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Securing piston life

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Getting long life from a racing piston that is subjected to 8000 hp is not easy. Every trip down the 1000-foot dragstrip used by NHRA's Full Throttle Drag Racing Series means a modicum of damage to an engine and, with the pistons, damage is a way of life. John Stewart, tuner and crew chief for sophomore Top Fuel racer Shawn Langdon, has a great deal of experience in the sport, which makes him a perfect choice to take care of a newcomer like Langdon. "We use Venolia pistons with a...

U-Flex if you want to

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I've always said that to be a good engineer takes many years of experience but to be a great one takes an appreciation of history as well. It's a well-documented fact that very little is totally new in the world of automotive technology. For instance, four-valve chambers were first recorded in the Peugeot L3 of 1913, while the very first turbocharger came about in the mid-1920s - just two examples that readily spring to mind and were readily 're-invented' later in the...


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RF85 was covered last year in the pages of the May 2009 Race Engine Technology, but in that instance most of the data presented referred to the results of tests on cutting tools such as saw blades and taps. I spoke recently to the owner of Better Than New, in Tennessee, US, the company which carries out the RF85 surface treatment and which claims to reduce dry friction between metal pairs by around 85% (hence the name RF85). RF85 say people send the whole disassembled engine for...

Corrective action

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The definition of an engine is apparently "a machine that converts power into motion". This may be true in its widest sense but when it comes to rotary outputs, I like things to be more precise. Far be it from me to contradict the Oxford English Dictionary, but in its basest form surely an engine is "a machine that converts torque into motion"? I know I'm being slightly pedantic, but engines - at least the ones we are more familiar with - are designed to produce...


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More than 15 years ago, a young David Coulthard said he was "very excited" about a new development at Williams, going on to say that "machine is working better than man". The reason for his enthusiasm was that he had just tested Williams' revolutionary continuously variable transmission (CVT) system. This was in 1993, and the system so worried other competitors and the FIA that it was banned before it could be raced. There is video on the internet of the car being...