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Connecting Rods

Connecting Rods

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Published by Junedi Waisya

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Published by: Junedi Waisya on Jun 05, 2010
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03/04/2012

 
Connecting Rods
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Types of Connecting Rods
I-Beam Rods
The I-Beam rod is the most popular type of connecting rod. It is what almost every enginemanufacturer uses as original equipment. They arecheap to make and very reliable. They can be madeas strong as is needed for the application and arewell supported by the aftermarket. Even stock I-Beam rods can handle much more power than theywere originally designed for with some carefulprepping.With the aftermarket support today, you mayfind that the time and money spent on preppingstock rods is not the best option. There areinexpensive rods for most popular engines that canhandle more power than prepped stock rods (as wellas save you a lot of time).
H-Beam Rods
H-beam rods are becoming more popular.They have some benefits over an I-Beam for certainapplications. For high hp, low rpm engines, the rodsneed more strength in compression. For high rpmengines, rods need tensile strength. Today the useof nitrous, blowers and turbo's is getting very high hpat lower rpm levels, so tensile loading is not as muchof a problem as it used to be. This is where an H-beam design can pay off.With high rpm, the tension on the rods ispretty much straight, so when the rod fails, it'susually torn apart. The tensile strength of a rod ismost dependent on the material and the crosssection of the rod, so for that application the shape(I-Beam or H-beam), has little bearing on strength.For compressive loads, it is a little different.When a rod fails from compressive loads, it bends.The compressive loads are not straight; this makesthe shape of the rod critical to strength. The designof an H-Beam rod helps them resist bending morethan an I-Beam design. Well, let me clarify that a bit,an I-Beam rod can resist bending about the same asan H-Beam, but the H-Beam can do it with lessweight.Many people have argued that H-Beam rodsare not any better and are a waste of money, andtheir number 1 argument is that you'll never see anH-Beam aluminum rod and all big racers usealuminum. To make sense of that, just think aboutwhat an aluminum rod is designed for. They aredesigned to reduce rotating and reciprocatingweight, for high rpm engines. Aluminum is a poor choice for a high output low rpm street engine like anitrous, blower or turbocharged engine. My twinturbo small block makes peak power under 6000rpm, ultra light reciprocating parts are not a bigconcern to me, but strength is. I chose H-Beam rodsto handle the very large compressive loads.
Aluminum Rods
Aluminum rods are popular among high rpmrace engines. They are very light and strong, butthey a short fatigue lift. In a limited use situation,they can last a long time and usually those types of engines see frequent tear downs anyway. They donot last many miles in a street car. They are not outof the question for a street car, if rpm is kept down toabout 7000 rpm or under and doesn't see that rpmoften, they can last quite a while. Even then, 15-20,000 miles will be about maximum.
 
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In my opinion, high rpm is where aluminumrods offer advantages, so if you are not going to revhigh, there is no sense in using aluminum. Theyalso need more piston to head clearance due tomore rod stretch, a typical aluminum rod can stretchup to 0.008" more than a steel rod in a high rpmapplication. Since aluminum stretches more thansteel, bearing retention is also a problem; the usualtangs are not enough to be reliable. Aluminum rodsmust use a dowel pin to keep the bearings fromspinning.
 Titanium Rods
Titanium rods have some real advantagesover steel and aluminum. Titanium has the higheststrength to mass ratio of all materials used to makeconnecting rods. On average, a titanium rod isabout 20% lighter than a comparable strength steelrod. Some can be as much as 30% lighter.The downfall is cost. Titanium is a veryabundant metal, but also a very difficult metal towork with, adding to the cost. The most popular titanium rods are made from titanium 6-4 alloy,which contains 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium,which are added to improve machineability.Titanium is also a very poor load bearingmaterial. It has a tendency to gall and weld itself toanything it rubs against. This is not an issue for thebig ends, since a bearing insert is used, and it iseasy enough to bush the small-ends. The problemcomes in with the side clearances. This is where therod contacts the crank and other rod; of 2 rods shareacommon journal. To make them last, the rodsneed a surface treatment just like what is used ontitanium valve stems to keep them from sticking theguides. This is totally acceptable, but again, adds tothe cost.
Powdered Metal Rods
This is a technique that has gained quite abit of popularity lately. Rather than melt steel andpour it into a mold (cast) or heat it up just below themelting point and stamp it into shape with severaltons of force (forge), the rod is made from poweredmetal. The powdered material is compressed into amold; it is then it is heated to the melting point tofuse it into one piece. This technique is said tomake a stronger rod by reducing internal stresses.Since the rods are formed from powderedmetal before being heated, the shape can be veryprecise, reducing waste and therefore weight. Italso minimizes the amount of machine work. Thecaps are not cut of the rod, but precisely broken in aunique process known as “cracking”. This makes for an irregular surface rather than the usual smoothmachined surface of a conventional rod. Thatuneven surface provides a perfect fit for the cap tothe rod so no further machining of the split face isrequired.The theory is sound, but I have no realexperience with this type rod in any performanceapplication. I have heard of several powdered rodfailures though, so at this point I do not recommendthem in a performance build. I do have a feeling thatas this technique is improved on, it will produce asuperior rod. Right now it seems as thoughmanufactures are going through a learning curve onpowered metal rods much like piston manufacturerswent though with hypereutectic pistons.Source:www.grapeaperacing.com

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