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Bolts and studs with slender shanks

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For design engineers working on bespoke engines, the job of designing special-purpose fasteners is a familiar task. There is often a need for a very long and thin fastener, for example to pull together the stages in a multi-stage pump, or possibly bolts that run right through the engine from top to bottom (anyone who has designed upgrades for the four-cylinder Rover K-series engine will be familiar with the through-bolt concept). In terms of their tightening, slender bolts and studs behave...

Material choices for high-temperature applications

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The components used in internal combustion engines, even highly tuned engines that we find in motorsport, are not routinely subjected to very high temperatures. Certainly the combustion temperatures are hot, but not so hot that aluminium can’t be successfully used for pistons, cylinder heads and cylinder bores in most applications. The only internal engine component we need to consider as a high-temperature application is probably the exhaust valve. Even so, it is usually only...

Nut materials and their effect on stud fatigue

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Fastener design is a critical area of any highly stressed machine operating with cyclic loads. Reciprocating internal combustion engines are an extreme example of this; there are a lot of bolted joints which are very highly loaded. Engine design engineers therefore need to pay close attention to the design and engineering of their fasteners. The rate at which load cycles are accumulated means that design mistakes are generally swiftly punished. The design engineer might be mistaken for...

The importance of washers

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In a bolted joint, the design of the fasteners is responsible for the proportion of the service load borne by the fastener, and the theoretical ratio of torque or tightening angle to load is influenced strongly by the dimensions of the nuts, bolts and studs and by the coefficient of friction acting between them. Much effort is put into fastener design, but washers are often neglected in terms of design, although they can have a very positive effect on the reliability of the system. As is...


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The vast majority of my articles on the subject of fasteners have been specifically on the threaded types. They fulfil a critical role in any engine, and require a degree of understanding and some calculation to work successfully. There are many other fasteners used in a typical race engine, however, that are not so demanding of the engineer. One such fastener that is used widely is the circlip. In this article though we are not going to deal with round wire circlips, as commonly used for...