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#13899 - 05/15/17 09:47 AM What does "Blueprinting" mean?
JFW Offline


Registered: 01/16/11
Posts: 2098
Loc: Florida
This article appeared in a recent Corvair Alley.com newsletter published by Rick Norris.

I thought it was interesting enough to warrant discussion here.

From EngineLabs newsletter:

Ben Strader of EFI University sets the facts straight on engine "blueprinting," and what the term really meant before it was abducted by aftermarket shops.

A common problem within today’s horsepower hunting subculture is that some of the vocabulary being used by the industry no longer accurately reflects the actions behind the word, which has left many enthusiasts confused and misinformed, with one blaring example being engine blueprinting.

If you’re an avid horsepower hobbyist, you’ve more than likely heard the term “engine blueprinting” thrown around on the web, in the shop, or at the track. Now, it’s important to first point out that the term itself has not lost its meaning to newer technology or engine assembly practices, and still has its place in the industry today. But rather the problem seems to stem from how loosely the term is used by professionals and in how we educate the consumer.

Ben Strader, founder of EFI University, considers this a real weakness of our community, and has made it a central part of his business model to properly educate his students (who are both consumers and professionals) on the importance of the accuracy in their words.

The Definition Matters. When an automotive professional (whether a mechanic, tuner, writer or even tech support) does not put an emphasis on the accuracy of their words, the customer is being done a disservice. And in the case of performance shops advertising “engine blueprinting“ services to your average enthusiast, at some point it will more than likely lead to miscommunication and disappointment from the owner of the vehicle, the shop, or both.

“In my opinion, the vocabulary being used by professionals and the education of the consumer is what we need to change as an industry. Not to say anything negative about the abilities of the performance shops that advertise this service, but sticking to its literal definition, using the term blueprinting in relation to a race or high performance engine build is a dramatic step in the wrong direction — in my opinion,” states Strader. “To blueprint an engine means to prepare, specify and document all of the engine’s tolerances, clearances, and materials based on a set standard. And the problem lies in the fact that currently the only standard you will find available to the public is the OE engine specifications out of the factory service manual.”

Of course at the elite level of racing, such as Formula 1, Nascar and IndyCar; a team will have multiple engines “blueprinted,” and each mill built will share exactly the same specifications as the others from top to bottom — an exact clone if you will. The difference is that this data is proprietary, and the teams safeguard this information as seriously as the Secret Service protects the U.S. President’s nuclear football.

“The problem with these public set of standards is that an OEM engine is designed to operate under a completely different set of operating conditions than a race engine. Rarely is the OEM’s number one goal to design an engine for maximum power,” says Strader. “A factory engine is more likely designed for extended periods at cruising engine speeds, frequent early morning cold starts, maximum fuel efficiency, reliability and low noise. So, this means that the clearances, tolerances, and the specific materials used in the components of those engines are not well suited for competition and racing applications.”

“Think about it like this, your typical OEM piston is made from a hypereutectic material or a cast aluminum alloy; and racing pistons are generally made from a forged or billet design. So this means that the thermal behavior of these alloys are going to be dramatically different,” states Strader. “For example, if you tried to take a forged piston and run it using the same clearances as an OEM cast design, you would stick the piston the first time you tried to run the engine because the forged material swells and expands much more as it heats up.”

“Due to these kinds of issues, I find it silly that anyone would ‘blueprint’ a performance engine to the exact factory specifications. I think what we really need to do, as an industry, is redefine our understanding of what it means to ‘blueprint’ an engine,” explains Strader. “We need to help the consumer understand that what ‘engine blueprinting’ really describes [in the performance aftermarket] is the goal of preparing an engine to a certain specification, and not necessarily to factory spec. But, what I feel is even more important for a competition engine is then understanding where that specification is coming from, and how they came up with those values.”

Competition Engine Development. It’s important to focus on the techniques, thought process and effort that goes into the ‘development’ of a competition engine. And there’s a lot more to the process than just checking all of the clearances and making sure they’re at a particular spec, -Ben Strader

“This is one of the many reasons why we launched our Competition Engine ‘Development’ program,” says Strader. “It’s important to not only focus on assembly, but specifically on the techniques, thought process and effort that goes into the ‘development’ of a competition engine. And there’s a lot more to the process than just checking all of the clearances and making sure they’re at a particular specification.”

