## Induction System Volumetric Efficiency

here are two real world effects that determine how much fuel/air charge can get into the cylinder. The first is that air is compressible, the second is the dynamics (acceleration/deceleration) of the air. The compressibility of the air becomes a factor when the air enters the intake port around the intake valve. The intake port/valve forms a constriction, like the throat of a nozzle. Because air is compressible, it can only be pushed through a constriction so fast. Regardless of how much pressure you apply, the maximum velocity possible through the throat of a nozzle is a velocity equal to the speed of sound .

The same effect happens at the intake valve. The ratio of the typical velocity to the intake sonic velocity is called the inlet Mach index. From the science of fluid mechanics the controlling velocity in a compressible flow system is usually the intake valve opening. For a given cylinder and valve design, the inlet Mach index is proportional to the piston speed, and that the fuel/air charge flows in faster when the piston moves down faster. Of course, at some point the constriction of the valve opening starts to limit this. When the inlet Mach index exceeds 0.5 (intake velocity equal to half the speed of sound), the volumetric efficiency falls rapidly with increasing speed. Therefore, enginest are typically designed so that the inlet Mach index does not exceed 0.5 at the highest rated speed.

The effect of this constriction shows up as a pressure drop through the intake valve. Why don’t we just open the intake valve further? Because when the valve is lifted a distance equal to 1/4 of its diameter, the area of a cylinder around the valve (that the fuel/air charge passes through, not the engine cylinder) is equal to the area of the valve face and intake port, ignoring the valve stem. Mathematically, the area of the cylinder is (2 r)(d/4). Since d = 2r, this evaluates to r2, which is the area of the intake port, the amount of additional flow through the intake port increases very slowly as the lift of the valve increases beyond 1/4 of the valve diameter.

Because of the dynamics of the fuel/air charge, the intake valve normally closes at some time after the piston passes bottom dead center. As the piston moves down, it draws the fuel/air charge into the cylinder. This movement builds up momentum in the intake manifold. When the piston reaches bottom dead center, the fuel/air charge is still flowing into the cylinder as a result of this residual momentum. Thus, at the speed desired for maximum torque, the intake valve closing is timed to correspond with the velocity of the fuel/air charge through the intake port dropping to zero. This closing will occur at some time after the piston has started the compression stroke, and will result in the maximum amount of fuel/air charge being drawn into the cylinder. This maximizes the volumetric efficiency, and maximizes the torque delivered to the crankshaft, ignoring friction effects. The angle of the crankshaft at the time the intake valve closes is called the intake valve closing angle.

So what effects does this later valve closing have at other speeds? At low speeds, the momentum built up in the intake manifold will be small, such that part of the fuel/air charge will be pushed back into the intake manifold as the piston starts up prior to the intake valve closing. At speeds above the speed for maximum torque, the constriction of intake valve opening will cause a pressure loss which will reduce the amount of fuel/air charge entering the cylinder. In either case, the amount of fuel/air charge in the cylinder is reduced, and thus the torque is reduced.

The design of the intake manifold also affects the amount of momentum built up in the flow of the fuel/air charge. The momentum of the fuel/air charge is the sum of the effect of standing waves built up from previous intake strokes keep in mind that any tube will have a resonant frequency and effect the transient wave caused by the current intake stroke. While the standing waves contribute to the overall effect, there are no sudden changes in the volumetric efficiency when the RPM of the engine is an even multiple of the natural frequency of the intake manifold.

Long, skinny intake manifold pipes give high volumetric efficiencies at low piston speeds because high momentum lots of velocity is built up in the pipe during the intake stroke. At high piston speeds, the small diameter of the intake pipe causes a constriction and the volumetric efficiency falls. Fat intake pipes show a maximum volumetric efficiency at intermediate piston speeds. However, at high piston speeds, the larger mass of the fuel/air charge in the fat intake pipe is slow to accelerate, and thus the volumetric efficiency falls off.

As the manifold pipes get shorter, the maximum gain in volumetric efficiency over having no intake manifold at all decreases. However, the gain you do get with shorter intake pipe happens over a greater range of piston speeds. Basically, it comes down to the intake manifold pipe should be designed according to the engine requirements. If you need high torque at slow piston speeds, use long skinny intake pipes. For high torque at intermediate piston speeds, use long fat intake pipes. For high torque over a wide range of piston speeds (i.e. a flat torque curve), use shorter intake pipes.

