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Piston ring blow-by

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After all this talk about the different types of piston rings - barrel, scraper, taper scraper and not forgetting of course the oil control ring - how do we assess their effectiveness and, perhaps more important, how do we know when things are starting to go wrong? One way, I suppose, is to look behind you. If you see a slight blue haze in the rear view mirror then either you have a fancy tinted rear window or the beginnings of a major catastrophe. And should it be the latter, there is no...

Keeping pistons alive on a small Funny Car budget

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Jim Dunn is a throwback in the modern world of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing. Operating his professional Funny Car team on a budget that would embarrass amateurs, and doing so without computers, Dunn manages to procure sponsorship from good firms like dog food manufacturer Canidae and keep driver Paul Lee qualified in large Flopper fields. Dunn has been using Bill Miller Engineering (BME) pistons and con rods for at least 15 years, he says. "Well, I tried them all and I believe his are...

The gapless ring

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It may sound obvious, but to assemble a piston ring into its grooves in a traditional two- or three-ring piston will require the ring to be split at some stage during manufacture. Placed on some form of mandrel and heat treated thereafter to an out-of-round set, once placed onto the piston and assembled in the cylinder, the theory is that it should exert a more or less constant pressure all the way around the bore. Simple and yet highly effective, there are however two issues created by...

Avoiding piston skirt wear

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One series where engines see tumultuous life is the World of Outlaws winged sprint car campaign in the US, with 60 contests coast to coast that keep competitors far away from their engine builders - sometimes for a month or more. So to help their customers in the field, Shaver Specialties Racing Engines (SSRE) of Torrance, California, chooses a robust Mahle Motorsports piston of 2618 alloy that's coated with phosphate; skirts are coated with Mahle Grafal. Shaver's operation,...

The Napier ring

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Mention the word 'Napier' to many people and the chances are you will be met with a quizzical stare. To some, mainly engineers and scientists with an interest in history, they will talk of John Napier, the 16th century scholar and inventor of logarithms. To others, Napier is associated with rather large, industrial-type turbochargers or the classic range of multi-cylinder piston aero engines that were around just before the jet engine took over, such as the iconic Napier W12 Lion or...
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