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Piston rings – materials

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While there is always something new going on with piston design, we tend to see less obvious development with piston rings. Visually it is pretty obvious with a piston that someone has a new concept or idea, and we can see from looking at new pistons at various trade shows that fresh design concepts appear that take advantage of new materials or different manufacturing methods. Piston ring development is very much more incremental though – evolution rather than revolution. The...


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There are a wide range of applications of surface treatments for race engines and transmissions, and an even wider range of surface treatments and coatings competing for our business. One surface treatment process that continues to find use in both engines and transmissions, having been popular for several decades, is phosphating. Some of the basic applications of this family of surface treatment processes were covered in a previous article on phosphating. There is however some debate as...

Strain gauging

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On many racecars in series such as Formula One and Sportscar racing a large number of sensors, normally strain gauges, are used to assess the loads exerted on individual components within the driveline and suspension. This provides data for calculating the life of parts and later for rig testing and simulation programs. The data generated by these sensors can then be transmitted over a live telemetry link, allowing trackside engineers to monitor components in real time, allowing for the...

Top Fuel clutch construction

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Drag cars such as those found in Top Fuel and Funny Car classes produce such prodigious torque that traditional gearbox-based transmission systems would be instantly torn apart on launch. These cars therefore rely on a complex multi-plate clutch system to transfer power progressively from the engine to the rear wheels. At first glance, the clutch system on a Top Fuel car does not look all that different from any other multi-plate racing clutch, except that it is considerably larger and is...


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The function of the valvetrain in any engine is critical to its operation. In a race engine it is often an area of constant development; with engineers striving continually to improve the engine’s breathing characteristics or working towards higher engine speeds. Improving the trapped mass or inlet charge increases torque, and increasing engine speed increases power. The development of the valvetrain often includes new camshafts, valves, valve springs and spring retainers. The...