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Keeping piston skirts happy in a small, heavily boosted engine

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In Time Attack, a popular form of road racing in the US, the objective is not to compete wheel-to-wheel but rather to set down the fastest lap possible. According to Rob Cardona, manager of WORLD Racing, Toyota's Scion brand official team, "It has a bit of road racing with a bit of a drag-racing element to it, going for a time slip without racing each other." While cars in any particular class will be on the track at the same time, the organisers try to pace each car so that...

Sealing the Wankel engine

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If you think sealing the gap between the piston and cylinder bore of a conventional reciprocating engine presents something of a challenge, then spare a thought for the problems facing the Wankel engine. Once heralded as the rightful successor to the humble piston engine, the rotary Wankel unit gave a smoother power delivery in a more compact form, but early examples suffered greatly from combustion gas sealing issues between the rotor and its housing. And if you examine the dynamics of it...


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There are often lots of shiny parts in a race engine, and some companies produce parts of a high surface finish as a sales point; there is a perception by some that a polished part is better quality and therefore has an inherently higher value. There are very good reasons though why some parts benefit from having a high level of surface finish. One only has to look at the data presented in engineering textbooks on the subject of fatigue strength and cyclic loading to realise that improving...

The eddy-current dyno

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Although the water or hydraulic brake is probably the most cost effective form of dynamometer, by far the most familiar - at least for those in a professional engine development environment - will be the eddy-current brake. It's a bit of a hybrid in a way, for although it's classed as an electrical machine, it still requires a method of dissipating the engine shaft energy absorbed in the form of heat. In low power ratings this can be cooling air, which greatly simplifies the...

Carbon-carbon composites in clutches

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It is common to see composite materials in a range of applications in motorsport. Typically glass- and carbon fibre composites reinforced within a polyester or epoxy matrix not only lend themselves to the manufacture of complex shapes but also allow engineers to incorporate both isotropic and anisotropic mechanical properties into a single structure. As with all composite materials, the constituents' properties and the positioning of both the reinforcement and matrix material will...