Dan Parker is living proof you can't keep a good man down. After loosing his sight in a racing accident, dan got back on the horse–Corvette in this instance– and achieved the impossible, becoming the fastest blind man in America.
“A dream changed my life forever,” Dan Parker recalls. “I went to bed thinking about my late brother – he had told me about a group of guys from France who had flown to the United States with a disassembled 50cc motorcycle in their luggage. They rented a car and drove to Bonneville, put the bike together, and each one set a different record with it. And when I fell asleep, I dreamt that I could race again – that I could become the first blind man to race at the Bonneville Salt Flats.”
While testing out a new engine combination in March of 2012, Parker was involved in a horrific crash that would completely
Properly installing connecting rods is key to long engine life. Here, we take a look at the different ways to accomplish this task and which works best.
There is perhaps no more important component contained in the internal combustion engine than the connecting rod fastener. Regardless of whether a particular connecting rod uses a bolt/nut arrangement, or a capscrew configuration, the connecting rod fastener's performance is critical. Understanding the details for proper installation is important for veteran engine builders and first-timers alike.
The relationship between bearing clearance and oil viscosity is a delicate balance. Read on for more information on how to get it right!There are some fairly famous duos in the entertainment industry – Abbott and Costello, Rogers and Hammerstein, and Batman and Robin among the more illustrious. So it may not be much of a stretch of the imagination for an engine guy to include the pairing of bearing clearances with oil viscosity as a duo you should become acquainted.
The typical rule that most engine builders follow is that bearing clearance establishes the viscosity of the oil to use within a given oil temperature range. Generally, the tighter the bearing clearance, the lower the viscosity the engine can use while wider clearances require thicker oil. But there are plenty of variables that come into play that are worth investigating.
The traditional bearing clearance standard for street and most performance applications has been 0.001-inch of clearance for every one inch of crank journal diameter. So a typical small-block Chevy 2.200-inch rod journal would call for a bearing clearance of 0.0022-inch. Some add another 0.0005-inch to be safe – making that 0.0027-inch.This standard works very well especially for engines using production tolerance parts where there could be minor issues with out-of-round or tapered journals or even minor errors in measurement.
This approach isn’t quite as colloquial as it may seem. There are several contributing factors that directly affect a given bearing clearance. The top three variables are load carrying capacity, the amount of oil flow allowed by the clearance, and localized oil temperature. These three are best considered together as opposed to individually since each affects the others in important ways.
Lubrication is the lifeblood of any high-performance engine. That’s particularly true for the rotating assembly that absorbs the many thousands of pounds of combustion pressure and converts it from reciprocating motion to rotary motion to drive the vehicle. Straight shot oiling plays a major role in that brutal environment. Here’s why.
Main bearings and connecting rod bearings must have a constant supply of fresh clean engine oil to do their job correctly. Anything less means instant catastrophic engine failure. Engine builders devote considerable effort to ensuring a steady supply of cool unaerated engine oil to the rods and mains in high-performance or racing engines.
Is a stroker crank part of your next build? That factory block may need some massaging to make it fit. Here's how to make more real estate in your crankcase.
Stoker engine have been popular for many years, but there are some pitfalls that can bite you if you are attempting to stroke a stock-block engine. The longer throws on a stroker crank naturally swing the big end of the rod out farther toward the pan rails on any block. This can be problematic on stock factory blocks because they often do not have enough room to accommodate the extra stroke length without interference at the pan rail or other areas in the lower block or crankcase assembly such as the bottom of a cylinder. The most common area of interference is between the rod bolt nut or cap screw and the lower portion of the cylinder adjacent to the oil pan rail or the pan rail itself. To check this,
Harmonic balancers are a staple ingredient of any engine build, but what do they really do? Do you have to have one? Is bigger really better? We clear the air about the right balancer to hang on your crankshaft.
