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>Coatings & Treatments

>A Blueprint for Balancing

>Today’s Fuel Formulations


CHOOSING CAMSHAFTS – PICKING PERFORMANCE Selecting the Cornerstone of Your Engine Build

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Contents 10.13

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Choosing Camshafts

Maintaining Balance

Better balance makes for a smoother running and quieter engine. Even more importantly, proper balance also maximizes the engine’s longevity by reducing the pounding that imbalance produces on the crankshaft’s main bearings. This month, we take a look at some tips and techniques to achieve proper balance and reduce the NVH issues of not only performance engines, but stock and low revving heavyduty diesels as well................................................................22

Choosing a cam can be a headache – especially if you choose the wrong cam for a given application. There’s a lot of science involved in cam selection, which is detailed in this article from technical editor Larry Carley. Discover how choosing the “right” camshaft is not only the cornerstone of your performance engine build, but also its centerpiece ..................................................32

22 Fuel Failures

The recent changes in gasoline formulation may be a good idea in theory, but since this modern gasoline contains less energy than it did in the past it may actually cause a loss in power, fuel efficiency and driveability unless the engine is properly tuned for these new blends of gasoline. Henry Olsen explains the impact of today’s fuels on carbureted engines ..................................................................................40


32 Columns

Old Iron ........................................18 By John Gunnel Harry Miller’s Masterpieces

Final Wrap....................................68 By Doug Kaufman, Publisher There’s No “I” in Team

Coatings & Treatments


When it comes to performance parts, no single coating or surface treatment can do it all because different parts applications require different treatments. But we’ll show you that knowing which kinds of coatings and surface treatments will work best for you can give your engines a significant advantage over your competitors ................50

Events ..................................................................4 Industry News......................................................6 NASCAR Performance ..........................................13 Shop Solutions ....................................................16 Product Spotlights................................................63 Cores/Classifieds/Ad Index ..................................66

Crack Detection Today’s engine builders have available to them a number of state-of-the-art tools and techniques to locate, identify and repair cracks and other damage in a variety of engine components. We explore these methods and offer tips on repairing cracked components to generate more dollars at your shop ..............................................................................58 COVER DESIGN BY NICHOLE ANDERSON

ENGINE BUILDER founded Oct. 1964 Copyright 2013 Babcox Media Inc.

ENGINE BUILDER (ISSN 1535-041X) (October 2013, Volume 49, Number 10): Published monthly by Babcox Media Inc., 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, FAX (330) 670-0874. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH 44333 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ENGINE BUILDER, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333. A limited number of complimentary subscriptions are available to individuals who meet the qualification requirements. Call (330) 670-1234, Ext. 275, to speak to a subscription services representative or FAX us at (330) 670-5335. Paid Subscriptions are available for non-qualified subscribers at the following rates: U.S.: $69 for one year. Canada: $89 for one year. Canadian rates include GST. Ohio residents add current county sales tax. Other foreign rates/via air mail: $129 for one year. Payable in advance in U.S. funds. Mail payment to ENGINE BUILDER, P.O. Box 75692, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755. VISA, MasterCard or American Express accepted. Publisher reserves the right to reject any subscription that does not conform to his standards or buying power coverage. Advertising which is below standard is refused. Opinions in signed articles and advertisements are not necessarily those of this magazine or its publisher. Diligent effort is made to ensure the integrity of every statement. Unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by return postage.

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Industry Events November 5-7 AAPEX Show Las Vegas, NV or 708-226-1300

November 5-8 SEMA Show Las Vegas, NV or 702-450-7662

November 15-17 Goodguys 16th Southwest Nationals Scottsdale, AZ or 925-838-9876

December 5-7 The Carolina Auto Racing Show (CARS) Charlotte, NC or 980-429-0398

December 9-11 24th Annual Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC) Indianapolis, IN or 866-893-2382

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December 12-14 PRI Trade Show Indianapolis, IN or 949-499-5413

January 27, 2014 APRA Heavy Duty Remanufacturing Group Summit Las Vegas, NV

February 22-23, 2014 Race & Performance Expo St.Charles, IL or 815-727-1208

March 6, 2014 HRIA Education Day and Training Detroit, MI or 909-978-6690

For more industry events, visit our website at or subscribe to

4 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

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Industry News

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PRI Show to Hold All-New Race Industry Week Events, Including AETC

Showcasing more than 1100 exhibiting companies while drawing 40,000-plus motorsports professionals from around the globe, the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show will be better than ever when it returns to the Racing Capital of the World in 2013. Known as “The Annual Epicenter of New Racing Technology,” this year’s PRI Trade Show takes place December 12-14 at the recently renovated Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Motorsports entrepreneurs, racing teams and more are invited to this trade-only event in which all forms of racing are represented, including stock car, sprint car, dirt late model, open wheel, drag racing, off-road, karting and more. In fact, tens of thousands of racing retail stores, warehouse distribution centers, professional race engine builders, race car production companies and more will make inventory decisions for 2014 and beyond at PRI. On the morning of December 12, the great heritage of the PRI Trade Show’s Grand Opening Breakfast continues with the special appearance of one of racing’s greatest champions, Richard Petty. Known to many simply as “The King,” Petty is the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR racing, winning a record 200 career races and seven NASCAR

6 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

Cup championships. Admission to the PRI Show is complimentary, but all attendees must prove they own, manage or are employed by a racing business. In addition to a three-day array of exhibits, over 45 conferences, seminars and special networking opportunities have been planned for Race Industry Week, which begins December 9. Encompassing the days leading up to and including the annual PRI Trade Show, Race Industry Week 2013 plays host to a number of co-locating events and ac-

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More than 3,300 booths displaying the latest products and services in hardcore racing have been plotted on the Convention Center’s expansive show floor.

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Industry News tivities, including the Advanced EnMore information on the PRI gineering Technology Conference Trade Show can be found online at, (AETC), the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) Annual APRA and ReMaTec Team Congress, the Race Track Business Conference, and the Vehicle DynamUp for New Automotive/ ics & Data Acquisition Seminar. Heavy-Duty Reman Show The Automotive Parts RemanufacAll-new Race Industry Week turers Association (APRA), the events for 2013 include the Race global association for remanufacturSafety & Technology Center, featuring keynote speakers Dr. Terry Tram- ers all over the world and Amsterdam RAI, owners and organizers of mell and Jim Campbell, head of ReMaTec, the world’s largest remanmotorsports at General Motors; the national championships of the Hot The Fifth Annual Muscle Car & Corvette Rodders Of TomorNationals will take place November 23-24 row engine chalat the Donald E. Stephens Convention lenge; and Center, Rosemont, IL. Featuring more than Education Day, or500 of the world’s rarest and most desirganized by SEMA's able muscle cars (RIGHT) and Corvettes, the interactive show and exhibit will give Motorsports Parts car collectors, enthusiasts and their famiManufacturers lies a chance to experience the most Council (MPMC), extensive collection of museum-quality which offers dedimuscular vehicles ever assembled under cated product trainone roof. Tickets are $20 online and $25 ing sessions by 15 at the door. Children under 12 get in free. top-level manufacFor more information, visit turers in the sports industry.

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ufacturing show, have agreed to organize a new comprehensive show for automotive and heavy-duty remanufacturing in the USA. The first edition will take place in Las Vegas NV, November 1-3, 2014. The new show, which is named Big R/ReMaTecUSA, is a continuation of the strong partnership between APRA and ReMaTec. The new show has its origins in the International Big R Show, which has been held in Las Vegas for

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Industry News

decades, in association with the highly successful ReMaTec show based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The new show will be positioned as an annual kick off for the automotive aftermarket tradeshows in Las Vegas each Fall. The new partnership complements the ReMaTec Amsterdam show, which will still take place

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every odd year. For more information, visit

DEI Introduces Mike Buca as Brand Manager

ast, Buca has more than 18 years’ experience working in various positions at JC Whitney including the last five years as the company’s

Design Engineering Inc. (DEI) recently added Mike Buca as the company’s new brand manager. A seasoned performance enthusi-

catalog and brand manager for both JC Whitney and Stylin’ Trucks. As DEI brand manager, Buca is responsible for the marketing and promotion of all DEI branded products and will report to Tom Miller, VP sales and marketing. A committed enthusiast with more than 25 years in the automotive aftermarket, he comes to this new position with extensive experience in marketing, copywriting and design. For more information, visit

Weld Tech Makes Ownership Change Debra Weld, president of Weld Tech a provider of CNC ported cylinder heads, recently entered into an agreement of sale with Chris Grace. “Chris has been with Weld Tech for sixteen years, and we feel he is the one who can continue to operate business with the same quality and integrity that is synonymous with Weld Tech,” said Weld. The day-today operations turned over to Grace effective September 1st. Weld Tech ( has been a leader in providing CNC ported cylinder heads to the high performance motorsports industry for 25 years. Weld Tech has aligned itself with world class port designers. They are contracted, for compensation, to develop a port shape designed to meet the needs of specific applications. The company specializes in reverse engineering of privately supplied port shapes and providing the utmost confidentiality of its customers’ port profiles. Weld Tech is now Weld Tech, LLC Circle 10 for more information 10 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

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and will remain at the current location in Brownsburg, IN, with no changes in its contact information.

Michigan Racer Wins $20,000 Engine Pro Racing Engine A Grass Lake, MI racer was the last man standing in a drawing for a new racing engine held at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI. Tracy Muchler (below) was awarded the engine, which was provided by Engine Pro and Pro-Filer Performance Products.

This is the sixth year for the promotion which is held toward the end of the racing season at the track. The engine, valued at $20,000, was assembled by Performance Engineering with parts and services supplied by Pro-Filer, Melling Performance, Hastings Racing, Oliver, Ferrea, Comp Cams, JE Pistons, Clevite, Fel-Pro, Milodon, R & R Wireloom and Pro Finishing. Racers had to earn their way into the drawing by being in the top ten in points standings in two racing classes. The event was held during the Ninth Annual Funny Car Nationals September 7, 2013. â– 

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Track Talk Where There’s a Weld, There’s a Way NASCAR race cars require hundreds of welds – and every single one of them has to be perfect. At 200 miles per hour and around every corner, racecars are pushed to their very limits. They have to be strong for safety, but light for performance. The cars built at Stewart Haas Racing are no exception. Back at the shop, master fabricators like Daniel Smith spend hours making sure every weld is just right. For Smith, simply put, it’s his passion. “I’ve always wanted to weld,” said Smith, a native of Concord, NC, born and raised in the heart of motorsports country. After graduating from NASCAR Technical Institute

and 5 Off 5 On Pit Crew U in 2004, 19-year old Smith landed a full-time position at what was then Haas CNC Racing. Being a typical adventurous teen, Smith quickly earned the nickname “Danger” among his peers at the shop, but that didn’t stop him from putting in long hours of hard work and sacrifice to perfect his craft. “In the beginning, I spent a lot of time in the shop,” Smith reminisced. “I would stay after work on my own time to pick up pointers from other welders. I was welding anything and everything I could get my hands on in the shop.” Smith began his racing career in the teardown department, but soon earned a promotion to the fab shop. Today, the 29-year-old veteran juggles both pit crew and shop duties. “On Sundays, I go over-the-wall as the rear tire changer on the No. 14,” explained Smith.“ On Monday mornings at 7 a.m. sharp, I’m back at the shop, welding and building suspension pieces, upper control arms, oil tanks, spindles, and exhaust pipes.”

