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There are a number of fasteners that are described as critical in an engine, but if an engineer is asked what these are, he or she will generally give a list of thread fasteners such as con rod bolts or cylinder head studs. Certainly high on any list of critical fasteners though should be piston circlips. Although at times in the past it has been common to use an interference fit to limit the axial movement of the piston pin, modern practice allows the piston pin rotational and axial...

Chemical machining

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The term 'chemical machining' can cover a wide range of processes, but all are basically characterised by slow rates of material removal which varies according to the geometry of the part, the material and the chemical agent used to remove the material from the surface of the part. Because they don't use physical 'hard' tooling, the processes, aren't restricted by difficult geometry such as undercuts, or very narrow or very deep features. The essence of the process is...

Composite material testing: tensile, compression and crush.

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Testing materials and components to ascertain their mechanical properties is vital in vehicle development, especially when it comes to composite components. After all, it is very difficult to build a part to withstand a set loading, and keep it as light as possible, if you do not know the precise properties of the materials being used. These days, FEA simulation removes the need for a large amount of physical testing, but simulation packages still need data, and some people cannot afford...


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Motorsport engineers are constantly striving to create ever-lighter and more efficient components, yet at the same time they must stay within regulatory frameworks and ensure the components are durable under race conditions. Last month we touched on the subject of using composites for the construction of transmission casings, a subject we will look at in more depth here. Composites have been used to great effect in racecar construction since the 1980s, but it is only in the past decade...

Seats and Guides - Materials Requirements

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The poppet valve in an internal combustion engine is subjected to some very harsh operating conditions, with rapidly changing stress and thermal cycles. There are generally four other components that are in contact with the valve - the lash cap, stem seal, valve guide and valve seat. Some engines run without stem seals though, and lash caps were dealt with in another RET-Monitor article recently. Although they have a very similar cycle of operation, the inlet and exhaust valves are...