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...
TorqStorm reveals centrifugal supercharger kit for Chrysler Slant Six, the first of its kind

TorqStorm reveals centrifugal supercharger kit for Chrysler Slant Six, the first of its kind

It’s been a busy year for TorqStorm, their 2017 inquiries for superchargers had tripled from the previous year. Established in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, TorqStorm’s centrifugal supercharger had the advantage of being the product of two accomplished tool and die makers, Chris Brooker and Scott Oshinski, the company’s co-owners and operators.  Most notably among the firm’s recent announcements is a new supercharger kit for Chrysler’s Slant Six. Produced from 1959 to 2000, sources familiar with Slant Six engine production believe thirteen million of these power units were produced worldwide. A prototype of the Slant Six supercharger kit was publicly revealed last August at the Mopar Nationals held at Columbus, Ohio. Now available, here are details of the new production unit.     When TorqStorm’s supercharger exerts itself, expect a boost range that extends from 1,800 to 6,500rpm, thanks to the design of the compressor wheel. Yet, to the majority of Slant Six owners, slightly less gusto—5,000 to 5,500rpm—is probably all that’s required. But in horsepower increases they seek an additional 100 to 150hp, which is around an 85 percent gain over the stock engine’s power output, and easily within the scope of this new supercharger kit. The kit comes with a robust billet aluminum gear box housing and cover. Within the casing, straight-cut tool steel gears are lubricated by an independent oiling system, and a stout three-quarter-inch thick mounting bracket secures the gear box and compressor assembly to the engine. TorqStorm’s newly designed blow-through carburetor hat is also included as well as an automatic belt tensioner, an 8in diameter crankshaft pulley, a 52mm vacuum-controlled blow-off valve, and related...
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,...
Seven consecutive Pro Stock victories, 10 wins from 24 events, and two new racing head designs

Seven consecutive Pro Stock victories, 10 wins from 24 events, and two new racing head designs

By Ben Mozart: Three years ago during a PRI interview in Indianapolis, Mike Androwick was asked about his future. His firm, Mike’s Racing Heads, had supplied cylinder heads to various dirt track racing series, particularly in the northeast, and so successful were the designs, the question sounded legitimate. “I’d like to return to Pro Stock, developing heads and induction systems,” he said. But that arena is so competitive, bridled the interviewer, would you be able to compete? “I think I could. I’ve done it before.” he replied. How did he achieve such remarkable results in 2017 with Gray Motorsports’ Pro Stock entries? “We work as a team,” he replies. The team that concentrates on power production comprises Mike and Mike Jr., Androwick’s 30-year-old son, and two full time employees at Mike’s Racing Heads, together with Gray Motorsports’ senior engine builder, Paul Hoskins, and his team. Mike Sr. has been friends with Hoskins for seventeen years.  Clearly, there’s much to be said for friendship and shared passion. Still, the cylinder head and intake manifold designs were stirred from Androwick’s fertile brain. Team cars (Shane Gray, Tanner Gray, and Drew Skillman) scored seven consecutive victories, four runner ups, and won 10 races from 24 events. Young Tanner Gray, Shane Gray’s teenage son, carried five of those victories and collected two runner-up finishes in his rookie year. His accomplishments as the youngest driver to win in the NRHA Pro ranks were recently acclaimed, “I owe this award to the team,” he said graciously. For both drag racing and dirt track fraternities, here are details of two new Androwick designs for racing small-block...