The Quality of Overseas Engine Parts

One of the greatest difficulties in the automotive engine rebuilding industry is finding the correct engine parts to accomplish a comprehensive rebuild. Although many aftermarket internal engine part manufacturers are available, over the last several years we have observed major development in offshore manufacturing. This presents specific problems for engine builders and automotive enthusiasts.

There is no question that a worldwide transfer of manufacturing has occurred. China is the main benefactor of the reduction in USA production. Even though this supplies distinct short-term financial relief for folks building their automotive engines, the permanent ramifications are diminished parts accessibility, quality declines and extended waiting periods to acquire bought components.

The tolerances of engine components manufactured overseas normally aren’t held to the same specifications as they are in the USA. Whether it is tooling wear from mass manufacturing, or the inability to complete finishing, a lot of the machined engine parts made in China are substandard and outside accepted tolerances. This pushes many local automotive machine shops to undertake the finish machining themselves to make sure that their reconditioned engines will perform as intended and tolerate many years of use.

Just lately, we had a a new imported engine block delivered to our auto garage that was made in China. There was casting sand in a few non-critical sections of the engine block. The piston cylinders were outside of specifications and there was a bit of rust on the crankshaft main caps. Though these conditions were quickly repaired, the fee to the client increased dramatically because the cylinder block needed to be bored and honed once more. Fortunately this customer didn’t pay for pistons beforehand, because the standard bore pistons couldn’t work in the engine block after it was bored oversize.

The challenge when acquiring engine blocks, and associated internal engine parts from overseas vendors, is they aren’t close by if a problem arises. Unquestionably we could have refused the engine block, although the fee to deliver it back to China would have been more costly then the repairs that were performed.

Being unable to contact a nearby or domestic business to support components used in rebuilt engines is a difficult problem for some specialized automotive machine shops. Many of these shops work hard to build extremely high quality engines. But when faced with a shrinking domestic manufacturing base, they are finding that producing quality work is becoming more difficult and more costly in the end for their valued customers. This is part of the reason why so many local machine shops are letting their customers know that by building their engines locally, and supporting domestic engine part manufactures when able, each customer is helping to preserve an industry that can be utilized by future generations.

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What Is Mechanical Engineering? Is It the Right Course for Me?

Choosing a career in engineering can be a difficult decision due to the wide array of options offered by Universities and Colleges. The first step is identifying your passions and interests and to see how well they match each of the engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineering is one of the four major disciplines along with civil, electrical and chemical.

Mechanical engineering focuses on dynamic, or moving, systems. It is a very broad field that overlaps with civil engineering in many instances. The ability of a mechanical engineer to consider dynamic events and design for load transfer (a car experiences load transfer when the brakes are applied by the driver and the weight of the car shifts to the front wheels) is what distinguishes them from civil engineers. Mechanical engineers design machinery and components for use in the construction, transportation and automotive industries using a wide array of computer software such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) and FEA (Finite Element Analysis). CAD allows an engineer to design a component before simulating its durability and strength using FEA. This process saves countless hours and dollars for companies as they are now able to test a component before they have to build it.

Anyone who has a good level of mechanical aptitude and is curious about complex systems and vehicles is a good candidate to undertake a mechanical engineering course. It teaches the general principles of mechanical systems whereas the sub-disciplines focus only on one field of development. For example, a student who builds robots as a hobby would be most suited to a mechatronics course rather than the mechanical course. The major sub-disciplines of mechanical engineering are briefly described below.

Aerospace/Aeronautical
Aerospace engineers are responsible for the advance of aircraft and space vehicles. They specialise in designing highly sophisticated commercial and military aircraft. Wind tunnels are their weapon of choice, with many hours dedicated to aerodynamic testing within them. Aerospace engineers are also used extensively in the automotive industry, mainly in high performance fields such as Motorsport. This course may also serve as a pathway to obtaining a pilots licence and vice versa.

Automotive
A branch of mechanical engineering that focuses on understanding the vehicle manufacturing process and the future direction of the automotive industry. This course prepares graduates for a career with an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), component suppliers, or road transport agencies. Greater emphasis on hybrid and electric cars may create more opportunities for automotive engineers in the near and long term future.

Marine
Marine engineering includes marine vessel design, operation, maintenance and the design of any infrastructure that exists for the marine industry. All marine vessels contain mechanical and electrical systems such as turbines, fuel systems and air conditioning, requiring engineers to have knowledge in both areas.