“To ‘develop’ an engine means that we are going to evaluate the effectiveness [efficiency] of the engine in three different categories — Volumetric Efficiency, Thermal Efficiency, and Mechanical Efficiency,” explains Strader. “In a nutshell, we’re trying to cram as much air and fuel into the engine as possible, then convert as much of that fuel and air into useable energy as we can — while also trying to give away as little of that energy to the valvetrain and rotating assembly.”

Volumetric Efficiency (VE) is a measurement of the actual airflow through the engine, starting at the air cleaner and ending at the tailpipe. And to increase the VE of an engine involves camshaft profile design, cylinder head porting, intake manifold improvements, and really anything that would increase airflow through the engine falls into this category.

Your average engine harnesses less than 30-percent of the energy produced during the combustion process, and Thermal Efficiency relates to any modification that would extract more of that energy out of the fuel within our engine. This can include things like raising the compression ratio; running a certain type of fuel; determining the specific volume and path that the coolant takes through the engine; and sometimes even as a byproduct of our efforts to improve VE.

Lastly, to improve the Mechanical Efficiency of an engine means to reduce the friction and drag that leads to parasitic power losses. This is done through lubrication system design, engine oil formulations, piston ring packages, and the specific materials used in each component.

“Once you break down the process into those three categories, it becomes much more obvious that an engine is actually a long series of dependent events; and you can’t modify one aspect of an engine without also altering something else,” explains Stader. “If we switched up our piston material from a standard hypereutectic OEM-style alloy to a 2618 billet, that’s going to require an entirely different cylinder wall finish because that billet piston would also utilize a different piston to wall clearance and ring package.”

Engine blueprinting is just showing you how to assemble an engine, but that’s not the real challenge. EFI-U’s CED course revolves around the concept of ‘development,’ and knowing how to make changes and properly evaluate them — regardless of whether good or bad — and be able to continue progressing and moving forward with the development process of a competition engine.
_________________________
Jack Woehrle

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#13902 - 05/16/17 05:54 AM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: JFW]
fordboy628 Offline
Professional

Registered: 06/30/14
Posts: 311
Loc: NE Illinois
Hi Jack,

I could not agree more with the subject of the article. I recently heard the term "blueprinting" used in the context of describing EFI "tuning" for a recently produced domestic V8.

I also wish for more "standardization" of the terms used by enthusiasts. A problem occurs in communication, when the incorrect terms are used by either the client(s) or the professional(s) during the inquiry or quote portions of potential work/jobs.

Additionally, professionals experience clients who are unwilling to listen to explanations of the process, whether "machine work" or "other" work; or clients can not, for whatever reason, supply necessary "detail" information about their individual parts or assemblies. Neither of these situations are productive.

To foster good communication that nets race winning results, the engine build up process SHOULD go something like this:

1/ An initial evaluation of feasibility for the engine type, brainstorming, if you will,

2/ An engineering evaluation, ie, where ACTUAL numbers are used to evaluate sizes, flows, strengths, etc. The "Can it be done?" part.

3/ The development engineering, ie, HOW we are going to do this. Precisely, NOT "sort of" . . . . This is where a: Build Spec (tm) is developed.

4/ The purchase, ordering, or machining of the parts. The "gathering of the pile" so to speak. Some of the "blueprinting" might be done at this stage. Some testing or inspection usually occurs at this stage.

5/ The assembly and "fitment" of all the parts into an assembly. This can be a fairly daunting process on a new engine type. Usually, the balance of the "blueprinting" occurs at this stage. Some further "testing" can also occur at this stage.

6/ Once there is a complete assembly, there will be dyno testing and doubtless "tuning". This is optimization of the "state of tune", and documentation of the TQ and BHP outputs. Further development/tuning/engineering may occur at this stage.