## Ignition components

Inductive Discharge Coils – Ignition spark for motorcycle is accomplished by the iginiton coil, coils have 2 sets of windings, a primary and a secondary. A typical coil will have around 250 turns of wire on the primary and about 25,000 on the secondary for a ratio of 100 to 1. The secondary section often uses an iron core to increase its inductance. Coil resistance on the primary will be from .3 to .5 ohms usually and on the secondary, between 5000 and 12,000 ohms. The inductance and resistance of the coil will determine how quickly a coil can be charged and discharged.

A transistor is used to switch the current flow off and on in the primary coil. When the transistor is switched on, current rapidly builds from 0 to a maximum value determined by the coil inductance and resistance. This current flow induces a magnetic field within the primary. When the current is turned off, this magnetic field collapses which cuts the windings of the secondary coil and induces a high voltage surge.

Output voltage is determined by the rate of field collapse and the windings ratio between primary and secondary. Because the path to ground for the current involves the spark gap, initial resistance is extremely high. This allows the voltage to build to a high value until it gets high enough to jump the plug gap. The difference must be high enough to first ionize the gas between the electrodes. The ionized gas creates a conductive path for the current to flow, at this point the arc jumps and current flow is established.

If only 10,000 volts are required to jump a plug gap under a given condition, that will be the maximum delivered. It is also important to note that the spark duration is determined by coil inductance and total resistance of the circuit, plus spark plug gap. Most inductive discharge systems have a spark duration of between 1 and 2 milliseconds.

When cylinder pressure increases, the voltage required to jump the plug gap increases. The second problem on high performance engines with high rev limits, is that there is less time to charge the coil with increasing rpm, high rpm and high output puts greater demands on the ignition system.

Coil Charge Time and Saturation – The time it takes to charge the coil or bring the current to maximum in the primary windings is called charge time. Input voltage and coil resistance are the main parameters relating to charge time, when the current has reached its maximum value in the primary, it is said to be fully saturated.

If current is applied longer than the time needed to fully saturate the primary, energy is wasted and there is nothing to be gained. If the current is cut off before saturation is achieved, the maximum spark energy available will be reduced.

Coils require charge times of between 2.1 and 6 milliseconds. Obviously, a coil requiring 6 milliseconds to saturate would be unsuitable on a high revving engine as there is not 6 milliseconds available to charge it between discharges at high rpm. For this reason, most racing coils have low primary resistances between .3 and .7 ohms and are fully saturated in less than 3 milliseconds permiting full coil output at very high rpms.

Capacitive Discharge Ignition – On very high output engines, an inductive discharge coil is inadequate to supply spark at high rpm and high cylinder pressures. A CD ignition or CDI is used to reduce charge times. The MSD system is very popular worldwide.

In normal inductive discharge coils, only 12-14 volts is available from the battery to charge the primary. The CDI charges capacitors to store a high voltage kick to fire to the primary side, putting between 30 and 500 volts onto the primary windings which reduces the charge time substantially. A coil that would take 3 milliseconds to become fully saturated with 12 volts is now fully saturated in less than 1 with a CDI. The same engine now will be able to turn twice the RPM and experience a major increase in cylinder pressure before encountering misfire.

Some CDIs also include a multispark function where more than 1 spark is generated after the first spark. This improves ignition probability besides the high rpm coil saturation advantages and a greater resistance to plug fouling.

Ignition Wires (Spark Leads) – The purpose of the ignition wires is to conduct the maximum coil output energy to the spark plugs with a minimum amount of radiated electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). There are 3 basic types of conductors used in racing applications: carbon string, solid and spiral wound. Most production engines come equipped with carbon string. The solid core types are used exclusively for racing, mainly with carbureted or non-computer controlled engines because they offer no EMI or RFI suppression. They generally have a low resistance stainless steel conductor. These types are rapidly losing favor, even in racing circles.

The carbon string type is the most common and work just fine in racing applications. The conductor is usually a carbon impregnated fiberglass multistrand. Suppression qualities are fine with resistances in the 5K to 10K ohms per foot. They are cheap and reliable for 2 to 5 years usually, then they may start to break down and should be replaced. High voltage racing ignitions will likely hasten their demise. Dynatech makes low priced wire set which works well in performance applications.

Ignition Wires (Spark Leads) – The spiral wound type is probably the best type for any application. The better brands offer excellent suppression, relatively low resistance and don’t really wear out. Construction quality and choice of material vary widely between brands. NGK makes low priced wire sets which work well in performance applications.

