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UndersizingCrankshafts

Yourcustomersneedclarityintermsoftheold10/10"myth.

Smallerdoesnotmeanweaker.

Unlikesubjectssuchasenginedisplacement,garagespace,swimmingpoolsandcomputerhard drivecapacity,sizedoesn'tmatterwhenconsideringcrankshaftjournaldiameters. Chancesare,some (ormany)ofyourcustomersgetabitsqueamishiftheirexistingcrankneedstobegroundmorethan

­0.010"ontherodsandmains.Bythesametoken,theymaynotwanttobuyaremancrankifit'sbeen

groundfurtherthan­0.010".Theirreasonstypicallyincludeconcernaboutthesafetyofthecrank(the

smallerjournalsmakethecranktooweak)orsurfacehardness(gee,ifit'sgroundthatfar,I'lllosethe

hardnessandmycrankwillbreak).

Inanutshell,that'ssheerbaloney. Foronething,bothcastandforgedcrankshaftsareextremelyover engineeredfromastrengthstandpoint. TheOEMsdesignallcrankshaftswithawidemarginoferror, simplytoensureagainstanypotentialforcrankshaftbreakage.Yes,cranksdobreakfromtimeto

time,butnotbecausetheywereundersized.Ifremovingaslittleas,say.040"ofmaterialfromthe

diameterofamainorrodjournalmakesthecranksoweakthatitwillbreak,thenthecrankhadsome

seriousflawstobeginwith,andtheundersizingwasnotacontributingfactor.

Intheolddays(backinthe1930sandearly1940sorso),ifacrankwasgroundtoan undersize, bearingmakerscompensatedfortheadditionalclearancebymakingbearingswiththesamethickness ofsteelbackingastheirstandardbearings,butsimplyaddedtothethicknessoftheliner(Babbitt)to takeuptheadditionalclearanceandtomaintainthespecifiedoilclearance.Ifthecrankwasabiton theunbalancedordistortedside,theeccentricmovementofthecranktendedtobeatoutthethicker softBabbittlining,whichcreatedexcessiveclearance,whichdroppedoilfilmpressure,whichtook outthebearingsandmaybethecrankitself.Unfortunately,thisoldwive'stalehasperpetuatedover theyears,andforabsolutelynogoodreason.Today,anundersizedbearingemploysastandard thicknessliner,withathickersteelbacking,sothere'snoexcessivelythick,soft,mushylinertobeat out.Besides,withtoday'sbi­metalandtri­metalbearingconstruction,liningthicknessbecomesmuch lessofasignificantissueintermsoffatigueresistanceissues.

HARDENINGLOSS?

Asfarashardeningisconcerned,castcranksareusuallynotsurface­hardenedinthefirstplace

(somethingyourcustomersprobablydon'trealize).Inpracticalterms,theonlyrealadvantageofa

concentratedhardeninglayerisforbearingfailureservice.Ifyouwipeoutabearing(duetoanon­

crank­relatedcause),it'seasiertoscrapethebearingmaterialoffofthejournalduringtherepairand

cleanup.that'sit.Inaddition,ifthehardeningofthecrankissomuchofaconcern,considerthis:if

thecrankisplacedinasituationwherethebarejournalcontactstherodormainbore,youhavea

drasticproblemtobeginwiththatisinnowayadimensionalissue.Inshort,surfacehardeningis

simplynotanissueintermsofgrindingacranktoamoderate­to­severeundersize.

HOWFARISTOOFAR?

Let'sputitthisway:ifanestablishedbearingsuppliermakesabearinginaspecificundersize,it'ssafe togrindthecrankaccordingly.Theleadersinthebearingfieldarenotabouttoofferabearingforan

applicationwhereitisn'tdesignedtoendureandperform.IfXYZBearingCompanyoffersa­0.040"

rodandmainbearingset,theyknowitwillworkproperly,sothere'snoreasonforalarm.Theysimply

wouldnotofferundersizesiftheythoughtaproblemexistedintheiruse.

Let'srefertotheracingindustryasanexampleofundersizingsuccess.Manyoftoday'sleading,

cutting­edgecompetitionenginebuildersroutinelygrindtheircranksasmuchas.300"undersizein

ordertoreducemassandtheresultingfrictionalenergy.AspecificexampleinvolvessomeNASCAR

WinstonCupenginebuilderswhoreduceconnectingrodjournalsizeby.210"toachievea1.88"rod

journal,anduseHonda­dimensionedconnectingrods.Iftheseguysarewhackingoffthatmuchmeat,

andstillrunning8,000orsorpm,thereshouldn'tbeanyconcernabouttakingamere0.020"­0.040"

fromthejournalsforanystreetorhighperformancecrankshaftapplication.

AccordingtoJohnHavel,notedindustrybearingexpertatCleviteEngineParts,castironcrankshafts sometimesexhibitadegreeofshrinkageinthecenterlineofthecrank,butifthisissignificant,it wasn'tagoodcranktobeginwith.Therearen'tmanyhardenedcranksoutthereanyway.When grindingacrank,youmightremovethetuftriding(thisappliestoasteelcrankonly)butyoudon't havetohaveextraordinarycrankhardnesstobeginwith. Intermsofhowundersizebearingsare

made,theliningwillnotnormallyvarytoagreatdegree.Inmostcases,astandardanda­.010"

bearingwillutilizethesamesteelbackthickness.A­.020"bearinganda­.030"bearingwillsharea

thickersteelbacking,anda­.040"bearingwilluseanincrementallythickersteelbacking.