Harmonic balancers are misnamed. They do not balance an engine, rather they absorb and remove unwanted vibration due to torsional twisting of the crankshaft. They are in effect vibration dampeners and are frequently called dampeners. Dampeners are like torsional shock absorbers used to dampen torsional twist and vibration in an engine. Torsional vibration is a twisting vibration caused by the firing pulses of each combustion event. The force of the combustion process causes the crank to deflect ever so slightly in the direction of the force, and when that force goes away the crank ever-so-slightly springs back. At certain frequencies the crank can
Sleeve length is often overlooked in favor of maximum cubic inches, but in order to build a long-lasting, high-powered engine it is a major consideration. We explore sleeve length, stroke, and selecting rotating assembly components that work in harmony.
An engine is an ecosystem of moving, complimentary parts. Changing just one of those parts affects the entire system as a whole. Stroker crankshafts, while the premier way to add power, torque, and displacement, can dramatically change the operating condition of the piston. Without careful attention to detail and proper planning, sometimes for the worse. In this segment, we show you how to ensure your stroker crank works well with the piston and rod combination at hand.
Checking and setting proper crankshaft end play is a vital engine-building step. We show you how to do the job in this tech segment.
Engine building isn’t difficult – as long as everything goes according to plan. The challenge for the engine builder is to anticipate problems before they occur. Much of the process of becoming a successful engine builder is checking all the clearances and custom setting them when they are out of tolerance.
Crankshafts are generally among the most abused components in an engine. One way to minimize this abuse and maximize the crankshaft’s opportunity to deliver a long service life is to make sure all the clearances are correct. For this story, we’ll be looking at thrust clearance or what is often called end play. This is the amount of clearance between the crankshaft’s thrust plate and the vertical surface of the main thrust bearing.
It’s worthwhile to discuss first why it’s important to have a thrust bearing. There are transmission loads that tend to force the crankshaft forward. With automatic transmissions, this can originate from the torque converter. This should never exceed a light forward pressure, but this load does exist and must be accommodated.
Crankshaft End Play
0.003 - 0.011
0.006 - 0.010
GM LS Gen III / IV
0.004 - 0.008
429 – 460 Ford
0.004 - 0.008
Ford Modular 5.0L
0.004 - 0.008
340 – 360 Mopar
0.002 - 0.007
0.003 - 0.007
Mopar Gen III hemi
0.002 - 0.011
Ideal clearance would be mid-point between these minimum and maximum clearances.
Manual transmission thrust can be excessive with pressure plates that generate high static loads. The most abusive of these are the three-finger style pressure plates that use internal coil springs. With the clutch pedal on the floor, a major portion of the load released by the clutch pedal is directed forward into the crankshaft. These pressure plates are most often used in race engines, explaining why it’s always best to start an engine with the transmission in neutral so that the crank spins with no forward load. Starting a cold engine (when most of the oil has drained from this area) with the clutch pedal on the floor places tremendous load on the thrust bearing. It’s best to avoid this by starting the engine with the transmission in neutral.
For this checking example, we will be using a K1 steel crankshaft in a Dart Little M cast iron small-block Chevy. It’s always best to test fit all clearances for a new engine before final installation in case modifications are necessary. For this application, we pre-assembled the rear main thrust along with the Number One main bearing, dropped in the crankshaft, and installed the main caps with the studs lightly tightened.
Before fully torquing the main studs, it’s necessary to align the two pieces of the thrust bearing. To do this lightly hit on the rear of the crank with a rubber or plastic mallet. This will ensure the thrust surfaces are even from the rear which is where all the force will originate. This ensures the paired bearings are parallel. With this accomplished, the main caps can be torqued to the proper spec.
Next, you will need a magnetic base and dial indicator. Align the dial indicator plunger parallel to the crank snout and lightly force the crank backward and zero the dial indicator. Now lightly force the crank forward and read the amount of movement on the dial indicator. Different engines demand varying specs. Generally speaking, keeping the thrust clearance at 0.004 to 0.005-inch is appropriate but it is best to check the recommended clearance. For example, late model engines prefer a slightly tighter clearance to minimize travel of the crank sensor reluctor wheel. We’ve included a chart listing factory endplay dimensions for some of the more popular performance engines.