Some amount of resistance is required along with proper construction to achieve high suppression levels. Resistance is also important to avoid damaging some types of coils and amplifiers due to flyback and coil harmonics. Beware of wires claiming to have very low resistance. These CANNOT have good suppression qualities.

Beware of any ignition wires claiming to increase hp. Ignition wires CANNOT increase hp. As long as the wires that you have are allowing the spark to jump the gap properly, installing a set of \$200 wires is strictly a waste of money.

Lately, some truly “magic” wires have come onto the market claiming to not only increase power but also to shorten the spark duration from milliseconds to nanoseconds. As previously mentioned, spark duration is determined primarily by coil inductance and coil resistance so these wires CANNOT shorten the spark duration by the amount claimed. The wire resistance has a minimal effect on discharge time because of the high voltage involved. A very short duration spark is in fact detrimental to ignition because of lower probability.

These same wires claim to increase flame front propagation rates and the ability to ignite over-rich fuel mixtures for more power. Once ignited, the mixture undergoes a flagregation process and that the progression rate of the flame front is totally independent of the spark. As previously mentioned most gasolines will not ignite nor burn at air fuel ratios richer than 10 to 1, period, and that maximum power is actually achieved at around 12 / 13 to 1 AFR so the claim also has no basis in fact.

These wires use a braided metal shield over the main conductor which is grounded to the chassis. This arrangement offers poor suppression because it does not cover the entire conductor. Any energy leaking out of the main conductor by induction is actually wasted to ground and will not make it to the spark plug. These wires also have very low resistance which as mentioned can have a detrimental effect on coils and ignition amplifiers due to severe flyback effects which are normally damped by circuit resistance.

Other claims for these wires include current flows of up to 1000 amps. The current flow in the ignition circuit is determined by the coil construction and drive circuits, not by the ignition wires. Most ignition systems are current limited to between 5 and 15 amps. The most powerful race systems rarely exceed 30 amps. To flow current at 1000 amps, you would require #0 welding cable for the ignition system!

Spark Plugs – The final part in the ignition system is the spark plug itself. The average plug consists of steel shell which threads into the cylinder head, a ceramic insulator, an iron or copper core leading to a nickel or platinum center electrode and a ground electrode of similar material. The spark jumps between the center and ground electrode. Certain special application plugs may have multiple ground electrodes. Different heat ranges are available depending on application. For constant high power applications, a colder than stock plug is usually selected to keep internal temperatures within limits.

Again, many “trick” plugs come onto the market from time to time expounding the virtues of their incredible new design, usually offering more hp of course. Split electrode plugs are a waste of money because the spark will only jump to one of the electrodes at a time in any case.

You will find that most reputable engine builders for racing use standard NGK, Bosch or Champion plugs with a standard electrode setup. A properly selected, standard plug will easily last 25,000 miles of hard use in most engines. A platinum tipped plug will easily last twice as long on most engines. There is no rocket science here, modern spark plugs coupled to modern ignition systems in a modern engine are extremely cheap and reliable, even on race engines, a \$2, off the shelf, NGK plug will work just fine.

## Ignition / combustion criteria

Some people think that when a spark plug fires, the fuel/air mixture explodes instantaneously, driving the piston down. If this really happened, engines would last only a few minutes before they literally explode.

Looking at the dynamics involved from the moment that the intake valve is fully open. With the piston moving down the bore, cylinder volume increases, cylinder pressure decreases, allowing the higher pressure in the intake tract to push the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder. As the piston starts back up and the intake valve closes, cylinder volume decreases and cylinder pressure increases.

When the crankshaft reaches about 30 degrees before top dead center (TDC), the spark jumps the gap between the spark plug electrode. The purpose of the spark is to raise the temperature of a very small portion of the fuel/air mixture above its ignition temperature. This is the point where true combustion begins. As the reaction starts, the mixture directly adjacent to the spark plug is also ignited and the process progresses out from the spark plug in a roughly spherical shape.

At about 20 degrees before top dead center (BTDC), the rate of heat release causes the cylinder pressure to rise above the compression line which is what the cylinder pressure would be at a given piston position without ignition. Notice that it has taken 10 degrees of crank rotation to generate this pressure level. This is known as the ignition-delay period.

