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Keeping pistons alive on a small Funny Car budget

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Jim Dunn is a throwback in the modern world of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing. Operating his professional Funny Car team on a budget that would embarrass amateurs, and doing so without computers, Dunn manages to procure sponsorship from good firms like dog food manufacturer Canidae and keep driver Paul Lee qualified in large Flopper fields. Dunn has been using Bill Miller Engineering (BME) pistons and con rods for at least 15 years, he says. "Well, I tried them all and I believe his are...

The gapless ring

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It may sound obvious, but to assemble a piston ring into its grooves in a traditional two- or three-ring piston will require the ring to be split at some stage during manufacture. Placed on some form of mandrel and heat treated thereafter to an out-of-round set, once placed onto the piston and assembled in the cylinder, the theory is that it should exert a more or less constant pressure all the way around the bore. Simple and yet highly effective, there are however two issues created by...

Keronite coatings

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In a recent RET-Monitor article on the subject of surface treatments for magnesium, mention was made of plasma electrolytic oxidation treatments. One such treatment that has found application in motorsport is Keronite, and while it is popularly used for surface treatment of magnesium components, the process can also be used with the other popular light alloy materials, namely aluminium and titanium. I discussed the process with Dr James Curran, principal materials engineer at Keronite....

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...

High-speed raceboat propeller design

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Although attaining speeds up to and in excess of 100 mph on tarmac is not an arduous task, it is a rather more multi-faceted undertaking on water. One of the many considerations of high-speed marine applications is transmission and propeller design. There are a number of high-speed marine formulae that use various propulsion systems, including water-jet drives, super-cavitating and surface-piercing propeller drives. The Oulton Broads and surrounding areas, in Suffolk, England, have...