Oil Leaks, Tuning Issues, and Proper Crankcase Ventilation

Oil Leaks, Tuning Issues, and Proper Crankcase Ventilation

By Gordon Young: Is improper control of blow-by gases in your crankcase causing problems in your engine?  If any of these questions below sound familiar, then read on. “Why does my engine leak oil?  I took care when fitting the gaskets and seals.” “Why do my valve covers persistently display oil around the breathers?” “Why does my car smell oily?” “Why can’t I perfect my idle tuning?” Imagine a small tailpipe constantly pumping combustion byproducts into your engine’s crankcase.  In effect, this is what is happening when your engine is running.  Blow-by gases entering the crankcase by leaking past the pistons and rings during the combustion process need proper evacuation.  If left unchecked, they cause numerous side effects, inducing engine problems that may seem unrelated. Side effect #1:  Crankcase pressure (“My engine leaks oil”) The job of the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system is to remove blow-by gasses from the crankcase by vacuum and recirculate them via the intake manifold to be burned in the engine.  If the engine is producing blow-by gases faster than the PCV system can dispose of them, an increasing surplus becomes trapped in the crankcase, causing excess pressure and, inevitably,  oil leaks.  Even the most carefully sealed gaskets leak when confronted by rising internal crankcase pressure. A properly functioning PCV system will expel the gases from the crankcase faster than the engine produces them.  In addition, the low-level vacuum draws in fresh air to the crankcase from the crankcase breather. In 99% of normal driving conditions, this is how a properly functioning PCV system works. Obviously, the gasket’s job is made easier when the crankcase...
Custom-made billet camshafts:

Custom-made billet camshafts:

A few questions, some interesting answers – By Bertie S. Brown: Most camshafts look indistinguishable from one another—even custom camshafts. “Not mine,” declares blown alcohol pulling tractor champion Mike Wilhite. “Mine are 2.5 inches in diameter.” Wilhite, who runs an engine shop in Bardstown, KY, thirty miles south of Louisville, purchases a 12ft length of 2.5in case-hardened 8620 alloy steel or S7 tool steel bar stock. He then takes the long length of round bar to Russ Yoder at Erson Cams, who makes four camshafts from it. When finish-ground and heat treated, Wilhite installs the custom-made billet camshafts in the engines of his alcohol pulling-tractor customers. Six-cylinder inline engines adapted for pulling tractor competitions begin life as 200hp diesels revving to 1,500rpm, but when increased to 505ci (Light Super Stock) and converted to alcohol and assisted by three turbochargers they generate close to 4,000hp and 7,000rpm. On the topic of pulling tractors, Yoder says, “We’ve made camshafts for 7.8 liter Ford diesels to an A22 International, from Cummins to Walkinshaw, Oliver to Massey Ferguson, Allis Chalmers to antique pulling tractors with engines originating from the 1920s.” Why no shelf stock for the extreme categories? “Its common practice for competition engine builders to increase cam bearing sizes, and our shelf-stock materials accommodate increases of up to 60mm for big-block Chevrolets and also big-block Fords and for some Hemi engines,” says Yoder. “But, beyond this it just isn’t practical to inventory cam cores of such diversity.” Hence, in this regard, Erson identifies the optimum grade of steel required, the customer brings them the appropriate round bar stock (some measuring 70mm), and...
Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Speed, adrenaline, and pure theatrics – By Fergus Ogilvy: Grudge racing has dominated the drag racing scene in the southern US States for decades. But in recent years, the Internet has conquered every part of its frenetic life, particularly Facebook postings that have expanded its Southern origins (Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas) westward to the Mississippi and north to the shores of Lake Michigan. To its masses, its chief dynamic is straight forward: betting. There is no maximum amount—when a dollar changes hands it’s a Grudge race. An addictive quality, the money won and lost, sometimes in sizable proportions, is only surpassed by pride or poor judgment of its car owners, entrants, drivers, and spectators: such an adventure, such potential for gain, such drama. Still, in the rapid passing of a one-eighth mile, the prospects of returning home $10,000 poorer are agonizing! A strictly cash economy In their pre-race negotiations, a Grudge racer attempts to learn as much as possible about his rival, his racing history, and the competitiveness of his car. They operate with “stips”, an abbreviation for stipulations that specify what is allowed: small block-powered car on 28/10.5 tires with a cast intake manifold and a single 4bl or dual 4bl carburetors.  If your opponent has a history of swapping engines, the stips might have a clause that allows his rival to view the engine before the race. When all is settled, perhaps a week in advance of the race, the deposits of the two opponents are sent to a third party, a neutral person known as the “DP” man—a further abbreviation for Deposit man. The deposit...
TorqStorm loosens purse strings and donates superchargers at 2018 Holley LS Festivals.