7/ Once all the output is generated and collected, there will be an engineering evaluation against previous versions or competitors. This is the stage where the "prototype" is released for "track testing", or, goes back for more "development".

8/ If track tests are promising or successful, the "Build Spec" is finalized and released for production.

And, unsurprisingly, this is basically how it works at the professional level. And, at the professional level, research & development, refinement, etc, is constantly ongoing.

The reality is, very few amateur racers can afford this costly process. Steps might be "short-cutted" or eliminated altogether. Most of the time, a competent engine shop can be found that has experience with the engine type or the engine family the client desires. Competent shops can accumulate a wealth of experience on various engine types. This "wealth of experience" can benefit the client when it applies to their project. This can significantly reduce costs, usually in exchange for "slightly" reduced peak power outputs, compared to what might be achieved at the "all out" professional level.

This is just my own experience and opinion. I'm sure that there are others out there who have ideas of their own regarding this subject. I invite them to post their thoughts and opinions as well.

And I should also note that I was deliberately vague about certain aspects of the process. I didn't want to post a book.

As for advice about choosing a service provider?

The only advice I can give is: Caveat emptor.


Cheers
_________________________
Fordboy628

Without "data", you are just another guy with a theory or an opinion . . . .

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world . . . .

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#13903 - 05/16/17 09:15 AM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: JFW]
V8vairmike Offline
Winner

Registered: 05/10/14
Posts: 434
All the components need to work together for sure.
My Latest frustration is that i had the cam ground after i Had my flow numbers and settled on a compression ratio for the air cooled heads.
I assumed the Roller Rockers were what they were advertised,1.57 but they turned out to be 1.50s, so not only am i missing lift im missing duration.
How much difference does it make ??? I dont know but when your only have maybe 200 hp i want everything i can get.
You got to pay attention to everything ! Mike

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#13905 - 05/16/17 09:32 AM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: JFW]
Hap Waldrop Offline
Champion

Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 781
Loc: Greenville, SC
Yes, this is a term that can be thrown around, and may not apply to all things. For me I mostly use the term in the sense of machining, and desired clearances. Say for example I have a set of new aftermarket rods, lets say they are in the middle of the housing bore spec range, and I looking for .0023" rod clearance, I will have the crank rod journal ground to the size that gets me there without changing the rod, and yes this may be under the factory journal spec range. I like to get extra clearance from the crank journal when I can, occasionally I may have to go slightly beyond housing bore spec range, but never more than .0005". I like the term "build management" rather than blueprint, which simply means I look at my desired result, and dictate how I want to get there, which often times involve outside machine work, like grinding a crank, and then it also my responsibility to check after machining, and make sure I got exactly what I ask for.

Now the biggest grey area I see for a novice builder is being able to measure repeatably when dealing with with precision measuring tools, especially when dealing with tenth of a thousands of inch. You have develop a feel for this, no matter how smart you may be, you got to have the feel to repeat the same numbers over and over again. I spend a lot of time with my co-workers helping them develop good micrometers habits, for example use the standard for given mic and zero it out, now familiarize yourself with the feel of the standard in the zeroed mic, that is the feel you are looking for on a crank journal, another one do not prolongly hold the beam of the mic, your body heat can change the mic reading by tenth, or more, all good crank grinders know this. Another one is when using a ball face mic to check bearing shell thickness, think about what you are measuring, a soft lead faced bearing, it is real easy to depress the mic beyond the actual point of contact, you have to be able to focus and fell the instant the mic touches the bearing rather after you have over tightened it. In closing it takes practice and developing a feel to measure to tight tolerances, also be smart, and honest enough to realize there is an acceptable tolerance, and the reason for that tolerance may be you, and your measuring. Give ten experienced guys a mic and ask them to measure a crank journal and fully expect the variance to be +/- .0002".