Smith’s day job is critical. About 95% of NASCAR racecars are TIGwelded by hand. Long before the racecar hits the track, welding and fabrication consume roughly 950 man hours on each racecar back at the shop. Lincoln Electric, who has provided Stewart Haas Racing with welding machines, consumables, and apparel since 2008, says welding plays an important role in NASCAR keeping drivers safe first and foremost. “Critical components such as the roll cage, seat, and chassis need to withstand forceful impacts at speeds of 200+ MPH,” said Mickey Holmes, sports marketing manager for Lincoln Electric. “Quality welds help achieve this.” Most welds join intersecting tubes that make up the frame and roll cage. These components are fabricated from mild steel, which allows the racecar to absorb the forces of a crash in a bend-before-break mode. When drivers often walk away from high-speed crashes unhurt, it can be attributed to overall safety improvements in the chassis design – and weld quality. Smith works with a variety of Lincoln equipment at the shop, including Invertec V311T AC/DC, Precision TIG375,

Invertec V205-T AC/DC, Power MIG 350MP, Power MIG 256, and Power MIG 180C’s. The team’s transports (or crash carts as they’re commonly called) are equipped with Power MIG 180C’s and Invertec V205’s. “The welding technology is really amazing,” said Smith. “They’re solid machines. You can kind of get spoiled working with all the nice equipment at the shop.” Smith understands if a part breaks on the track, it cannot break at the weld. He knows the importance of a sound weld, and that a driver's life is on the line. “My standards are a little higher from working in NASCAR – the welds have to look nice and be clean and sound,” continued Smith. “The steering shaft has to hold up at every turn. Holding all of the suspension components together is very vital in racing.” By Kimberly Hyde, NASCAR

Double-duty: Daniel Smith is a welder/fabricator at Stewart Haas Racing and rear tire changer on the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. Do you have a passion for welding, too? Start your project today with help from Lincoln Electric at Follow NASCAR Performance on Twitter and Facebook

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Balloons Belong at Birthday Parties Not in Transmissions I rebuilt a 454 GM engine that went into a motorhome application. It ran well, and no problems immediately appeared. But later on, it was towed in with a main bearing failure in the thrust area. I gave the customer another engine, and a month later it came back with the same problem. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the torque convertor had ballooned, causing the engine and also transmission problems. It seems that it was severely overloaded. The motorhome owner was a flea market vendor and was towing a trailer that was way too heavy for his setup. Lesson: If you build an engine with an automatic transmission for severe-duty, nitrous, supercharged or just high-horsepower, be certain that the owner installs an anti-balloon torque convertor. Hopefully, you will avoid the same problem after reading this. Lee Johnson Pro Performance Denver, CO Note: Crankshaft grinders are used to getting “defective” crankshafts returned to them with thrust flanges wiped out due to this type of problem. – Engine Pro Technical Committee

Flyer Selling and Swapping An easy and cheap form of advertising is the 8-1/2˝ x 11˝ flyer. For about a dime, you can print a flyer, and most quick printers will help you with the design. A broad generic flyer could take on the purpose of a resume, telling customers about you, your services, hours and contact information. A common practice is putting out a flyer offering free or discounted services. One shop I know advertises a free case of oil with any engine build. Once your flyer is printed, make a deal with other merchants in your area to provide a spot for their flyers 16 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

in your shop if they will do the same for you. You will get exposure to a different customer base in another location. Picking like-businesses, such as a towing company or a body shop, will increase your advertising results. Steve Rich Sterling Bearing, Inc. Kansas City, MO

How to Resize OHC Oversize Lifters Occasionally, you will need to buy lifters to make valve adjustments because the one piece tappet is of a specific height and must be changed. This is the case with most overhead cam engines these days. But what do you do when the lifter you buy is a thousandth or two oversize? You could return it, but that takes time. You can also micropolish it on your lathe to obtain the correct diameter, but how do you hold it? Here’s how: Take a piece of aluminum stock that is a slightly larger diameter than the lifter and machine it to the lifter ID. Wood can also be used. The total length of the aluminum/wood only needs to be about 3˝ long and you only need to machine the diameter to a length of about 1˝. You can drill a hole all the way through the piece and use a countersink to cut a taper on the end that you machined. Machine a piece of steel or aluminum that is the same diameter of the big end of the countersink hole you machined in the part. Next, machine a wedge and drill and tap it for a 1/2-20 bolt that will slip into the 1/4˝ you drilled in the body. Its length should be only as long as the total length of the body, including the wedge you just made. The wedge should sit flush with the end of the body. The body can also be made from a piece of wood doweling. Now take the body, remove the bolt and wedge, and cut in two places, 90 degrees apart so they will be able to expand when you tighten the wedge. Insert the bolt and wedge back into the body of the fixture and

place the lifter on the machine end. This diameter should be only .001˝ to .002˝ smaller than the lifter ID. Place your fixture into the lathe and use your crankshaft polisher to reduce the diameter of the lifter to the diameter you desire. See the video on my YouTube channel: John Edwards Cost Mesa R&D Automotive Machine Shop Costa Mesa, CA

Keeping Valve Locks in Place By using marine grease on the end of a thin flat head screwdriver, you can rest the lock on the grease while you assemble heads with puck style lifters. This way you are not constantly dropping the lock down into the head. Greg Goss Engine & Performance Warehouse Denver, CO Manufacturer Shop Solution

Standard and Reverse Rotation Marine Engines: What to Look For Boats with twin engines usually turn in opposite direction so the torque reactions of the engines cancel each other out. The following four drawings show how the crankshaft and camshaft turn in the four combinations of drives. Some of the parts in these engines may be interchangeable, but will not function properly and can create problems for rebuilders. Crankshaft - Some of the reverse rotation cranks have the oil holes drilled symmetrically opposite. Check this closely. Camshaft - In the above combinations none of the cams are interchangeable. The lobe timing and/or the distributor drive gear angle are different. Distributor/Oil Pump - In all of the applications, we know of both the distributor and oil pump turn the

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same direction regardless of the crank rotation. This is done by making the angle of the drive gear on the cam and its mating gear opposite, when the cam turns the opposite direction. This makes the thrust of the gears in the opposite direction. For example, the SE Chevy thrust is up and is taken by the base of the distributor housing and the drive gear. If the cam rotation and gear angle are changed, the thrust is down and there are no provisions for this in a stock distributor. A ball bearing distributor or magneto is required. When working on marine engines, be sure you know what the components intended usage is and do not vary from it. â–  George Richmond Melling Engine Parts Jackson, MI

Shop Solutions – The Power of Knowledge Engine Builder and Engine Pro present Shop Solutions in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine and at The feature is intended to provide machine shop owners and engine technicians the opportunity to share their knowledge to benefit the entire industry and their own shops. Those who submit Shop Solutions that are published are awarded a prepaid $100 Visa gift card.

Engine Pro is a nationwide network of distributors that warehouse a full line of internal engine components for domestic and import passenger car, light truck, heavy duty, industrial, marine, agricultural and performance applications. They also produce engine parts under the Engine Pro name that offer premium features at an affordable price.

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Old Iron

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Harry A. Miller’s Masterpiece Motors


Miller’s engines and cars were – and still are – works of art.


ach year, in early July, some the guru of supercharging. He five-dozen racing relics come adapted streamlining, front-wheel thundering out of the pages of drive and four-wheel drive to racing history books to circle the famous cars, and could focus on tomorrow’s one-mile long track at Milwaukee’s technology while perfecting today’s. Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. Miller’s engines and cars were — There are Lozier, Mercer, Hupand still are — works of art. Two mobile, Ford, Chrysler and Kurtis years ago the Miller Bowes Seal Fast creations with several carburetors, Special that won the 1931 Indy 500 coffee can size exhaust pipes and sold at auction for $2 million plus numbers on their sides. And then, commission! there are the Millers. A month earlier a Miller 110 enHarry A. Miller was a native of gine owned by the same collectorMenomonie, WI, who moved to Los the late – David V. Uihlein, Sr. – Angeles in 1894 to started Master brought $72,000 in another auction. Carburetor Co. Both sales were conducted by In early 1912, he developed an Dana Mecum, an enthusiast who aluminum-nickel-copper alloy he is currently president of the called Alloyanum. With it, he could Harry A. Miller Club make marvelous pistons and high( output manifolds. Harry A. Miller Manufacturing Co. became the West Coast machine shop to visit if you wanted your car to go fast. Miller’s started making engines in 1915. This inline six-cylinder, single-overhead-cam aircraft engine caught attention and led racing car driver "Wild Bob" Burman to Miller for a new engine for his 1913 Grand Prix Peugeot, which had suffered a broken con rod. A second engine for Burman was a twin-cammer with a fully-enclosed valve gear, predating BalIn August 2011, this Miller lot’s famous design Bowes Seal Fast Special that by three years. Miller won the 1931 Indy 500, sold was credited with at auction for $2 million plus creating super-efficommission. cient unsupercharged engines and became

18 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

Miller made almost 100 percent of the engines and cars bearing his name. He considered them motoring masterpieces and built them artistically. It required around 6,000 to 6,500 man-hours to construct a complete car. Between 700 and 1000 of those hours went into cosmetics alone: paint, chrome accessories. In 1921, Miller designed a 183-cid 185-hp twin-cam straight eight with four-valves per cylinder. The Miller 122 was the first pure racing car to be series produced and about 15 were made. By 1923, nearly half of the cars at Indy had one and by 1925 threequarters of the field ran Millers. When racing adopted a 91.5-cid formula, Miller created the Miller 91

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Old Iron with a stock 154 hp and The Miller 91 DOHC engine up to 285 hp in some was offered from 1926-1929 applications. By the and this supercharged version late-1920s, winners produced 148 hp at 6300 rpm. drove Millers for which they had to up around $10,000 (or $15,00 for a more advanced front driver.) The front-drive cars were a thing of beauty with their low radiators and long hoods. In 1927, a Miller 91 rear-drive set an international speed record of 164.84 mph, including a one-way speed of 171 mph, and an international closed-course speed record of 147.729 mph. In 1930, a Miller 91 front-drive achieved 180.9 mph. Many other international auto and boat speed records were established. Just ahead of the 1929 Wall St. crash, Miller retired. Around that time,E. L. Cord had given him a $60,000 retainer to consult on development of a frontwheel-drive car and he realized $150,000 from selling his business. He was 54, rich and relaxed, but unfortunately, he was not about to really retire. A new engineering business was launched just as the Great Depression began, and within three years, Miller was bankrupt. Miller's veteran machinist Fred Offenhauser bought rights to a Miller engine and improved it into the Offy, which became the most victorious racing engine of all time. Miller himself struggled through the 1930s, trying one project after another and teaming up with various parties from Preston Tucker to Ford Motor Co. to Gulf Oil in trying to This dress-up Miller shows how beautiful the design is. It is in a body-less car known as the “Naked Miller”

This car was built in 1938 as a Miller 8, but was retrofitted with an Offy engine after World War II.

create a successful and innovative racing car. Miller eventually moved to Indianapolis to tinker on aircraft projects with Tucker, while his wife took off for California. By 1941, he had moved to Detroit to set up a testing equipment and tool making business. However, he was not in good health and on May 3, 1943, he died from a heart attack. The Harry A. Miller Club was founded in 1995 to honor the achievements of the distinguished engine ace. And each year, more people and cars come to the “Millers at Milwaukee-Vintage Indy Car Event” on the second weekend in July at the Milwaukee Mile. ■ For more information contact: The Harry A. Miller Club, PO Box 541, Germantown, WI 53022 or call (262) 388-5221.

