Gibtec Pistons: Guide to top ring placement from Pro Stock to Street

By Sam Logan: Denver, Colorado: Though piston maker Gibtec was established a mere two and a half years ago, the individuals behind it have specialized in Pro Stock billet piston development since 2003. Notably, during this period their skills contributed to approximately 80 percent of the championship-winning Pro Stock engines. Recently, Tom Prock, the general manager of Venolia Pistons for thirty years said, “Currently, Gibtec is making some of the best Pro Stock pistons I’ve seen.” On the subject of top ring placement, Gibtec Pistons’ head, Rob Giebas explains, “On forced induction and on nitrous applications, which encounter extreme shock loads, we move the top ring down from the piston crown to around 0.300in. However, the top ring could be moved down by as much as 0.450in, depending upon valve size and configuration, as well as the positioning of the valve pockets, the radial width of the top ring and the piston pin height, “Often it’s the intake valve pocket, which is always bigger than the exhaust that determines the position of the top ring. Compact rings and therefore small ring grooves provide more potential for variation in ring placement than larger ring grooves. For example, a naturally aspirated engine with a top ring of 0.6mm (0.0236in) axial depth and 0.110in radial width, which requires a ring groove width of 0.115in, offers more pocket clearance than the top ring spec of a nitrous engine, which might measure 0.043in axial depth and 0.173in radial width. “But on most small-block applications with a standard in-line valve pattern and a power adder, lowering the top ring to around 0.300in protects it and... read more

FIRE and the poignant story of endurance road racer Stephen Cox

He begins: It was the same sound you hear when you pour too much lighter fluid on the charcoal as you’re preparing a Fourth of July barbecue. A giant “whoosh” followed by a flash of flame. Except it was a thousand times louder. And it wasn’t charcoal that was on fire. It was me. Read the full article... read more

Update: EPA target is to defeat devices, not racers

WASHINGTON: Alarm bells rang in the auto enthusiast community recently after a trade group [SEMA] warned that the EPA was threatening to ban the type of modified street cars that generations of amateur racers have taken to the track. “Relax,” said the EPA, “There’s no new ban being proposed. Fact is such modifications have always been banned under the Clean Air Act.” So what is going on? In our article of last month entitled “EPA threatens to ruin motorsports” we reported that SEMA delegates visited with EPA enforcement officers in Washington DC seeking clarification on the alleged banning of modified street cars.  Read Automotive News’ report below: By Ryan Beene, Automotive News, February 15, 2016 Call it a muddled exchange that nonetheless sheds light on one of the EPA’s enforcement priorities in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel transgressions. In short, the EPA’s concern is not about the emissions of race cars but about keeping all road-going cars free of modifications that would neuter their emissions controls. Adam Kushner, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells and former enforcement official at the EPA, says it should be no surprise these days that regulators are scrutinizing how emissions-control systems are being modified in the new-vehicle and aftermarket sectors. “The regulated community is going to need to be watchful,” said Kushner, who was director of the EPA’s Air Enforcement Division from late 2003 to late 2008 and director of its Office of Civil Enforcement from late 2008 to late 2011. The EPA proposal that sparked the recent controversy seeks to add language to a “prohibited acts” section of existing light-vehicle regulations saying... read more

May The Force (Of Induction) Be With You!

Since we’re always looking for smart ways to gain more horsepower, one of the best approaches is supercharging. It’s a device designed to grab Mother Nature by the scruff of the neck and shake her silly. Supercharging dramatically ups the ante on the pressure and quantity on your intake charge thereby making significantly more power for an internal combustion engine. Call it “unnatural aspiration”. The concept has been around for 131 years and even helped generate the power for some of history’s greatest prop-driven fighter planes. Lateral-g online magazine: Read the story of how a TorqStorm supercharger performed on Blueprint’s 383 SB... read more

How Renault F1 won a World championship by creating the tuned mass damper

By Fergus Ogilvy: At the end of the last century, probably the autumn of 1999, senior R&D man at Renault F1, Dave Hamer, was asked to investigate what could be done to stabilize their wind tunnel model. At that time it was a half-scale model, fifty percent the size of their current Formula One car, and it had a tendency to yaw (move laterally) during wind tunnel testing. Previous attempts at reinforcing the supporting strut had failed; to their dismay they had succeeded only in increasing its natural frequency of oscillation. “The supporting strut is particularly under-damped,” explains Hamer, “therefore, it was easily triggered into oscillation.” Could a mass damper stabilize the model in the wind tunnel? To oppose or eradicate the oscillating forces, he suggested the use of a tuneable mass damper, similar in concept of those placed at the top of some skyscrapers to protect them from the effects of earthquakes. The Taipei 101 skyscraper uses a tuned mass damper that weighs 800 tons. “We hired a specialist company to conduct a stability analysis of the model,” said Hamer, “and our drawing office designed some devices, but with negligible results. Confined space within the model was the chief impediment.” Then four and a half years later, in 2004, another attempt was made. By now the wind tunnel and the work performed within it was more refined. Significantly, the R&D department had access to a vibration specialist, who was on loan from Renault at the time, and between him and Benetton’s then Head of the race team’s R&D department, Robin Tuluie, they introduced a leaf spring to address the instability of... read more

