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Rapid prototyping

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The recent article on additive manufacturing in Race Engine Technology (issue 76, February 2014) by David Cooper was a good read; the possibilities of this technology are almost limitless, and con rods are perhaps an ideal opportunity for this production process. The con rods used in Formula One are beautifully engineered and, in common with a great many racing rods, are machined all over – that is, every external surface is machined. You might imagine that this gives the mechanical...

Mixing metals

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With few exceptions, con rods for automotive engines are split at the big end, and the joint is held together by a pair of threaded fasteners. The pattern is much the same for racing con rods, the only common exceptions to this being rods for two-stroke engines or single cylinder four-stroke engines. In these cases the rod has no split at the big end and the crankshaft is made up of two or more pieces. Where the rod is of the usual split type, it is generally the case that the rod and its...

Big-end design considerations

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In the RET-Monitor collection of articles, there are already dozens of articles covering con rods, many of them covering individual design features. The aim of this article though is to bring some elements of these together and give some of the basics of the design process. The first element we need to fix is size, which for many engine development projects will be fixed by the size of the existing crankshaft and the availability of bearings to suit. Where a bespoke engine is concerned, we...


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For a number of reasons metals are excellent materials from which to con rods. They are relatively cheap, and generally of excellent quality. You can make a mess of the rod’s manufacture but the material has every chance of being very good. Powder-reinforced metal matrix composites also come into this category – we take a good quality billet or forging and machine it. Fibre-reinforced composites are another matter entirely though. The raw material can be excellent, but the people...

Fettling of production steel rods – is it worth the risk?

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The easiest route into motorsport is to use what already exists and then re-use it – for decades the use of a lightly modified production car or motorcycle has been a traditional way to start racing. In motorcycle road racing in particular there has been a shift away from bespoke racing machinery in recent years: where thoroughbred machines filled the paddocks of many race meetings in years past, now production-based racers are the norm. The use of production machinery has not,...