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Maintaining Your Balance

Engine Building Tips to Reduce NVH and Increase Life


obody would argue with the force at 2,000 rpm. But when the fact that engine balancing is engine revs to 8,000 rpm, that slight right up there with “blueimbalance now becomes a pounding printing” an engine. The goal is to force of 227 pounds! The resulting equalize the reciprocating and rotatthrashing motion that the crankshaft ing forces inside the engine so it will experiences with every revolution run smoother, last longer and achieve can pound the bearings and main its maximum power potential. caps to death over time – and the Although balancing would seem greater the imbalance, the greater the to be most important for high pounding force that is being exerted revving performance engines, it can on the bearings and main caps. also provide benefits for relatively When a crankshaft spins, it wants stock engines, as well as low revving to rotate around its center of gravity. heavy-duty diesel engines. When That’s a basic law of physics. As long proper balance is Most racers today want their achieved, it reduces NVH cranks balanced to within one (noise, vibration and harshness) that can be felt ounce or less, and many of the big boys (NASCAR, ProStock, inside the vehicle, etc.) will aim for fractions of a whether it is a daily gram. driver, a race car or overthe-road truck. Better balance makes for a smoother running and quieter engine. But, even more importantly, proper balance also maximizes the engine’s longevity by reducing the pounding that imbalance produces on the crankshaft’s main bearings. The centripetal forces generated by any imbalance increases exponentially in proportion to speed. Double the rpms and you quadruple the force. A 2 oz.-in. (ounce-inch) imbalance on a crankshaft will generate only about 14 pounds of centripetal 22 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

as the rotating weight is evenly distributed around the circumference of the crank, the center of gravity will line up with the center axis of the crank and the crank will spin smoothly without any wobble. But, if there is an imbalance, it will offset the center of gravity and force the crank to oscillate from its true axis as it spins. Of course, the crank can’t wobble too much because it is held in place by the main bearings. Even so, the wobbling motion exerts a pounding

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force against the bearings and can even cause flexing and bending within the crankshaft itself if the forces are great enough. Over time, this may lead to metal fatigue, stress cracks and crankshaft failure. It can also create annoying engine vibrations that can be felt throughout the vehicle, as well as harmonics in the camshaft and valvetrain that may result in a loss of horsepower. Whether you have a large imbalance force acting on the crankshaft over a short period of time, or a relatively small imbalance force acting on the crankshaft over a very long period of time, the end result can be the same in either case: bearing fretting and fatigue that eventually leads to bearing failure and/or crank failure. A high revving racing engine obviously needs a good balance to minimize these destructive forces, but balancing can be just as beneficial to low revving engines, too, including big over-the-road truck engines that only turn 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. Why? Because of the cumulative effect even a small imbalance can have on engine longevity. Recognizing this, the auto makers have tightened up their balance tolerances in recent years to not only reduce NVH but to also extend engine durability. What used to be “race only” balance tolerances are now everyday production tolerances for many

Balancing has become a soughtafter service in some segments you may never have considered, and it remains an important profit center in many machine shop operations.

engines. Today’s lighter and higher revving engines can’t handle as much imbalance as older, heavier cast iron engines, so they are typically balanced to much closer tolerances.

Little Tolerance for Imbalance The “old school” tolerances for balancing used to be plus or minus 2 ounces for stock engines (56 grams), half an ounce (0.5 oz. or 14 grams) for street performance and two-tenths ounce (0.2 oz. or 5 to 6 grams) for racing engines. These numbers provided relatively good results with the engines and speeds that were common a couple of decades ago, but they are not even in the ballpark with today’s stock and racing requirements. Most electronic balancing equipment that’s on the market today can easily achieve balances to within 0.1 grams (0.004 oz.), or even less for specialized applications such as turbocharger impellers that spin at extremely high rpms. A dime weighs 2.268 grams (0.08 oz.). If you glued a dime to the outside edge of a counter-

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Feature weight on a crankshaft, it might not cause much of an imbalance in a low revving stock engine, but it would be too much of an imbalance for most performance engines. Most racers today want their cranks balanced to within one ounce or less, and many of the big boys (NASCAR, ProStock, etc.) will aim for fractions of a gram. On some of Ford’s newer V6 engines, the factory balance is within 0.16 oz.-in. (4.5 grams) – which is old school racing tolerances. It’s important to keep this in mind because any time you are rebuilding a late model engine or a performance engine and change internal parts (pistons, wrist pins, rods or the crank), you change the balance. The same thing happens with externally balanced engines if you replace the flexplate, flywheel or harmonic dampener. Some aftermarket replacement pistons and rods weigh about the same as the original parts, but others may be heavier or lighter depending

26 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

on their design. What’s more, some piston and rod sets may be weight matched fairly close (plus or minus 2 grams) from the factory while others vary quite a bit. Consequently, if you do not weigh the parts on a highly

The Bobweight Effect All crankshafts have a target bobweight (plus or minus 2 percent typically) that approximates the weights of the pistons and rods that are going on the crank. The closer the target bobweight of the crank to the actual parts, the less drilling it takes to bring the crank into balance. Because of this, it's important to know the approximate weights of the pistons and rods when you are buying or ordering an aftermarket crankshaft.

Circle 26 for more information

accurate scale, you have no way of knowing how much they actually weigh or how much their weight differs from the original parts.

Balancing Basics One of the basic goals of engine balancing is to equalize the weights of the pistons, wrist pins, rings, connecting rods, rod bolts and bearings so as to equalize the reciprocating and rotating forces that are acting on the crankshaft. Each of the parts is carefully weighed to determine which piston and which rod is the lightest. The other pistons and rods are then ground or machined to equalize their weights to the lightest one in the set. Another trick that some engine builders use is to mix and match heavy and light pistons and rods that share the same journal to equalize the weights on each journal. Once the weights have been measured and equalized, the rotating and reciprocating weights need to be separate from each other. The

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rotating weight is the big end of the connecting rod, rod bolts and rod bearings, plus a few extra grams for oil while the reciprocating weight is the small end of the rod, wrist pin and locks, piston and rings.

of the reciprocating weight (times 2 for the two pistons also share the same journal) are assembled by stacking metal weight shims. The bobweights are clamped on each rod journal and the crankshaft is then spun on the balancer. Highly sensitive motion A high revving racing engine sensors detect obviously needs a good balance to minimize these destructive any wobble in forces, but balancing can be just the crank, and as beneficial to low revving the balancer’s engines, too. electronics split the crankshaft into two halves (right and left) and essentially balance each half of the crank separately (2-plane balancing). Some balancers also compare the results of the left and right sides to see how the forces interact (3-plane After these values have been balancing) before displaying the determined (for a 90-degree V8 enindex location and amount of imbalgine), bobweights that simulate 100 ance that needs to be corrected. percent of the rotating weight (times Weight is then removed by drilling 2 because there are two pistons sharor machining the counterweights, or ing the same journal) and 50 percent added by installing heavy metal

Circle 27 for more information 27

22-31 Balanced Work 10/23/13 9:36 AM Page 28

Feature tungsten (“mallory”) plugs into the counterweights to offset the indicated imbalance. The crank is then spun again to check the corrections that were made. This procedure is repeated as many times as it takes to achieve the desired degree of balance. In the case of superlight racing cranks, the counterweights may be turned down so much that there isn’t The basics of balancing haven’t enough metal to offset really changed over time – add the bobweights. If this weight if it’s required, take it is the case, the crank away if needed. What has will likely require changed is the market’s expecheavy metal plugs to tations and the technology available to make balancing an balance it and/or exaccessible service. ternal balancing with the flywheel and harmonic dampener. Another issue to watch out for is sive). Or, the counterweights may that some cheaply made import not be positioned correctly on the crankshafts may not have enough crankshaft to allow proper balancing. metal in the counterweights to There’s no way of knowing this achieve balance easily or inexpenuntil you start to balance the crank sively (heavy metal plugs are expen-

Circle 28 for more information 28 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

and realize it’s way off the mark and will take a lot of work to balance it. To reduce overall weight and cost, most crankshafts for 90-degree V8 engines have six counterweights in-

Circle 18 for more information

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Feature stead of eight. No counterweights are used on either side of the center main bearing. If the crank had eight counterweights (one for each cylinder), each weight would be offset 180 degrees from its journal. But with only six counterweights to serve this function, the counterweights are offset 135 degrees from their journals. Some math whiz figured this out and saved the auto makers a lot of money – but also made life harder for anyone who is trying to balance a really high revving engine or one with a long stroke crank. So racing cranks with eight counterweights are available for applications where the extra weight really doesn’t hurt from a performance standpoint, but really helps from a balance standpoint. NASCAR engines typically run in excess of 9,000 rpm for much of a race so having an eight counterweight crank helps control vibrations and harmonics at these speeds.

Weighing Your Options When it comes to balancing “tricks” some performance engine builders will slightly overbalance or underbalance the crankshaft in an attempt to minimize vibrations and harmonics within a specific rpm range. Overbalance means adding extra weight to the bobweights when the crank is balanced, while underbalancing means using less weight on the bobweights when the crank is balanced. For example, if you want to overbalance an engine 2 percent, you would use 52 percent of the reciprocating weight of the pistons and small rod ends instead of the usual 50 percent weight when assembling your bobweights. To underbalance the engine 2 percent, you would use 48 percent of the reciprocating weight instead of the usual 50 percent. Imbalances and harmonics in the crankshaft are transmitted to the camshaft and valvetrain by the timing chain or timing gears. If a slight overbalance creates vibrations that

Circle 29 for more information

offset any undesirable valvetrain harmonics, the engine runs smoother and makes more power. But if the vibrations don’t offset and amplify one another, things only get worse. Some say that slightly overbalancing a high revving engine helps dampen harmonics that may occur above a certain rpm. Those who use this technique claim it makes an

Did You Know... Engines that run at fairly constant high rpm typically benefit most from overbalancing (or underbalancing in the case of Formula 1 engines). However, engines that have to operate across a wide range of rpms may or may not realize any benefit from overbalancing or underbalancing, depending on the dynamics inside the engine. It may help at some speeds and hurt at others. 29

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One of the basic goals of engine balancing is to equalize the weights of the pistons, wrist pins, rings, connecting rods, rod bolts and bearings so as to equalize the reciprocating and rotating forces that are acting on the crankshaft.

Circle 30 for more information 30 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

engine run smoother and makes more power. The problem is, overbalancing may or may not smooth out high-rpm power and vibrations, and it may make things worse. Many piston and rod suppliers recommend a neutral balance (the usual 50 percent of the reciprocating weight) unless an engine is really experiencing some severe high-rpm shakes. What works on one engine may or may not work on another engine because of differences in valvetrain geometry, stiffness and dynamics. Those who swear overbalancing works typically recommend overbalancing 1 percent (using 51 percent of the reciprocating weight) if the engine revs above 8,000 rpm, 2 percent if it revs to 9,000 rpm, and 4 percent if it revs to 10,000 rpm. By comparison, some Formula 1 racing teams underbalance their engines several percent because they have found it helps offset the second order harmonics that occur at extremely high engine speeds (up to 18,000 rpm in some of these engines!) Underbalancing is also being used in some monster drag motors with long cranks (up to 4 percent underbalance) to smooth

things out at high-rpm. The point here is that overbalancing or underbalancing essentially creates a dynamic imbalance inside the engine. The imbalance will create vibrations the same as if the engine had not been balanced correctly in the first place. But if the imbalance is tuned for a specific rpm range, it can offset bad vibes that are hurting performance. What happens outside this rpm range in a racing engine doesn’t matter because it’s outside the engine’s normal power range.

‘Ins’ and ‘Outs’ of Balancing Many engines such as small block Chevys are internally balanced. The crankshaft has enough mass in the counterweights to allow the rotating and reciprocating forces to be balanced by machining the crank. The flywheel and clutch are neutral or zero balanced, which means engine balance is unaffected if the flywheel or clutch have to be replaced later. Smallblock Fords, by comparison, are externally balanced, as are some big block Chevys (454s). This means the flywheel (or flexplate) and harmonic balancer contribute to overall engine balance and must be mounted on the crank when it is balanced to achieve proper balance. It also means the index position of the flywheel (or

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Feature flexplate) on the crank must be maintained if it is removed and reinstalled so balance isn’t upset. It also means engine balance will be lost if the flywheel (or flexplate) is replaced with another unit unless the balance of the replacement is perfectly matched to the original (which it may or may not be). Most performance engine builders say the best way to go is to internally balance the engine (if possible) for the advantages listed above. The basics of balancing really haven’t changed over time – add weight if it’s needed, and take it away if needed.