EFI controllers dominate high-end drag racing

Written by Moore Good Ink Using the most powerful processors in the industry, Big Stuff 3 EFI controllers dominate Pro Mod, Outlaw 10.5, NHRA Comp Eliminator, Bonneville competition—and now it’s the impelling force in hundreds of street-strip engines. In 1983 John Meaney, originating from the south side of Chicago and now in his early twenties, had an idea for a carburetor. But his Professor at Valparaiso University said, “Don’t waste your time on those things they’ll be extinct in five years. Why don’t you consider an electronic fuel injection system?” Persuaded by its novelty and its potential, he, aided by his professor, made an EFI system, adapting it for use on his 1969 Camaro. On the last day of school he gave some of the engineering profs rides in the parking lot. “They were all smiles,” exclaimed John, “They thought it the best.” After college John took employment at UTC (United Technologies Corporation) in Michigan. UTC owned aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and worked closely with GM, who was embarking on an ambitious program to create a replacement Bosch injector. “But when I realized the program wouldn’t get off the ground, I went to work for Bosch at their Farmington Hills location in Michigan.” Bosch years At Bosch, a Germany company based in Stuttgart, luck intervened on John Meaney’s side. Not only was he responsible for developing the full engine management program but also he discovered his supervisor was an ardent racer with a 1969 Camaro. Normally an engineer would be assigned to a single project, like developing a fuel injector or a fuel pressure regulator or an O2... read more

You may not think it will kill your clutch but it will

Written by Moore Good Ink: Why precipitate the loss of a perfectly good clutch when it can be avoided? Ram Clutches offers two valuable tips: On chassis dynamometers Probably the greatest threat to the longevity of a clutch system is imposed by the chassis dynamometer. Because there is no tire slippage during the run, any hint of engine lugging can cause the clutch to slip. Consequently chassis dyno time is much more strenuous and abusive on your clutch system than racing passes at the drag strip. At the drag strip On the burnout make certain the tires are wet but not operating in the water. As they begin to gain traction with the pavement, depress the clutch pedal. Do not attempt to extend the burnout toward the tree. When the tires hook they exact a heavy load on the clutch, especially in 3rd or 4th gears. To extend the burnout further exposes the clutch system to a tremendous and unnecessary load. Though this may sound elementary, make certain your car is in first gear before you leave the starting line. Leaving the line in 3rd gear will almost certainly destroy your clutch system. So, prior to pre-staging always ensure you select 1st gear. Lastly, ‘hot lapping’ can transmit severe heat to the clutch. Though some events require consecutive runs always try to provide sufficient time for the clutch to cool. Focus on making quality runs rather than quantity. To understand the basics of Ram’s billet drag racing clutch systems click here. Source: RAM Automotive Company 201 Business Park Blvd. Columbia, SC 29203 Telephone (803) 788-6034 read more

“All our friends are dead”: Weekend of a champion

By Freddie Heaney, September 8, 2014 Set in May of 1971 in Monte Carlo, an area of the Mediterranean Principality of Monaco, Weekend of a Champion is a documentary that portrays how three-time F1 world champion Jackie Stewart applies himself to the task. Produced by Roman Polanski and directed by Frank Simon, the film premiered at the 1972 Berlin Film Festival and subsequently remained unscreened for 40 years. Now re-released and available on Netflix, it is the finest documentary on F1 for car racing enthusiasts of that period. Though it was a trendy time particularly for the racers—hair styles, side burns, beautiful cars and voluptuous girlfriends with Riviera suntans—F1 was a sport that inflicted profound loss and grief. In common with US sprint car racing of the last century, Formula One spawned an appalling death rate. When Stewart sat down with his wife, Helen, they calculated that 57 professional racing drivers had perished during his final five years of racing from 1968 to ’73. Marked by destruction, two of every three drivers were fated with violent death. They knew the slightest error would betray them—no wonder she had said: “all our close friends are dead.” After his retirement at the end of the 1973 season, Stewart, now 76, became an F1 champion of safety, implementing an often contentious campaign that rid F1 of deaths for 18 or 19 successive years. For enthusiasts, though, the essence of an enjoyable documentary is one that allows you to marvel at the details as they unfold. And on this particular weekend, Stewart was extremely fortunate in that the rain held off, for the team... read more

