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One of the most recent innovations in piston ring technology has been the invention of diamond-like-carbon coatings. The progressive move away from cast or ductile iron towards much stronger but less durable steel designs, made the development of suitable surface coatings a distinct priority. Some time ago I had occasion to view the results of a study into engine friction. The engine, a quad-cam V8 of modern design and a ladder frame bottom-end, was motored in the fully hot condition up to...

Avoiding piston micro-welding

Keeping a piston’s top ring land from experiencing critical wear is a problem that every engine builder experiences, particularly in the hard fought world of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Dr Andrew Randolph of Earnhardt Childress Racing (ECR) Engines has worked endlessly to remedy the problem. “As rings get closer and closer to the top of the piston, they get so hot that the aluminium melts and adheres to the piston. Not long after that, the piston begins to fail.”...

"Mind the Gap"

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I have to admit that at the moment, visits to our capital city are few and far between. The heart of business and finance maybe the place where many a motor sport deal is done, but the real action as far as I am concerned, is always in the workshop or on the track. But on those very occasional sojourns when needs must and when using the underground ‘tube’, I’m always reminded of one critical aspect of the piston ring. You see, at many of the stations when the train is just...

It's all about consistency

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For John Force Racing co-crew chiefs Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and Ron Douglas, the 2009 Funny Car season has been all about consistency. Include the selection of Venolia pistons in that mix because, as Antonelli points out, “In our current configuration, the pistons are relatively the same on all eight cylinders. They may vary from cylinder to cylinder, depending on the distribution of air coming out of the blower,” he allowed. If the pair are getting driver Ashley...

The oil control ring

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If the top compression ring has the most difficult of tasks in the engine then, at the other end of the piston ring pack, the oil control ring doesn’t have it much easier. Travelling at an average speed approaching 4000 feet per second or so, the component has to strip away any excess oil from the cylinder bore on the downward stroke and ensure just sufficient passes to lubricate the upper rings. The excess oil is then forced through the ring and drains back to the crankcase via a...