Edited by Hap Waldrop (05/31/17 10:04 AM)
_________________________
Hap Waldrop
Acme Speed Shop 864-370-3000
www.acmespeedshop.com
MG/Triumph Performance Street/Race Engines
The Vintage Production Car Festival
https://www.facebook.com/vintageproductioncarfestival

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#13906 - 05/16/17 09:49 AM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: JFW]
Mike Clifford Offline
Amateur racer

Registered: 07/25/14
Posts: 101
Loc: Hopewell Junction, NY
Great article, thanks for sharing! I've always been unclear about this term so the explanation was very helpful. It does seem it's used to mean a number of different things in casual talk.


Edited by Mike Clifford (05/16/17 09:49 AM)
_________________________
Interested in vintage cars and vintage racing? Photos, videos, our race schedule, and more can be found at www.michaelsvintageracing.com !

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#13911 - 05/16/17 12:46 PM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: V8vairmike]
fordboy628 Offline
Professional

Registered: 06/30/14
Posts: 311
Loc: NE Illinois
Originally Posted By: V8vairmike
All the components need to work together for sure.
My Latest frustration is that i had the cam ground after i Had my flow numbers and settled on a compression ratio for the air cooled heads.
I assumed the Roller Rockers were what they were advertised,1.57 but they turned out to be 1.50s, so not only am i missing lift im missing duration.
How much difference does it make ??? I dont know but when your only have maybe 200 hp i want everything i can get.

You got to pay attention to everything!

Mike


YES!! You, the person who assembles the engine, is the FINAL quality control inspector.

1.50/1.57 = .9554 - 1 = .0445 = 4.45% NOT something I would want to "give away".

Make sure that at half lift, the rocker centerline axis is perpendicular to the valve centerline axis, and that the roller is "centered" on the valve stem. You "maximize" the geometry that way.

Cheers
_________________________
Fordboy628

Without "data", you are just another guy with a theory or an opinion . . . .

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world . . . .

Top
#13912 - 05/16/17 12:52 PM Re: What does "Blueprinting" mean? [Re: Hap Waldrop]
fordboy628 Offline
Professional

Registered: 06/30/14
Posts: 311
Loc: NE Illinois
Originally Posted By: Hap Waldrop
Yes, this is a term that can be thrown around, and may not apply to all things. For me I mostly use the term in the sense of machining, and desired clearances. Say for example I have a set of new aftermarket rods, lets say they are in the middle of the housing bore spec range, and I looking for .0023" rod clearance, I will have the crank rod journal ground to the size that gets me there without changing the rod, and yes this may be under the factory journal spec range. I like to get extra clearance from the crank journal when I can, occasionally I may have to go slightly beyond housing bore spec range, but never more than .0005". I like the term "build management" rather than blueprint, which simply means I look at my desired result, and dictate how I want to get there, which often times involve outside machine work, like grinding a crank, and then it also my responsibility to check after machining, and make sure I got exactly what I ask for.

Now the biggest grey area I see for a novice builder is being able to measure repeatably when dealing with with precision measuring tools, especially when dealing with tenth of a thousands of inch. You have develop a feel for this, no matter how smart you may be, you got to have the feel to repeat the same numbers over and over again. I spend a lot of time with my co-workers helping them develop good micrometers habits, for example use the standard for given mic and zero it out, now familiarize yourself with the feel of the standard in the zeroed mic, that is the feel you are looking for on a crank journal, anther one do not prolongation hold the beam of the mic, your body heat can change the mic reading by tenth, or more, all god crank grinder know this.

Another one is when using a ball face mic to check bearing shell thickness, think about what you are measuring, a soft lead faced bearing, it is real easy to depress the mic beyond the actual point of contact, you have to be able to focus and fell the instant the mic touches the bearing rather after you have over tightened it.

In closing it takes practice and developing a feel to measure to tight tolerance, also be smart, and honest enough to realize there is an acceptable tolerance, and the reason for that tolerance may be you, and your measuring. Give ten experienced guys a mic and ask them to measure a crank journal and fully expect the variance to be +/- .0002".


Try using a ground OD dowel pin instead of the ball. It is far less likely to dent the soft bearing surface. Or use a dial indicator setup on a surface plate.

You are right on the money about training and "feel".

Cheers
_________________________
Fordboy628

Without "data", you are just another guy with a theory or an opinion . . . .

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world . . . .

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