Restoring vintage engine blocks in five steps

Restoring vintage engine blocks in five steps

By Freddie Heaney: Rare casting repairs: Five-step process in restoring vintage blocks to race-ready condition Each winter frozen coolant causes severe damage to hundreds of racing engine blocks in the northern hemisphere. Though troubling, its effects are usually even more concerning when frost damage strikes a rare, historic racing block. However conscientious you are the misfortune can happen, but if it does don’t be too dismayed for the problem is not insoluble. In Chatham, Virginia, there is a well-established engineering firm, Virkler & Bartlett, who possesses a knack for returning severely damaged engine blocks, often considered unserviceable, to race-ready condition. Their most common candidates are vintage blocks like this Maserati example damaged by frozen coolant. Here is their five-step repair process: 1. Inspect to determine mechanical and dimensional condition.  This includes examining deck angles, deck squareness to main bore centerline, main bore alignment and other critical dimensions. 2. Find crack locations using Magnaflux or dye penetrants and determine repair strategy.  Welding repairs work well in some applications, but V&B prefer steel or aluminum pins with special barbed threads that pull cracks together for most castings.  Pin repairs have the advantage of not distorting the casting. As a result, ridged fixtures are unnecessary and re-machine work is kept to a minimum.  Pins are installed with anaerobic sealants to lock them in place and prevent leaks.  Sometimes it is necessary to machine away a portion of the damaged metal and replace it with an insert that is pinned in place.  Pins are stronger than the casting and V&B has successfully pinned cracked main bore housings on highly stressed race engines. 3....

Competition cylinder heads: How would you know if air-fuel movement is good or bad?

By Ben Mozart The race engine requires a precise mixture of air and fuel, approximately 13.0:1 by weight ratio.   But the power it makes depends upon how well the mixture is emulsified and atomized. How well it is delivered through the intake manifold runners and cylinder head ports. And it’s ability to negotiate the intake valves and to swirl in the combustion chambers, which are an extension of the ports, and to occupy the cylinders.   For most of us, arranging and controlling the movements of the gases in the cylinder head ports are beyond our imaginings. Is the air-fuel mixture moving efficiently in the intake tracts or clinging, vexingly, to its sides? If so, how could it be reintroduced into the air stream? And further downstream, how is it negotiating the short turn, the five valve-angles in the throat, and does it demonstrate swirl as it moves into the combustion chamber?   Over the past three decades, Dart Machinery has shown how it identifies and retains its engineering capital. Improvements in its power-making abilities are continually being added to its range of competition cylinder heads—first the aluminum models are upgraded then the cast iron. Today they use cylinder head flow data derived from their wet-flow bench, they then monitor the advances on the dynamometer and finally confirm the revisions on the race track.   Wet flow technology: Acquiring the unfair advantage. At the turn of this millennium, Dart invested $80,000 in the largest and most elaborate wet-flow bench our aftermarket has known. Devised to better understand the flow characteristics in Pro Stock cylinder heads—chiefly wet flow behavior...
Meet Uncle Jed: A Robert Killian creation aimed to run 200-plus mph

Meet Uncle Jed: A Robert Killian creation aimed to run 200-plus mph

Written by Moore Good Ink What would a Rat Rod look like if it were propelled by an 820cu in Pro Stock engine? Robert Killian hails from Canton, Georgia. He’s been building hot rods for most his adult life, and he has always indulged himself in the unorthodox. But when contemplating Uncle Jed he told his chassis builder, “Let’s have one last adventure into the unknown. I’m reaching a point in my life (58) when I don’t anticipate foolin’ with 200mph cars much longer.” So this was how he approached his latest creation: a 1,900hp big-inch Pro Stock-powered road-legal Rat Rod. “Mind you,” said Killian, “I’m hesitant about calling Uncle Jed a Rat Rod because some Rat Rodders take offense. They’re adamant that it’s not low-buck enough, but obviously there’s not enough gleaming paint on it to call it a hotrod.” So its genre is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that Uncle Jed was constructed using a 1928 Ford Model A 2-door sedan body mounted on a twin-rail chrome molybdenum drag race chassis with a front-mounted 14-gallon fuel tank between its rails and wheelie bars at the back. Certified by the NHRA to run in Top Sportsman, the car has sufficient wherewithal and stability to run a quarter mile in 6.50 seconds at speeds in excess of 200mph. The chief reason for selecting a 1928 or ’29 cab is that each side of its narrow cowl steps out an inch or more to meet the door pillars. In so doing the cowl accentuates the impressive proportions of a Kaase 820cu in Mountain Motor. Mickey Thompson 33in tall x 10.5...
Limited-edition Ariel Atom track day car: TMI puts you at the front

