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U-Flex if you want to

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I've always said that to be a good engineer takes many years of experience but to be a great one takes an appreciation of history as well. It's a well-documented fact that very little is totally new in the world of automotive technology. For instance, four-valve chambers were first recorded in the Peugeot L3 of 1913, while the very first turbocharger came about in the mid-1920s - just two examples that readily spring to mind and were readily 're-invented' later in the...

Longevity and performance

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When Honda Performance Development (HPD) began plans to enter the Indy Racing League in 2003 with the Honda Indy V8, it built an engine that would have a service life of 600 miles, made to last from Carburetion Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the Indianapolis 500. Much has changed since then, as HPD became sole engine supplier in the 2006 IndyCar Series season. Now the engines have a service life of 1400 race miles or 1600 absolute miles, as Roger Griffiths, manager of the...

Revolutions in Rings

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For as long as I can remember, it has been considered best practice to position the ring gaps equidistant around the piston. The theory is that in doing so, gas leakage will be minimised so that it stays within the confines of the combustion chamber, expands and generates more shaft power. For some reason - and I no longer understand why - it just made common sense and was never really challenged. At the risk of stating the obvious, gaps in piston rings are a physical necessity to aid...

Piston strength wins races

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The colours may have changed from red to blue (Budweiser to Copart) at Kenny Bernstein Racing, but the objective never alters. The objective is to build bullet-proof engines that can go down the 1000-foot dragstrip quicker and faster than the car in the other lane. For co-crew chiefs Rob Flynn, Mike Guger and Todd Smith (who came over from Don Prudhomme's Snake Racing after that outfit closed operations at the end of the 2009 season), the objective is to fit the strongest piston...

All of a Flutter

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A phenomenon rarely heard of these days, is that of ring flutter. Manifesting itself in the form of unusual wear characteristics and possibly high exhaust gas blow-by, particularly at light load conditions, ring flutter if left unchecked, can even cause pre-ignition/detonation of the incoming fuel-air charge, eventually leading to piston failure. The solution however, is not always that obvious. You may always hear that the root of the problem is all to do with the acceleration and...