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Honing pistons to perfection

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When General Motors got out of the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) Pro Stock division a couple of years ago, it left behind a multitude of competitors using two of its engines in competition. The DRCE3 engine, newer than the DRCE2, has been the mainstay block-and-cylinder head combination for Warren Johnson Enterprises for the past five years. Johnson himself, who with his son Kurt builds engines for their two-car operation, is known as 'The Professor' for his meticulous...

Over a barrel

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The increase in demand for specialist designer beers has led to a steady business in the supply of stainless steel barrels - or so we are told. Forsaking the traditional wooden barrel, which in the spirits and wines business is often known to add a characteristic flavour to its contents, these containers are very much utilitarian devices for transporting the contents from the brewer to the consumer with the minimum effort. But unless you have tried to manoeuvre one of these 50 litre (11...

Historic piston use in the midget engine

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Dan Esslinger, President of Esslinger Engineering has been building Midget engines since 1990 - "So I guess we're 20-ish years into this thing," he says. In that time, Esslinger Engineering has gone through perhaps 30 iterations of pistons, "That's been due to bore size change, different strokes, different rod lengths, valve locations, things of that ilk," he says. "If you change one, it all changes. "Typically we use JE three-ring pistons because they...

The ductile iron ring

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Lest you think Fig. 1 here is the remnant of some form of horrific engine blow-up, let me explain that what you are looking at is a ductile iron piston ring. Twisted and bent to all manner of shapes the resulting contortion demonstrates vividly how flexible the material can be. Ductile iron comes from a class of materials referred to as SG (spheroidal graphite) irons. Similar in composition to the grey cast-irons used in older type piston ring technology, the carbon flakes in grey...

Securing piston life

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Getting long life from a racing piston that is subjected to 8000 hp is not easy. Every trip down the 1000-foot dragstrip used by NHRA's Full Throttle Drag Racing Series means a modicum of damage to an engine and, with the pistons, damage is a way of life. John Stewart, tuner and crew chief for sophomore Top Fuel racer Shawn Langdon, has a great deal of experience in the sport, which makes him a perfect choice to take care of a newcomer like Langdon. "We use Venolia pistons with a...