Removing Stress The harmonic dampener or balancer on the front of the crankshaft may be used to externally balance the engine, but it’s main purpose is to dampen torsional vibrations in the crankshaft. Every firing pulse twists the crankshaft, so the dampener helps smooth out the jolts to reduce stress on the crank. If the dampener fails to do its job because it is defective or lacks sufficient mass, the crank may be stressed to the point where the nose snaps off or it breaks.

inches) and it turns at half the speed of the crank. Even so, a slight imbalance in a camshaft can become a significant vibration in a high revving engine – possibly enough to cause lifter bounce, valvetrain harmonics and

ignition timing issues with a camdriven distributor. For this reason, many high-end racers are also balancing their camshafts now, too. ■

Looking for equipment to handle balancing work? We make it simple. Just visit and use the product search function to find balancing equipment, accessories, weights and harmonic balancers, etc.

Consider Cam Balancing, Too Many people overlook camshaft balance when balancing an engine because a camshaft has a relatively small diameter (only a couple of

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CHOOSING CAMSHAFTS – PICKING PERFORMANCE Selecting the Cornerstone of Your Engine Build


hoosing a cam can give anyintake and exhaust manifolds, and one a headache – carburetion). especially if they choose the Most camshaft manufacturers wrong cam for a given application. offer a wide range of off-the-shelf There’s a lot of science involved in grinds that have been developed for cam selection, so keep reading and specific applications. The secret to we’ll help you wade through the choosing a cam that will deliver the details. kind of performance you want is to A camshaft is nothing more than a figure out the rpm range where the cast iron or steel shaft with a series of engine should make the most power, lobes strategically placed along its and then choose a cam that will length. Each lobe opens and closes a match the breathing characteristics of valve by moving a lifter, pushrod and the cylinder heads, intake and exrocker arm, or in the case of an overhaust manifolds, weight and gearing head cam engine by moving a cam of the vehicle the engine is going into. follower or direct valve action. If your building a big stroker The size, shape and placement of the lobes on the camshaft determines valve timing, compression and the engine’s breathing characteristics, which in turn determines the engine’s performance potential and the rpm range where the engine will make the most power and torque. Choosing the “right” camshaft, therefore, is not only the cornerstone of building a performance engine but Blue Collar Performance built this Sualso its centerpiece. percharged Ford 4.6L 3V using a blower The cam makes the cam from Lunati (Lunati 21270726). engine and essenRPM Range: 2,000-6,900; Intake duratially determines all tion at 050˝: 237; Exhaust duration at of the other parts 050˝: 249; Duration at 050˝: 237 int./249 exh.; Intake valve lift with factory that should be chorocker arm ratio: .504˝; Exhaust valve sen to build the enlift with factory rocker arm ratio: .516˝ ; gine (cylinder heads, Lobe Separation: 114 degrees. pistons, valvetrain,

32 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

motor for a ProStock drag car with an aftermarket 500 to 600 cubic inch block and cylinder heads with fistsized ports that flow over 500 cfm at .900˝ valve lift, such an engine obviously needs a big cam with lots of valve lift, duration and overlap. On the other hand, if you’re building a small block street performance engine that’s going into a daily driver with an automatic transmission and stock gearing, you’ll want a cam that delivers good drivability with plenty of low to mid-range torque and throttle response. You’ll also want to choose cylinder heads that have rela-

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Circle 33 on Reader Service Card for more information

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tively small intake runner volumes for good air velocity and throttle response at low- to mid-range rpm, a splitplenum 180-degree hi-rise intake manifold and properly sized carburetor.

Don’t Overcam Your Work The biggest mistake many engine builders make is to overcam an engine. Using a cam that has too much valve lift, too much duration and/or too much valve overlap for the application can have negative consequences. Everybody likes big numbers, but if the cam specs don’t really match the engine you’re building or the application the engine is going into, you’ll end up with an engine that underperforms and fails to meet your customer’s expectations.

Keep Your Eye on Valve Lift Increasing valve lift opens the valve further so more air/fuel mixture or exhaust can flow past the valve. Valve lift is increased by using taller lobes on the camshaft and/or higher ratio rocker arms. Increasing valve lift improves airflow up to a point, so you want more lift in a performance cam. But airflow eventually peaks out because of restrictions in the cylinder head, intake or exhaust system. Increasing valve lift beyond this point is pointless because there’s nothing more to be gained. There are also physical limits as to how far the valves can be opened before it creates interference problems between the valves and pistons, between the valve spring retainers and the tops of the valve guides, and between the

coils of the valve springs. Modifications can be made to increase clearances (such as cutting larger valve recesses into the tops of the pistons, reducing the height of the valve guides and/or lowering the spring seats), but eventually the limit is reached beyond which no further increases in valve lift are physically possible. So the only way to increase airflow further is to hold the valves open longer (increase duration) by opening the valves sooner and closing them later, and/or by improving the scavenging effect of the exhaust to pull air/fuel mixture through the combustion chamber by increasing valve overlap. There’s a lot of science that goes into determining optimum valve lift, and how quickly the valves open and close. Ideally, you want a fast acting cam that

Circle 34 for more information 34 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

A lot of development work has gone into revamping lobe profiles in recent years to optimize performance, and many cam suppliers have introduced new product lines that reflect these improvements.

opens and closes the valves quickly to maximize airflow. You also want the cam to reach peak lift as quickly as possible, although airflow at mid-lift actually has more of an impact on total airflow because it happens twice during each valve cycle (once as the valve opens and again as it closes). Consequently, you want cam lobes that open the valves quickly, hold the valves open when airflow is greatest, and then close the valves quickly to minimize compression losses. With flat tappet cams, the curvature of the ramp on the side (flank) of the lobe that opens the valve can’t be too steep, otherwise the lifter may dig into the ramp. Likewise, on the closing side of the

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MANY CAMS TODAY HAVE “ASYMMETRICAL” GRINDS THAT USE DIFFERENT PROFILES FOR THE UPSIDE AND DOWNSIDE RAMPS ON THE CAM LOBES, AS WELL AS DIFFERENT LOBES FOR THE INTAKE AND EXHAUST VALVES. lobe, the curvature can’t be too steep, otherwise the lifter may not follow the lobe and bounce on its way back down. Roller cams are much better in this respect because a roller on the bottom of a lifter can follow a more radical lobe profile. A roller cam can open and close the valves faster for more total airflow with the same lift and duration.

Valve Timing Issues Valve timing includes the points at which the intake valves open and when they close, and when the exhaust valves open and when they close. Of these four timing events, intake valve closing actually has the greatest impact on now much power a particular camshaft will make. If the intake valve closes too soon, the cylinder may not fill completely during its intake stroke.

Circle 36 for more information

Circle 35 for more information 36 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

Holding the intake vale open longer allows more airflow into the cylinder – up to a point. If the intake valve remains open too long past the point where the piston has reached and passed bottom dead center, the upward motion of the piston can start to reverse airflow and push air back out of the intake port. The point at which the exhaust valve opens has the second greatest impact on performance. If the exhaust valve opens too soon, cylinder pressure may be lost before it can complete its work. If the exhaust valve is opened too late during the exhaust stroke, it increases the pumping effort required to push the exhaust out of the cylinder. The closing of the exhaust valve and the opening of the intake valve, by comparison, have the least impact on performance. If the exhaust valve closes too quickly, some exhaust may remain in the cylinder and dilute the incoming air/fuel mixture during the following intake stroke. Holding the valve open longer (even as the intake valve starts to open) creates a scavenging effect that helps pull air through the cylinder into the exhaust, but you don’t want too much valve overlap as this can rob some of the air/fuel mixture that would otherwise remain in the cylinder (it also increases exhaust emissions). The opening of the intake valve has to occur early enough so the cylinder has time to fill with air/fuel mixture, but if it starts to open too soon (before top dead center), you can get reversionary airflow back into the intake manifold. The point at which the intake and exhaust valves open and close is determined by the ramps on the cam lobes. As soon as the lifter or follower reaches the point where the ramp starts from the lobe base circle, the valvetrain begins to move and starts to open the valve. The opening point may be measured at a specified amount of lift (such as .004˝ or .050˝) and listed as lasting so many degrees of crankshaft rotation. For example, a typical street performance cam might have a listed duration of 224 degrees for the intake and exhaust valves measured at .050˝ of lift, with a maximum lift of .470˝ (with stock 1.5 ratio rocker arms). The lobe separation between the

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PG 40 >> Today’s Fuels

PG 50 >> Coatings/Treatments

peak lift points of the intake and exhaust valves might be 110 degrees. Street cams and cams that are designed to produce more low to midrange torque typically have less overlap and more lobe separation, while cams that are designed more for maximum high speed power have more overlap and less lobe separation.

Confusing Calculations Comparing one cam grind to another can be tricky because camshaft suppliers often measure their cam specifications differently. If duration is measured at .004˝ of lift rather than .050˝ of lift, it inflates the numbers and makes the cam appear bigger. Consequently, it’s important to note at what point lift is actually measured when comparing advertised camshaft duration specs. Generally speaking, the longer the duration the higher the rpm range where the cam makes power. Short duration cams are good for low speed torque and throttle response while long

PG 58>> Crack Detection

duration cams are best or high revving engines that need to make lots of top end power. Cams with durations in the 195 to 210 degree range (measured at .050˝ cam lift) are usually considered best for stock unmodified engines and those with computerized engine controls. Once you go beyond 210 to 220 degrees of duration, intake vacuum starts to drop. This upsets idle quality and affects the operation of computerized engine control systems. Performance cams typically have durations ranging from 220 up to 280 degrees or more. The longer the duration, the rougher the idle and the higher the cam’s power range on the rpm scale. A cam with a duration of 240 degrees of higher will typically produce the most power from 3,500 to 7,000 rpm. But there’s more to camshaft selection than lift and duration. Cams from two different manufacturers may have identical lift and duration specs, but have considerably different per-


formance characteristics because of the shape of the lobes. A lot of development work has gone into revamping lobe profiles in recent years to optimize performance, and many cam suppliers have introduced new product lines that reflect these improvements. Some cam lobes may have steeper or shallower ramps to change the velocity at which the valves open and close. A fast opening rate is great as long as the valve springs and valvetrain are stiff enough to handle it. Closing the valves quickly is also good, but not good if the valves close so abruptly that they bounce when they hit their seats or the lifters can follow the down ramp of the cam lobe. Many cams today also have “asymmetrical” grinds that use different profiles for the upside and downside ramps on the cam lobes, as well as different lobes for the intake and exhaust valves. Some cams even feature slightly different grinds for each of the engine’s cylinders, depending on where the cylinder is positioned in the

ACTIVATES AT LOWER TEMPS, PROTECTS AT HIGHER TEMPS Complex 2X Zinc structure protects for an extended temperature range, outperforming conventional break-in oils. By combining two different zinc compounds, PERFORMANCE BREAK-IN OIL activates at lower temperatures and offers more protection at elevated temperatures. • Promotes ring seal and provides maximum protection for cams and all critical valve train components during initial break-in of flat tappet and roller cam engines. • Compatible with petroleum, semi-synthetic and fully synthetic motor oils. • Ideal for use in Race Engines, OEM Rebuilds and Crate Motors. • 10W-30 & 15w-50

Circle 37 for more information 37

32-39 Choosing Camshafts 10/23/13 9:32 AM Page 38


engine block. The end cylinders on a V8 with a single carburetor manifold typically benefit with a little more valve duration for the end cylinders to equalize airflow through the intake manifold. It’s a trick that NASCAR has used for years and is now available in some offthe-shelf product lines.

