Jon Kaase is a dominant engine builder in the Pro Stock drag racing classes. That's such a specialized engine you might think it would have nothing to do with stock car racing. But Kaase's presentation on engine building tips had so many great tidbits of information we could write a book from it.
For example, Kaase told a story of switching to a ring package with lower tension against the cylinder wall. This is a common tactic in stock car engine building to reduce friction between the rings and cylinder bore to free up a little horsepower. But after making the switch Kaase says he began blowing up engines.
The knee-jerk reaction would simply be to blame the rings for being poor quality. Or some engine builders would simply write off low tension rings saying, "they just won't work in that engine." But Kaase says a little out-of-the-box thinking was required to find the real source of the engine failures.
It turns out that the reduced friction the low tension rings created wasn't helping to slow the piston down at TDC as much as the beefier old rings with more friction. This was putting more stress on the rods and causing failures. So, instead of writing off the rings, Kaase worked with his rod manufacturer to design a beefier rod cap that both eliminated the failures and allowed him to keep the horsepower created from the low tension rings. By finding the real source of the problem Kaase was able to make more horsepower in an engine with improved durability.
These are just five tips from this year's AETC that we learned by attending the conference. While the conference is highly technical in nature it's also exceedingly valuable. If you have the wherewithal to make a trip to Orlando next December we would highly recommend attending the AETC. It takes place just before the PRI show and it's in Florida--so you can get into some sunny and warm weather for a few days, in addition to broadening your engine knowledge.