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...
Joe Hornick: The man who mastered consultancy in racing

Joe Hornick: The man who mastered consultancy in racing

By Bertie S. Brown: At the lower rear corner of the rear wing of 2017 Funny Car National Champion, Robert Hight, a decal displays three letters: JHE, an abbreviation of Joe Hornick Enterprises. Hight won this year’s national championship at Pomona, Calif., and JHE, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, assisted them with technical know-how throughout the year. Since the beginning of this century, Hornick has been the hidden hand in a long series of racing successes. His business model is entirely his own: he offers his company’s complete services to just one racer in each category. Their complete service is an interesting proposition. JHE uses a test pool that serves to advance research and development in race engines with similar characteristics. Let’s say they have four customers running blown alcohol engines in four different racing categories—a blown alcohol pulling tractor, Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car. In the test pool program, each engine runs different components or systems and, in so doing, each race team shares a quarter of the R&D costs and receives the cumulative results from all four. Additionally, they have a base of consulting customers like John Force Racing or Earnhardt Childress Racing. They also have a race engine-builder base. “If an engine builder is an existing valve spring customer,” says Hornick, “I’ll help them with any engine problem at no cost. That’s part of the service we provide as a spring supplier, because we have no consulting customers that compete against our valve spring customers.” “When first starting out and working long hours,” recalls Ernie Elliott, renowned NASCAR race engine tuner,...
A life lived one-quarter mile at a time:

A life lived one-quarter mile at a time:

The story of Bob Ida. By Ray T. Bohacz:   By the time Neil Diamond’s single, “Brooklyn Roads”, made it to the Billboard Top 100 in May of 1968, Bob Ida was already more than a decade into what would eventually become a lifetime of automotive and racing legendary. His journey was inspired by a ’32 Ford hot rod. The one he saw on 79th Street when he was around 12 years old. The same Brooklyn Street that had spawned dreams of castles and kings by the young Mr. Diamond, filled Bob Ida’s mind with thoughts of “what if”: What if the Tucker Corporation had succeeded in business? Would this life of a first-generation Italian-American young man—the son of a Tucker dealer that was in business for only three days—be different? What if a blown 354 Hemi could be successfully installed in an Austin-Healey? What if the camshaft was advanced by three degrees? What if Ida Automotive fails? A modern Comp car throttle-stopping its way down the “thirteen-twenty” with fits and jerks seems a suitable metaphor for his life—even more fittingly, the days that comprise Bob Ida. Ida’s story is one of determination, passion, and talent with the requisite stumbling blocks, heartaches, failures and tears that were not viewed as setbacks but instead growth spurts on the road to destiny. It was America in the 1950s and ’60s where nothing was impossible. It was and is Bob Ida. Does the man make the car or the car make the man? The chance encounter with the ’32 Ford had been both inspirational and challenging, for when he looked at it,...
Vintage class winner: EMC attracts unexpected 600,000 views

Vintage class winner: EMC attracts unexpected 600,000 views

By Alfie Bilk: Jon Kaase has won this year’s Amsoil Engine Masters Challenge Vintage class with a 473ci 1958 MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) engine. Exploring the classic turf in distinctive fashion, it was not the first time Kaase had arrived with an unorthodox relic endowed with bewildering technology. Held annually in early October at the University of Northwestern Ohio, his entry produced 770hp with torque never less than 630lb-ft during the entire scored rpm range of 3,700-6,200rpm. The engine’s peak torque was recorded at 715lb-ft. Earning a check in the sum of $13,700, it was Kaase’s seventh victory at the prestigious affair, which coincided a few days before his sixty-fifth birthday. This year’s Vintage rules specified factory cast iron cylinder heads and prohibited welding or the application of epoxy to the ports. Also, it was stipulated that the engine block must retain its original bore spacing and original block deck angle. A further constraint for Kaase was the fact that he had to return the MEL block to its owner, Royce Brechler, in a functioning condition. The origins that preceded the workings of a bright mind MEL engines had wedge-shaped combustion chambers formed between a flat cylinder head surface and an angle-milled block deck angle that was ten degrees off square with the bore axis. The piston crown determined the compression ratio and combustion chamber shape—a concept similar to Chevrolet’s 409, a design also introduced originally in 1958. Yet to each cylinder head deck, Kaase added four slugs of round bronze bar stock by counter-boring the heads to accept them. Measuring 4.600in diameter and 1.250in tall and protruding downwards, each set...
Showing off new vitality of Slant Six at Mopar Nationals

Showing off new vitality of Slant Six at Mopar Nationals

Contagious qualities embedded at its center – By Freddie Heaney: TorqStorm unveiled their new Slant-6 supercharger kit at this year’s Mopar Nationals held at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, 11-13 August 2017. To its followers, the Chrysler Slant-six is an icon. From the moment the concept settles in the mind, it seems to mark the beginning of a curious adventure; an innovation now almost sixty years old, its appeal endures. Created in 1959 in cast iron with 170cu in displacement and soon after 225ci, its characteristic cylinder block installed at thirty-degrees from vertical extols the virtues of lower center of gravity and diminished hood height. Nor was its production a brief excursion for Chrysler. Offered in various configurations, it served in cars until 1983, in trucks until ’87 and in marine and agricultural applications as well as for industrial use until ’91. Its presence was further distinguished by the production of replacement engines until the year 2000. Initially conceived to fit under the stylish low-line Valiant hood, its familiar semi-recumbent visual consistency not only lowered hood lines but also exploited engine bay space. Most notably, it enabled the water pump to be mounted with a lateral offset, reducing the six-cylinder engine’s length. Efficient exhaust and particularly the intake manifold with its long nearly-equal-length wide radii runners produced uniform air-fuel distribution. But now Torqstorm has pioneered a supercharger, further raising its charm and technical prowess. From a boosted capacity of 6psi to around 12psi—and perhaps more, the TorqStorm could increase the Slant-six’s power output to 700hp. TorqStorm’s Chris Beardsley says, “The Slant-6 probably won’t see that, but if you use...
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