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Grinding and polishing

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Crankshafts are very precise pieces of equipment, and are machined accurately for a number of reasons. For racing, we need to get as close to the maximum allowed capacity without exceeding it, so the throw of the crankshaft is tightly controlled. However, possibly the most critical and most accurately controlled machined features of the crankshaft are the main bearing journals and crankpins. They are usually specified with very tight limits on size, and other geometric tolerances such as...

Electronically controlled differentials

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Developed at the dawn of the motor car, the driveline differential was designed to allow the driven wheels to rotate at different speeds but still apply torque to the driving wheels. While not essential when travelling in a straight line, when traversing a curve where (assuming no tyre slip) the driven wheels are rotating at different speeds, the absence of one can give the vehicle undesirable handling characteristics. Delivering an equal torque to each of the driven wheels, the torque to...

Structure is good?

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When I started my first job as a design engineer I was given the task of engineering a crankcase, so the first thing I did was try to understand how a block was what it was. I studied the crankcases of rival engines, as well as earlier versions of ours, and tried to figure out why engineers did what they did and how they came to their decisions. To be honest it took me a lot of time before I had any insights into crankcase design. The main reason was the fact that every design feature in a...

Le Mans motorcycle exhausts

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Endurance racing has much to recommend it as a spectacle, and it is a pity that there aren’t more countries holding 24-hour races. I have been to all kinds of motorsport events, and there is little to compete with the atmosphere of racing taking place at dusk, through the night and into the dawn hours. Motorcycle endurance racing is singularly impressive, with the riders and their machines being brutally exposed to the elements and, in the event of an accident, to damage. In the case...

Material choices for high-temperature applications

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The components used in internal combustion engines, even highly tuned engines that we find in motorsport, are not routinely subjected to very high temperatures. Certainly the combustion temperatures are hot, but not so hot that aluminium can’t be successfully used for pistons, cylinder heads and cylinder bores in most applications. The only internal engine component we need to consider as a high-temperature application is probably the exhaust valve. Even so, it is usually only...