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The 'O' ring seal

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I know it's hard to credit it, but before 1937 the 'O' ring didn't exist. Patented in that year by Danish immigrant to the US, Neils Christensen, an 'O' ring, while eminently simple in concept, is in practice a very powerful sealing mechanism. No wonder they can be found in any number of critical applications inside most purpose-designed race engines. At the base of the cylinder liner, around the body of the fuel injector and at the top deck of the cylinder block...

Welding Inconel

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As long as there is the pursuit for extra power there will always have to be a commitment to using more advanced and exotic materials. Exhaust design is no exception, and many exhaust systems - both classic and contemporary - provide us not only with engineering artwork but a technical challenge. One criterion expected of performance exhausts is their need to work at sustained elevated working temperatures, which has necessitated the use of more sophisticated and complex materials....

Composite fasteners, part 2

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In the previous article on fasteners, we looked at a very clever design of threaded fastener that used a composite shank with the threaded portions of the component still produced in high-strength metallic materials. Not only do these fasteners use a polymer-matrix composite shank but, being made of multiple parts, they are, in the broader sense of the definition, a composite component. A European company has developed a new form of composite fastener that is a pure polymer-matrix...

Nitromethane - rocket fuel or what?

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A major factor in selecting any fuel for high-performance work is the ratio of the products of the reaction with the oxygen in the air to that of the reactants. In a liquid-fuelled space rocket, for instance, 1000 gallons of liquid oxygen will react with about 2000 of liquid hydrogen to create an exhaust gas many times the initial volume. This increase in volume escaping from beneath creates the thrust, which subsequently propels the projectile forward. Although experiments to use such...

Scavenging the turbo

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In any dry-sump engine application the task of getting the oil out of the sump is often much harder than putting it in. This is because oil tends to flow better at the 3-4 bar pressure at the outlet of a pump than it does at the 0-0.7 bar depression of the oil-air mixture at the inlet. For this reason you will often see at least two scavenge stages emanating from the sump of a dry-sump engine and possibly another from each of any cylinder heads. For a vee engine, therefore, we are likely...