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Nikasil vs Steel

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by JohnMH, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. JohnMH

    JohnMH Formula 3

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    When rebuilding an older 70's - 80's era engine, has anyone ever attempted to use new Nikasil plated liners when replacing old worn out iron (steel?) liners in an engine block? Obviously there may be some benefits in terms of toughness and heat transfer, but would special pistons and rings be required to work with Nikasil rather than the stock material?

    As I understand it, Nikasil is directly applied to aluminium cylinders, not usually to steel liners (but I also understand it can be done).
     
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  3. staatsof

    staatsof Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    I have an engine with Nikasil liners. I had to have two of them relined due to an oiling system failure. After going through that and learning what I did about the technology I can't imagine why you'd want to tackle such a conversion without being a fully qualified engineer who specialized in designing engines. Leave well enough alone. It's not like changing the color of the car or trying a different air filter. Yes, different rings are required. Lots of things to consider ...
     
  4. JCR

    JCR F1 Veteran
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    Nikasil is a Porsche trademark. There are other companies that offer the replating services under a different name. The liners are bored out and then replated. But then you could always go to the larger Darton liners to increase displacement.
     
  5. Nikasil engine Jags were bad apples....
     
  6. solofast

    solofast Formula 3

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    Nickasil cylinders got a bad rap when Jaguar and BMW first started using them due to high sulfur content in US fuel at the time. Now that US fuels don't have as much sulfur that problem went away.

    While newer technology like this is usually better in this case there are limitations. The use of Nickasil was a cost saving measure. It was cheaper to etch the cylinders than it was to put in iron liners. Everybody thought that was going to be the trick to making aluminum blocks a lot less expensive, and while they work they aren't as good a wear surface as a good old fashioned cast iron liner. The reason cast iron is a wonderful material for a wear surface like a cylinder is that it has graphite in the material that helps prevent galling and that's why it has been the material of choice for over 100 years.

    Unless you want to save a pound or two, stay with iron liners, there is no reason to change other than weight.
     
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  8. phrogs

    phrogs F1 Veteran
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    Plenty of motor have nikasil lined cylinders.
    One in particular way back in 1990 was the corvette ZR-1's.
    The 355 has them as well so more than a couple.
     
  9. JCR

    JCR F1 Veteran
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    Nikasil is the coating. It was never a cheap procedure. Alusil aka Reynolds 390 process is the etching system.

    Nikasil® and Alusil | AERA Engine Builders Association

    The Boring TruthEverybody's got ideas about treating cylinder bores; strong ideas | News & Analysis content from WardsAuto
     
  10. Crowndog

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    When I redid my QV the question was did we want to trust a very expensive total rebuild to a process that had no guarantee. What would happen if the coating wasn't right? Rebuild again? No, in our opinion Ferrari stopped using Nikasil for a reason and went back to iron so did we. Eight used QV barrels available in my basement for anyone who wants to have them re coated.
     
  11. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Ferrari did not go back to iron, they went to steel, a coated steel process again from Mahle because it was supposed to be an improvement from the aluminum. That has been debatable as they have been switching back and forth since.

    One thing known for certain, the motors of the QV era with aluminum cylinders were the longest lasting Ferrari motors ever built. Those cylinders were a huge improvement over the iron.
     
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  13. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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  14. Crowndog

    Crowndog F1 Veteran
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    Thank you I stand corrected.
     
  15. JohnMH

    JohnMH Formula 3

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    My 91 TR has nikasil (or something similar) liners. My 78 BB does not. The TR has over 50,000 km and runs perfectly. My BB has 30,000 km and the liners were rusted enough from sitting before I bought it that we are rebuilding it with new pistons at 1 size over.

