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Shaping up!

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Numbers, I would dare to suggest, are the language of engineering. A true and simple enough statement but when used in an engineering context it can only describe the approximate size of things. In the purer forms of science and mathematics, numbers are precise. For instance, the atomic number of iron is precisely 55, or in the world of Euclidean geometry, pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is exactly 22/7. In engineering however, we are rather more pragmatic,...

Funny Car piston life

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Mike Neff handles two jobs in the Funny Car category of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing - he is both the chief tuner and driver of the John Force Racing (JFR) Ford Mustang that currently tops the Funny Car points ranking and is the first car to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship play-off of six races, which starts after the Mac Tools US Nationals. Neff handles the dual role easily, as he performed tuning duties for 2005 champion Gary Scelzi in the category, and in 2008-9 - his...

A twist in the tale

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For all its apparent simplicity, your typical piston ring is a complex device. Required to seal against combustion gases on the power stroke and yet minimise friction on the upstroke, under all conditions of speeds and loads, the task might seem possible if we include the additional demand that all this and more should be achieved with the minimum of weight. It is perhaps little wonder therefore that under the high-speed dynamic loads experienced, rings tend to move in ways not originally...

Skirt wear on drag boat pistons

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Wayne Gaskamp, of Long Beach, California, builds drag boat engines for driver Mike DeClark's National Jet Boat Association (NJBA) boat, F Bomb, which set the records of 7.15 s Elapsed Time at 144.46 mph on the water at Bakersfield, California, in April 2011. The boat runs in two classes of this series, the seven-second class and the unblown fuel jet class. It's leading the latter in points after three events and is in second place in the former category. The engine powering the boat...

Titanium nitride coatings

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The first decade of the 21st century will probably be remembered for when the benefits of surface coating technology really took off in the wider automotive industry. Although it's something we have known in the performance engine world for a long time, the increased interest will no doubt spur companies into looking for even lower levels of friction and higher levels of durability, all in the name of improved carbon dioxide emissions. While the technological push may be for the more...