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Chassis dynamometers - roller size

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As a power unit engineer I must admit I still think in terms of engine dynos. In absorbing the power produced directly off the engine crankshaft - or, perhaps better still, a suitably designed PTO (Power Take Off) - this seems to me the easiest way to map an engine and optimise its performance. But as a pragmatist, I realise there are times when the engine may need to be tested in its environment, and in such cases it is much simpler and quicker to leave it in the vehicle. Yet while the...

The heat is on

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One of the most difficult tasks for an experienced dyno engineer is to measure the amount of heat rejected to the engine coolant. On the face of it, fitting thermocouples - one in the engine water going in and another as it comes out and then measuring the coolant flow rate, would seem a simple enough task. But when we analyse the accuracy of the instruments used, the level of uncertainty calls for a more considered approach. The problem, as you probably appreciate by now, is not the...

Humidity - forget it?

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In my younger days, when fuel injection was but a luxury and the roads were less crowded, the journey to work was always so much more enjoyable in the foggy early morning light than at any other time. The engine in my transport - a high-compression 'A' series unit, tuned ever so close to (and sometimes beyond!) combustion 'knock' - would run totally free of detonation and be a joy to drive around the twisting country roads where I lived. As a development engineer I put this...

The flywheel effect

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Now that kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) are back on the agenda in Formula One and Le Mans prototypes, it's a reminder that a flywheel is not only a convenient place to attach the clutch, it can also be used to store energy. As well as electric motor/generator systems, several other KERS units have incorporated flywheels running in a vacuum. When the car slows down, the energy otherwise wasted as heat during braking is stored in the flywheel and released back into the driveline...

The control freak

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I'm sure we've all been accused of it at some time - the compulsive desire to have things just the way we want them, with little or no compromise. Perfection is the goal, anything else is a poor second best and, except in the case of pure genius perhaps, it is often considered a major flaw in one's character. But in the world of engine dynamometers, control is everything. Many of you will no doubt be familiar with the large and unmistakable throttle lever alongside the console of...