Mountains Of Tech: Engine Performance Expo 2 Day 3 Recap

With the second running of the Engine Performance Expo split up into two installments, even though this is the first day of the second part of the second running, it’s more easily referred to as the third day of the second Engine Performance Expo. Naming convention aside, this installment of the Engine Performance Expo has carried on the high expectations set by the previous installments.

Right out of the gate, we started looking at the cylinder heads and valvetrain of the EPE project engine, with Chris Straub of Straub Technologies. A deep dive into the what and why of the components used in the cylinder head, including the reasoning for the things like the Manganese-Bronze valve guides and Beryllium-Copper valve seats.

Next up was Ben Strader of EFI University and Fred Turza from VP Racing diving into some fuel tech, and discussing why octane isn’t the most important number in a fuel. That tech talk was followed by a Tech 101 segment with Ed Kiebler of Rottler talking about the machining of the VEPR 12XS cylinder head and showing the actual machining processes.

Brad Lagman of QMP is our kind of mad genius. He dreams up tools (like the MC-1 pictured here) to make complex measuring as easy and precise as possible.

Ed Kiebler then dove into centerless valve grinding — both theory and practice, explaining the reasoning and showing how it’s accomplished. Then, one of your author’s personal favorite subjects, was Rich from Goodson Supply talking about some of the shop tools they offer. Following that was the machining of the block and short-block assembly at Robert Yates Racing with Jimmy Barton. Besides being entertaining, the segment is full of tips and tricks.

We were then treated to a live episode of Total Seal’s Hidden Horsepower with the lead engine builder for Joe Gibbs Racing, Mark Cronquist. After a fun step back into the history of Chevrolet-based NASCAR engine development, Ben Strader and Lake Speed, Jr. dove into the subject of reverse blueprinting and checking and measuring parts, in-depth. That also featured some really cool use of a high-power digital microscope for a close look at parts.

Mark Campbell provided a look at some of Edelbrock’s intriguing new parts, like the VRS 4150 carburetor, which is proof that there is still development happening in carburetors – including provisions for modern throttle position sensors. Then, another segment that had your author drooling was Brad Lagman of QMP Performance as he went over the tooling he developed to easily, accurately, and precisely measure pistons.

The second Hidden Horsepower interview featured Keith Dorton of Automotive Specialists talking about his 57 years in business, along with the years that led up to him hanging his shingle and becoming an incredible name in engine building. That was followed up with a look at Total Seal’s latest innovations, with Lake Speed, Jr. explaining the theory behind the new Ndurance oil rings.

The Hidden Horsepower interviews with Keith Dorton of Automotive Specialists and Mark Cronquist of Joe Gibbs Racing were absolutely entertaining to watch, just like the segments' namesake, the Total Seal Hidden Horsepower podcast.

Then we were treated to a pair of Tribologists in Speed and Driven’s Bill Alexander diving into the three things that everyone should know about oil, which was actually way more than three things. It was an incredible resource if you care at all about engine oil. That was followed by a killer roundtable discussing precision measuring and all of the factors which go into it.

If you have any interest in mechanical fuel injection, the segment with Ron Shaver of Shaver Specialties where he goes into incredible detail on the ins and outs of mechanical fuel injection is for you. MAHLE’s Dan Begle then offered an overview of the firm’s latest bearings and gaskets. Then, an important segment if you are into LS engines, Silver Seal’s presentation on pressurized oil-priming of a Gerotor-based oiling system.

Ben Strader then discussed some of the finer points and considerations of crank snouts in a supercharged application, which unless you’ve dealt with high-power supercharged applications, probably never even crossed your mind. Then, an incredible amount of information was shared in a valvetrain roundtable with Strader, Speed, and Billy Godbold. Broken up into three segments on pushrods, coil-bind, and overall system stiffness, the roundtable offered far more knowledge than its 30-minute length might suggest.

Another segment on the EPE engine’s build covered degreeing the cam, checking piston-to-valve clearance, and some final touches of the long-block assembly, before Mark Cronquist discussed Precision Products lineup of valvetrain components. If you’ve ever wondered about maintaining your machine’s coolant, Matt from LN Engineering discussed all of the considerations of coolant, which is far more complicated than you might think.

No, we’re not just posting a funny picture of Edelbrock Group’s Valvetrain Engineering Group Manager Billy Godbold. He appeared in several segments of the Engine Performance Expo, and in his usual way, conveyed an incredible amount of valvetrain knowledge to the audience. Any time you get Godbold, Ben Strader, and Lake Speed, Jr. together, it’s time to pull out the notepad and listen.

Another incredibly insightful roundtable was the one on testing, where all of the EPE experts discussed the deep minutiae of extreme testing, talking about controlling variables and getting into just how data can be skewed, intentionally or unintentionally. Then, we got a sneak peek at the new power ring filer Total Seal developed for Summit Racing.

The third day of the Engine Performance Expo was wrapped up with a final roundtable that jumped from the history of the industry, to how everything has improved in the last several decades, to the importance of not being afraid to fail in the search for progress. There was even a joke made about electric motor oil, which turned into an actual discussion of oil.

There’s another whole day of the Engine Performance Expo remaining, which kicks off at 10:00 am Eastern tomorrow. So make sure to sign up for it here, catch up on day 3 (the whole day of content is already available on-demand), and join the Expo tomorrow, as there is a lot more left.

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent seventeen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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