved in product design is, I would have thought, an absolute necessity but an appreciation of all that has gone before is as equally valuable. So when other people are perhaps relaxing or enjoying the fruits of their labour I often prefer to saunter around some of the smaller transport museums in this land. On one occasion...


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It is a rather strange but ironic fact of life that once a racing engine gets over a certain age then the biggest causes of failure are not likely to be those associated with excessive loads or the breakdown of lubrication, but simply that of corrosion. In the prime of its often very short racing life, an engine may be cosseted by professionals whose whole existence is centred on the well-being of that unit. It will be stripped, cleaned and examined on a regular basis and then re-assembled...