Basically,bearingsfallintothreefamiliesintermsofsteelbackingthickness:standardand­0.010";

­0.020and0.030";and­0.040". Thecrankshaftjournalfilletisthemostsignificantelementofthe crankintermsofthereconditioningprocess.Ifacrankshaftbreaks,itwilloccurinthefilletarea,so attentiontofilletprofileiscritical.However,thisisn'tbecausethecrankisbeingundersized. Dimensionhasnothingtodowiththisconcern.Thefilletistheinterruptionarea­­thetransition,if youwill­­betweenthejournalandtherestofthecrank.Naturally,astressareaexistswhereveryou haveacorneroranedge,sotheshapeofthefilletisall­important.

Whenacrankisground(regardlessofthedegreeofundersizing),thefilletmustprovideasmooth transitiontominimizethecreationofafault­inducingstressriser.Ifthefilletisremovedduring

grinding,resultinginasharp90­degreecornertransition,thechanceforfailureisincreasedif

subjectedtoenoughflexandtorsionaltwistunderload,again,regardlessofthejournaldiameter.If thetransitionareafeaturesagroundfillet(wheretheradiushasbeencreatedbytheprofileofastone), thisneedstobemaintainedorre­createdinasimilarfashion.Ifthecrankshaftjournalfilletswere rolledattheOElevel,thisinvolvedanextremecompression(compacting)ofthefilletarea,wherethe metalwascompressedunderincrediblyhighforce,tocreateanundercutandradiusedrollareathatis smallerindiameterthantheadjacentjournalbearingsurface.Ifthefilletswereoriginallyrolled,the ruleofthumbisthatyousimplycannotgrindtoanundersizethatwouldbringthejournalsurface

downtoasmallerdiameterthanthatoftheroll.Ifyoucangrindthejournalundersizeby.040",.060",

oreven.300"withoutdisturbingtherolledfillet,thisisperfectlyacceptable.Again,theconcernisnot

thefinal diameterofthejournal,buttheconditionofthefillet.ExamplesofOE­rolledfilletcranksincludethe

Cadillac4100seriesalumblockV8andtheFord3.8LV6.

Theonlyproblemwithgrindingacastironcranktoadrasticundersizeinvolvesnotthedimensionas

itrelatestostrength,butthenatureofcast(nodular)ironitself.Thesurfacefinishisimportant,

especiallyoncastcranks.Sincethisisnodulariron,thegraphiteinthestructureissphericalinform.

Whenyougrind,youhaveatendencytobreakintothisgraphite.Ifthatroughnessisnotremovedby

aproperpolishingjob,youmaycreatemicroscopicburrsthatwillabradethebearing.It'scriticalto

grindtoasmoothfinish,andtopolishtoasmoothfinish.Thebestpracticewouldbetopolishinboth

directionsanytimeyougrindacastcrank(althoughthisisnotdoneonaroutinebasis,it'snonetheless

agoodidea).

Inpracticalterms,becauseofthemetallurgyofcastiron,thepracticallimitforaroutinepassengercar

orlighttruckcastcrankwouldbeanundersizeof­.040".Again,thishasnothingtodowithfinal

diameter,andeverythingtodowithsurfacefinish.Manybuildersareabletouse­0.060"bearings

(dependingonavailabilityofthatsizeincrementforaspecificmotor)withnoproblemswhatsoever.

Caution:whenacrankshaftisground,somefolksaretemptedtotouchthethrustfaceinordertoclean

itupandprovideanacceptableappearance.However,caremustbeexercised,sincethiscancreatea

wavyfaceifthewheelchatters.Also,ifyougrindwiththesideofthegrindingwheel,acrisscross

patternmayresult,whichisdetrimentaltomaintainingaproperoilfilm.Sincethrustfacesare

difficulttofinalpolishaswell,andsinceitismoredifficulttoachievecorrectoilfilmonaflat

surfaceasopposedtoaradiusedsurface,thebestadviceisthisifthere'snothingwrongwiththethrust

face,leaveitalone.

Inshort,tellyourcustomersthatthereisabsolutelynothingwrongwithundersizingacrankfurther

than­0.010".Theyarenotbeingshort­changedbyacceptingacrankthat'sground10/10,10/20,

20/10,20/20,10/30,20/30,10/40,30/30,40/40,etc.Aslongasthegrindingisperformedaccurately

andthefilletsareshapedcorrectly,andthecorrectsizebearingisinstalled,theresultwillbea perfectlyperformingcrankshaftthatcanbeusedwithconfidence,bothfromastandpointof performanceanddurability.simplyput,thereisnodisadvantagetoacrankthathasbeenground

furtherthan10/10.Ifanything,theengineshouldrunstronger,sinceundersizingeffectively

reducesfrictionallosses.

byMikeMavrigian

May2000­PRECISIONMACHINESHOP