In the first part of this tech feature, we’ll investigate why parts fail. Subsequent installments will examine prevention and cures that will save you time and money at the track.
Premature failure of racing components is a problem all racers face. According to Roy Johnson, a broken clutch component robbed their J&J Mopar Pro Stock team of the grand slam at this year’s NHRA Western Swing. Yet, simple cost-effective solutions often exist. They will conclusively bring an end to expensive failures, wasted energy and debilitating frustrations. Curiously, many of the solutions come from an unexpected source.
During the past 40 years Liberty’s Gears learned its metallurgy lessons the hard way. In the staff’s pursuit of developing reliable, manual racing transmissions they experimented with numerous steels for gear manufacture, heat treatments and an untold number of metal enhancement techniques. Inevitably they succeeded in transforming unreliable stock gearboxes into dependable, slick-shifting competition transmissions. Today their clutchless racing gearboxes dominate NHRA Pro Stock.
Of greater significance is news that Liberty’s recently began applying its metal enhancement techniques to improve borderline parts operating in every stressful racing environment from transmissions and drivetrains to valvetrains.
Zackary Friedman of Savannah, Georgia, marveled at the renewed performance of his six-speed Getrag MT82 transmission in his ’11 Ford Mustang 5.0 Coyote. Earlier he had supercharged his engine using 12 pounds of boost. But his upgrades generated 700 lbs-ft of torque, and the additional power quickly shattered fourth gear. He sent the broken transmission to Liberty’s Gears in Michigan.
He might have reasonably expected his fourth gear troubles could be corrected by Liberty’s. More significantly, he hoped the company’s enhancement upgrades could prevent further unforeseen troubles. After all, the gearbox was being asked to transmit double its normal output. But when he got it back the contrast was startling. “In addition to coping with the extra torque,” Friedman claims, “the enhancement process remedied gear-shifting difficulties; it eased gear engagement troubles, especially during cold start conditions; it eradicated notchiness, noise and vibration; and it lowered the transmission’s operating temperature by ten degrees.”
Craig Liberty contends, “Friedman’s comments are entirely predictable, but without an intelligently analyzed approach to his problem—a proven scientific method—the outcome could have been much less predictable. You may think your parts can be improved by the application of shot peening and cryogenics, but it is not always so. Some people think if you just cryo and shot peen parts they’ll magically get better. No, they do not!” This emphatic commentary provides an interesting insight into enhancement treatments now widely promoted for highly stressed metallic racing parts.
Text by Sam Logan
Photos by Moore Good Ink