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Microprofiled bearings

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The intense competition to win, be it on the racetrack or in car dealer showrooms, is pushing the design of the internal combustion engine to even greater extremes. To save weight, engines are kept short, crankshaft journals need to be narrower and, together with the increased engine output required, engine bearings are under more stress than ever before. Increased bearing load results in higher bearing surface temperatures which, after all the analysis has been undertaken and the tests...

Valve overlap

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I can’t remember precisely when I first saw an engine camshaft or heard the word ‘overlap’, but I can only assume it must have been while I was still in short trousers. I do remember though my father taking the engine out of our car, a 1950s Ford Popular, and dismantling it on the garage floor. I’ve also never forgotten the explanation my father later gave me about the internal workings of the side valve internal combustion engine. It was much later in life that the...

Coatings for electrical insulation

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At the top levels of motorsport power unit design, the current focus seems to be on making smaller engines and improving efficiency. Simply put, we want more performance from less fuel. This is true not only for our day-to-day motoring but for Formula One and Le Mans races. Given that there is a finite amount of oil in the world and that we have no viable replacement for it yet, we need to use it more frugally. This has not been lost on the rule-makers for Formula One and Le Mans –...

The Commer Double Knocker

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This article is unusual in that it looks at a concept that will almost certainly never be applied to a race engine but is technically interesting enough to merit examination. In the 1950s a British truck maker made a production engine the likes of which we will never see again. Commer, a name that disappeared many years ago, came along with an engine called the TS3, but widely known as the Double Knocker. It was a three-cylinder two-stroke diesel engine with a single crankshaft, six...

The plastic intercooler

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Modern engine intake air intercoolers are almost exclusively made from aluminium alloy. However, although aluminium has been chosen for its ability to dissipate heat efficiently rather than any other quality, this apparently unassailable characteristic is now being challenged. Strangely enough, this challenge is coming from the solar panel industry, where not only is the efficiency of heat transfer critical but also components have to last for 25 years or more. In the automotive world the...