The rate of pressure rise is a function of the rate of energy release vs. the rate of change of combustion space. The rate of energy release is directly related to the flame propagation rate and the area of reacting surface. The flame speed is dependant on fuel/air ratio, charge density, charge homogeny, fuel characteristics, charge turbulence and reaction with inert gasses and the combustion chamber, cylinder walls and piston.

No two combustion cycles progress at the same rate or uniform rate. Some start slow and end slow, some start slow and end fast, some start fast and slow down. Generally, only the ones that end too fast will lead to detonation / knocking / pinging as the rapid pressure rise may happen too soon with the cylinder volume still decreasing or not increasing fast enough. Usually, not all cylinders will detonate / knock / ping at the same time or on the same cycle because of this.

By the time the crank is at about 5 degrees after top dead center (ATDC), the cylinder pressure is about double that of the compression line. From this point to roughly 15 degrees after top dead center (ATDC) the combustion process is fast due to the increasing area of inflamed mixture and the high rate of energy release. The peak cylinder pressure (PCP) occurs between 10 and 20 degrees after top dead center (ATDC) on most engines and the combustion process is complete by 20 to 25 degrees after top dead center (ATDC). The peak temperature within the combustion gasses will reach somewhere around 5000 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures may be anywhere from 300 to 2500psi depending on the engine.

Obviously it is very important to have the crankpin at an advantageous angle before maximum cylinder pressure is achieved in order that maximum force is applied through the piston and rod to the crankshaft. If the mixture was ignited too early, much of the force would simply try to compress the piston, rod and crank without performing any useful work. In a worst case scenario, the cylinder pressure would be rapidly rising before the piston reached top dead center (TDC) which would have the cylinder volume decreasing at the same time. This will often result in detonation/knock/ ping which is counterproductive to maximum power and engine life.

Detonation, knock or pinging is defined as a form of combustion which involves too rapid a rate of energy release producing excessive temperatures and pressures, adversely affecting the conversion of chemical energy into useful work. Detonation usually involves ignition and literal explosion of the end gases, these are the gases not in contact with the initial spark or the progressing flame front.

If peak cylinder pressure (PCP) is achieved too late, again, less work would be performed. Most of the useful work is done in the first 100 degrees of crank rotation. Most combustion must be done with the piston in close proximity to the chamber so that the minimum amount of heat (energy) is lost and the maximum amount of energy is delivered to the crankshaft.

## Extra shift detent spring

EXTRA SHIFT DETENT SPRING: “There Is Enough Tension In Drag Racing”

A lot of my hands on mechanical knowledge has been gained thru many decades of working as a R&D Engineer for various Automobile and Motoccyle Maufactuers such as G.M. Toyota, Isuzu, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and H-nda. An advantage of working for these Companies is that I would spend a lot of time with a large variety of data acquisition instruments. Fortunately I was able to use and apply many of these instruments to my EFE Drag Bike.

Many of our OSS members are well aware of the fact that Drag Races are won or lossed by a thousand of a second. I have had the opportunity to do A -B -A testing methods using test instruments that are capable of taking measurements in miliseconds, comparing the use of a single or double detent springs with a MRE Pro-Airshifter.

The results of the tests (confirmed repeatability) is that a bike utilizing an MRE Pro-Airshifter will engauge a gear faster with a single spring as compared to using a double spring.

You can consider the above information as another “SSR Race Trick” donated to the OSS site. I still have several more when it comes to Suzuki transmissions that will remain propriety information.

“May The Shift Be With You”

## Exhaust System Efficiency

Part of getting a large fuel/air charge into the cylinder (volumetric efficiency) has to do with getting the combustion products of the previous cycle out of the cylinder. At first thought, it would seem that simply making the exhaust valve bigger would help get the combustion products out. As it turns out, the exhaust valve can be as small as 50% the size of the intake valve without affecting the volumetric efficiency over the usual range of inlet Mach speed. Normally the exhaust valves are at least 60% the size of the intake valve. This effect may arise because the combustion products are “pushed” out of the exhaust port by the piston, while the fuel/air charge is “sucked” in the intake port, pushed only by the manifold pressure.

To enhance the removal of the combustion gasses, the intake valve is opened prior to the end of the exhaust stroke. Since both valves are open at this point, this is referred to as valve overlap. If the pressure in the intake manifold is greater than the pressure in the exhaust manifold, the in rushing fuel/air charge will help scavenge the remaining combustion products in the cylinder as the piston reaches top dead center by pushing them out the exhaust port. While some of the fuel/air charge may go out the exhaust port, an engine tuner tries to design the timing such that the exhaust valve closes just as the last of the combustion gasses leave the exhaust port. An additional benefit of valve overlap is that the intake valve is essentially fully open at the start of the intake stroke, thus reducing the pressure loss through the intake port during the intake stroke. The angle that the crankshaft turns between the intake valve opening and the exhaust valve closing is called the valve overlap angle.

