Featured The Forgotten Radial Valves Prototype Engines

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by leon_90, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. leon_90

    leon_90
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    Apfelbeck Head.jpg

    These engines were a spectacular engineering showcase but, unfortunately, did not translate into successful projects as well.

    We all know Enzo Ferrari to have been an engine enthusiast. He always put them ahead of every other part of his cars, whether this represented a bonus or a malus at times. Having grown up, as a kid, while drivers like Nazzaro and Boillot competed all over Europe, and then mastered himself the racing technique during the years in which champions like Ascari, Campari, Bordino, Benoist were at it, meant of course a powerful imprinting in the mind of young Enzo. Back then, building a racecar was much more a matter of engine rather than chassis, which was still a reminiscence of the carriages in which motor vehicles have their ancestral origins. It was not before the ‘30es, with German manufacturers of the like of Autounion and Mercedes, that the sportscar development was really studied under all aspects and no longer focused entirely or mostly on the "horses" powering it.

    We can forgive Ferrari this one then, especially considering the prolific heritage he produced by focusing so much on the engine of his cars. This made the birth of a legendary icon like the Ferrari V12 possible, but also of the different V6 types and of the V8, originally reworked from Lancia. We must not forget the unbeatable IL4 too and the less fortunate and never put in action, but still entered into the myth, IL2. Besides, just like the IL2, which has an entire legend of its own revolving around it, there is another engine Ferrari tested but never actually raced. I am talking about the Ferrari Dino V6, radial valves, F2 engine.

    Ferrari V6 Radiale #4.jpg

    First, we must clarify what a radial valves engine exactly is and how it actually works.

    The radial valves engine, also called “Apfelbeck Head”, was originally born from the mind of Ludwig Apfelbeck, an Austrian engineer working for BMW. This ingenious idea was brewing in his mind since 1939, and was finally refined in 1965, ready for the soon to be born European F2 championship. It meant putting four valves per cylinder in a specific alternated order (I-E-I-E), 90° apart from each other, shaping the chamber hemispherically so that it could allow an internal flow to better cool the valves. The air-fuel mixture would infact travel across the cylinder heads through the inlet valves, reaching on its path the adiacent exhaust valves too, thus lowering their temperature.

    Apfelbeck Valves Scheme.jpg

    This design results in having a dedicated inlet trumpet for every intake valve, and a dedicated exhaust tube for every exhaust valve, thus duplicating these parts compared to a standard engine. The better thermal resistance and higher valve lift achieved by this specific design, combined with a stronger compression ratio thanks to an increased height into the piston crown, made possible to get a spectacular cylinder filling ability at high revs, giving BMW a strong edge against its competitors and producing a very powerful engine overall.

    However, all of this came with a big con. The precise arrangement of the valves meant, in fact, that specific camshafts had to be built in order for the engine to work properly. Apfelbeck had a patent since 1935 for an innovative camshaft design that allowed it to work under these unusual circumstances (one-half had to operate an intake valve and the other half an exhaust valve). Nevertheless, as one can imagine, it was very expensive to produce, being useful only on this very specific engine head, and it was problematic to setup as well. Another problem was also the dimension of the cylinder head itself, which was very large, and the peculiar piston crown used, which was heavier. These two factors combined meant a bulkier engine, which is a big downside. In addition, it also meant that while at high rpms the cylinder was, again, operating in a spectacular fashion, it would on the other hand largely disappoint at low rpms due to slower velocity of the air-fuel mixture. In conclusion, while being a technically brilliant idea, it never actually succeded on large scale, and so in the end it never reached mass production. It did perform, however, very well on the racetrack, under the M10 tag, causing some fuss among BMW competitors.

    Apfelbeck M10_cut.jpg

    These were the Apfelbeck M10 IL4 specifics:
    Capacity 1991 cm3 (bore x stroke: 89 mm x 80 mm) – Power: 260 HP at 8500 RPM Max Torque: 236 Nm at 8000 RPM.

    Mauro Forghieri, who was back then head of the development team inside Ferrari, decided during 1969, a year that proved essential for the revolution the Scuderia experienced in the ‘70es, to work on this idea, seeing if it was possible to improve it in any way and make it overall more successful for their F2 single-seaters too. Starting from a 2-litre engine configuration derived from the Dino 206 Sport, and adapting the radial valves solution onto it, he went on and tested the prototype at the Modena and Monza racetracks.

    Ferrari V6 Radiale #3.jpg

    These were the Ferrari Dino V6 24 valves specifics:
    Capacity 1986 cm3 (bore x stroke: 86 mm x 57 mm) – Power: 253 HP at 9000 RPM – Max Torque: unavalaible.

    The engine was a peculiar display of exhausts coming out of top and from the bottom of the engine, while the inlet trumpets were housed in a chessboard-like style. Nevertheless, the tests were, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Forghieri then claimed “we only succeded in making a much more complicated engine”[1], thus resulting in abandoning the project without literally ever racing it.