Choose Wisely Picking a cam at random out of a catalog or on a website that has dozens or even hundreds of different grinds listed can be a daunting task. The cam you choose may or may not deliver the results you are looking for, so it pays to read all of the fine print for each grind and to study the recommendations. The cam supplier may say a particular works best with certain cylinder head, piston and intake system combinations. Various software programs are also available that can help you choose a particular cam based on the information you enter into the program. The

software recommends a cam that best matches the information you have entered, and will even plot simulated dyno horsepower and torque curves for the engine you are building. Though not 100 percent accurate, these programs do a pretty good job of steering you to the right cam. The best approach, however, is to work directly with a cam supplier when choosing a cam. Most cam suppliers are more than happy to assist you in the cam selection process. They can provide you with a highly detailed questionnaire you can fill in to narrow down all of the engine specifics so a cam can be chosen that will deliver the best all-round performance for what you are building. Details include everything from engine displacement, cylinder heads, compression ratio, intake and exhaust systems, naturally aspirated or boosted, manual or automatic transmission, torque converter stall speed, manual transmission gear ratios, differential ratio and tire

Circle 38 for more information 38 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

size to what kind of cam/lifter setup you want (flat tappet, roller, solid or hydraulic) to info on how the engine will be used (street, street/strip, circle track, drag racing, road racing, offroading, pulling, towing, RV or marine) to the year/make/model and weight of the vehicle the engine is going into. If you’re looking for an edge over the competition, you might opt to have a custom cam ground for your engine. This may require even more detailed information such as airflow numbers for each increment of valve lift through the cylinder heads, rod length, stroke, brands of pistons, rods or other parts, and so on. The more information you can provide the cam supplier, the better they can match a custom cam to your engine. Some cam companies have even used data recording to optimize a custom cam for a customer. They hook up a data logger to record engine rpm

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PG 40 >> Today’s Fuels

PG 50 >> Coatings/Treatments

This dyno sheet is from a Blue Collar Performance 281 cid Ford 4.6 3V with ported heads, Roush TVS2300 Supercharger delivering 19 psi of boost. The engine was stuck at 605 rwhp until the cam change. Final, hot pull, 660 rwhp with pump 93 octane, 47# injectors, GT500 dual fuel pump. 8.5:1 compression.

PG 58>> Crack Detection

while a car is on the race track, then analyze engine speeds down the straights and into and out of the corners to determine where the engine really needs to


make the most power. A cam grind is then chosen that maximizes engine power out in the rpm range where it really needs it. A bigger cam might make more total power, but if the engine seldom revs high enough to take advantage of that extra power it’s more cam than the engine really needs. It’s better to have a cam that really works in the optimum rpm range, than to choose one that makes big numbers but doesn’t win races on the race track. ■ For more on information on camshaft selection, requirements and needs, visit

Circle 39 for more information 39


40-49 Fuels and Carb Engines 10/23/13 9:30 AM Page 40

Eliminating Poor Throttle Response Impact of Today’s Gasoline on Carbureted Engines BY CONTRIBUTING EDITOR HENRY P. OLSEN HOLSEN@ENGINEBUILDERMAG.COM


he pump gasoline sold at gas solvent that will attack any compostations around the country nent made with plastic or rubber has changed quite a bit over compounds (such as the fuel hoses) the last several decades. that it comes into contact with, also components made from brass, copThe first major change was the per and aluminum can become corremoval of lead from the gasoline. The next major change was to refor- roded over time if they are not given proper surface treatments. mulate the gasoline to reduce both the evaporative and exhaust emisHeat is also a factor to consider sions from vehicles. Then, the fedin how quickly the rubber and plaseral government mandated the use tic compounds used in the fuel sysof oxygenation of gasoline in many tem will degrade with the exposure parts of the country. The latest to the fuel because the rate of reacmethod to oxygenate the fuel is tion doubles for every 10°C rise in with ethanol made from corn. temperature. These recent changes in gasoline Ethanol is also a hygroscopic formulation may or The combination of today’s may not be a good gasoline, ethanol and heat can idea in theory, but cause the rubber parts used since this modern in older vehicles’ fuel system gasoline contains less to fail. energy than it did in the past it may actually cause a loss in power, fuel efficiency and driveability unless the engine is properly tuned for these new blends of gasoline.

Gasoline with Ethanol The addition of ethanol to the gasoline is causing problems with many fuel system components of in a vehicle’s fuel system that was not designed with ethanol in mind. Ethanol is very corrosive to many of the materials that were commonly used in fuel system of older vehicles. Ethanol can also act as a 40 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

substance that readily attracts water from its surroundings such as the moisture that is in the air in the fuel tank, it takes as little as one tablespoon of water per gallon of gasoline to cause the ethanol to phase separate from the gasoline. When the ethanol and water mixture phase separates from the gasoline it will drop to the bottom of the fuel tank. This phase separated ethanol and water mixture is extremely corrosive to anything it comes into contact with. Plus, it will also cause engine performance/drivability problems

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Feature as it flows into the engine through the carburetor or fuel injectors.

Modern Gasoline and Vintage Engines A 1997 or newer fuel injected vehicle has an ECU/PCM (computer) that

Gasoline has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. Much of the gasoline sold across the country today contains as much as 10% ethanol.

should be able to make the necessary air/fuel mixture and ignition spark timing adjustments necessary for gasoline with up to a 10% ethanol mixture. Most vehicles manufactured after 2005 should be able to handle up to 15% ethanol content in the gasoline, but older vehicles will begin to experience performance issues with the higher ethanol content in the gasoline. The vehicles that are most effected by the addition of ethanol to the gasoline are the older carburetor equipped engines which will need to have their air/fuel mixture and ignition spark advance curves retuned for these new blends of “cleaner burning” gasoline if they are expected to perform their best. The ethanol content of gasoline will cause the air/fuel mixture of a non-computer controlled carburetor engine to shift leaner, which will often

Here is a good example of rubber failure on a fuel system component due to a combination of gasoline, ethanol and heat.

cause a loss in driveability and throttle response. These new blends of reformulated gasoline (with and without ethanol) are actually quite different from the leaded gasoline that a vintage carburetor equipped engine was designed and tuned to use. The main differences between today’s gasoline and the leaded gasoline of days past are the burn time of the fuel and the distillation profile of the fuel, but it actually goes deeper than that. The composition of today’s gasoline is very different when compared to the leaded gasoline of the ’60s because of the removal of lead, the addition of ethanol and the modern fuel additives that are in the fuel.

Tuning a Vintage Engine for Modern Gasoline It’s important to understand that the modern, fuel-injected, computer-controlled engine is a very different

The concern regarding ethanol fuels has led to many parts suppliers to develop products that are made to withstand ethanol corrosion. Circle 42 for more information 42 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

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Feature animal than the carbureted engines of years past. The computer of a modern, fuel-injected engine continually adjusts fuel and spark to adapt the engine to today’s ethanol and reformulated gasoline blends.

the cure being to tune the ignition spark advance and air/fuel curves for the modern fuel blends of today. Most modern fuel injected engines have a computer -

controlled ignition system that has been programed with a spark advance curve suited for today’s gasoline, plus it provides the spark plug with the higher current and longer duration spark that is needed to prevent misfire problems. But the ignition system that most carburetor- equipped engines came with can prove to be marginal with today’s reformulated gas blends. Today’s gasoline burns somewhat faster than the leaded gas of days past, but it needs a hotter spark to ignite it. The ignition spark advance curve that is programmed into the PCM of a typical modern fuel-injected domestic V8 engine would also work quite well with a vintage carburetorequipped engine. A typical vintage Ford or Chevy

Circle 44 for more information 44 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

Initial timing

Ignition System Tuning

This photo (left) illustrates what happens when moisture and gasoline mix with ethanol. The phase separated ethanol at the bottom of the container is very corrosive.

A vintage carburetor equipped engine simply cannot do this by itself, therefore you will have to retune the carburetor and distributor for these new blends of gasoline. If your customer is experiencing driveability and throttle response issues with a vintage carburetor-equipped engine the problem may be caused by the changes in today’s reformulated gasoline with

Cam Duration at .50

Less than 220º

10 to 12 BTDC

Less than 240º

16 to 20 BTDC

Less than 260º

18 to 20 BTDC

Over 260º or

20 plus BTDC

This chart from Demon Carburetor Company is the guideline we use on where to set the initial timing based on the camshaft in an engine.

small block (with a mild camshaft) will perform well with a spark advance curve that has 12 degrees initial timing plus 24 degrees of mechanical advance all in by 3,600 rpm with an additional 10 to 12 degrees from the vacuum advance.

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Fuel System Tune-Up The changes in the formulation of today’s gasoline most often causes a carburetor to shift about 3 to 5 percent leaner than the gasoline most carbureted engines were designed and tuned to use. The most common problems we see with carburetor-equipped engines are lean off-idle surge/ misfire complaints and poor throttle

THE LAST THING ANY ENGINE BUILDER WANTS TO HAVE HAPPEN IS TO HAVE THE ENGINE THEY JUST BUILT HAVE ANY PROBLEMS CAUSED BY BAD GASOLINE. Here we see the damage that water and ethanol can do to a carburetor bowl. Rust and corrosion are common.

response complaints. The tuning changes needed to cure the lean off –idle problem involves enriching the off-idle circuit through enlarging the idle well of a Holley-style modular carburetor or enlarging the idle channel restrictor

(ICR) of the Rochester carburetors or the Carter AFB and AVS carburetors (including the Edelbrock Performer and Thunder series carburetors). The throttle response issue is often cured by making the accelerator pump circuit more active by increasing the strength of the accelerator pump duration spring and sometimes enlarging the accelerator pump squirter size. Most of the high performance replacement carburetors built after the late ’70s have an accelerator pump duration spring that is not as strong as the original spring strength that the carburetor was originally designed to have. If you are rebuilding an engine for

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Feature (including the normal under hood heat conditions after an engine is shut off) and today’s reformulated gasoline will also accelerate the rate that the fuel will attack the rubber and plastic components it comes into contact with. The best way to help prevent these problems is to keep fuel hoses away from any heat sources and to use a heat insulating spacer under the carburetor.

The arrow in this cutaway shot of an AFB/AVS carburetor venture cluster points to the idle channel restrictor. The restrictor needs to be slightly enlarged to cure a lean off-idle stumble that is common with today’s reformulated gasoline.

vintage carburetor-equipped application you may want be sure your customer is aware that they will need to retune the ignition spark timing curves and the air/fuel mixture curves of the carburetor, plus the fuel can create swelling problems with the rubber (elastomer) and plastic parts that are common in a carburetor equipped engine such as the rubber gas hoses, the accelerator pump and a nitrophyl carburetor float. Both ethanol and the aromatics

that are in gasoline (such as benzene, toluene, and xylene) have also been shown to have negative effects on parts that are made with rubber and plastics. The gasoline sold today also may have a higher level of aromatics than the gasoline that was sold decades ago. The combination of ethanol and a higher aromatic level in the gasoline may increase the rubber and plastic swelling problems more than if the fuel had just ethanol or just high aromatic levels. The exposure of any fuel system components made with rubber or plastics to high heat conditions

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Vapor Lock Volatility The ability of a fuel to vaporize or change from liquid to vapor is referred to as its volatility. Volatility is an extremely important characteristic of gasoline because an engine can only burn the vaporized portions of the gasoline. Depending on the time of the year and local regulations, ten percent of the fuel should be evaporated when the temperature reaches the 122°F to 158°F range, 50 percent of the fuel

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The arrows in this cutaway shot of a Holley metering block (seen on the tape on right side of the block) points to the idle well, the size of the idle well helps determine how rich the offidle air/fuel mixture will be.

should be evaporated when the temperature reaches the 170°F to 250°F range and 90 percent of the fuel should be evaporated when the temperature reaches the 365°F to 374°F range. The easiest and safest way to measure the volatility of gasoline is the Reid vapor pressure (RVP)

method, which measures the absolute vapor pressure exerted by the gasoline at 100 °F. The RVP has changed from as high as 14 lbs. in the 1960s to where it is currently, which is as low as 7.2 lbs. in California during the summer months. The under hood temperature of many The Holley carburetor pump arm on the left has the vehicles will reach original duration spring design from the 1960s & 1970s. 230°F or higher durThe new design pump arm on the upper right is more adjustable, but the duration spring is not as strong as ing a hot soak (after the original design. The pump arm on the lower right the engine is shut has a duration spring that is used on the Demon off) so 50% of the carburetors. The stronger duration spring makes the gasoline (the most accelerator pump more active, which improves throttle volatile parts of the response. fuel) in the carburetor may boil off. This vapor lock issues if the gasoline boils heating and subsequent boil off of in fuel lines or the carburetor bowl(s). fuel components can and does wreak The answer, particularly in a carhavoc on fuel curves and ignition bureted engine, is to minimize the extiming requirements of a carburetor posure of fuel system components to equipped engine plus it will create

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Feature The last thing any engine builder wants to have happen is to have the engine they just built have any problems caused by bad gasoline. Whenever gasoline is exposed to heat, moisture, air or light it will begin to go bad, as the gasoline ages the most highly volatile components in gasoline tend to evaporate out through any vent in the tank. It will also degrade with time and exposure to the elements. As the gasoline ages, it will become less volatile, which will cause the engine to be hard to start plus it will also cause the engine to produce less power. The use of this degraded fuel may be one of the worst things to which you could expose an engine that you just rebuilt to.

