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Nitrogen is a colourless, tasteless, odourless, mainly diatomic gas that makes up about 78% of the air we breathe. Chemically it's almost inert, and as well as being a critical part of human DNA it can also often be an essential part of the DNA make-up of a piston ring. For example, titanium nitride and chromium nitride are popular piston ring coatings. Applied to the bore-contacting outer surface of steel rings, such surfaces are intended to reduce engine friction and reduce wear, but...

Midget pistons part of a longevity boost

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Stanton Racing Engines in Nicholasville, Kentucky, is known for its USAC Midget and Sprint engines. While once predominantly a Mopar/Dodge house, three years ago the company began to build/rebuild Toyota USAC Midget engines, taking over the work from California-based Toyota Racing Development (TRD). Erik Milholland manages Stanton's racing division, and travels with the USAC circuit, handling any powertrain issues its customers might have. The Toyota and Mopar engines have differing...

XKR Jaguar pistons

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Tony Gentilozzi is the sole engine builder for RSR Jaguar, running the combined GT class in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) competition. He's racing against other factory teams that have far more resources than he does and, in many instances, far more cars from which to learn. The Jaguar XKR engine is a 5 litre of about 500 hp, using a pair of air restrictors (29.92 mm) that keep his useable revs to 7000 rpm. Gentilozzi uses two different manufacturers' pistons as he zeroes in on the...

Tooling up

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The technology of the piston ring is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Required to seal the gap between the piston and the cylinder wall, yet at the same time minimise the overall friction throughout the engine cycle at high temperatures and speeds of up to 4000 ft per second for long durations, if it works then don't fix it. Eventually, however, as engineers we will demand just that little bit extra - greater combustion pressures, smaller piston top lands, higher heat transfer...

NASCAR regional touring series pistons

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In the world of NASCAR regional touring series, 'spec' or crate engines are the way of the present and the future, making it difficult for teams and drivers wanting to use open engines to compete on a level playing field. The sanctioning body readily gives advantages to the small-block crate while making it difficult for engine builders to be competitive with their own engine builds. Garrett Jacobson Motorsports in Northridge, California, is bucking that trend by using former Roush...