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Managing torsion vibration

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While much has been written about the design of camshaft profiles and how to install and time them in an engine, comparatively few details are available about the actual dynamics in the valvetrain system due to the torsional vibrations induced. Much like the engine crankshaft therefore, which can be excited by the forces of combustion and fail catastrophically when the frequency with which it is excited approaches the component’s natural frequency of vibration, the camshaft can also...

Limits to cam timing

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In anything but perhaps the most simple of designs the complete camshaft profile cannot be described by a single mathematical expression. Thus, when designing an engine camshaft, the profile will consist of a number of segments described mathematically and joined together to form a continuous surface, each segment being devised to create the motion desired at the valve. Where adjacent segments meet, this mathematical relationship has to converge to produce what is known as third-order...

Valve overlap

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I can’t remember precisely when I first saw an engine camshaft or heard the word ‘overlap’, but I can only assume it must have been while I was still in short trousers. I do remember though my father taking the engine out of our car, a 1950s Ford Popular, and dismantling it on the garage floor. I’ve also never forgotten the explanation my father later gave me about the internal workings of the side valve internal combustion engine. It was much later in life that the...

Slip sliding away

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Friction in an engine means different things to different people. To some it equates to lost power; to others it is lost fuel economy, while to the environmentally aware it represents increased engine emissions, and so faced with these it is little wonder that great emphasis is placed on reducing it. Low-tension oil control rings, minimal sized bearings – both big end and mains – or variable flow oil pumps to match precisely the oil required by the bearings and no more, these are...


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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,...