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Peening variations

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Shot peening is a well known process that is used widely as a reaction to fatigue failures and as a design tool to avoid them in the first instance. The choice of whether to use peening as a ‘curative’ or a ‘preventative’ treatment depends on how well understood the components are that the process is applied to, although peening processes are applied at some of the highest levels of motorsport as a curative. The magical powers of peening are due to the residual...

Sensors and shielding

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A test bed is only as accurate as the sensors it uses to collect data. In the case of engine dynamometers, the test environment is a very ‘noisy’ place, with many sources of vibration and electromagnetic interference (EMI) present, all of which can skew sensor readings. This is a particular issue when it comes to sensors such as strain gauges and thermocouples, which have very low output signals. Whereas sensors like pressure transducers can have an output voltage of 1-10 V, the...

Composites resin transfer moulding

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Carbon composite transmission casings are currently the sole preserve of Formula One and top-level sportscar racing, owing to the very high costs involved in developing and producing a functional casing. A transmission casing is an exceptionally complex component that has to withstand various torsional and shock loadings, particularly when used as a structural chassis member. To produce a composite unit that can survive such loadings, extensive FEA analysis is required to ensure that the...


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The overhead valvetrain is no longer widely used in much of the world, although it retains a firm grip on the North American market and engines based on it also appeal to the Australian motorist. Perhaps the advantage of having historically had low fuel prices compared to Europe, combined with long and deserted roads between places of note, makes such engines appealing. In racing, the overhead valve (pushrod) engine has a mandated stranglehold in NASCAR, and where large-capacity engines...

Aluminium in valvetrain applications

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The pursuit of power in fixed-capacity, naturally aspirated engines has generally driven designers and engineers to increase engine speed. Simply put, engine capacity will dictate maximum torque (making some important assumptions), and the product of torque and speed equals power. There are several limits on increasing engine speed, but one of those against which engineers continually find themselves battling is the valvetrain, and in particular being able to keep the valvetrain under...