Author - vdl

FYI about ethanol

David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, calculated that powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year’s supply of food for seven people.  Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol.  One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUs.  Thus 70% more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that is actually in it.  Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs.  Professor Pimental adds that “abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuels amounts to unsustainable subsidized food burning”. Something to think about . . . .

May 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to our new website!  We are very excited about our new partnership with Firethorn Marketing and Clint Doll because of the great new look and the tremendous opportunity that it gives us to interact with you.  The purpose of this website is not just for sales; but, more importantly, for information.  Hopefully, you will find information that will help your race team from the carburetor all the way through the ignition and fuel systems.  We hope you will participate with us as your questions, comments, and results will benefit us all.  Our 2011 season really started at the end of 2010 with the PRI Trade Show last December.  We have found these trade shows to be very beneficial for all involved, and this year was no exception.  We had a great time at the PRI show and our son DJ was exceptionally proud of finally making the winners’ list with two track championships.  VDL is extremely proud of all its winners and champions – you can find your name on that list in our winners’ circle link.  For 2011, we are faced with an interesting dilemma.  There are now 2 major trade shows scheduled back-to-back next December.  Trade shows [...]

Brian Campbell makes History with Win in Inaugural JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Toledo Speedway

Salem, Indiana (Saturday, April 23rd, 2011): Brian Campbell made history at Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday, April 23rd as the Wyoming, Michigan veteran took the lead from 14-year-old Erik Jones on lap 18 and from there, Campbell would fend off challenges from Jones and then a late charge from another veteran, Eddie Hoffman, and in the end, Campbell would steer his McGunegill Engine Performance Ford into victory lane after winning the VR-12/Easter Bunny 100 Presented by JEGS.com, the inaugural race for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts. “This is pretty special to come here against such a great field of cars and get to take the trophy home in the series first ever race.” Campbell stated in victory lane. “We had a great car, but we were a little worried about Erik (Jones) and then I seen the #8 go up on the scoreboard and knew that Eddie (Hoffman) was lurking back there as well, so I had to stay on top of the steering wheel.” The former Glass City 200 winner at the track added.  After a rousing pre-race ceremony and driver introduction for the stout 32-car field, the VR-12 Easter Bunny 100 Presented by [...]

Tech Tip: Spark plug selection

One of the most misunderstood tuning habits is reading spark plugs.  For the in-depth discussion of this topic, refer to Dan’s paper presented to the Automotive Engine Technology Conference (found on the tech page).  Here’s the short version:  a rich engine can look lean when the plug is too hot.  Conversely, a low compression engine can look rich on the plug when it actually has the correct air/fuel mixture if the plug is too cold.  So, here’s a quick guide to spark plug heat range selection:  9:1 compression = 59 to 61 heat range  10:1 compression = 57 to 59 heat range 11:1 compression = 57 heat range 12:1 compression = 57 heat range 13:1 compression and up = 55 heat range Please note that these heat ranges are Champion’s numbers and can be easily converted to the matching plug for any major brand. Extended tip plugs (indicated by the Y in Champion numbers) are never harmful as long as you have piston clearance.  There is really no magic here unless you are covering up for a poor chamber design or bad plug location.

Tech Tip: Choice Of Fuel

Never ever use pump gasoline in any racing application.  Pump gas contains many unknown additives, and the blends will vary season to season, and region to region:  summer time in Colorado is different than summer time in Georgia which will be different than any place in California.  The additives also vary based on the particular region’s environmental requirements, like Los Angeles versus Montana.  All this said, pump gas has too low of an octane rating to be used in any race engine 9:1 compression and higher, and has additives that are never consistent.  The addition of ethanol in our gas at the pump has now created moisture retention concerns as well and has introduced corrosive characteristics to the fuel that WILL destroy your entire fuel system over a season. Leaded racing fuel of the proper octane rating is the fuel of choice.  Historical data that we have all gathered over the years allows us to tune the carburetor and adjust the timing to confidently gain maximum performance.  Unleaded fuel (which is an oxygenated fuel), all other oxygenated fuels, and ethanol must be dyno-tested to truly establish proper tuning, jetting, and ignition timing.  One last thought:  there is no such thing [...]

Tech Tip: Over The Winter

To store your carburetor over the off-season, drain the bowls by removing one of the bottom bowl screws and pumping the pump circuit completely dry. This will generally suffice, but an extra margin of safety can be obtained by pouring a mixture of leaded racing gas and Marvel Mystery Oil into the carburetor through the vent tubes, pumping the solution through the pump circuit, and then draining out the excess.  Even better:  run the same mixture through the entire engine, lubricating rings, valves, and cylinder walls, as well as the carburetor.  If you use oxygenated fuel, alcohol, or any blend of ethanol, this maintenance step should be taken frequently through the season to combat corrosion.  Now, this process will smoke you out of the shop, but it will help maintain the health of your fuel system.

Getting the most out of your crate engine

Probably the most forgotten fact about the crate engine, whether GM, Ford, or Dodge, is that it has a compression ratio of 9.0:1 to 10.0:1.  Another fact that most people do not realize is that compression ratios in this range require fuel octane ratings around 110.  Using lower octane fuels often leads to detonation which can result in engine failure or leads to a decrease in timing which results in decreased potential power.  Pump gas is not held to the quality and consistency standards required to ever be used in a racing application, and the idea of mixing fuel (pump gas and race gas) is a horrible idea.  Let me say it again – NEVER use pump gas for a racing application.  A good follow-up discussion is on our tech page.  The next mistake commonly made with crate engines (and with most other race engines as well) is spark plug heat range selection.  The very plug recommended by GM on the valve cover of their crate engine is wrong.  First, it is a resistor plug, which is not good for racing applications; and second, it is about six steps too hot.  Because of my years with Champion Spark Plug Company, [...]

Anything and Everything You Want to Know About Spark Plugs

1991 SUPERFLOW ENGINE TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE WRITTEN BY: Dan VanderLey / Motorsports Engineer, Champion Spark Plug Co. Mark Twain quotation – “Thunder is impressive and thunder is great but it’s lightning that does the work.” Definition – A device which provides a gap in the combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine across which an electrical discharge may occur which initiates the combustion of an air/fuel mixture.The spark plug performs a simple function in a complex environment. CANDLE IN A HIGH WIND just as in the title the candle is affected by the wind’s characteristics, so in our choice of plugs we must consider not only it’s basic function but more importantly the “wind” it operates in.   1. PARTS AND ASSEMBLY A basic understanding of the parts and assembly will later help in the application and interpretation of the plug. (Cut-away plug below) PARTS A. Insulator – Aluminum oxide ceramic, must have good dielectric and mechanical strength, good thermal conductivity and resistive to heat shock B. Center Wire – Must have good conductivity and be chemically and electrically erosion resistant (Approx. melt temp. of std nickel is 2500 degrees Fahrenheit) C. Terminal Stud – Either solid post or removable terminal nut made from mild steel D. Shell – Extruded or bar [...]