The AFB/AVS accelerator pump in the center is the original design that Carter Carburetor Company used. The pump on the right is the pump the new style that is used in the 500 thru 750CFM AFB/AVS carburetor clones that are on the market today. These new style pumps have a weaker duration spring than the original design. The pump on the left has a duration spring that matches the original design specs.

heat in every way possible.

Aging Gasoline The gasoline your customer buys at their local station has a shelf-life that can vary from 90 days to at least one year from the day it was blended, depending on how it is stored. Most gasoline made for the general public is consumed within 30 days of being

blended but the slower selling premium grades of gasoline sell at a much slower rate than regular grade gasoline. Premium grade gasoline makes up less than 5% of the gasoline sales at some gas stations therefore it is possible that it may be less than fresh if you buy it at the wrong gas station. It would be wise to advise your customer to be sure the gasoline they have in the fuel tank of their vehicle is fresh before they try to start the engine you just built for them.

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PG 60 >> Coatings/Treatments

PG 58 >> Crack Detection

PG 63 >> Spotlights

is limited but you still have the heat issue to consider. Most vehicles built before 1970 have vented gas tanks, therefore the fuel in these tanks will degrade at a much higher rate

When gasoline is stored for an extended period of time, it will gradually turn into a varnish-like substance that if used, will raise havoc with both a fuel-injected or carburetor-equipped fuel system. The gasoline tank of most modern fuel injected vehicles is sealed, thus its exposure to outside air and moisture


Extending Gas ‘Shelf Life’

If you can, it would be wise to advise your customer to add a gasoline storage stabilizer to the fuel tank if the vehicle will not be driven for any extended period of time. This is even more important in a vehicle that has a vented fuel tank because there is a constant source of fresh oxygen that will cause the gasoline to degrade at an accelerMany of the pre-1970 General Motors V8 ated rate. engines had exhaust passages that traveled In addition, the use of across the base plate of their carburetors. an ethanol treatment Many tuners block this exhaust passage in an product contains ineffort to reduce carburetor heat and reduce creased water handling the failure rate of the rubber and plastic additives that will help a parts that are in most carburetors. stored vehicle handle the excess water that tends than a vehicle with a non-vented gas to build up in an open vented system. tank. This is because the fuel is exEthanol treatments also have posed to the outside air that contains enhanced corrosion inhibitors that moisture that enters through the fuel will help protect the metal portions of tank’s vents and venting to atmosthe fuel system from corrosion that is phere can allow some of the caused by any water/ethanol blend lighter/more volatile portions of the that may develop over time in a fuel gasoline to escape. tank. ■

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Surface Coatings and Treatments When it comes to preserving performance parts, it’s the ‘Icing on the Cake’


arious kinds of coatings and longer. Some coatings can insulate surface treatments can be against heat and reduce operating applied to engine parts like temperatures while others help cool icing on the cake to improve duraby radiating and dispersing heat. bility, enhance scuff resistance and Some coatings will last as long as lubrication, control heat, boost therthe parts they are applied to while mal efficiency and reduce friction. others are temporary and will sacriNo single coating or surface fice themselves to protect those treatment can do it all because difparts. ferent parts applications require difThe physical properties, performferent treatments. But knowing ance and surface adhesion of any which kinds of coatings and surface given coating or surface treatment treatments will work best for you will vary depending on the makeup can give your engines a sigof the prodMany engine parts would not nificant advantage over survive without some type of your competitors. And the best place to get this kind of coating or surface treatment. advice is directly from the companies who make and apply the various types of coatings. If you are one of those who still believes coatings and surface treatments are more of a gimmick than a necessity, or that coatings or surface treatments don’t provide that much benefit for what they cost to apply, you might want to reconsider your position after reading this article. There are a lot of myths and misinformation about coatings and surface treatments. Some coatings will reduce friction and parasitic horsepower loses while others help valve springs and other parts run cooler and last 50 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

uct, what it is intended for, how it is applied and what it is exposed to. The biggest fear expressed by nonbelievers is that a coating may flake or peel off and end up causing more problems than it prevents. But when properly applied and used, that is seldom an issue.

Reasons for Coating Many engine parts would not survive without some type of coating or surface treatment. Aluminum pistons in an engine

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Three Most Common Issues Coatings Address 1. Friction 2. Heat 3. Corrosion with aluminum cylinder bores require a thin coating of iron on their skirts to resist scuffing. The ring lands and even the entire piston in some engines may be Uncoated aluminum cylinder bores hard anodized to improve are relatively soft and have little wear resistance, so the cylinders in surface hardness and wear some aluminum block engines and resistance. electroplated with a nickel and siliThe New methods of con carbide to form a hard, wearonly subanodizing can also incorporesistant surface layer. stance rate molybdenum disulfide harder into the micropores of the than silicon carbide is diamond. The surface to add much needed lubricresulting surface layer, which is ity and friction reduction. only about .0025˝ to .005˝ thick, has Anodizing also increases corroa hardness rating of 600 on the Vicksion resistance for aluminum parts, ers scale and a sliding hardness of and is often used in marine engines 58 to 60 Rockwell C, which multito protect aluminum heads and plies wear resistance 3X to 10X over blocks. Anodizing also allows aluan untreated cylinder. minum parts to be colored with dye The surface treatment also to enhance their appearance and to attracts and retains oil to improve provide a longer lasting and more ring and piston lubrication. The durable finish than most paints. same process can also be used in Uncoated aluminum cylinder bores are relatively soft and have lit- conventional cast iron blocks and aluminum blocks with iron liners, tle wear resistance, so the cylinders but is not used in blocks made of in some aluminum block engines Compacted Graphics Iron (CGI) beand electroplated with Nikasil or a cause it doesn’t stick well to CGI similar blend of nickel and silicon and because the graphite in CGI procarbide to form a hard, wear-resisvides natural lubricity for the rings. tant surface layer. Wrist pins are another engine (Note: Nikasil is a trademarked process by Mahle, while “nicasil” is the component that can benefit from a generic name for these types of coatspecial coating. Wrist pins are ings.) highly loaded, lightly splash lubri-

cated and forced to run with very tight clearances. A process called Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) can be used to apply an extremely thin (only a few microns thick!) coating of chromium nitride, titanium nitride or other metal oxides to the surface of the wrist pin. The coating is applied by placing the wrist pin inside a vacuum chamber, negatively charging the part with electricity and vaporizing the material that is being applied as the coating. The vaporized atoms are attracted to the negatively charged surface and form a long-lasting bond. The resulting coating is very hard (2,400 to 3,800 Vickers) and extremely heat and wear resistant, reducing the risk of wrist pin failure in a highly loaded performance engine. A similar coating process called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) can apply vaporized nonmetallic materials to electrically charged parts.

COAT SIZE Piston skirt coatings are usually about .001" thick or less, but most piston manufacturers say the added thickness of the protective coating can be ignored when fitting pistons to cylinders even though the coating does reduce actual clearances slightly. A thinner coating is usually applied to engine bearings, typically .0002” to .0003” thick. The coating is thin enough that it won't affect installed normal bearing clearances.

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Feature Another process that uses PVD and/or CVD with a charged plasma beam can apply a thin layer of amorphous carbon to the surface of a part, forming a hard (3,200 Vickers), wear-resistant, low friction coating of Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC). DLC coatings are used on wrist pins in many high end racing engines to prevent wrist pin failure. It is also being used on intake and exhaust valves, and lifters to improve durability. Various types of DLC coatings are available and are engineered for specific types of parts. Gears, for example, require a variation of DLC that is more resistant to sliding wear.

Coatings to Reduce Friction This category includes the PVD and DLC coatings previously mentioned, plus a whole range of dry film lubricants such as molybdenum disulfide, tungsten disulfide and/or PTFE (Teflon) mixed with some type of polymer surface coating. Anti-fric-

tion coatings are often viewed as "insurance" coatings to protect the engine and reduce the risk of galling or seizure if the engine loses oil pressure during a race. The coating creates a sacrificial layer that can provide temporarily lubrication in critical situations that would otherwise result in metal-tometal contact and catastrophic parts failures. These types of coatings are typically applied to piston skirts and engine bearings, but may be used on other engine parts too such as camshaft lobes and valvetrain components. An added benefit with anti-friction coatings is usually cooler oil temperatures, as much as 20 to 30 degrees F cooler. Are these anti-friction coatings worth the extra cost? A lot of racers say it’s the best insurance policy they ever bought. A set of coated pistons and bearings only adds a couple hundred bucks to the cost of the engine. If something goes wrong during a race and

the engine overheats or loses oil pressure, a coating that sacrifices itself to save an expensive racing crank or the engine itself will have been money well spent.

Thermal Barriers Thermal coatings include both the spray-and-bake metallic/ceramic compounds and plasma sprayed compounds that are often applied to exhaust headers, the tops of pistons, combustion chambers in aluminum heads, and intake and exhaust valves to reflect heat. This keeps parts cooler and improves thermal efficiency. Thermal barrier coatings are usually only about .001Ë? to .003Ë? thick, and require careful surface preparation for good adhesion. When a thermal coating is applied to the top of a piston, more heat stays in the combustion chamber and less heat goes into the piston. This can make a big difference in high-heat applications such as blown or turbocharged engines or

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those using nitrous oxide. Coated pistons are also used in many diesel engines. Coating suppliers tell us that in gasoline engines, top coated pistons are usually good for an extra 10 or more horsepower, and up to

coating insulates the pipes and increases exhaust velocity, which in turn improves combustion scavenging and power (7 to 10 hp typically). If the coating costs $200 to have it applied, that’s Coating experts say that cusroughly $20 to tomers for coated engine parts $30 per horseare coming from all over the power gained – automotive spectrum with one which is a relathing in common – the need for tively cheap protection against wear and a power gain. gain in performance. Exhaust thermal coatings provide additional benefits, too. By keeping more heat within the exhaust system, underhood temperatures are also reduced as much as 40 to 50 degrees depending on the application. Everything runs cooler and better. 30 or more horsepower in a diesel On a street vehicle with catalytic application. converters, a thermal barrier coating When applied to exhaust headon the exhaust manifolds or headers ers, thermal coatings also deliver a allows the cats to reach light-off lot of bang for the buck by retaining temperature sooner to reduce cold heat and energy in the exhaust. The start emissions. The coating will also

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Coating the face of both valves reflects heat back into the combustion chamber and helps the valves run cooler (especially exhaust valves).

help keep the converter lit at idle and low speed for more efficient operation and cleaner exhaust.