Mechatronics
Mechatronics is a mechanical/electrical hybrid engineering discipline that is mostly concerned with optimising products and processes using cutting edge technology. This field is a great choice for those with a passion for robotics.

Nuclear
The field of nuclear power is the sole focus of nuclear engineers. Power generation, radiation and nuclear reactions (fission and fusion energy) are the fundamental research areas of nuclear engineering. A large portion of nuclear engineers work on power plant design and may be stationed on-site to supervise the operation of the plant. Many opportunities exist for research and development of nuclear power; mainly in the United States.

If you are able to identify yourself with any of the above sub-disciplines you are halfway to deciding on an engineering course. If you are interested in mechanical systems but are not particularly passionate about a specific field, then it is advisable to choose a mechanical engineering course which will expose you to a broad range of subjects. Once enrolled in a course, it is always possible to transfer into a related discipline should you change your mind.

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Electrical Vehicles and LED Lights for the Future

If you were to ask an individual during the early 1940s and 1950s about the future of automobiles, they would have told you that they were expecting flying cars within the turn of the 20th century. While technology has allowed man to take far steps in automotive engineering from when it was first manufactured, we have not yet reached the technology to create flying cars for the public unfortunately. Not yet at least. The 21st century is an innovative stage of engineering where “green technology” is the key focus and in an attempt to rely less on fossil fuels and more on alternative choices such as electricity. Hybrid vehicles with a gas and electric engine combined are becoming more and more popular among consumers to save money on gas and reduce toxic emissions. Full electrical vehicles are also starting emerge as well, but with a steep price tag attached to them. To conserve energy, more efficient methods of lighting such as LED lights are also becoming increasingly popular among car manufacturers and regular consumers. LED lighting technology is becoming the future of automotive lighting engineering.

Hybrid vehicles are automobiles that utilize both a gas engine and electric motor to propel itself. A small list of notable hybrid vehicles that many consumers drive include the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Lexus CT200H, Ford Fusion, and many more. Thanks to the engineering of these automobiles, it is not common to see an EPA-rated MPG (Miles Per Gallon) of 40 or more on the street or highway. Several benefits of hybrid vehicles include saving money by spending less money at the gas station, reducing your carbon foot print in the world, and access to HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) or better known as carpool lanes. While saving money and giving you access to more convenient features on the highway, hybrid cars also produce less harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, mono-nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide

In addition to hybrid vehicles, auto manufacturers are beginning to produce and sell full electric vehicles such as the Scion iQ, Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster, Toyota RAV4 EV, and more. Unlike their close hybrid counter parts; these full electric cars do not utilize a gas engine. Full electric vehicles are the ultimate way to save money on gas; savings up to $580 advertised by companies like Tesla. Since these cars do not use an internal combustion engine, they produce no tail pipe emissions; this is a gold standard of a green technology vehicle. One of the downsides of this new era of automobiles is the steep initial price tag drives consumers away, but over time they will become more affordable as the technology progresses. In addition to cost, the integration of charging stations throughout the country is still several years away making it inconvenient to travel long distances without worrying to charge the car.

Other technology innovations to improve the efficiency of the vehicle are also being integrated into these cars such as LED lighting. LED stands for a “light emitting diode” and is a semi-conductor that lights up when power is applied. LED lighting is much more efficient at turning energy into visible light compared to incandescent bulbs. This feature of the light makes it an attractive piece of technology to have for hybrid and full electric vehicles which benefits from every bit of electricity efficiency it can have. Many manufacturers are beginning to integrate LED technology into their cars; for example the Toyota Prius and Lexus CT200H have options to come equipped with factory installed LED headlights. Factory installed LED tail lights and LED daytime running lights are also becoming more and more popular among car manufacturers as well; whether the car is a hybrid, full electric, or a gas/diesel engine. Not only are LED lights more efficient, they are also able to produce a more aesthetic ally appealing color of light. LED lights can be produced in various shades such as warm white, pure white, red, amber and more which can all be used in different ways on the vehicle; examples include the license plate lights, turn signals, headlights, running lights, tail lights, interior lights, and more!

While we are not in the era of flying cars just yet, we are slowly moving forward in technology one step at a time. While the cost of this advanced technology is still expensive, as it improves and becomes more integrated into the everyday world; it will become more affordable. LED lights are becoming standard equipment on many vehicles and even commercial and residential lighting. The future for LED lights is very bright and will continue to grow and mature with the automobile industry as the “green technology” era unfolds.

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