    Ferrari V6 Radiale #1.jpg

    Exactly on the other side of the globe, around the same time, Repco too noticed the benefits of cross-flow gas paths, and dediced to try to exploit them with their new ’50 Series’ heads for their 1968 F1 programme instead. Results on the dyno were promising but not impressive, and along the usual problems of the radial valves configuration, the new 750 V8 was also a nightmare to install in the Brabham’s spaceframe chassis. Eventually, the Australians as well decided to give up on this particular engine layout.

    Repco Radial #3.jpg

    However, it is to be noted that the Ferrari Dino V6 24v and the Repco 750 V8 are still to this day the only engines to have ever tried this solution on these particular cylinders arrangements (the Apfelbeck was in fact an IL4, a much simpler design). It is then a shame that they simply did not perform, and that they have been forgotten to this very day. It would have been interesting to see the Germans and the Italians confronting their radial valves engines versus one another, and Repco having a shot against the competition in the top series, F1. Alas, all we can do is daydream about what could have been, but unfortunately never was.

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    Notes:

    [1] Ferrari 1947-1997 – The Official Book, New York, Rizzoli Intl Pubns, 2003, p. 50.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2018
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  2. jacques delisle

    jacques delisle
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    Bravo, une nouvelle 'nouvelle' en l'espace d'a peu près un mois...je pensais que ce site était mort!
    Bravo, a new 'news' in the space of about a month ... I thought this site was dead!
     
  3. Will Mazeo

    Will Mazeo
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    Many things in the past that didnt work, it's pretty interesting.
    My favourite is this one lol


    Imagine if you could 3d print a plastic turbo :D
     
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  4. leon_90

    leon_90
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    I would 3d print myself the entire car, since I could never afford the real deal :roflmao::roflmao:

     
  5. Omer Said

    Omer Said
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    Thanks for this great read. Such crazy innovations were great. I wish there was still a similar freedom at F1.
     
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  6. leon_90

    leon_90
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    Well most of the action happened in the Euro F2 championship to be fair, but still, Repco tried to bring this into F1 indeed.

    I think that FIA (CSI back then) was much more open in those days. Motorsport was intended as pure innovation, while now it has become much more a matter of giving people a show to watch. What they don't get is that innovation is actually a spectacle. When people saw the Chaparral 2F for the very first time, clocks stopped and jaws dropped, for example. This applies to many other cars, which are still memorable. How many racing cars succeed in doing the same now? Being remembered for being unique and extremely innovative.
     
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  7. Caton XII

    Caton XII

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    I appreciate so much this kind of thread, many, many thanks sincerely ! :thumbsup:
     
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  8. Ghoults

    Ghoults

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    It was a totally different era. Back then you had teams with handful of people. Your car builders and machinists also doing the work of the pit crew. The wives and girlfriends of those people doing the catering on race events and tests and also writing down lap times. The design of the car comes mostly out of the pen of few engineers and lots of the parts are made without plans. Things like plumbing, precise radiator placement and the general shape and mountings of most parts.

    F1 could have similar free rules if it was just handful of blokes in a machine shop building race cars but I think those times are long gone. Nowadays you need more people to just start the engines than a race team back then had people working in the team. I think any F1 team nowadays has the capacity to build 100 different 1960s or 70s race car during a year. Not just 100 cars but 100 unique cars. Only real problem would be to have enough engines and gearboxes.
     
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  9. JusTiCe8

    JusTiCe8

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    Too bad for innovation and human kind overall progress (who care these days ?), modern motorsports became a(nother) mere business with all that mean (cheating, corruption, copy instead of create... many C things !)

    Even the ACO regulations failed with Nissan a few years back (looks like to be 2012 in fact wwaoooo so long ago) with their Deltawing. This seems to have been the final death of new solutions in Le Mans race unfortunately.

    Motorsports now are just basically trying to keep what you are currently doing well, and wait for anyone else to take any risk and check the reward, if they did great, copy, if not, keep waiting.
    Plus, business part means : take as low risk as you can, for the bigger possible short term profit.
    (Exactly how big companies behave: do nothing, cash in, buy some startups which done all the researchs and hard work, cash in again.)

    It's even worth with motorcycle because the single tyre manufacturer products dictate how the bike has to be made. That's explain why we don't see any innovative bike in MotoGP any more except those ugly winglets created by Ducati, bye bye 3 cylinders engine (Kenny Roberts team), oval pistons (I don't even remember any actual racing bike using this tech, the Honda NR remains one of its kind probably), work on no front fork type bike (like the famous Bimota Tesi or the Honda Elf prototype of the 80s).

    Would it be considered nostalgia to take a very special DeLorean :whistling:, set it to 70s and go for the closest thunderstorm around ?
     
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  10. Will Mazeo

    Will Mazeo
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    The only area where motorsport is still important for street tech (thus have a reason to inovate) is materials, F1 should have that covered. Everything else is better developed in laboratories. This has been the case for a long time already.

    The Nissan ZEOD failed because it was a **** car, something that needs energy from 150kg of battery to do a single lap at Le Mans with the electric engine running solo should not be on track.
     
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