There are no infants that drop into their Obstetrician’s waiting arms with an intricate working knowledge of mechanical items and how they operate. Education takes place over a lifetime, with opportunity and persistence playing a large part in one’s understanding of the technical content at hand.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” And Bill Nye The Science Guy says,”Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
I could go on and on with famous quotes, but in reality they all have the same end meaning; knowledge is power, and with a greater understanding of mechanical theory, a better plan from the outset can be formed to permit mechanical items – like an engine – to bring the greatest return upon their completion.
EngineLabs aims to bring that knowledge to you on an everyday basis. Unlike print magazines, where you have to wait an entire month before a new issue shows up in the mailbox, we’re uniquely positioned to bring you the latest information on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis.
Get On Board
In my introductory editorial last month, I wrote about the need for our readers to get on board with us to assist in achieving that goal, through providing us with their own engines they’ve built and passing along ideas for technical articles that they’d like to see. In fact, one reader, Esteban Ramirez, sent me a question on our Facebook page that sparked the idea for this column.
Esteban was looking for us to write a definitive technical article on how to degree a camshaft; while he felt that there were many references on the web, he was looking for a reputable source like EngineLabs to provide the information he needed. I was able to point him in the direction of an article that one of our editors had put together with many tips on how to properly perform the process.
We can’t do this without your help and continuing support, readers, and we are thankful every day that so many of you rely on us to provide the technical information you’re looking for to assist you with your own engine builds. If you ever have any ideas or story suggestions of topics you’d like to see us cover, the door is always open, just drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do to oblige you.
Esteban’s message got me thinking about the vast treasure trove of information we’ve been able to amass in our two short years of existence here at EngineLabs. Did you know there are over 630 technical articles in our database? That index grows every day, as we post new articles on a wide range of topics.
As mentioned above, “the basics” are very important to understand when it comes to complex mechanical items like an automotive engine. While each platform has its own idiosyncrasies and traits, the general overall concept is the same – suck, then blow. At its core, an engine is an air pump that requires a source of fresh air to ingest, a combustible (gasoline, methanol, nitromethane, jet fuel), a spark source, and a way to get the burned air/fuel mixture out of the engine.
There have been many innovations over the years centered around improving engine efficiency, but the same basic premise remains. Two cylinder engines all the way up to W16 engines all use a crankshaft, connecting rods, camshaft (s) and cylinder heads to process the incoming and outgoing mixture.
Our technical archives are broken down into individual engine systems and offers articles from simple, like this piece on how to install an oil pan correctly to complex, like this article that offers information on how to use and analyze the results a cylinder head flowbench provides during operation.
One of the greatest achievements since the invention of the internal combustion engine has been the ongoing development of electronic fuel injection, both in OE and aftermarket applications. While old-school carburetors still have their place as a method of processing fuel on an engine, mainly for racing applications where the engine does not see much transient operation and runs in an extremely narrow powerband, EFI has shown its relevance and even superiority in many applications as computer technology and processor speed have become faster and more advanced.
Some of the new systems, like Holley‘s Dominator EFI system, which we reviewed here, and AEM‘s Infinity ECU system, offer so many features it’ll make your head spin, but they still have one main goal in mind – to ensure that the engine has the proper amount of fuel at the proper time to support the load requirements. We’ve done a number of articles on systems like these over the last two years, with great technical information from the engineers involved in developing the systems and their capabilities.
In fact, we’ve run the AEM Infinity on our project 5.0L Coyote engine with great results. We converted the engine from a sheetmetal manifold-equipped carbureted powerplant to run the fuel injection and saw a huge increase, on the order of 34.5 horsepower and 21 lb-ft torque.
The increase in performance on the previously-Carb’d Coyote came from one of the other developments that’s taken the engine world by storm – variable valve timing. When this engine was run in carbureted form, the camshafts were locked out, but the Infinity’s control of the variable camshaft timing built into the engine from the factory allowed us to take full advantage of the engine’s capabilities.
The Ti-VCT variable cam timing system in the Coyote permits the camshaft timing in the engine to swing positive 48 degrees of crankshaft rotation for the intake side, and negative 50 degrees on the exhaust side. These changes made a huge difference in the engine’s effective power during our dyno testing.
Variable valve timing has also proven to have great benefits on the OE side of the equation as it boosts efficiency of the engine much more effectively under all conditions – providing increased fuel economy at light throttle, and better performance under wide-open conditions through manipulation of the camshaft (s).
These are just two of the many advancements that have taken place with regard to engine technology, and here at EngineLabs, we try to cover these emerging developments as thoroughly as possible to provide you with a greater understanding of the nuts and bolts of how each of the pieces works together to become a complete engine.
Remember, we’re always looking for new article ideas, and we’re always looking for engines to include in our Homegrown Horsepower segment, so drop us a line and share what you’re working on with us!