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Material choices for Formula One

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Formula One is often said to be the pinnacle of motorsport, which is true in many ways, as the cars are the most optimised and highly developed. So utterly unrelenting is development that nobody who aims to compete at the highest level would dream of using the championship-winning car from the previous year. However, the engines have ‘suffered’ from a development freeze: after the 2006 season they were gradually neutered by having a reduced rev limit and a requirement to be more...

The fan club

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Most engineers these days might consider a vehicle fan as that placed either in front or behind the radiator, pushing or pulling air through it and therefore cooling a heat transfer fluid and indirectly cooling the engine. While this may be ubiquitous now, 50 years or so ago the situation was different, when air-cooled engines devoid of any engine coolant were always a possible option. Of course though, the heat transfer characteristics of air are not as efficient as those of the primary...

Roller bearing crankshafts

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The 1960s must have been a fantastic time to be around race engines. The incredible diversity of engines in a single class is one reason I’m drawn to events where racing motorcycles from this era are wheeled out, started and ridden as they should be, at great risk to their owners’ bank accounts. If you have a passion for race engines, you should treat your eyes and ears to something special. Many of these engines used roller bearing crankshafts, where either the main bearings,...

Two into one does go

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When I was a schoolboy, during mathematics lessons on the subject of ‘long division’ I always remember being told that two into one doesn’t go. The rules of mathematics were something to be followed without question, but these days of course I now know differently. Because when it comes to electronic sensors, particularly when weight or space is the concern or for safety-critical applications, then two into one certainly does go. The most obvious example of this is when two...

Internal stress is truly not OK!

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It is said sometimes that engine engineers can ‘feel’ their engine working, and when it is not running properly then they can suffer a lot of stress in resolving that. Would they know that the engines themselves can also suffer internal stress? Designers of complex castings are familiar with internal stresses in engine blocks and heads. The reason for these stresses is the fact that the solidification of the material is not homogeneous throughout the part, leading to internal...