Limited-edition Ariel Atom track day car: TMI puts you at the front

By Bertie Scott Brown Alton, VA: Last year TMI Autotech released a new limited-edition Ariel Atom track day car. In a technical partnership with Honda Racing, a mere 10 uniquely numbered cars, known as the Ariel Atom Honda Racing Edition, were produced at TMI’s Virginia factory. Capitalizing on the opportunity to showcase Honda Racing’s latest components for their Grand American and World Challenge HPD racing program, the new Atoms exhibit an extra 45hp, producing 275hp at 7,800rpm and generating 225lb-ft of torque at 5,300rpm. Other key upgrades worth noting in the drive line include Honda’s six-speed close-ratio transmission and limited slip differential. Stopping power for this new 1,300lb projectile is provided by 300mm floating brake discs in conjunction with radial-mount 4-piston calipers on all four corners. In the suspension systems, chrome-moly aero tubes replace conventional round-tube wishbones, and operate with double-adjustable custom-calibrated JRI aluminum dampers.   Power-to-weight ratio: the irrefutable advantage As you can imagine, cars endowed with a power-to-weight ratio of .21hp/lb are rarely dull, and in this regard the Ariel Atom Honda Racing Edition will exceed that of many modern supercars—and will accomplish it in naturally aspirated form. Of course, for the fifty or so competitors already competing in this season’s Spec Race Atom series, statistics close to these are well known. The genius of the Ariel Atom lies in its simplicity. Vivid are the images of an Atom that hits its turning-in marks at speed, holds its line, brakes from 100mph to zero in lightning time and generates 1.7 to 1.8g in steady-state cornering. Robust and well engineered these new track day editions might be a revelation—not...

Dart’s new LS Next block in production:

Written by Moore Good Ink Earlier interview with Richard Maskin • 9.240in deck height • Cylinders extended by .375in (effective deck height 9.615in) • Stock & aftermarket LS components utilized • Available in standard 4.000in & 4.125in bore sizes (4.200in maximum) • Manufactured on homeland soil using premium cast iron   In Dart’s dyno room on April 4, their new LS Next block was undergoing its final stages of testing before making its production debut.  “It produced 740hp @ 7,000rpm,” said its creator Richard Maskin “and it sustained 700hp for a long way.” Configured with 4.155in bore and 4in stroke the 434cu in test engine made 600ft lbs of torque. See original story here →  Introduced by General Motors in 1997, the purpose of Dart’s LS replacement block is to exploit greater potential from the engine, particularly in the reduction of windage and improved lubrication. To keep the tests simple and meaningful Dart used a distributor and a carburetor. In so doing they isolated the effects of modern ignition, fuel injection, and electronics from the equation. “It’s got a mechanical roller camshaft in it,” said Richard, “because I wanted to be able to rev it to 8,000rpm with the existing springs. It makes over 690hp @ 8,000rpm. It has a real flat power curve emphasizing its suitability for street use. It’s got a small cam in it, 255/265. It’s got our Cathedral-port heads, GM intake manifold, and a conventional-looking oil pan. It has, however, 12:1 compression ratio.” To monitor the oil level during testing, a sight gauge was installed on the side of the engine. Because the lubrication system...

Titus: World’s first aftermarket Cleveland engine in production

By Fergus Ogilvy Photos by Moore Good Ink A regular top finisher in the annual Engine Masters Challenge, Mark McKeown is a man with a prolific output of engine improvements in his résumé, not least the Ford Cleveland. But even with thirty years of Cleveland toil and achievement in McKeown’s background, it takes exceptional gallantry to resurrect a low-volume engine block—a block that was first conceived almost half a century ago. The fact is though, he had the daring, the energy, and the resilience to see it through and now it’s in production. The Titus will be his hallmark: a defining moment for all Cleveland aficionados who will benefit by his incentive.   Waldorf, MD: Revived by MME (McKeown Motorsport Engineering), the world’s first aftermarket Cleveland engine is now in production. It is called Titus. Accepting standard Cleveland accessories and hardware, these new larger displacement blocks are available in aluminum or cast iron, with deck heights of 9.2in or 9.5in and with bore sizes ranging from 4.00in to 4.20in. As anticipated, MME’s Titus engines are suitable for street or strip use and for most forms of drag, oval track, and road racing. Needless to say they operate in naturally aspirated form or with nitrous, turbochargers, or superchargers. More importantly, though they are designed to handle extreme power, they mate to stock components and operate easily in standard street cars. Unlike the original Cleveland block, the lubrication system has been redesigned for priority oiling to the main bearings with the ability to adjust oil flow elsewhere. In addition, the main webs are designed for solidity, providing the greatest amount of...