If when assembling an engine you discover the clearance to be very tight, there is a simple way to increase the clearance. The generally accepted procedure is to clamp the two thrust bearings together with a hose clamp, making sure the thrust surfaces are aligned and flat. Also make sure the two halves are clamped as they sit in the engine – it’s possible to orient them incorrectly which will not produce the results you desire. Always position the two halves with the locating notches facing each other. Then place a full size sheet of 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper on a large plate of either plate glass or flat metal plate. Add a few drops of machine oil like Marvel Mystery oil to the sandpaper.
It’s best to sand only the leading edge side of the thrust bearing when increasing clearance. This way, the thickest portion will be the trailing side which is where any wear will occur. Measure the combined width of the thrust bearing across both wear surfaces with either a quality dial caliper or a micrometer. We generally see a slight difference in thickness of perhaps 0.001-inch across the thrust bearing face.
Record this dimension and then keep sanding until you gain the necessary clearance. Generally you may need to only increase the clearance by 0.002- or 0.003-inch, but you will be surprised at how much sanding this will require. Some engine builders will lightly dress the sanded face with 1000 grit paper to polish the surface once the proper clearance is achieved. Of course, a thorough cleaning with hot soapy water and a sponge followed by a wipe-down with rubbing alcohol and a white paper towel is necessary to ensure that all of the sanding grit is removed before the bearing is re-inserted into the engine to recheck the clearance.
Crankshafts that are discovered suffering from excessive thrust clearance are rare, assuming no damage has occurred to the crankshaft. Alternatives may be to try a different bearing manufacturer to see if the clearance will improve although this is unlikely. The only other solution is to have the crankshaft repaired to put the thrust thickness back to its stock thickness. This may cost nearly as much as the price of a new crankshaft.
Checking and setting clearances is all about stacking the longevity odds in your favor. The payoff is when that engine starts and runs properly and delivers a long, productive, and powerful life.
Verifying and adjusting bearing clearance is one of the most critical aspects of building an engine. In this segment, we dive into the mechanics of how to measure your crank, connecting rods, and bearings.
The simple fact is that setting bearing clearance for a performance engine is something that cannot be short cut. There are no quick and easy ways to establish this critical clearance regardless whether the engine is a bone-stock cruiser or a road course animal that will endure hundreds of miles of abuse.
We will run through the basics on how to measure bearing clearance and illustrate how to avoid mistakes. This will also require some critical measuring tools. Let’s just put this right out front – measuring bearing clearance for a performance engine cannot be accomplished with Plastigage. Those little pieces of wax thread are not precision measurement dev
A successful engine build begins with the right components. K1 Technology’s rotating assemblies give you a head start with high-quality internals that are perfectly matched, with no guesswork.
There are guys out there who know it all by heart. Roll a freshly-machined block into their garage and they’ll order up the right engine internals with part numbers taken straight from memory. Want to bump the compression ratio? They know the correct combination of rods, pistons, and crankshaft to make it happen off the top of their heads. Are you looking to throw a little more displacement at the build? They’ll pull the appropriate part numbers for the slugs to match your overbore and a stroker crank out of thin air.
The rest of us? Not so much.
We’ll spend hours on the computer trying to figure out what mix of different parts will accomplish what we’re trying to do, and then second-guess that decision until it all comes together and (hopefully) works right. Your buddy says “use this piston,” the magazine article you read, tore out to save, then promptly lost in the stack of notes on your workbench recommended another brand’s rod, and all the bathrobe-clad keyboard wizards on your favorite car forum can’t agree on which crankshaft you should use.
It’s nerve-wracking, and another bead of sweat forms on your brow with each credit card digit you enter while you punch in the order for your mixed bag of parts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s an alternative that removes all the st