Thermal barriers coatings on exhaust components protects the pipes against rust and corrosion, and is far more durable and longlasting than high temperature paint. Thermal coatings can also be applied to combustion chambers in

aluminum cylinder heads. Aluminum absorbs a lot of heat from the combustion chamber. Heat dissipation reduces combustion temperatures somewhat and lowers the risk of pre-ignition and detonation. It also allows the use of high compression ratios, but it also robs some of the heat energy from the combustion process that would otherwise generate more pressure on the pistons. With a high-octane racing fuel, pre-ignition and detonation are less of an issue, so coating the inside of the combustion chamber with a heat insulating coating does the same thing as coating the tops of the pistons. It keeps the heat in the chamber and squeezes more power out of the engine. Thermal barrier coatings can also be applied to the underside and flange surfaces of intake manifolds, and the carburetor or throttle body flange to keep heat away from the incoming air charge. On a normally aspirated engine, every 10 degree

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Feature ing can be applied to oil pans, valve covers, radiators and heat exchangers to help radiate heat away from these parts more efficiently. It also works well on valve springs by helping the springs run cooler. Many racers say coated valve springs last 2X to 3X longer than uncoated valve springs.

Coatings that Shed

reduction in inlet air temperature can increase engine power almost one percent (cooler, denser air equals more power). On a turbocharged or supercharged engine, a 10 degree reduction in inlet temper-

A coating that is both a thermal dispersant and sheds oil is also a good choice for crankCeramic thermal barrier coatshaft counterings used on the top of a piston weights. These allows the piston to reflect heat types of coatings back into the combustion chamhelp pull heat ber for better combustion and away from the more power. journals while reducing crankshaft drag and windage by flinging ature is good for up to two percent oil off the spinning crank. Oil shedmore horsepower. ding coatings can also be used on Another type of thermal coating the undersides of pistons to reduce is the “thermal dispersant� that abhigh rpm oil windage drag. sorbs and dissipates heat rather Oil-shedding coatings often conthan reflects heat. This type of coattain PTFE (Teflon) or similar fluoropolymers, and may be applied to any internal engine part (connecting rods, cranks, the inside surface of valve covers, timing covers, oil pans, intake manifolds, etc.) to improve oil return to the crankcase. Such coatings also help reduce the buildup of varnish and sludge deposits inside an engine, and protect bare metal surfaces from rust and corrosion. Added benefits include reduced oil foaming and oil temperature.

Engine Pro High Performance Connecting Rods

Engine Pro H-Beam Connecting Rods are forged from 4340 steel and produced on CNC machinery. They are finished in the U.S. to ensure precise big-end and pin-end bore sizes. Rods are magnafluxed, heat treated, stress relieved, shot peened and sonic tested to ensure they provide the strength required for high horsepower applications. Engine Pro connecting rods equipped with standard 8740 bolts are rated for up to 700 horsepower in small blocks, and 850 horsepower in big block applications. Visit,

Engine Pro Phone: 800-ENGINE-1

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Circle 120 for more information

Protective Powder Though many engine builders leave the final assembly and finishing work to their customers, a completed engine has to look good especially if it is going into a street rod, classic muscle car or show car. Powder coatings are often used as an alternative to paint for finishing the external surfaces of engine blocks, heads, valve covers, oil pans, timing covers and intake manifolds. Unlike paint, which is sprayed on wet and uses a solvent to hold the paint in suspension until it dried, powder coatings are sprayed on dry with an electrostatic sprayer and is heat-cured to form a tough, long lasting protective coating. As with painting, proper surface

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PG 58 >> Detecting Cracks PG 63 >> Product Spotlights PG 68 >> Final Wrap

preparation is essential for a high quality and long lasting finish. All surfaces must be clean, dry and oilfree. The surface of the part is then chemically etched or sandblasted to promote good adhesion of the powder coating. If a powder coated surface needs to be redone, the original powder coating can be removed chemically (acetone or methylene chloride) or by sandblasting.

Plain Ol’ Paint High temperature engine paints and epoxies are coatings that can be applied to engine parts for cosmetic purposes and corrosion protection. Aluminum blocks, heads, timing covers and intake manifolds are often left “as is” because fresh aluminum has a nice bright finish and doesn’t rust like iron or steel. Aluminum forms a protective layer of oxide on the surface that protects the metal underneath. But aluminum can stain over time and take on a grungy appearance if it is exposed to dirt, grease, oil and road

splash. Coating aluminum with clear paint or aluminum-colored paint helps the metal retain its like-new appearance longer. Aluminum can also be polished to a chrome-like finish, too – which can also benefit from a top coat of clear paint or some type of protective sealer. As with powder coating, proper surface preparation is essential for a long lasting finish that won’t peel or flake.

Chrome Finishes Chrome used to be the “it” finish for glamorizing and dressing up valve covers, oil pans and various engine accessories. The more chrome, the better. Today, it’s more about powder coating and anodizing. Chrome plating is usually applied electrochemically by dipping steel parts in an acid tank, but it can also be applied to metal or plastic parts electrostatically in a vacuum chamber. The quality of a chrome finish


depends on surface preparation (cleaning, degreasing and polishing the part), whether or not a base plating used (nickel prevents corrosion), the thickness of the plating and the number of layers (more is better). Chrome plating cleans up easily and has a nice shiny appearance, but if it is applied without a base coating it provides minimal corrosion resistance. Cheaply plated parts typically start to rust rather quickly, and the plating may flake or peel off over time. Chromeplated exhaust headers usually blue and discolor rather quickly, too, and don’t offer the same kind of durability or heat retention that ceramic/metallic coatings offer. A process called hard chrome plating can be applied to crankshaft journals to improve hardness and durability. It can also be used to build up badly worn journals so they can be remachined back to their original dimensions. ■

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Stress Fractures

Salvaging Cracked or Flawed Engine Parts through Detection and Repairs BY ENGINE BUILDER STAFF


racks are often blamed as the should repair or replace those parts. cause of a head failure. In You simply can’t afford to spend a lot many instances, the cracks are of time machining or reconditioning not the cause of the failure, but a cores or used parts that may be symptom of another underlying destined for failure. problem such as overheating, detonaWith hard-to-find and high value tion or incorrect installation (wrong torque on head bolts, dirty bolt FINDING A CRACK threads, etc.). The good news is that cracks do ISN'T NECESSARILY A not necessarily mean a cylinder head has to be replaced. In fact, many cracked heads that were once thought BAD THING - NOT to be “unrepairable” are now being LOOKING FOR THEM fixed. Repairing a cracked cylinder head always involves a certain amount of risk, but when done propDEFINITELY IS. erly is usually much less expensive than replacing a cracked head with a cores and parts, the decision may new or used casting. hinge on the extent of the damage. If Today’s engine builders have the part can be repaired economically available to them a number of stateand with a of-the-art tools and techWithout crack detection tools niques to locate, identify and techniques when building and repair cracks and engines, what you can’t see can other damage in a most definitely hurt you. variety of engine components. However, without excellent crack detection and repair methods, relying on good ol’ 20/20 eyesight may not be enough.

Crack Happens Depending on their locations, crack severity will vary. They tend to form, spread and get worse as heat, thermal stress, heavy loads, repeated bending and flexing, metal fatigue, pounding and vibration take their toll on a part. Cracking is an indication that an area is experiencing more stress than it can handle. Finding those cracks will enable you to determine whether you 58 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

high degree of success, then it’s probably worth fixing. But if it can’t, you’ll have to factor in the cost to replace it. Always assume there may be cracks – although, because engine parts are made of so many different materials these days, finding them may be a challenge.

Detecting Cracks The following are some helpful procedures your builders can use to help detect cracks, flaws or other anomalies that can be repaired (at a price), and prevent engine damage down the road. Magnetic Particle Inspection: Magnetic particle inspection is most often used to inspect cast iron or steel alloys that are “ferromagnetic” and can be temporarily magnetized for such things as surface cracks in and

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There are a variety of techniques that can be used by themselves or in combination with other methods to find cracks in castings and other components, including crankshafts, camshafts, etc. These include magnetic particle inspection, various types of penetrating dyes, pressure testing, vacuum testing and ultrasonic (acoustic) testing.

around the cylinder head combustion chambers and for inspecting crankshafts, camshafts and connecting rods. But the technique can also be

used to check gears, shafts, axles and steering and suspension components for cracks, too. Magnetic particle inspection won’t work on nonferrous metals such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, nonmagnetic alloys of stainless steel or plastic. A magnetic field created in various ways causes tiny iron oxide particles that are sprayed or brushed on the part to reveal any cracks. If there are any cracks in the surface of the part, they will disrupt the magnetic field and act like a pole to attract the iron particles. The iron particles (sized between .125” and 60 microns), may be applied in a dry powder or a wet solution. They can be dyed yellow, white, red, gray, black or other fluorescent color to improve their visibility against the metal background. With the fluorescent particles, an ultraviolet black light is required to make the particles stand out.

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The wet particle detection method is more sensitive than the dry method for finding very small cracks, but dry particles are better for finding cracks that may be just under the surface (subsurface flaws). The light, size of the particle and even the type of electrical current your equipment can produce can impact your ability to find cracks and other anomalies. Remember, for this method, the training of the operator is imperative, and so is part cleanliness. Dye Penetrant Inspection: Though used mostly on aluminum parts, this technique also works well on cast iron, steel, composite materials and even plastic. The theory behind this technique is that a very light oil will wick into a crack. It’s the same idea as using penetrating oil to loosen a fastener except that the oil contains a dye. If the oil finds its way into a crack, the dye should then make the crack visible. Some penetrating dyes use fluorescent dyes and a black light to make the cracks stand out, while others use a chemical developer to make the dye more visible. Several different styles of penetrant are available, depending on your needs. If you’re using a UV light and fluorescent dye, a shroud that blocks ambient light will make it easier to see the cracks. Cracks will glow green under the black light. With ordinary dyes, no special light is needed. Cracks usually stand out as a stark red line against the bright aluminum metal. Multi-stage penetrating dyes typically use a three-step process to highlight cracks. The advantage of this process is that it is simple to do and can be used with non-ferrous metals. However, the drawbacks to the process are that it can only locate cracks or defects that break the surface of the part, it may be less sensitive than some other methods, it uses a relatively large amount of solution and may take extra time to complete testing. Note: While magnetic particle inspection and penetrating dyes can do a good job revealing surface cracks, neither technique can

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Feature effectively look below the surface or find damage hidden inside a casting. In this case, pressure testing will help you see what’s going wrong inside the engine.

Cracking is an indication that an area is experiencing more stress than it can handle.

Vacuum Testing: This is the same basic idea as pressure testing, except in reverse. Instead of using air pressure to test the cooling jackets for leaks, vacuum is used on a head or block after the water outlets have been plugged. If the casting holds vacuum, there are no leaks. But if it doesn’t, you’ve found a leaker. Unfortunately, this technique does not use water or dye to pinpoint the leak, so you still have to use one of the other techniques to find the leak. It’s mostly a quick check for verifying the integrity of a casting. Ultrasonic Testing: More commonly used in industrial and aviation applications, ultrasonics can also be used to find internal flaws in castings and other parts. The technology uses sound waves to find cracks. A

transponder generates an acoustic signal (up to 25 MHz) that passes into and through the part. Cracks or flaws will reflect some of the sound waves back to the detector, which allows the information to be displayed on the tester.