Of course, scavenging does not occur at all speeds. At low speeds, the throttle valve reduces the pressure in the intake manifold, such that the intake manifold pressure is less than the exhaust manifold pressure. In this case, a small portion of the combustion products enter the intake manifold, to be pulled back into the cylinder on the intake stroke. Additionally, the combustion gasess in the space above the piston at top dead center are not scavenged. Even so, at low power settings this is not a problem.

CONCLUSION- In general, we have seen that the torque, and thus the horsepower produced by an engine depends on the amount of air that can be pumped through the engine. The more fuel/air charge drawn into the cylinder, the higher the volumetric efficiency. The higher the volumetric efficiency, the higher the torque. The biggest factor affecting the volumetric efficiency is the valve timing, specifically the valve overlap angle and the intake valve closing angle. Volumetric efficiency can also be improved by the intake manifold design. Since the camshaft used determines the valve timing, changing the camshaft will change the shape of the torque curve, and thus the horsepower curve.

## Exhaust Reversion

Exhaust Reversion

There is a myth that an earlier opening of the intake valve even by 2 or 3 degrees causes the phenomenon known as reversion. This misconception is false from which other incorrect conclusions are made. When you focus on overlap you are on the wrong end of the cam-timing event.

Reversion or the effect of the backing up of the intake fuel air mixture is normally associated with longer duration high-performance camshafts, is actually caused by the intake valve closing later. The answer is in the basic principles of physics. just as with trigonometry and geometry the truth does not change because a person chooses to ignore it.

When the intake valve opens some 40 or more degrees before T.D.C. at the end of the exhaust stroke, very little exhaust gases remain in the cylinder. The piston is close T.D.C and no threat is posed to the incoming intake charge.

A false reversion theory when taken to an extreme would lead to a false conclusion that any overlapping of the intake and exhaust valves is totally undesirable. Engineers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s used to think this way and they feared of overlap so much so they actually employed negative overlap of – 5 or -10 degrees to be sure none would occur.

The results were that these engines were severely limited to low speeds and marginal output. Engineers in the early 1920’s performed experiments with longer duration cams and proved that camshaft overlap fears are false, as both power, RPM and performance were actually improved. These engineers demonstrated that overlap did not cause engines to lock or backfire.

To further prove that reversion is not caused by earlier intake opening and the resulting extension of valve overlap, look what happens when you advance any camshaft, the intake and the exhaust valves open earlier, this advancement of the cam does not cause more reversion, yet throttle response and torque are improved.

If this myth were correct an engine would run poorly especially at lower RPM. By investigating what is occurring on the other end of the valve timing event will give you the explanation.

When a camshaft is advanced, not only do both valves open earlier but they also close earlier and there is the answer to reducing intake reversion. Closing the intake valve earlier and the reversion of the intake charge as the piston rises on the compression stroke will be reduced. It is not a mystery it is just the truth.

## Exhaust Performance Criteria

Exhaust Performance Criteria

When the piston approaches top dead center the spark plug fires a spark kernel igniting the fuel mixture into a fireball just as the piston rocks over into the power stroke. The piston transfers the energy of the expanding gases to the crankshaft as the exhaust valve starts to open in the last part of the power stroke.

The gas pressure is still high (70 to 90 p.s.i.) causing a rapid escape of the gases. A pressure wave is now generated as the valve continues to open. Gases can flow at an average speed of over 350 ft/sec, but the pressure wave travels at the speed of sound (Mach 1) and is dependent on the gas temperature. The expanding exhaust gases now rush into the port and down into the primary header pipe and then the gases and waves converge at the collector. In the collector, the gases expand quickly as the waves enter into all of the available orifices including the other primary tubes. The gases and some of the wave energy flow into the collector outlet and out the exhaust pipe.

Due to the above there are two basic phenomenon that are created in the exhaust system, gas particle movement and pressure wave activity. The absolute pressure difference between the cylinder and the atmosphere determines gas particle speed. When the gases travel down the pipe and expand their speed decreases. The pressure waves, base their speed on the speed of sound (Mach 1). The wave speed also decreases as they travel down the pipe due to gas cooling, the speed will increase again as the wave is reflected back up the pipe towards the cylinder. All the time the speed of the wave action is much greater than the speed of the gas particles.

