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The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Sunday, July 22, 2007 12:38 AM
The most common misconceptions, the concerns and the state of mind of tuners

This is by no means saying what my opinion is the end all and say all to car tuning but it's something to think about or even something to question if you feel to. Hopefully this will raise some discussion either on the forum boards or in real life.
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1. A engines limitation with forced induction is determined by how much "boost" it can hold

This is incorrect. A engines limitation is more in a phsyical basis as far as parts holding up to stress.

"Boost" is nothing but air pressure that is above atmospheric pressure. It's less about how much pressure you're creating and more about the amount of air (CFM) being compressed per pound of air pressure (PSI).

2. Backpressure is something you need

First understand that your engine is a big air pump. It ingests oxygen (or maybe even is forced fed oxygen) and expels wastes. The most important part to also understand is that velocity of air traveling plays effect in both parts. If you don't understand what velocity is:

Quote:

In physics, velocity is defined as the rate of change of displacement or the rate of displacement. It is a vector physical quantity, both speed and direction are required to define it.


When talking about your exhaust system, increasing the diameter of your exhaust system or even increasing the primaries on your manifold/header, it effects the velocity of the exhaust leaving your engine. If it doesn't make much sense to you, think of it like this:

Take a straw that is 3 centimeters in diameter and blow into it. The air from your lungs is now traveling through your mouth and into a closed area at a certain rate of speed. When it reaches into the straw, what determines the speed is the force of the air travel in this inclosed space. Now take a straw that is 6 centimeters in diameter and the same length. Lets also assume that the air leaving your lungs and traveling through your mouth is going at the same speed/velocity. With having a larger diameter straw, this is going to change how fast air will travel through the straw...hence change the velocity of the air.

Using the example above, your lungs is the engine, your mouth is the ports on the cylinder head(s) and the straw is your exhaust system.

Now that you understand what velocity is, understand what backpressure is.

Backpressure is exactly that, air (or in this case exhaust waste) traveling back torwards the engine. Now most of us understand that it's about how fast the exhaust gets out of the motor and the exhaust system. If there is a force of air traveling out of engine into one direction, backpressure would be a force of air attempting to travel in the opposite direction.

Backpressure is caused by restriction, whether it be a crimp in the exhaust system, for example, a crush bent pipe:



or it be because of a very small diametered exhaust system (including primaries on the manifold/header).

The most important thing to understand in the cases of having an engine that is naturally aspirated or supercharged (turbocharged engines don't run off this method post-turbocharger) is that when you increase the diameter, you are getting rid of backpressure...yes but you are at the same time effecting the velocity of air traveling out of your exhaust system. It's basically taking the good with the bad.

Why is exhaust velocity important? Exhaust velocity does have a direct relation to your powerband and where it is located which is why it's very important for you to pick the proper size exhaust system in the first place. The wrong size can effect your powerband in the negative way (well, negative to you as the user of the vehicle). The slower the velocity, the later in the RPM Band your powerband will be moved to. If off extremely, it will make the performance of your engine very peaky or at worst, make you lose power.

Overall, everything should be considered and it is important to think about exhaust velocity...not backpressure. I would also suggest reading up on scavenging effects.

3. Higher Octane means more power

Higher Rated Octane Gasoline alone will NOT gain you power. The octane rating in relation to your engine is all referring the resistance to detonation (knock). Detonation is a uncontrolled explosion in your combustion chamber (not like a normal controlled igniting of fuel).

Higher Octane also has nothing to do with flame speed.

Now being that high octane fuel more resistant to detonation occuring, you can yield power gains by advancing ignition timing or even possibly running at a leaner air to fuel ratio (of course this depends on the application and the condition of the engine or setup you're running).

4. You shouldn't or can't boost a high compression (static) engine

This isn't true and there is nothing wrong with doing so if you of course know what you are doing from the beginning.

The reason people say this is because naturally, higher compressioned pistons (taller), experience higher combustion chamber temperatures than lower compressioned pistons (shorter). If you were to "boost" a naturally aspirated engine that is (for example sake) 10.5:1 compression, nothing different will occur than if you had 8.5:1 compression pistons.

The pros of boosting a higher compressioned engine is that less air is required from your compressor to yield X HP/TQ than if you had a lower compressioned engine. Why? High compressioned engines compress the air/fuel mixture tighter which also allows for a better air/fuel mixture burn which would yield a stronger ignition on the top of the piston, which creates force to turn the crankshaft and create more power.

With less boost pressure required, it is also more likely that you will be staying in the efficiency range of your compressor, which means a less likely of you creating excess heat and raising your IATs (Intake Air Temperature).

