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The silent danger?

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There has been much discussion of late about the FIA's proposal to ban the use of the engine in the Formula One pit lane and using only electric motors during pit stops. On the face of it this may appear to be dangerous, since the noise from a traditional reciprocating unit serves to warn of its approach. On reflection, however, by the time the 2014 regulations come into place, electric vehicles, we are led to believe, will be not such a rarity on the roads, and the problem we will all...

The turbo ball bearing

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While the concept of the turbocharger has been around since 1926, the basic compressor/bearing housing/turbine hasn't changed that much in the past 50 years. Certainly compressor wheel aerodynamics have improved considerably and turbine technology has also changed quite a lot. But apart for the introduction of some variably geometry designs, outwardly most turbo units are still very similar to the ones I played with when I first started, many years ago. But if you look closer,...

White-metal magic

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Still considered by many to be some of the best materials around, white bearings are still commonly used in many vintage racers. This is not, as you might suppose, as a result of just the friction qualities of the material alone, but more as a consequence of its 'embeddability' (the ability to absorb dirt into its surface) and its nature to yield under excessive local pressures - as a result of, say, shaft misalignment - which prevents seizing. In a properly designed bearing, the oil...

The turbocharger bearing - a unique challenge?

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Making a comeback from earlier times, the ball-race bearing system may be a preferred solution in some turbocharger applications, but for reasons of cost the more usual approach for the vast majority of units is still the fully floating design. Consisting essentially of two bushes, one at either end of the bearing housing through which the shaft passes, unusually these bushes themselves are allowed to rotate in their housing, creating in effect a 'bearing within a bearing'....

A question of lead

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In 1949, British industrialist Tony Vandervell bought a contemporary Ferrari Grand Prix car - not a straightforward exercise in the aftermath of World War II, as it required an import licence, while the export of currency to Italy required special permission. Vandervell argued to the British powers that be that he needed the car as a test bed for his innovative Thinwall bearings. For its part, Ferrari appreciated the significance of those bearings, even if getting hold of them meant...