Remedy for sprint car driveline troubles

By Alfie Bilk, August 2, 2014 East Berlin, PA: There is a universal belief among the sprint car community that most driveline failures are the result of an inadequate universal joint. Nothing could be further from the truth according to Aaron Long of AL Drive Line. “The U-joints available today,” insists Long, “are undoubtedly strong enough for the demands of a WoO sprint car and we have failure-analysis data to prove so. The problem lies within the design of the traditional driveshaft, which whips and bends and ultimately causes the U-joint to fail from fatigue. ” The problem is fatigue; the remedy is a titanium design unlike any other. Nothing in the delivery of a sprint car’s power is diluted. Consider transmitting torque in excess of a 700ft-lbs with neither a clutch pack nor transmission to absorb the chaos between the crankshaft and the rear end. With a single U-joint attached to a conventional drive shaft, the whipping effect is so fatigue-inducing that a lightweight aluminum U-joint will be eventually flailed into submission if not replaced every 8 to 12 races. Heavier, more durable types are available but, still, the universal joint is widely regarded as the sprint car’s most vulnerable component.  But Aaron Long discovered by combining three certified titanium alloys in the driveshaft’s construction with larger diameter and precision-machining, the shaft could better absorb the adversities of harmonics, vibration frequencies and torque spikes. Moreover, the shafts could also be made lighter and by reducing binding in the drive-train, the rear suspension works better. Constructed entirely from titanium the billet splined ends and the seamless tubing are machined... read more

578hp and 620lb-ft: the efficiencies of a modern centrifugal supercharger

TorqStorm’s supercharger featured in Classic Truck’s story: Chevrolet Super Fire V-8, April issue. Here’s the valve-in-head V-8 as only the leader can build it and here are some wonderful things it brings you: 578 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque, made possible by the employment of an extremely efficient centrifugal supercharger. Exceptionally high horsepower in a brilliant package yields GM’s most potent pound-for-pound power producer to date! Chevrolet’s “Super-Fire V-8” delivers phenomenal performance, surprisingly high gas mileage, and extra-long life. See the video and read more.    ... read more

Basics for building a custom steering column

By Archie Bosman: Hot rods create an environment that removes us far from the chaos of the real world. And their custom innovations are the luxuries they bring to our lives. For some production shops, developing a one-off design is not in the cards. Others, in contrast, interpret this as laziness or a lack of ingenuity or complacency or some combination of the three. They see it as ignoring an opportunity. Still, to succeed in custom designs you need access to an efficient team armed with specialist knowledge and swiftness—a team that is irrepressible in overcoming obstacles. This is often best illustrated in the completion time of projects and their cost. Before hot rodder Kevin Smith from Manvel, Texas appeared at the ididit booth during the 2015 NSRA Nationals in Louisville, he had already made inquiries at several shops without success. By combining some of his original parts with newly designed components, he was planning a custom-built steering column for a 1962 Ford Thunderbird that he and his son were building and needed specialist help. Here are Kevin’s requirements and how the Michigan firm, ididit, accomplished it. First, the 1962 Thunderbird was equipped with a Swing-away column arrangement. Original and novel technology that promoted easier vehicle entry and exit, naturally, its owner wished to retain it. In addition, the customer requested a column gear-shifting mechanism, featuring automatic shifting; four-way flashers, self-cancelling turn signals, not originally available; and column tilt. Today, 5-position tilt is in popular use, but Ididit has extended the articulation to eight positions, allowing the steering wheel to arc through a total travel of 35 degrees. The... read more

New belt-drive assemblies for big-block Ford engines

Innovators West has revealed details of its new belt-drive assembly for big-block Ford 385 series engines. The hallmarks of a competent belt-drive assembly are to generate less friction; effectively dampen adverse harmonics before they reach the valve train; maintain precise valve timing, particularly at high engine speeds; and demonstrate convenience in valve timing adjustments. The Innovators West new belt drive assembly distinguishes itself by not only accomplishing all these familiar requirements but also makes it available in two indispensable forms: one style is equipped with integral side brackets for serious track use, the other without. The side brackets are regarded as unique. Provided with big-block Chevrolet hole spacing, they accommodate motor plates, power steering pump, alternator, crank trigger as well as external oil pump or a vacuum pump or a belt-driven fuel pump, often a requirement for turbo or blower engines. External competition pumps are customarily mounted on the 1/4in thick aluminum engine mounting plate, but this is rarely satisfactory as the plate is apt to deflect, resulting in imperfect belt alignment. An adjustable drive-belt idler is included to allow for precise adjustment of drive belt tension. This is important when taking into account the production tolerances of new belts and the re-tensioning of used belts. The crankshaft pulley is made from heat-treated steel and the cam pulley hard-anodized billet aluminum. For concentricity, both pulleys are machined in one operation in a multi-axis lathe. Also, a cam retaining plate is provided with two encased roller bearings—one operates between camshaft and plate, the other between cam pulley and plate. Optional high-vacuum seals, alloy steel drive hub, and camshaft drive adapter... read more