Waves behave much differently than gas particles when a junction is encountered in the pipe. When two or more pipes come together such as in a collector, the waves travel into all of the available pipes backwards as well as forwards. Waves are also reflected back up the original pipe, but with a negative pressure. The strength of the wave reflection is based on the area change compared to the area of the originating pipe.

The reflecting negative pulse energy is the basis of wave action tuning. The concept is to time the negative wave pulse reflection to coincide with the period of overlap this low pressure will pull in a fresh intake charge as the intake valve is opening and helps to remove the residual exhaust gases before the exhaust valve closes. This phenomenon is controlled by the length of the primary header pipe. Due to the critical timing aspect of this tuning technique, there may be areas of the power curve that may be harmed.

The gas speed characteristics is a double edged sword. Too much gas speed indicates that that the system may be too restrictive hurting top end power and too little gas speed tends to make the power curve very peaky hurting low end torque. Larger diameter tubes allow the gases to expand and this will cool the gases by slowing down both the gases and the waves.

Exhaust system design is a balance all of these events and their timing. Even with the best compromise of exhaust pipe diameter and length, the collector outlet sizing can optimize or minimize the best design.

The bottom line on any racing exhaust system is to develop the most useful power curve. the final design is how the engine responds to the exhaust tuning on both the dyno and on the race track.

The following components must be considered, Header primary pipe diameter whether constant size or stepped pipes, the primary pipe overall length, the collector design including the number of pipes per collector and the outlet sizing and the megaphone design.

The header pipe sizing and the primary pipe sizing is related to exhaust valve and port size. A header pipe length is dependent on wave tuning. Usually longer pipes tune for lower r.p.m. power and the shorter pipes favor high r.p.m. power. The collector package is dependent on the number of cylinders, and their configuration firing order and their design objectives and the collector outlet size is determined by primary pipe size and exhaust cam timing.

## Porting (general)

There are two ways to port cylinder heads: The right way and the wrong way.

The right way is to refine the flow characteristics of the head and intake manifold so as much air as possible enters the cylinders at the engine’s peak power curve. Every engine is different so there’s no ‘standard’ port configuration that is guaranteed to deliver maximum air flow on every application. The port profile that works best will be limited by the physical dimensions of the cylinder head.

Limiting factors include the size, position and angle of the stock ports, the size configuration and angle of the valves, the thickness of the casting around the ports.

But other factors must be taken into account, too, such as engine displacement, the engine’s bore and stroke, the shape of the combustion chambers, compression ratio, the depth and angles on the valve seats, total valve lift, camshaft profile (duration, overlap,), and type of intake manifold and induction system.

One of the basic goals of head porting is to minimize obstructions so air can flow relatively unimpeded from the throttle plate to the valves.Two things that get in the way are the valve guides and valve guide bosses. Using valves that are necked down just above the valve head improve the air flow.

Transition areas in the port also need to be reworked so air will flow more easily around corners with a sharp radius and into the seat throat just above the valves. Any sudden changes in the cross-section of the port can disrupt this effect and restrict air flow.

The point where the intake manifold and cylinder head intake port meet also is a critical area. If the runners in the rubber intake manifolds are not perfectly aligned with the ports in the head, sharp edges can interrupt normal air flow and impair performance. The same goes for exhaust ports. The head ports must be aligned with the header openings so the exhaust gases can pass freely out of the engine without encountering any sharp edges or obstacles.

The right way to improve air flow is to locate the best places to remove metal. This takes experience, knowing what changes work and what ones don’t and using the right tools for reworking the various portions of the ports, valve pockets and intake manifold

The wrong way to go at it is to grab a die grinder and start hogging out the intake and exhaust ports with no idea of where you’re going or what you’re trying to accomplish other than to open up the ports.

Bigger is not always better. Grind away too much metal and you may end up ruining the casting. But even if you don’t grind all the way through, removing metal in the wrong places can actually end up hurting air flow more than it helps.

“THE SECRET TO MAXIMIZING AIR FLOW AND ENGINE PERFORMANCE IS TO MAXIMIZE VOLUMETRIC EFFICIENCY AND AIR FLOW VELOCITY (SSR)”.