The con: Excessively High Combustion Chamber Temperatures

Yes, that is bad but it's all about countermeasuring it and doing things to a degree. There are many of ways to counteract excess heat:

1. Running a richer fuel mixture
2. "Colder" spark plugs
3. Retarding ignition timing
4. Running Higher Octane
5. Running Meth/Water Injection
6. Better (more efficient) Intercooling

These are the more general ways of doing so.

#4 is usually a big concern because of course, not everyone has access to Octane Fuel higher than 93 Rating but to also run into another misconception that you will NEED higher octane fuel...that's also incorrect because the other 5 options I listed can help to achieve the same goal.

5. A "larger" profile camshaft will always gain you power

Just like how I explained exhaust velocity, it works the same way going into the engine. With camshafts it's all about drawing air into the combustion chamber at a certain point of the Intake Stroke and for how long the camshafts keep valves open. The piston going downwards on the intake stroke is what causes air to get "sucked" into the combustion chamber.

Usually a "larger" profile means that they are changing the characteristics of the lobes/cam profile to increase the lift and duration.

Camshafts do nothing more than determine where your powerband is going to be located by how long it's going to keep the valves open for and how far the valve will get pushed down.

Now remember that RPMs = Revolutions Per Minute. The more revolutions made, the more intake strokes there will be. At lower RPMs, of course, there will be less intake strokes made and meaning less air will be ingested or even needed. Having a high duration camshaft (non-vvt motor) means that it's having the same duration no matter what RPM you're having. If you had less duration, this means that the camshaft will have the valve open for a less period of time which will creating a stronger velocity pull of air throughout the intake system and intake ports on the cylinder head. The higher duration, the weaker velocity pull at lower RPMs BUT the possibility of you drawing in more air with the increase of revolutions of the engine.

If you have a "larger" profile camshaft and you plan to have a engine that has a lot of engine revolutions, you're capable of drawing in more air in the higher RPM band because you are having more intake strokes occuring in a minute.

Camshafts also determine how broad or peaky your RPM band can be & the amount of valve overlap you're creating (Example: DOHC) as well as where your powerband is located.

Overall, it's not a guarantee that you WILL gain power. It could cause such a shift in your powerband that you could be slower than you were before.

6. Tuning Misconception: "My engines air/fuel ratio was good but my engine still blew"

There are more factors that play into how long your engine lasts for than Air to Fuel Ratio. Monitoring the follow are key as well:

1. EGTs (Exhaust Gas Temperatures)
2. Knock Sensor
3. IATs (Intake Air Temperatures)

Assuming you have a proper fueling system and a engine setup that was working fine in the first place, monitoring these 3 things are also important.

Your EGTs are a direct relation to how hot your combustion chamber is getting. Think of it as if you're cooking something in your oven, if you burn something, it will smoke and may reflect the temperature of the item burning.

Your Knock sensor listens for any abnormal "explosions" in your combustion chamber, which is also known as detonation. When it "hears" something abnormal, it senses it and sends a signal to your computer which in relation, your computer starts to retard ignition timing as a safety countermeasure. Your computer also reads the signal and translates it by "degrees of knock". If you are reading anything other than 0 degrees of knocking that is a problem and you should start to figure out why this is occuring and how to fix the issue.

Your IATs are the starting point and can be what may be causing a issue. Some vehicles have more than 1 IAT sensor on the intake side. On vehicles with forced induction, they can have a pre and post IAT sensor to see the temperature of the air coming into the compressor and then the temperature after the compressor. If you are capable of monitoring this, I'd suggest doing so because it can have direct relation to how hot your combustion chamber is getting...if your IATs are excessive, so will your combustion chamber temperatures.

There are other things you can look out for but these are the most common things that a tuner can check up on before having a blown engine BESIDES their air to fuel ratios. This is of course assuming that everything else was setup properly and parts were sufficient for the job at hand.

7. Increasing my rev limiter will gain me more power

Yes and No. If you have a stock vehicle and you increase your rev limiter, it won't yield you any MORE power. You would actually start to see a drop off in power.

Why? There are many reasons why but typically the most important reasons are that your valvetrain or compressor (in stock form) or both aren't capable of keeping up a steady and higher airflow demand to for the increased engine revolutions.

8. I was going to tune with a air/fuel gauge with my stock O2 sensor

Doing this is actually useless when it comes to fuel tuning for performance.

Why? Most automakers produce vehicles with atleast 1 O2 Sensor that is the primary O2 sensor for determining fuel consumption during idle and cruising speeds...basically for gas mileage. The chemically ideal stoich air/fuel mixture is 14.68 air/fuel ratio which is basically what these sensors are capable of reading accurately around. These are called narrowband O2 sensors. If you were to install a air/fuel gauge to pick-up your narrowband O2 sensor, you'll basically get a light show during cruising speeds and in higher throttle positions, it will probably peg in one because it's not capable of knowing how rich or lean you are actually running. Just like the name, it's range of reading is just that, narrow. For all it knows you could be running 9 a/f or 12 a/f.

