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Follower friction

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In these days of soaring fuel prices the top priority for any engine manufacturer is the responsible use of scarce resources. Specific fuel consumption or the amount of fuel used per unit power output per hour is the measure of the task, and a major enemy of this is friction. But when it comes to low-friction engines the experts in this field are not, as you might expect, from the race engine industry No, the real experts in this area, in my opinion, are the OE engine manufacturers, whose...

What makes a good cam?

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As a car/engine buff first and an engineer second, I'm always interested in the views (however misguided) of my fellow enthusiasts. So when it comes to the question of what makes a good camshaft, their thoughts can be revealing. To one individual, a weekend racer of some skill, the perfect cam is one that gives ultimate top-end power with maximum torque only a couple of thousand revs lower. Using his ultra-close ratio gearbox and slick, flappy-paddle gear change system, swapping places...

Impulsive behaviour

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The Oxford English Dictionary rather politely defines a jerk as "a contemptibly foolish person", and in reality this is probably the definition that most non-engineers would give. However, and to its credit, a more formal definition and one which is perhaps more meaningful to the world of engineering, is that of "a quick, sharp sudden movement". But as engineers we prefer our definitions to be a little more exact, so a better description and one more readily applicable to...

Camshaft care

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It is sometimes easy to forget that after all the efforts a cam manufacturer makes in producing his products, the greatest cause of failure is not in the installation or its timing but in the first few seconds and minutes of its active life. It's a sobering thought but no matter how fine the surface finish or accurate the machining, inevitable imperfections - however slight - will lead to contact high spots at first run. Unless these are carefully ground down in a controlled way in the...

Desmodromic or demonic?

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I don't know about you but when I was young, my written command of the English language was, shall we say, a bit lacking. "Needs to pay more attention to his spelling," was the end-of-year comment by one of my English teachers. But despite my best efforts - or possibly because of them - a future in the engineering professions seemed to beckon. I mention this because to me the best invention over the past 20 years or so has been the autocorrect option in wordprocessing software...