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Fiat 500 ~balance factor

When it comes to balancing engines of a single throw nature which includes the FIAT 500 style unit, it is not straight forward. It is not possible to dynamically balance the engine so that it does not vibrate in both the vertical and horizontal attitudes. But it is possible to have a satisfactory result by finding the best compromise between vertical and horizontal shaking !

As the engine of the FIAT has the cylinders in the vertical axis and it is mounted on engine mounts that are relatively soft in the vertical direction, it will tolerate some vertical shaking throughout the rev range, but getting the tolerance right is all a matter of “Balance Factor”.

When the crankshaft rotates it has two big ends of the two con-rods always attached to the big end journals, so of course it will always see this corresponding weight. However, when the pistons are at TDC or BDC, the amount of weight transfer of the reciprocating parts to the crankshaft big ends is changing between a maximum and minimum amount. What proportion of this variable you choose to use is the “Balance Factor” !!

So the FIAT factory, worked this out and it is a closely held secret by them and by all balancing shops providing a service. Even if you know what the original factory value was for standard parts, when you change to after market parts of different weights and dimensions, it’s all change.

Vibration Free have a different method available as well as the original methods. That is to run the crankshaft in the crankcase while it is attached to the con rods and pistons while it is sat on a special balancing machine stand. In this way the crankshaft actually measures the weight transfer directly from the con rods and pistons, instead of it being a calculated weight transfer.

Vibration Free have being established for 20 years to date and don’t just work with Motorsport (F1, Historic, Vintage, Indycar...)  but aerospace / MOD / Marine / Oil & Gas, in fact, any sector.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 Engine

Fiat 500 Balance Factor

Oppose rather than absorb

The power strokes of an engine put a pulsing pressure on the crankshaft. Each stroke exerts a torsion force, which causing deflections in the crankshaft webs with an equal rebound. This can result in fatigue and cracking, ultimately leading to a failure and an expensive repair. To solve the problem manufacturers generally fit a harmonic damper. The damper dissipates the energy of the vibration and helps to protect the crankshaft.

There are two potential problems with harmonic dampers. The first is the fact that they are heavy and they can take up a lot of space, which is a disadvantage when a vehicle needs to be lightweight and there is limited space available.

The second problem is the fact that each harmonic damper needs to be tuned to the specific engine and drive-train used in the vehicle. In order to decide which part to use, a complex mathematical calculation is required. If any part is changed, whether it is the whole engine, the clutch or a flywheel, the damper will also need changing. This can be time consuming and increases the cost.

The Sterling Damper was designed to offer a better solution. The component opposes the torsional forces rather than absorbing them. This means you can choose a model for the specific engine and change other components more freely without needing to replace it as well. This offers major benefits, and as an added bonus it can be attached to either end of the crankshaft to suit spatial availability.

This outstanding product and can be used on a wide array of vehicles, and it can be constructed from super light alloys for race cars when weight savings are required. The Rattler has an excellent pedigree and track record of success, and is fast becoming a must have for discerning vehicle owners.

Long term benefits of vibration analysis

As our name indicates, the ultimate aim of our work is to ensure that machinery and cars can operate free from excessive vibration. Any form of vibration is a sign that equipment is not working as it was intended to, particularly if it is so strong that it generates a noise. In order to ensure that your machinery delivers longevity and optimal performance, it is vital that we learn all that we possibly can about what is causing the increased vibration to determine the problem. This important information is drawn from our initial vibration analysis work. “Vibration is the key to mechanical condition”

Vibration analysis is the best starting point for any work intended to reduce vibrations in machinery, but it also delivers wider benefits. In addition to helping us understand what is causing the vibration and how to stop it, our analysis contributes directly to condition monitoring and allows us to create a maintenance strategy to be implemented going forward.

In most cases, we find that vibration in machinery is at an acceptable level but can often be improved. As equipment and plant wear, the vibration increases to a point where it is damaging to the life and possibly the performance of the plant. Reductions in efficiency is costly, so the use of a vibration analysis survey will pin point the focus for corrective measures in a timely basis to prevent failures, risk an further costly downtime.

Consultancy and training for vibration free balancing

Balancing and tuning will be required at some stage for almost every kind of machinery. Even if the conditions and setting are considered optimal, the natural wear and tear from regular operation means it is vital to regularly maintain and service machinery in order to maintain the highest performance levels. While we are happy to deliver this much needed servicing work for your equipment, we are also available to provide help and training at the first phase of machinery design and building.