What should you use? You should get a wideband O2 sensor. It has a much broader range of reading your air/fuel mixture in your exhaust stream (I believe as rich as low 9s to 20+ a/f). This is something that you wouldn't replace your stock O2 sensor with because your computer wouldn't be able to understand the signal voltage referencing from the wideband sensor. Companies sell them with a unit that will translate it to you in a number form and it is seperate from your stock computer. There are standalone computers (if you were that far into engine management systems) that will allow you to use a wideband O2 sensor that it can reference to and you can tune with and it can reference to...but that's another topic in itself.

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My concern is basically about the state of mind of tuners when it comes to modifying.

When tuning your vehicle, it is most important to understand that a engine is a very controlled item and when you start to modify, it is up to you to keep up that controlled type of environment. If you don't catastrophic things will occur and your pockets will hurt.


www.kronosperformance.com / 732-742-8837


Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Saturday, July 28, 2007 12:48 AM
nice looks like my textbook in AEP, definetaly alot of people that just dont know what they are talking about and should read up before working on an engine.
anybody can take apart an engine, its putting it back thats tricky.





electric supercharger......................................just dont tell anybody you have it
Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Saturday, July 28, 2007 1:54 PM
Exactly why I posted this up. I think it's important for everyone to understand.


www.kronosperformance.com / 732-742-8837

Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Monday, October 08, 2007 5:35 PM
Fundamental to understanding point #2 (Backpressure), is an understanding of exhaust velocity, momentum, and how it relates directly to cylinder scavenging.

Cylinder scavenging, in its simplest terms, means the evacuation from the engine cylinder of spent (burnt) gases, accomplished by outside means. In other words, circumstances outside the cylinder are encouraging the removal of gases from that cylinder. Why is complete cylinder emptying important ? Because exhaust gases contaminate fresh incoming fuel / air charge. And the more fresh fuel and air we can pack into a cylinder before the exhaust valve slams shut, the more potential we have to rotate the crank.

Like any body or mass in motion, moving exhaust gases have momentum. Simply stated, Momentum is 'the tendency of a body in motion, to remain in motion' ( Newton's first law of Motion). When the exhaust valve opens at the beginning of the exhaust cycle, two things happen; (1) the expanding exhaust gases find a place to escape, and then (2) the piston reverses direction and begins to force the spent gases from the cylinder. Momentum builds in that mass of spent gases as a result of both expansion and piston movement.

Once the exhaust gases begin to accelerate in a given direction, 5 major factors have the potential to slow their movement :
  1. Exhaust valve size, lift, and opening /closing rate
  2. Friction caused by contact with the walls of the cylinder head exhaust port, primary and collective tubes, cat, muffler and resonator
  3. Cross-sectional area and length of exhaust system Primary (individual cylinder tubes) and Collective (Tubes transporting gases from all cylinders)
  4. Ambient air pressure. The air surrounding us is under pressure at the rate of 14.7 psi, and resists the flow of exhaust from the engine cylinder
  5. Resonance. The movement of this high-speed mass of exhaust gases travels with resonance , affected by neighboring cylinders as their flow merges. Speed and momentum are collectively affected. High speed pressure waves travelling down the exhaust system are reflected by sharp bends and restrictions (mufflers, resonators, cats). These reflected pressure waves have the ability to both encourage and hinder, the flow of exhaust gas from the cylinder, and down the length of the system to atmosphere.


  6. To sum it up; Inadequate momentum hurts scavenging, as does excessive restriction. For a given tube cross-sectional area, generally, the longer an exhaust system primary & collective section ( there is certainly an optimum point, after which point greater added length hurts performance), the greater the momentum, and the better the cylinder scavenging at lower RPMs. Low RPM performance generally improves.

