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CGI - The way ahead?

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At the time of writing there is much speculation about the new engine regulations in Formula One. Originally scheduled for 2013, the fact that discussions with the various interested parties are still ongoing must surely indicate that some form of accord has yet to be struck. In order to design and develop a new unit, as well as working out the best options in any semblance of order, two years is perhaps pushing things a little, so 2013 seems rather optimistic now. Gone are the days when...

Casting porosity

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As anyone who has ever built and tested prototype engines will vouch, apart from not getting the thing to fire and run, the next nightmare is the steady drip, drip, drip of a fluid on the dyno test bed's undertray. Large leaks - whether oil or coolant - are, funnily enough, usually the easiest to solve, where a loose bolt or a forgotten hose clip are generally quickly dealt with. Worse by far though are the slight 'weeps' - the leaks that appear out of nowhere, travel down to a...

Compacted versus cracked cylinder head?

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It's widely known that Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) has a number of material properties which in certain applications make it the material of choice for cylinder blocks. So does this also apply to race engine cylinder heads and, if so, why? First let's look at some of the key criteria of a cylinder head. It has a number of functions, such as keeping gas and coolant inside, and providing the structure for assembling or bolting on other components - valve seats and guides, for...

Lessons in liners

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As engineers we all have a lot to learn, and no matter how long we have been in the business, I am sure there is no-one out there who will not claim to be learning still. Take this lesson from the history books for instance. For many years it has been accepted practice to locate wet liners via a recess in the cylinder block top deck and seal between the outer liner surface and the cylinder block casting at the base of the liner using a system of 'O' rings under compression. Clamped...

The valve stem seal

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In the quest to make engines as oil-tight as possible, we often forget the effect of the humble valve stem seal. Tucked away inside the cylinder head well out of sight, this small, upturned cup of a device grips onto the top of the valve guide and seals against the valve stem, enabling the valve to open and close without letting comparatively large quantities of oil get sucked down the clearance between the stem and guide and into the combustion chamber. With such a small component - and...