Big ports with lots of volume will obviously flow more air than a smaller port with less volume, but only at higher rpm. A lot of people don’t know that. At lower rpm and mid-range, a smaller port actually flows more efficiently and delivers better torque and performance because the air moves through the port at higher speed. This helps push more air and fuel into the cylinder every time the valve opens. At higher rpm, the momentum of the air helps ram in more air, so a larger port can flow more air when the engine needs it.

The bottom line is this, to realize the most power and performance out of an engine, air flow has to match the breathing requirements of the engine within the engine’s rpm range where it is designed to make the most power.

As a rule, the roof of an intake or exhaust port has much more influence on air flow than the floor or sides of the port. The greatest gains in air flow can often be realized by removing metal from the top of the port only and leaving the sides and floor relatively untouched. The shape of the port is far more critical than the overall size of the port. The largest gains in horsepower are found on the intake side by raising the roof of the port. On exhaust ports, if you tried to match the port to a header gasket you’d probably destroy the port. The secret of exhaust porting today is not how big the port is, but the shape of the port and the velocity of the exhaust flowing through it. Any time you start making the ports bigger on the exhaust side, you usually end up killing air flow in the head.

As for polishing, a smooth finish is great for exhaust ports, but a rougher finish flows better on the intake side. A slightly rough surface texture in the intake ports creates a boundary layer of air that keeps the rest of the air column flowing smoothly and quickly through the port.

## Intake porting

You can optimize the short-side turn of a cylinder’s intake port by expanding the sides of the port. This is necessary in order to address both of the aspects in order to make the turn more effectively and to compensate for the valve guide boss and valve stem which uses some of the available cross sectional area. A well streamlined valve guide boss can enhance results especially swirl rather than hinder it. Expanding the cylinder head walls helps to accomplish the filling of a cylinder when the port and valve is feeding a pair of intake valves in a multi-valve head.

When cylinder head modifications are limited to removing metal dealing with the short-side turn means making the most of whatever is already there. Most production heads have a more abrupt turn than is necessary due to the result of machining the valve throat below the seat. Rounding this off is the best possible solution to what can be done to improve the form of the short-side turn, once the smoothing out of the contours in the valve throat have been completed.

The best way to get the air to move to the back of the valve is to slow it down so that it can make that turn, expanding the intake port’s wall area creates a significant change. When the port is progressively widened and the intake port’s roof is raised in the turn area the slowing of the air just before it reaches the valve can create some substantial HP and Torque gains.

The majority of the air wants to flow in the top half of the intake port, so that area should be favored when removing metal. The increase in cross-sectional area in the valve’s throat area will also create an improvement by converting some of the high velocity into pressure energy, thus intensifying the air / fuel mixture charge into the cylinder.

## Exhaust porting

Even when the exhaust valve is at relatively low lift, the exhaust gasses can exit the exhaust valve’s seat area at super sonic speeds, during this phase the exhaust gasses responds more to the opening area of the exhaust valve rather than the shape of the exhaust port.

As the exhaust valve’s lift increases, the exhaust gas velocity drops to subsonic, and now the shape of the exhaust port becomes the overall factor towards creating high flow. It is also worth noting that for a given size, an exhaust port flows better than an intake port. This is due to the fact that as the exhaust passes from the cylinder into the exhaust port, the flow becomes more organized, which is just the opposite of what takes place at the intake valve.

Another condition that helps the exhaust gasses reach a higher flow efficiency is due to the exhaust valve is typically lifted higher in proportion to its diameter than the intake valve, thus creating the situation that the valve head spends more time out of the influence of the exhaust valve seat.

If an exhaust port has a steep up draft angle and a large short side turn, then the exhaust port begins to resemble a venture like nozzle and a pressure recovery will occur after the gases have passed through the port’s minor diameter. If an exhaust port has a reasonable up draft angle and a short side turn, it will work well for evacuating the cylinder’s exhaust gasses.

Due to the way the exhaust works, a good exhaust port must have an efficient approach to and from the actual exhaust valve seat, otherwise there will be no effectiveness no matter how good the rest of the exhaust port is.

For a general rule, the minor diameter right under the valve seat needs to be 85% to 88% of the exhaust valve’s diameter. Additionally the outward taper from the minor diameter needs to be about 4 to 6 degrees. When the port area gets to be equal to the exhaust valve, for most purposes, it is as large as it needs to be. Also you must make sure there are no low flow spots in the port, as these areas will amplify the low-speed losses seen with Hi-performance camshafts.