December '18

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Page 35 of 103

30 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 I wrote an article a while back stating that the most consistent and pre- dictable thing in the aftermarket performance parts business is change. New parts become available to meet the needs of changing trends, changing economics and ever-changing car and truck designs. There is one change I failed to men- tion because, at the time, it was not evident to me. I was in a fog, or maybe my own comfortable little bubble. That change is the tremendous advances in all phases of automotive technology. Every year at the SEMA Show and else- where there are thousands of new prod- ucts on display. Why? Because, every year, the car companies offer state-of-the art improvements in automotive designs (and increased pricing to pay for them). It is because talented minds always seek more and better. For example, there are better oils for race cars and specialty vehicles than at any other time in history, along with better aero- dynamics for styling, better efficiency in automotive engines, better paints, better suspensions, better safety features, better lights, better horsepower improvements, better parts development for specific needs, and the list goes on. All of those interest me, but today let's focus on lubrication and the changing state of the performance motor oil market. OIL'S WELL When I was with Driven Racing Oil/ COMP Performance, serious research was being conducted regarding camshaft fail- ures and the longevity of aftermarket parts. Researchers used SpinTrons to test cam- shaft designs and available oils. A quote from the SpinTron website: "In simple terms, the SpinTron employs a high-powered AC electric motor to spin the crankshaft and valve train of the test engine while an advanced laser camera is used to track the valve motion and pushrod behavior. The data is transmitted to a com- puter in the form of a bell graph." COMP/Driven tested many lab-suggested camshaft designs and different oils to understand how each affected the other and which improvements proved successful. A profilometer was used to measure wear or changes on the surface of a cam lobe as small as 10 nanometers. With that data, researchers could then determine the life of a part and convert the information into predictable engine wear. At this point, engine failure became not the sole focus; longevity was also con- sidered. Each time a change was made in the cam design or in the oil, another test was uti- lized to understand the results. Each test included a lab test of the used oil (used oil analysis). An exciting discovery was that the comparisons revealed that results in the used oil analysis matched the wear measurements 100 percent. It soon became evident that an oil anal- ysis could indicate the same thing as dis- assembling an engine for inspection. How great is that for engine builders, racers and anyone wanting to know the condition of their engine? The results were then tested on engine dynos at several well-known engine builder/ research shops. The used oil analysis lab tests were proven to be correct. 30 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 AN ENGINE'S INSIDE STORY Used oil analysis offers a glimpse at hidden performance. By Ed Preston An oil analysis can indicate the same thing as disassembling an engine for inspection. How great is that for engine builders, racers and anyone wanting to know the condition of their engine?

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