Engine block cryogenics??? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 15th, 00, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Please forgive me if this is common knowledge to y'all, but I must ask. Recently I heard that some NASCAR racers have their engine blocks frozen with liquid nitro or some other super-coolant and then have them slow-thawed. I was told that this freezing aligns the block's iron molecules, thus making the block much stronger. Does anyone out there know about this stuff? Is it true? What is the process called? Is the strength gained justified? What does it cost? What type of business would perform the process? OK, that's enough questions. Thanks all.

James

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 04:07 AM
 
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I had never heard about NASCAR teams doing this, but I certainly wouldn't doubt it. I can answer a few questions about cryogenics though, as I have worked in the air separation industry for over twenty years.

Cryogenic liquids are produced by a distillation process which separates the components of air by their different boiling points. Liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen are the two most common cryogenic liquids. Liquid nitrogen is the colder of the two and boils at -321 deg. F at atmospheric pressure. This is what they would use in this application, as liquid oxygen can be quite hazardous, especially if it comes in contact with oil or grease.

I suppose one of the concerns here would be the alloy being cooled. In our plants we have to use either aluminum or stainless steel piping for any low temperature parts of the process, as carbon steel piping will crack or even shatter when exposed to sustained temperatures of -40 deg. F or lower. I would be hesitant to experiment with a cast iron block for this reason. A metallurgist could probably answer this.

As far as doing this as a "home project", it would probably be impractical. The cryogenic liquids are generally delivered to bulk customers (hundreds or thousands of gallons) by large tanker trucks that are vacuum jacketed similar to a large thermos bottle. It is actually a tank within a tank with a vacuum in the annular space. This vacuum provides an excellent insulation for the inner tank. The liquid nitrogen itself is really not that expensive.

I do know of a few plants in the Pacific Northwest, one in particular being a BOC Gases plant in Vancouver, Washington. These plants can usually be found listed in the Yellow Pages under Industrial Gases or Oxygen. Some of the major companies in this field are Air Products, Air Liquide, Praxair, and the aforementioned BOC Gases.

I have a good friend who is the Plant Manager at a plant in Vacaville, CA, and he is an avid gearhead (mostly Pontiacs). Maybe a "clandestine" project could be arranged .

I would volunteer, but I'm currently working overseas in Malaysia until next summer. sometime.

John
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 04:18 AM
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One of the mags (I believe it was a truck) just did an article on this but did it to brake rotors. It suppose to lower brake temp and make the pads last longer. You might want to check it out, if you can't find it I could look for it cause I have the mag somewhere.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 04:41 AM
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This just came up on the chevelle site. If I can find it, I will link to it later today.... Some good stuff!

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 06:15 AM
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I've never heard of this being done to the engine block, but I've heard of it being done to individual engine parts. The process aligns the molecules as you said. This makes the metal inherently stronger and lessens the wear process.

Using cryogenics for this process has been around for awhile. I've heard about it mostly in the firearms industry and just recently in the heavy equipment industry where we take ground engaging tools and cryo them. They last much longer!

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 06:29 AM
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Here is the thread on the chevelle site...
http://www.chevelles.com/forum/Forum2/HTML/003855.html

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 08:24 AM
 
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Igot,

They are stress relieving stuff by Vibration
, now, also.

You bolt the part unto a big tuneable vibrating machine "plate" and then watch how the amplitudes of the vibrations change with time and frequency or something like this.

As the vibrations normalize, the part becomes stress relieved. It is doing the same thing that cryo and heat treat is doing except using mechcanical energy as opposed to thermal energy, both hot and cold. Its really neat. pdq67



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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, thanks for the help, especially DjD! That thread had exactly what I'm looking for. Very interesting stuff and metallurgical technology is cool!

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Hey pdq67, do you think that vibration treatment is as effective or more effective than the cryo treatment? The companies doing the cryo treatments claim they can make a block up to 3X stronger than normal! Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Here's another question: Say you were to do this treatment to your block, but you also wanted to do a bunch of machining work to it also. I'm not an expert on metallurgy, but I'd guess that boring, honing and stuff like 4-bolt conversions have an effect on the blocks iron molecule alignment as well. So my question is, would you want to have the machine work done first and then do the freeze? You could also look at it the other way: I'd bet that the block contracts a lot during the freezing process, so could that contraction possibly distort the precise machining?

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 00, 04:11 PM
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Have to wonder if all this is any better than having a well seasoned block to start with. Consider the heat/cool cycles of a 10 year old engine. Should be well stress relieved I'd think. Has nothing to do with NASCAR of course.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 00, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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A quick note of thanks to all of you that replied. I appreciate your informative responses and for helping lead me in the right direction. I've found a place local to me that I'll probably be dealing with, and wow is the process expensive!

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 00, 04:44 PM
 
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I have to ask the question, how much is your local guy going to charge for the "freeze" and are you starting with a standard block? My thought is would that money be better spent on a competition block, one with thicker cylinder walls, beefer mains, better oiling and thicker decks. I personally would go for the competition block and if I had money to burn would do the freeze. As for the machining, that's just removing matieral from the block. Freeze the block and then machine this way all the molecules have aligned and distortion has occured before machining.

Joseph
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 00, 06:37 PM
 
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Igot,

The vibration people say they do as good as if not better then the others. Of course, Its their Profession.

I think that I read somewhere that Packard used to store rough casting blocks outside for a year before they did any machining to them. My Dad loved the big Packards and he used to drive them in Illinois wide open before they had speed limits when I was a wee boy. God rest his soul.

BTW, a good sound used block is probably more then stress relieved enough like was already said by Tom3. pdq67



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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 00, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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I think you all have good points. I would say that the ideal situation would be to have a competition block, as Joseph suggested {I'd go with a Rocket Block. Can be bored to 455 (small block!) and further stroked to 468!!!}, have it seasoned, then frozen and THEN machined. However, I don't currently have 2K to spend on a block, nor do I want to wait out the seasoning period. I believe the price is around $500 for freezing the block, and a little over $200 for the crank, and around $25 per connecting rod. I'm not sure about the price for doing the heads. I understand that a lot of people have entire short blocks done at a time, though the people local to me say they can do any and all parts, be they steel, aluminum or iron. I figure for the price of a Rocket block I can almost pay for a cryo-treated short block***. If their claims of making the parts 3X stronger are true, then I'd be happy with that. What do you guys think? Btw, I was planning to build that 327 into a high winding, high compression screamer. And no, it wouldn't be a daily driven street motor. I figure sometime in the future I'll build a ridiculously powerful big block, but not just yet. Any feedback on the idea of an all-out 327?

***In case the last part of this message seems to just jump to another subject, I meant to mention earlier in the post that the block I was considering freezing is a 327 w/ factory forged steel crank (small journal. 1053 steel? Can anyone tell me what type of steel that would most likely be?)***

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[This message has been edited by Igot2'72's (edited 11-18-2000).]
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 00, 02:40 PM
 
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Think 1053 is regular low alloy steel with .53 percent carbon in it. It works pretty good for a run of the mill material.

Is there a materials expert in the house?? Please comment further. Thx, pdq67



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