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The centrifugal supercharger

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Mention superchargers and I’m sure most people will think of those huge positive-displacement air pumps sitting in the centre of the vee in a V8 engine. Driven directly off the nose of the crankshaft using a vee or toothed belt drive, and poking out through the bonnet or hood, just the sight of one tingles the spine, a little in anticipation of the engine performance. Delivering huge amounts of engine torque at impressively low engine speeds may be great, but in the modern world...

The intake manifold – wide-open throttle for max power?

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Ever since the dawn of the internal combustion engine, it must surely have been self-evident that the most efficient way of introducing the intake charge into the engine is by using a single straight intake tract. The tract may converge slightly to accelerate the flow, and somewhere down its length a throttling mechanism can be included, but in terms of getting the best air distribution across all cylinders this is now the accepted practice. These days of course we are all too familiar...

The importance of air filtration

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The primary function of the engine air filter is simply to remove airborne contaminants – road or trackside dust, dirt, tyre and other organic detritus in the environment – from the intake airstream and prevent it from entering the combustion chamber. Once inside the combustion chamber, much of what isn’t consumed by the advancing flame front will find its way out through the exhaust system and eventually out of harm’s way. However, what is left will inevitably become...

The surge tank

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Innovation is the lifeblood of motorsport – or used to be. These days though, with the introduction of all manner of spec formulae with single supplier engines, the emphasis would seem to be more on the sport element than that of the motor, and anything even slightly outside the ‘spirit’ of the regulations (whatever that is) is deemed unacceptable. But it wasn’t always that way. Even as recently as 10 years ago, major factory teams would take a somewhat liberal...

The air trumpet

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It might seem difficult to believe but there was a time when not all engine designers believed in free-breathing engines. These days of course the key to the best possible engine performance is generally accepted as having the least restrictive intake system of a size and length to take advantage of the inevitable pressure pulsation within it. In the early days of engine design the preoccupation in packing the engine cylinders with as much air as possible was the same, but this was...