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The cooling system

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A major consideration of any engine designer right from the outset is that of the cooling system. Even in the most efficient of gasoline race engines, only 35% of the fuel energy available is converted into mechanical power. The rest, something like 850kW from an engine delivering 450kW, is converted into heat which will need to be dissipated into the surrounding atmosphere. Putting it into perspective that's something like 280+, 3kW electric fires worth of heat, approximately half of...

The siamese bore

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As an engineer and a power unit engineer at that, many might say that I have little need of a dictionary. And in truth, since the vocabulary of engineering terms tends to be so exact and rarely found in all but the most comprehensive of lexicological texts, for very many years I have simply done without. But it was while thumbing the latest version of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) - the concise version I hasten to add, and a present given to me only recently, when I came across the...

The cylinder head gasket

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As many might know to your cost, the cylinder head gasket is high up among those engine components to suffer the greatest stress. Often a weak point in some of the best engine designs, its unenviable task is to provide a robust seal between the cylinder head and corresponding crankcase for the combustion gases, oils and coolant, both between each other and the outside atmosphere. If that were not difficult enough, the component also acts in distributing the dynamic loads between the head...

Casting back

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The trouble with advancing years, or so I was always told, was that you can always remember how it used to be. In the dim and distant past, it seemed to be much more fun (even though it probably wasn’t) and if the job couldn’t be precise then we always made it as accurate as we could somehow adapting the product to the limitations of the manufacturing process. A typical case of this, I was reminded recently, was in the casting of cylinder heads and crankcases. In those days and I...

Sintered Aluminium Liners

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A motorcycle engine, indeed any engine running at over 10,000 rpm, presents a particularly difficult challenge to the surface of its cylinder bore. The amount of heat flux and the limited time to dissipate it through the cylinder wall and into the coolant, will inevitably lead to high running temperatures and all of its associated problems. Although lightweight aluminium cylinders have been used to assist with the heat transfer, to minimise durability issues, thin steel liners have often...