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Lead-free bearings

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Throughout the 20th century, lead made a significant contribution to the development of the internal combustion engine. Initially this was in the form of Babbit-type materials (a mixture of tin, antimony, copper and lead) that were used in engine bearings. Later, lead played a more significant role in the development of ‘anti-knock’ compounds when added to gasoline fuels. In the former case, the softness of lead helped the lubrication in the bearings, whereas as an additive in...


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Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. For example, the quality of the exhaust noise of a performance car can make all the difference to the enjoyable experience of owning and driving a vehicle, particularly if that vehicle is of a certain age. The sound of the exhaust echoing off dry stone walls on a cool summer’s evening, for instance, or its crackle under a trailing throttle all bring back many fond memories of a now-distant youth. Little wonder then that vehicle marketeers,...

DLC and pistons

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It is fair to say that DLC (diamond-like carbon) coatings have proven to be something of a revelation to the motor racing and wider automotive sectors. Motorsport, with its relatively big budgets per component and small production quantities, is generally able to investigate, develop and test new ideas, products and processes far more quickly and efficiently than the mainstream automotive industry, and the widespread use of DLC coatings in racing valvetrains has been transferred to the...

The Scotch Yoke

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Anyone who deals with engines will be familiar with the con rod (unless you are a fanatic of the rotary engine to the exclusion of all others). It is a simple articulating link that connects the piston to the crankshaft and, in doing so, converts reciprocating motion into rotary motion, making it much easier to extract work from the expanding gases in the combustion chamber. However, the con rod poses some problems for the engine designer, especially the race engine designer who is under...

Back to basics

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When it comes to competition cars, more cases of overheating are caused by the installation of the vehicle heat exchanger than the choice of the heat exchanger itself. In such cases the cause of the problem is not in the selection of the matrix core or its size but in the way the unit is installed in the vehicle and the efficiency at which it gives up its heat to the passing air. It’s easy to determine the heat rejection of an engine: simply measure the temperature of the coolant going...