Over the last century, the engine dynamometer has, without doubt been the most productivetool in the armoury of equipment necessary in the development of the IC engine. It has been used brilliantly by most, abused by a few, misunderstood by many * and incredibly, going by the secretive behaviour of the modern F1 gang … we, the great unwashed, are now not entitled to know what Dyno’s are saying. *The perennial argument on Torque vs Horsepower
C’mon guys, we grew up with horsepower as the founding statement in the business of tuning engines. The ‘magic number’ milestones defined our times. 100 Bhp/litre was the magic number of the early 60’s. In 1967 an eye opening 220 Bhp from a 1600 FVA based on a production Ford soon got our attention. In that same year so did 400+Bhp from the V8 version of that brilliant design. Moving into the turbo era, we were staggered by the 1400bhp from BMW F1 qualifying engines built from stock 4 cyl 2002 BM engine blocks.
From the early 60’s we were treated to equally mystic numbers on standard production cars ….. 105 Bhp from 1300 Renault Gordinis, 110 Bhp Cortinas, 300 Bhp Z28’s and 400 Bhp Hemis. These were defining numbers providing all petrolheads with an understanding of the pecking order of things. Without knowing the Horsepower…what exactly is the point?
We’ll get back to this later…..
Modern times, however, have all but eroded the anticipation and mystery involved in the quest for Horsepower. Wind-up the boost (or fit a larger hi tech turbo), chuck in a bit of NOS, turn a knob, hit the keyboard and horsepower arrives on demand. Nothing too mysterious in that anymore is there?
I come from an era where God’s natural gift of ambient air pressure provided the basics for filling a cylinder with air. The challenge was to make horsepower not only with that as the baseline but using cantankerous old production engines to get to heady power figures and crazy rpm. This was a real adventure, so when one has the privilege today of working with Dyno Maestros like Maurice Rosenberg of Autorosen in Jo’burg, the mystery and excitement of that era returns. Dynamometer tuning specialising in classics is under pressure and not only is the real expertise waning but the parts needed to remain period correct are also becoming harder to find. The folk involved are the conductors of the Classic Engine Orchestra. The music they produce equates to motorised Mozart and every successful event is a unique musical script. Maurice has the uncanny ability to provide the score….. but increasingly today people like him come face to face with that modern mindset of easy horsepower. That single issue is, in my opinion, beginning to undermine the value of the people like Maurice in this business.
Having run my own tuning operation in the late 90’s, I know just how difficult it is to satisfy customers even when the job is done properly ….but…..with the number of “know it all’ types increasing in these times it is becoming even more difficult. With some experience, I soon learnt how to avoid smartasses in order to keep the ship on an even keel but the problem today is growing. Google seemingly knows everything and the knock-on is that those types now really know absolutely everything…… in addition to the fact their uncle/brother/cousin or equally smart friend knows even more.
Potential users of dynamometer facilities need to be educated. Taking a car to a Dyno brings with it some critical responsibilities, that is, if you want good results. Nothing is more frustrating to seasoned Dyno man than a poorly prepared engine/car. Properly set-up engines are responsive on a Dyno….. That is, responsive to timing adjustments (cam or ignition), fuel mixture and…..they don’t overheat as a result of poorly sorted cooling systems.
So to those who want to achieve results from your hard earned $, here is Paul’s very basic check list before you get to the rollers (there’s a lot more if we get into detail of how to build an engine to make it easy to tune) :
We’re assuming here that we are talking about Carburettored Classic Cars