    Another car I am working on has iron liners which were remarkably worn at 20,000 km. Installing new liners and pressure testing the block, setting deck heights, etc was not too difficult, but for an unrelated reason (machine shop error when honing) I may have to redo the work. I like the idea of finished, plated cylinders which I can just install in the block. My concern is whether the nice CPS pistons I bought would now be wasted, and to a lesser degree, whether the liners would be nice, round and parallel when pushed into the block. Normally I would bolt on torque plates where the heads go to simulate actual conditions when the honing is done.
     
  16. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    The factory obviously did not finish the liners in the block but a BB from actual measurement will balloon out some with a torque plate so it would certainly be better to do it that way.
     
  17. Ferraripilot

    Ferraripilot F1 World Champ
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    Formula 1 engines run a steel liner of sorts and have for some time now.
     
  18. Ferraripilot

    Ferraripilot F1 World Champ
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    That's great info, I was curious about boxer block distortion under torque. With 308 engines it's only a few of the liners that distort at all and it's all near the top
     
  19. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    I suspect at least one reason is with the stresses involved, minimalist engineering for weight and size considerations and the temp extremes involved steel is the only thing that will stay round.
     
  20. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    #17 Rifledriver, Aug 22, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
    BB is in the top 1/3 too.

    The real distortion torqueing the heads in the V8 is in the bottom end. Main cap fit alone with and without heads is comical.

    QV heads can distort a lot under some circumstances. I assembled a motor someone had O ringed and it was hopeless. Every time you approached torque the valve sealing went away and it just bent around the O rings and lost seal there too. Same happens but less so with a hard head gasket that does not allow the liners to imbed well.
     
  21. 350HPMondial

    350HPMondial F1 Rookie

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    #18 350HPMondial, Aug 22, 2014
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    First, on both of my 2v blocks, the three center Main Caps needed knurled and machined because they were loose...??
    And,
    Yes, I got 0.003" between the top and bottom of both,
    Ferrari factory cast liners and my new LA Sleeve Steel liners.
    Also, One of my set of 8, Ferrari 1985 QV Nikisil liners did the same,,, just as a test.

    Ferrari Nikisil liners are Very good, they can be replated by any motorcycle shop that does this for Japanese bikes. But, you have to hone with a torque plate to fix the deflection or you will, "oil can," your rings.

    My set of Nikisil Liners is for sale,, all are good,, sorry, not cheep.
    PM me.

    Good luck,
    Edwardo
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  22. afterburner

    afterburner Formula 3
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    Robert, did I understand correctly: You replaced your Nikasil liners with steel liners on a QV engine?

    Urs
     
  23. Crowndog

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    Iron not steel. The company that does the Nikasil would naturally only warranty/guarantee the coating. Not good enough when considering the expense of a tear down if the coating Should fail. After all, these aluminum sleeves have 100k on them already. Iron has pretty well proven itself in all applications so our prudent decision was to go with iron sleeves and they were bored out a bit too which we felt better with.
     
  24. Crowndog

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    It was demonstrated to me the out-of-round cylinder bore with, then without, torque plate and just how important those things really are when boring and honing.
     
  25. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

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    The nikasil liner needs to be matched to a set of rings which can take the nikasil surface roughness (which does not diminish over time--unless you wear through the coating.)

    So, it can be done, but you don't want to do it unless you are willing to also pick pistons and rings to go with the liners.
     
  26. Crowndog

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    Could you clarify this please?
     
  27. afterburner

    afterburner Formula 3
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    Thanks for your reply Crowndog.

    Did you just copy the Nikasil liner's dimensions to fabricate the iron versions, or did you make any adjustments for the material differences?
    What was the reason to bore them out?
    Do you run the same rings as for Nikasil liners?
    How many miles have you done since the swap?

    I rebuilt my QV engine with NOS Nikasil liners as the upper area had worn through the coating into the aluminium.

    Thanks for your infos!
     
  28. miketuason

    miketuason F1 World Champ
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    What is the life expectancy of Nikasil anyway, 100K, 200K, 300K, 500k miles assuming you have a properly working lubrication system?
     

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