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More on grinding and polishing

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In the previous article, the subject of crankshaft grinding was discussed. In addition to the perils of grinding incorrectly in terms of ‘grinding cracks’, there is evidence to suggest that the direction of travel of the workpiece relative to the grinding wheel is also significant. When cylindrical grinding takes place, the grinding wheel, which is usually much larger than the journal or crankpin being ground, rotates at a much higher speed than the workpiece. The ratio of...

Grinding and polishing

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Crankshafts are very precise pieces of equipment, and are machined accurately for a number of reasons. For racing, we need to get as close to the maximum allowed capacity without exceeding it, so the throw of the crankshaft is tightly controlled. However, possibly the most critical and most accurately controlled machined features of the crankshaft are the main bearing journals and crankpins. They are usually specified with very tight limits on size, and other geometric tolerances such as...

Roller bearing crankshafts

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The 1960s must have been a fantastic time to be around race engines. The incredible diversity of engines in a single class is one reason I’m drawn to events where racing motorcycles from this era are wheeled out, started and ridden as they should be, at great risk to their owners’ bank accounts. If you have a passion for race engines, you should treat your eyes and ears to something special. Many of these engines used roller bearing crankshafts, where either the main bearings,...

Flexibility and friction

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Anyone involved in the development of a race engine understands the basics of performance improvement. We want to trap as much air as possible in the combustion chamber, mix with it the amount of fuel that will reliably give best power, burn it as efficiently as possible and turn as much of the resulting energy as we can into mechanical power. Much of the energy released as a result of combustion is lost to the cooling system or out of the exhaust, but there are also substantial mechanical...


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In reply to a previous article that discussed crankshaft fillets and their importance in terms of crankshaft reliability, a reader left a comment saying most crankshaft fillets are not true radii, but are in the form of an ellipse or other conic section. Although I’m not aware of anyone offering elliptical or conic fillets – or indeed anyone specifying them – it is certainly possible, with modern computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing techniques, to specify exactly...