    Conversely, for a given tube cross-sectional area, the shorter the Collective & Primary, the more high RPM performance improves. The reason, is that at high RPM the exhaust pulses in the primary tube are more tightly compressed (greater density) and are closer together ( travelling at higher frequency.) Thus, optimum momentum is established by a shorter primary tube, and simultaneously, the cylinder benefits from the lack of restriction to flow which a longer tube presents.
Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Friday, September 26, 2008 7:27 AM
i love what you wrote because it is with out a doubt true. im in high school and i have way to many friends thinking boost....power....boost......power and things like that when im the one thinking breathe better. an engine is something you have to build all around to make it work better not just putting as much power as you can into it
Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Friday, September 26, 2008 8:22 AM
Ray Palmer wrote:

i love what you wrote because it is with out a doubt true. im in high school and i have way to many friends thinking boost....power....boost......power and things like that when im the one thinking breathe better. an engine is something you have to build all around to make it work better not just putting as much power as you can into it


Thanks. I'm glad that you appreciated it.


www.kronosperformance.com / 732-742-8837

Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 12:36 AM
hey yall i got a 07 cobalt ls and im tryin to do some work as of now my bro put a muffler on as a joke but sounds good but i don't know what cat back to even look at now and i also have an AEM V2 intake and im tryin to find a chip but i cant find one
Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Thursday, July 23, 2009 5:18 AM
14.7 psi would only increase rod load by 20%, perhaps this could be added into #1



Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Monday, August 31, 2009 1:47 PM
i have a question, more lie a statement.. i disagree with what you said about higher compression is better if your going to boost a car. my cavalier has a 10.1:1 compression and with a hahn turbo im looking at 265 k? but with wiesco low compression pistons my hp gain is more. ive heard from many people that boost exspecially turbo boost "loves" low compression and will perform better than with high compression. now if i wanted to build an all motor n/a car and not boost it, and throw a 100 shot on it. than yes id want high compression. but not for boost.. low compression for boost.

thats all, im not trying to argue, i just wanted to throw out what ive been told.
Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Monday, August 31, 2009 7:46 PM
matt lyle wrote:

i have a question, more lie a statement.. i disagree with what you said about higher compression is better if your going to boost a car. my cavalier has a 10.1:1 compression and with a hahn turbo im looking at 265 k? but with wiesco low compression pistons my hp gain is more. ive heard from many people that boost exspecially turbo boost "loves" low compression and will perform better than with high compression. now if i wanted to build an all motor n/a car and not boost it, and throw a 100 shot on it. than yes id want high compression. but not for boost.. low compression for boost.

thats all, im not trying to argue, i just wanted to throw out what ive been told.


No where in that original post did I say that it was better...

What you've been told is very narrow minded concepts and they never told you why. Next time someone wants to give you suggestions, ask them why and see how their explaination sounds.


www.kronosperformance.com / 732-742-8837

Re: The most common misconceptions that tuners have (Write Up)
Friday, May 07, 2010 9:20 AM
Great stuff Adam!

Further to the exhaust discussion - the elusive topic of "pulse timing". As you know (but perhaps some of your readers may not), there is one more way to, at least in theory, improve exhaust scavenging. When a given cylinder fires and the exhaust is expelled into the primary, a wave, or pulse, of pressure rapidly travels the length of the tube, into the collector, and out the back. Put your hand over the tailpipe and you feel these pulses.

When primary lengths, diameters and shapes are properly designed, exhaust pulses can be used to assist scavenging in the following way: If the pressure pulse from cylinder #1 enters the collector just as cylinder #3 exhaust valve opens, a brief period of (relatively) low pressure will exist in the #3 primary as the rapidly exiting exhaust pulse from #1 exits the collector and "pulls" on the newly emerging exhaust from cylinder #3. When properly designed, this brief period of relatively low pressure can aid scavenging across a pre-determined rpm range (although not the ENTIRE rpm range). In addition, interesting effects can be achieved by altering the collector design once the primary lengths have been worked out. The "Tri-Y" collector, for example, has proven useful to us in situations where a broader scavenging effect is desired whereas the traditional 4 into 1 seems to produce a more pronounced power peak.

Now for the REALLY interesting stuff (to me, anyway). Thermal dynamics. All things being equal, the hottest point on an engine SHOULD be at about 3-4" into the primary pipes. At this point the exhaust gasses are just at the peak of expansion and velocity, and therefore have generated maximum combustion and frictional heat. What happens when something gets hotter? It expands. What happens when something expands in a contained area? It builds pressure. Therefore, in this dynamic environment, the pressure at that point in the exhaust system where the temperature is hottest will be RELATIVELY higher than the pressure on either side. Done properly, this differential SHOULD also create an additional scavenging effect in the short, upstream portion of the primary between this spot and the cylinder head. We have spent a lot of time on the dyno with this one, and we have found that, after getting the rest of the system done, an additional few percent can be gained by careful placement of ceramic coatings or wraps to aid this effect.

Of course, all of this just about has to be done on a system that allows a no-compromise, racing layout. The tight bends, and God forbid, the horror of such things as big mufflers and catalytic converters.... I shudder to think of it.

Fun stuff, I enjoy your board. Take care.

Keith Iaia
Revolution Racing Engines
805-238-3930
www.revolutionracingengines.com

"The Revolution Starts NOW!"

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