Whether the work involves automobile design or the creation of new engineering equipment, one of the biggest challenges in moving from theory and design through to practical production is addressing balance and minimising the possibility of vibration. There are often unforeseeable differences between the way machinery is designed to work on paper and the way it actually performs in practice. Our consultancy services are designed to help you identify and address these issues, and our training courses are designed to enhance your own ability to resolve them in the future.

We go beyond straightforward troubleshooting and suggesting solutions. Instead, we view our consultancy work as an involved and dynamic process. To effectively address any vibration or dynamic balancing issues, we always seek to understand the purpose of the equipment, as well as the environment in which it will function. By doing so, we can provide a long term, informed solution that will ensure optimal performance and longevity from the machinery.

Our consultancy work is complemented by our training services. Whether it is at our purpose designed premises or on site at your location, we are always ready to arrange highly involved training sessions so we can pass on our knowledge and help you to build the foundation for success in your business. We instruct and train your staff to help them learn how to anticipate vibration and balancing issues, and enable you to seek successful resolutions.

We are committed to delivering the most comprehensive and successful vibration analysis and dynamic balancing services available in the UK. Whether it is through our direct work in balancing machinery and equipment, or by providing our professional consultancy and training services, we present a peerless service to help the British engineering industry remain at the forefront of excellence.

Make sure you have a proactive maintenance plan

Condition monitoring should be an essential part of maintenance plans for vehicles and machine tools with rotating parts. It can offer a wide range of benefits, helping to reduce downtime and minimise the cost of repairs. Each plan should be bespoke to suit the vehicle or piece of machinery in question, the frequency it is used and the specific applications.

You can use condition monitoring to keep an eye on valuable assets and reduce the wear and tear they experience. It can help you to spot signs of vibrations and imbalance early, so you can take corrective action before the problem worsens. This can be useful in many cases including when it comes to damage to bearings. Frequent checks can spot problems that can be resolved easily such as a lack of lubrication. If there was no regular monitoring, you may miss the issue and eventually cause the bearing to fail.

Proactive maintenance such as condition monitoring is better than waiting for problems to arise and then reacting to them once they have taken hold, both in terms of efficiency and the costs. It also offers safety benefits because well maintained and serviced vehicles and machinery are less likely to experience critical failures.

If you are planning on introducing a maintenance plan that includes monitoring, it is important to be aware of the different equipment that can be used to do it. There are a range of options to choose from so you can make a selection that best suits your needs. Developments in tablet technology and software have made them a useful tool for this purpose. They are flexible, can handle an array of tasks and also offer cost benefits in many cases.

At Vibration Free we can offer monitoring services and dynamic balancing for clients in a range of industries, from manufacturing to motorsport. We know how important it is to be proactive with maintenance and ensure equipment and vehicles are monitored properly. We can offer flexible services for clients who want an experienced professional to handle the task for them. If you would like further advice we are well placed to offer it.

Reducing the vibration in vintage cars

Driveline vibration can occur in classic and vintage cars for a number of reasons as it can be caused by almost any system or component of the vehicle. Vibration is often easily dismissed, but it is important to have it checked as it may well indicate serious problems. Vibration in classic cars needs to be accurately diagnosed in order to prevent the escalation of any problems. Continue reading

Porsche Clutch Rattler

When you have no space on the front of your crankshaft to fit a torsional vibration damper, you can fit a torsional vibration absorber on the rear of the crankshaft instead.

Vibration Free design and manufacture a large range of torsional vibration absorbers known as “Sterling Rattlers”; they have been very successful in solving issues where other options have failed and currently take the form of front mounted pulley style dampers or rear mounted flywheel dampers.

Now there is a new addition to the mix for Porsche boxer engines; a “Sterling Rattler” incorporated within the clutch pressure plate. This unique design overcame the lack of space available on the Porsche layout and subtly houses the Rattler within the specially made billet alloy clutch housing.

Tackling vibration problems in machine tools

Vibrations in cutting tools can cause excessive chatter if steps aren’t taken to manage it effectively. The problem can have a big impact on the machining operation, reducing productivity and even affecting the quality of the components that are made. The noise generated by the vibrations can be damaging to the operator’s hearing and can also distract other people working in the area. If left untreated for a long time, excessive vibration can also cause higher levels of wear to bearings, resulting in premature failure. Continue reading

Analysis to maintain rotating machinery

Rotating machinery will always vibrate to some extent, but as equipment gets older the internal components and bearings begin to suffer from the effects of wear and tear. This means they will inevitably begin to vibrate more dramatically. The aim of analysis is to detect mechanical fatigue and the potential for breakdown at the earliest possible point. By opting for ongoing inspection of your plant equipment and machinery, you can identify any sign of damage and issue before it has the chance to escalate into a costly issue. Continue reading