Circle 61 for more information

The best applications for ultrasonic testing include heavy castings, large shafts and expensive parts that may be used for racing or extremeduty service. Ultrasonics can also be used to check the integrity of welds and 61

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welded castings. They can also be used to check for the integrity of cylinder wall thicknesses before or after boring.

And the Survey Says...

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Circle 62 for more information 62 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

According to Engine Builder’s 2013 Machine Shop Market Profile, “Repair before replace” is an increasingly common mantra in some segments of the cylinder head business. Though production numbers have shown some declines, cylinder heads continue to be profitable in gas and diesel rebuild facilities. Our research found that a smaller percentage of diesel heads are being scrapped (although aluminum heads continue to be scrapped at a higher rate). When they are repaired, rebuilders continue to leave the work to the experts. Our survey results indicate that 36 percent of respondents say they do aluminum cylinder head crack repairs themselves and 35 percent do their own diesel head repair. Welding is used as a repair method nearly 75 percent of the time with aluminum cylinder heads and 36 percent of the time with diesel heads. Pinning remains the most-often used method for repairing diesel cylinder heads (done 65 percent of the time) but is used in only one-quarter of the aluminum head repairs. Pinning is also the most commonly used technique for repairing cracks in cast iron heads because it’s fast, reliable and cheap. It can also be used to repair aluminum castings, too. Pinning is a relatively easy technique to learn and use, doesn’t require any special tools other than a drill, guide fixture and tap, and uses no heat. The technique involves drilling holes in both ends of the crack to keep it from spreading, then drilling holes at various intervals along the length of the crack, installing overlapping pins to fill the crack, then peening over the pins with an air hammer to seal and blend the surface. Either tapered pins or straight pins may be used. Tapered pins pull themselves into a crack as they are tightened to provide a tight seal along the entire length of the pin. This occurs because the threads on both the tapered pin and hole have an interference fit. Sealer really isn’t necessary, but may be used for added insurance. The holes for tapered pins must be carefully hand tapped with a tapered tap, and the pins hand tightened. Straight pins, by comparison, can be installed with an ordinary straight tap and a power drill. Straight pins, however, must be sealed by a tapered shoulder on one end of the pin and/or with sealer. ■ Check out our Engine Builders Buyers Guides for pinning and welding tools and equipment.

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Product Spotlights

Ergonomic Blast Cabinets ZERO blast cabinets are now available in an ergonomic body style, which allows the operator to sit while working. The cabinet configuration provides comfortable knee-room for the operator without interfering with the free flow of media for reclamation and re-use. Standard cabinet features include: large, quick-change window, reverse-pulse cartridge-style dust collector, suction-blast or pressure-blast models. HEPA filtration as an option. Cabinets can work with glass bead, aluminum oxide and other recyclable media. Applications: cleaning, de-burring, peening, and finishing.

Clemco Industries Corp. Phone: 800-788-0599

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Product Spotlights

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Valve Guide Run-Out Gauge Goodson has released its new Valve Guide Run-Out Gauge with the following features: • Check concentricity to .001” • Never install an incorrectly machined guide again • Indicator included • Use with your existing pilots; comes in .375˝, .385˝ and .437˝.

Goodson Tools and Supplies for Engine Builders Phone: 800-533-8010

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Web-Based Valvetrain Parts Catalog SBI has released a Web-based version of its acclaimed catalog in order to provide users with real-time updates on additions to the company’s line of replacement valvetrain parts for close to 3,000 applications divided among late-model domestic and import passenger car, light truck, performance, marine, agricultural, heavyduty and forklift/industrial. The catalog also features listings of K-Line Bronze Bullet-brand valve guide liners and miscellaneous K-Line tooling stocked by SBI, Exclusive Master Distributor for K-Line. Based on SBI’s CD-ROM catalog, the SBI Web-based catalog allows the user to search the database by part type/part number, vehicle type, engine manufacturer, or specific engine and make codes.

S.B. International

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Phone:1-800-THE-SEAT Circle 111 64 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

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Product Spotlights

SV-20 Cylinder Hone The Sunnen SV-20 cylinder hone incorporates the high-end features that satisfy both production engine builders and performance shops, but at a cost that won’t break the bank. SV-20 features include: •True linear stroking system for consistent diameter from top to bottom of the bore, cylinder after cylinder •Powerful 5.5 Hp spindle motor drives Sunnen’s two-stage diamond hone heads for shorter cycle times and super accuracy •Rotary servo tool feed system allows automatic 2-stage honing with both rough and finish stones •Advance PLC control with color touch screen for easy operation and optimum control of honing parameters •Full bore profile display to quickly see and correct tight spots

Sunnen Products Company Circle 115

Phone 1-800-325-3670 Circle 113

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Turbochargers MAHLE Original supplies 14 different turbochargers for the Ford Power Stroke® family of engines plus mounting kits, service kits, inlet gaskets and a mounting pedestal where applicable. Find specific information on your application using our eCatalog at

Mahle Clevite Phone: 1-284-305-8200 Circle 118 Circle 116 Circle 117 65


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Call now to order or to receive a free 2013 catalog 1-800-434-5141

To Advertise in


Roberto Almenar

at 330-670-1234, ext. 233

Visit The Engine Builder website - - provides weekly updated news, products and technical information along with the same in-depth editorial content as the magazine. Technical, product and equipment, market research, business management and financial information is all searchable by keywords making it easy for engine builders to find the information they need from current and past issues. Currently the site receives more than 100,000+ page views/ impressions per month and growing!

Engine Builder Phone: 330-670-1234

Simply the Best Lists: Automotive Aftermarket Truck Fleet & Powersports Markets

What Type of Direct Marketing Initiatives Do You Have in Store for 2013? Direct Mail E-Mail Marketing Telemarketing New Business • Prospecting Drive Web Site

Traffic Database Enhancement Catalog Mailing Promote Upcoming Tradeshows

Don Hemming, List Sales Manager Babcox Media, Inc. Phone: 330-670-1234 x286  Fax: 330-670-0874  66 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

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JAMISON EQUIPMENT 1908 11th St., Emmetsburg IA 50536 800-841-5405 Check out our used equip. list at

Advertiser Index COMPANY NAME American Gasket Apex Automobile Parts Atech Motorsports Avon Automotive Products Blue Devil Products Brad Penn Lubricants Brock Supply Centroid Corp. Chrysler Group LLC Clemco Industries Cloyes Gear & Products Inc. Dakota Parts Warehouse Dart Machinery Ltd Darton International Dipaco Inc. DNJ Engine Components Driven Racing Oil, LLC Dura-Bond Bearing Co

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CIRCLE # 63 21 28 39 46 4 12 57 6 38 29 36 3 13 47 1 2 45

Egge Machine Company Engine & Performance Warehouse Engine Parts Group Engine Parts Warehouse EngineQuest ESCO Industries Fel Pro Goodson Mfg Co GRP Connecting Rods Henkel Corp Injector Experts King Electronics Liberty Engine Parts Mahle Clevite Manton Pushrods & Rockers Maxima Racing Oils Melling Engine Parts Motor State Distributing Motovicity

27 35 17 61 51 48 24, 25 26 55 7 48 62 5 33 53 37 8 41 Cover 3

27 35 17 61 51 48 24, 25 26 55 7 14 62 5 33 53 37 8 41 69

National Cylinder Head NPR of America, Inc. Packard Industries PAI Industries Inc Performance Trends PRI Show PRW Industries Inc Quality Power Products Rottler Manufacturing Safety Auto Parts Corp SB International Scat Enterprises SCE Gaskets Schaeffler Group/INA Spectro Oils Of America Sunnen Products Co T & D Machine Products Trend Performance

60 11 54 44 36 10 31 23 Cover 4 43 19 14, 15 42 28 49 9 30 34

60 11 54 44 35 10 31 23 70 43 19 15 42 18 49 9 30 34 67

68 Doug K. 10/23/13 9:21 AM Page 68

Final Wrap

There’s No ‘I’ In Team

We’re Doing Great Things Together


n most fall Friday nights, you’ll find me at a high school football field. If our local team is playing on the road, I’m sitting in the stands. If we’re at home, I’m sitting in the press box announcing the game. I’ve had the great opportunity to be the stadium public address announcer for the Tallmadge (Ohio) Blue Devils high school football team for the past five years. I’ve been able to watch friends’ kids grow up and move into and through the program, both as players and cheerleaders. Our teams have enjoyed state playoff runs ... and they’ve endured some tough seasons. I’ve been in stadiums that were so packed and noisy you couldn’t hear my “Tallmadge First Down!” calls ... and I’ve been in others that were so empty you could hear individual conversations in the visitors stands on the other side of the field. There’s virtually no atmosphere better than Friday Night Football, and through it all, I’ve been accepted as a small part of the team. I thank the administrators, coaching staff and athletic department and, with their permission, I’m not going anywhere! And speaking of “team” and “not 3550 Embassy Parkway Akron, OH 44333-8318 FAX 330-670-0874


going anywhere,” I’m pleased to tell you about some great changes we’ve made at Engine Builder. I’ve recently had the honor of accepting the title of Publisher of this fine publication – obviously, with great power comes great responsibility, which is why I’m surrounding myself with a great team. Ed Sunkin, who has been editor of our sister publication Underhood Service for the past 14 years, has joined our team as editor. Ed will be primarily responsible for continuing and advancing the mission of providing our readers and advertisers with the best technical, marketing and business information in the industry on a monthly basis. Wait, let me amend that – on a DAILY basis. Our website, is a constantly updated source of information that complements the monthly printed issue. We encourage you to use the two resources together to build and grow your business. Ed rejoins our team (he was managing editor of this magazine 17 years ago) to help fill the shoes of Brendan Baker, who, has stepped up to become content director of Babcox Media’s exciting new website, will be the new

Publisher Doug Kaufman, ext. 262

Tech Editor Larry Carley

Editor Ed Sunkin, ext. 258

Advertising Services Tina Purnell, ext. 243

Senior Executive Editor Brendan Baker, ext. 228 Graphic Designer Nichole Anderson, ext. 232

68 October 2013 | EngineBuilder

Director of Distribution Rich Zisk, ext. 287 Circulation Manager Pat Robinson, ext. 276 Sr. Circulation Specialist Ellen Mays, ext. 275

Sales Representatives Bobbie Adams 330-670-1234, ext. 238 Roberto Almenar 330-670-1234, ext. 233 David Benson 330-670-1234 ext. 210 Don Hemming 330-670-1234, ext. 286 Jamie Lewis 330-670-1234, ext. 266


address for performance. Much more than just the typical consumerfocused website, allows Babcox Media to merge the enthusiast’s passion for cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats with the professional’s demand for relevant technical information. Babcox has been a media force in the performance aftermarket since before there WAS a performance aftermarket. This exciting new property will bring our nearly 2 million readers, viewers and visitors directly into the reach of the entire automotive industry’s leading performance product manufacturers and suppliers. Luckily for Engine Builder, Brendan will continue to be part of the magazine team even as he works to develop a website that serves the undercar, appearance/refinishing, safety/convenience and, yes, engine segments of the racing, restyling and restoration markets. You can get a sneak peek of the fun at and sign up to receive our weekly newsletter! Thanks to Ed and Brendan, not to mention superstars Tina, Nichole, David, Roberto and the entire Babcox varsity, we have a winning program. I’m proud to be part of such a team. ■

Dean Martin 330-670-1234, ext. 225 Jim Merle 330-670-1234, ext. 280 Tom Staab 330-670-1234, ext 224 Glenn Warner 330-670-1234, ext. 212 John Zick 949-756-8835

Babcox Media Inc. Bill Babcox, President Greg Cira, Vice President, CFO Jeff Stankard, Vice President Beth Scheetz, Controller In Memorium: Edward S. Babcox (1885-1970) Founder of Babcox Publications Inc. Tom B. Babcox (1919-1995) Chairman

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Engine Builder, October 2013