SwRI Develops Custom Engine Wear Test Machines

Aug. 5, 2019

The Texas-based institute has developed custom testing machines for engine wear.

Aug. 5, 2019—Southwest Research Institute, which tests engine oils for industry specifications, announced the addition of a new testing rig that examines wear on valvetrain components.

The rig was designed and created by Southwest's staff engineer, Peter Lee, according to a press release.It tests tribology, which is the science of interactive surfaces in relative motion, which happens often inside an engine.

Lee and his team developed the first testing machine, called the single cam rig, in 2014 as part of an effort to find a more cost-effective test for a Cummins engine test. The rigs are custom-designed from specific engines and use actual engine components.

“In the years since we created the first single cam rig, the demand for tests has become so high that it became necessary for us to build a second one,” Lee said in the press release.

Southwest's two rigs measure a lubricant's effect on the rotation of the lifter without interfering with the natural motion of the other valvetrain components, according to the press release. It can also measure the interaction between the lifter and the cam.

As part of its work, Southwest conducts multiple tests as part of the American Petroleum Institute's Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, which certifies for standards such as API SN and ILSAC GF-5. You can read more about that process in NOLN's August issue.

Image: Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute / SWRI tribologist Carlos Sanchez observes a test in progress on the single cam rig, a device designed by Institute engineers to investigate wear mechanisms in an engine’s valvetrain components.