Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just put a V8 in it

So I didn't post about working with the Formula student team yesterday, but I really had a great time.  I worked with Ryan Kenyon, a 4th year student working on the team.
FYI about the team and university structure in the UK:
After high school (13 grades or years here) students go onto University (Uni) for 3 years to get their bachelors, and then can do an additional year (at least in the Engineering programme and I think some other programmes as well- like business) to get their Masters.  The Formula One team at Warwick is structured entirely of 4th year Masters students- that is students that have stayed an extra year after their bachelors to get a masters in engineering- be it mechanical, automotive, etc.  They have to do a group project as 25% of their course work, and if they are selected to be on the Formula student team (there is a highly technical selection process, I'm told), that is their project, along with 75% of coursework (known as Modules) here.  So, correct me if I've gotten any of this wrong, or missed anything, but I think that's generally the gist of how things seem to work.

Anyway, I got to work on a KTM 525 cc, 1 cylinder, 4 stoke engine, that had been modified to 600 cc.  A single cylinder engine is usually used in smaller applications, like smaller motorcycles and dirt bikes, because it is a simple engine, easy to maintain and work on.  It offers a lot of torque (thus giving motorcycles like the Suzuki Savage the classification as torque-y) but it doesn't really produce a lot of horsepower or high RPMs as other engines, such as a 4 cylinder.  A KTM bike with approximately an engine of that size would look like this:
This is a KTM dirt bike, with a 525 cc, single cylinder, 4 stroke engine in it.  Source:
So, the point of this motor (consider they already had a engine for the car, this was a back up used engine they had purchased as a back up) was to make sure it was running properly, check the timing on it, etc.  Now, I have a very rudimentary practical knowledge of engines, though I can theoretically (for the most part) understand how they work, this was the first time I ever got to really touch the bits of one.  We were putting on two of the valves to test the timing of the engine.  (Didn't get that far yesterday, though got a lot of the pieces fit together).
It was really interesting, and we had a great guy helping us, David Cooper, a technician who I think worked at Honda for a number of years.  His knowledge of engines was ridiculous, I hope I retained about 10% of what he told me about what was going on.  It was pretty interesting.  Also, come to find out that David was an Aston Villa fan, which was the soccer (Football) team I got to see play with folks from Birmingham when I went to London in August, so it was good to meet a fellow fan.  I might see about going to a few more games with him.  His son plays in the Villa league, in the under 12 division and shows a lot of promise as a footballer!
Anyway, here is a pic of the engine, in pieces, but I helped fit some of the pieces together!
This was where the valves were in the engine.  See how two of the four are in place, with lighter springs for testing.  There are beefier springs that are put in place to actually run the engine.
Today, I spent time working on getting the latest PTC software downloaded onto the super computer at work, and reading a lot of journal articles on topics of open source hardware design and action research.  I had a nice chat with Steve about the direction of my research and I have a personal goal to have a few ideas brainstormed by Friday about possible publication ideas, so I can get a publication out in the fall.
So that's about it in my world today!  Post again soon!


  1. Am I to understand there is no V8 as the title implied? As an American, I was excited by the notion of stuffing a V8 into the little KTM frame ;)

  2. Ah, the title! It was said, down in the pits, that since I'm American, all we do is put V8 in our stuff and call it good. How do we mow our lawns? WITH A V8! And, pretty much everything else we do....

  3. So cool! I'd love to work on something like that =) A lot more exciting than replacing the temperature sender in my car =P