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Top Gear

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Few of us give our oil pump a second’s thought. So long as that big red light on the dashboard keeps going out at the required time and doesn’t flash too much when the engine is hot and idling, then all would seem to be well. But the poor old engine designer, when setting out at the initial design stage, has much to think about. To begin with, he realises his engine will need lubricating oil flow to the main and big end bearing assemblies. Notice the word flow and not pressure....

Piston progress

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It has taken about two to three years of trial and error, but one American manufacturer believes they have found a new family of aluminium metal matrix materials for use in piston manufacturing. Rather than the customary silicon carbide matrix, a material that has a tendency to wear out manufacturing tools and has extremely sharp edges, this exclusive material consists of spheroidal aluminium oxide AI203 particles, randomly distributed as its reinforcement. This allows the machining...

The Lord of Rings

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Of all the components in a race engine, the top or compression ring has probably the hardest task. Although its primary purpose is to seal the combustion chamber from the crankcase below, this role is somewhat complicated by the requirement to dissipate the vast majority of the heat in the piston and to do so under the most trying of dynamic conditions. Positioned as close as possible to the top of the piston crown as is technically feasible, it is suggested that as much as 80% of the heat...

Cavitation Shotless Peening

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Most people in the high performance world recoil when they hear a reference to cavitation. Cavitation, the formation of vapour bubbles in a flowing liquid, is usually the prelude to component failure, particularlywith propellers, impellers, pumps, and all forms of hydraulic machinery. In some cases, even cylinder heads have been known to fail from this phenomenon. Cavitation occurs when the pressure of a liquid stream falls below its vapour pressure. As bubbles form and then collapse...

Dyno-testing engines

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In general terms, a dynamometer is simply a device that can be used to measure Force or Power.Power and Force are related physically. Power is defined as the rate at which we do ‘work’, whilst ‘work’, in a linear sense is the result of moving a Force through a given distance, such as lifting a weight. So, Work = Force x Distance. Since Power is defined as the Work Done per Unit Time, we can also write Power = Force x Velocity, as Velocity is the distance moved in Unit...