TorqStorm loosens purse strings and donates superchargers at 2018 Holley LS Festivals.

  By Martha Maglone: During this year’s Holley LS Fest West in Las Vegas, NV (4-6 May) and also Holley’s LS Fest Bowling Green, KY (7-9 Sept), TorqStorm will give away a supercharger at each event to participants in the Three Pedals Rumble Index Class. The participant with the best package—that is, driver’s reaction time and deviation from dial-in—in the first round will win any single system TorqStorm centrifugal supercharger available, valued at $2,800. The awards are accessible to any vehicle, including the 5th generation Camaro, C7 Corvette or any full-bodied vehicle powered by a GM LS-style (or current generation LT) power plant. Dragsters, Roadsters and Altered-style cars are prohibited. All races are regulated by a .500 Pro Tree and in an index format. Indexes will be on .25 breaks with Elapsed Times of 11.00 – 15.00 seconds. This will be an ALL RUN qualifying format. Vehicles are required to be of stock appearance and with stock body. Rental cars are prohibited. All vehicles MUST pass NHRA\IHRA safety inspection for ET and speed. Vehicles must be driven to staging and to scales, but can be towed after scales. Trans brake mechanisms are prohibited. For more information on Holley’s LS Fest events, click here. For more information on TorqStorm superchargers click here. Or phone: (616)...
Aluminum repairs – parts restored, appearance improved

Aluminum repairs – parts restored, appearance improved

By Freddie Heaney:   A call from a Muscle car owner arrived out of the blue. He told us there’s an aluminum repair specialist in Doraville, whose work deserves recognition, and if you want to learn about such a service, you won’t find another closer. In Muscle car circles, Doraville, a northern suburb of Atlanta, usually suggests one name: Lamar Walden Automotive. And so it proved to be. Walden’s shop has long been prized for its machining capabilities as well as its engine and car dynamometer resources. But the firm is, perhaps, better known for pioneering performance versions of GM 409 engines of the 1960s and a front-runner in all GM performance engines, including today’s LS variants. The caller was right; their aluminum repairs department is less familiar. What were the motivations? Normally, one doesn’t think of sending car parts to a machine shop for concours d’Elegance restoration, but that’s exactly the kind of work they undertake at this shop. “My Dad, Lamar, started it.” says Rob, “He came up with the process for the many restoration cars he built. And it’s not just repairing and restoring cracked or broken intake manifolds, for there’s a steady flow of transmission casings, alternator housings, valve covers, engine blocks, and bell housings–broken and blemished parts arrive from across the country. Basically, the service includes anything aluminum.” Aluminum intakes are often warped, particularly after being changed from one engine to another. Other common problems in aluminum castings arise through over-tightened bolts that crack the bosses and damage the treaded holes The Process: The repair process begins by dismantling the component and then cleaning...
Clarifying piston balancing with a few words from Kaase

Clarifying piston balancing with a few words from Kaase

By Titus Bloom: “It’s hard for me to be persuaded on the merits of piston balancing,” said a leading oval track engine builder recently. “While operating, the piston is being thrust up against one side of the cylinder wall,” he continued, “wedged in one direction on the even bank and in the opposite direction on the uneven bank. Besides, there’s the action of the connecting rods, their weights, their lengths and where they’re connected to the piston. Then, you might consider combustion forces, and piston domes being assaulted by wedging forces—to say nothing of the degree of tumult in the crankcase. I think you’re splitting hairs,” he argued convincingly. “Fine piston balance is neither here nor there.” But from a piston maker’s approach, there are two types of balancing. First, the conventional balance is used to reduce the prospect of significant piston weight variation in large-bore engines. The objective is to maintain bearing loads within the design range, that is, main bearing loads, as they are the focus of engine crank balancing and also of vibration levels. In addition, crank pin and piston pin loads must also be held within their respective design loads. So, in truth, these efforts are more focused on durability than performance. This is why some engine builders see little value in it. However, certain engines will be more sensitive to piston weight variation than others, so it can be important for engines where bearing capacity or vibration levels are reaching their upper limits. The second type of piston balancing is embraced by those engineers ardently seeking any slight advantage and involves manipulating the mass distribution of...
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