3. Extended life Coatings that prevent wear keep the piston dimensionally accurate for a longer period of time. Coatings that control heat keep the piston's Rockwell hardness in range much longer. Depending on how extreme the operating conditions are, coating may be necessary to achieve the intended life cycle of the piston, not necessarily to extend its life cycle.

4. Heat control We want to keep heat in the combustion chamber and not transfer it into the piston if possible. A hot or glowing piston is a source for pre-ignition and detonation. Also, heat changes the hardness of the pistons (creating a lower life expectancy) and causes thermal distortion. By coating the top of the piston with a heat barrier, we address this issue by reducing the transfer of heat to the piston.

5. Oil Shedding Now that we have engineered a lightweight piston, we do not want oil attaching itself to the bottom of the piston, making it heavy. This is especially necessary when you have oil spraying directly on the bottom of the pistons. This is a very touchy subject, as there are many theories about how long the oil needs to be in place to do its job of cooling.

Piston coatings can reduce the time the oil spends on the bottom of the piston, thereby reducing piston weight and the possibility of oil cooking and building up on the piston. The oil does its job of cooling the piston, but doesn't hang around long.

Custom pistons are not for the novice engine builder. For low-buck engines and builders just starting out, perhaps a shelf stock piston would save you from having to figure this out. Custom pistons allow the professional and experienced engine builders the ability to control every aspect of piston design in order to maximize the package for a particular engine.

If in doubt, talk to your engine builder or your choice of piston manufacturer. They have experts who deal with making these choices on a daily basis and they really do want to help. Give a call and you just might find a better piston package for your application.

Jay Dickens is the owner of Jay Dickens Racing Engines. He was interested in cars from an early age, and actually built his first engine at the age of 12. During his high school years, Jay worked for the late Bobby Brown, helping to build racing engines for the likes of Bobby Allison and Grand Adcox.

A few years later, Jay started working on engines in his garage at home on a part-time basis. In 1991, his part-time business was growing and he built his first building dedicated to engine building. Finally, in March 1994, Jay decided to quit his day job and officially went into business as Jay Dickens Racing Engines (JDRE).

Over the past 12 years, JDRE has grown from a small company with a few customers into a large-scale business with customers nationwide. Along the way, JDRE customers have picked up track championships, series championships, and countless wins. The JDRE customer base ranges from dirt Late Model competitors to drag racers to competitors in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing.

Recently, Jay built engines for a Nextel Cup team as a side project. His motors stood up horsepower and stamina wise, with the best engine builders in Cup racing. As a short-track engine builder, he has again proven that money and exposure does not necessarily guarantee success. He has every bit as much expertise as any of the engine builders in stock car racing's top division.

Brad Loden started attending circle track races with his father at the age of 5. By the age of 13, he was racing BMX Bicycles and was the Mississippi BMX Bicycles State Champion. Brad's interest in motors started to take off at about the same time, and he built his first engine at the age of 13.

After a short stint in racing go-karts, Brad moved into drag racing in 1991, racing a bracket car that he built. From bracket racing, he progressed into racing in the IHRA Top Dragster division. When he was not racing his own car, he spent time serving as crew chief for Outlaw Promod/Top Sportsman cars. Finally, in the mid-'90s, Brad gave up his driving role and went to work for JDRE.

Jay. Dickens Racing Engines Speed Parts International
JE Pistons