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300 Below, Inc. was featured in the November 2005 issue of Supertrax Magazine.
This is a low-quality archival copy that is being made available for our customers.

 

FIRST, YOU HAVE TO COOL IT!

Cryogenically Treating Your Engine to a Longer Life
By Bob Reed

 

Some things in motorsports normally don’t go together. For instance, increased horsepower and torque just don’t seem to belong in the same sentence with reduced wear and breakage. The premise that building more power often results in more breakage has been accepted for many years. On the other hand, maybe you’ve noticed some motorsports teams seem to win more than others while suffering less breakage and often appear to be more relaxed and under less pressure. Could they know something other teams don’t?

Can You Spell C–R–Y–O–G–E–N–l–C?
Cryogenic tempering results from slowly dropping the temperature of a metal to -300°F and then gradually bringing it back to room temperature. Liquid nitrogen deep-chills components at a computer regulated rate and the result is a realignment of its molecular structure, much like heat tempering. Progressive racing teams have used cryogenic treatment for many years in their engines, transmissions and differentials (gears, shafts, bearings, and cases), brake rotors, brake drums, turbochargers, superchargers and axles. Manufacturers have their tooling treated, enabling sharp cutting edges to remain sharp longer, extending run time and reducing downtime, increasing production, reducing tooling purchases, and improving the all-important bottom line. Firearms are treated and made to shoot straighter, clean more easily, last longer, and set records for accuracy.

Cryogenically tempered engines normally maintain stable horsepower and torque while experiencing reduced wear and breakage. These engines perform longer between rebuilds and racing costs are often reduced. Imagine a process that does all that and no one can tell it’s been done. Because the temperatures used in Cryogenic treatment do not cause changes visible to the naked eye, treated parts look exactly the same as ones that haven’t been treated. As a matter of fact, little or no change is visible even when using a high-powered microscope.

Okay, let’s get serious. If you can’t see it, how do you know a positive change, has taken place? Good question. The results of actual change brought about by Crvogenic Treatment best comes from motorsports teams after they have conducted their own controlled testing. Teams must first have kept good baseline records on engines, transmissions and parts not treated cryogenically. Those baselines would then be compared against the same items cryogenically treated. In other words: “You gotta compare apples and apples.”

How does Cryogenic Treatment Work?
When manufacturing of a component takes place, such as drilling, cutting, bending, boring, welding, punching, and shearing; each of those manufacturing steps adds stress. To explain this, think of the times you’ve torn down an engine and found the cylinders were no longer round? On close examination, they were actually oval shaped. How could they have become oval when the enginebegan it’s life with round cylinders and round pistons? The answer is stress! When the engine parts were manufactured, the manufacturing steps added stress to the parts. If the engine, or engine parts, were not stress-relieved by applying a program like cryogenic treatment then those parts will distort and the wearing down process gets underway. For example, once pistons lose their roundness, they begin to wear the cylinders unevenly and the cylinders become oval. The result is that the largest diameter of the piston is wearing the cylinder oval-shaped and the smaller diameter of the piston is no longer sealing as it should. Since it is not sealing, blow-by occurs, resulting in compression loss, and that means less power.

If untreated pistons distort and lose compression, then what do treated pistons do? Treated pistons also become hot when the engine is running, but since they have been stress-relieved through cryogenic tempering, they no longer distort. When they become hot, they have to grow, but they grow uniformly and compression is not lost. You could argue cryogenic treatment doesn’t increase horsepower and torque, but instead helps maintain those commodities.

Is it necessary to treat the engine case and cylinders? The engine block is the foundation of an engine. Even though it is stationary and doesn’t move like most other engine parts, heat and friction stresses cause it to distort. When the block or cases distort, many other parts are no longer in alignment. Cryogenic tempering helps to eliminate case distortion, keeping other engine parts true and in alignment. The result is less friction, less residual heat and less susceptibility to breakage. The engine remains the way it was designed to run and maintains the performance parameters that were expected of it. It’s hard to ask for more!

Bob Reed is Motorsports Division Manager and Mining & Construction Specialist for 300 Below, Inc., 2999 East Parkway Drive, Decatur, IL 62526. For further information: Phone: (800) 550-2796.