August 2014 - AKMI Corporation

Monthly Archives: August 2014

Flywheel or Flexplate – What’s in your ride?

Often referred to as being the same thing, flywheels and flexplates have similarities but are indeed quite different.

First, here are some of their similarities:

  1. Both are circular in nature and are mounted to the engine crankshaft.
  2. Both have a toothed ring gear that engages with the starter.
  3. Both serve as the link that marries the transmission to the engine
  4. Both can help balance the engine while it’s in operation.

Flywheels are typically found on vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, while flexplates are used in vehicles with automatic transmissions.

A manual transmission has a flywheel that is attached to the crankshaft and has a clutch disk in between the pressure plate and flywheel. When the clutch pedal is depressed, the throw out bearing is pushed in, which forces the pressure plate to stop applying pressure to the clutch disk. As this happens, it stops receiving power from the engine, so the gear can be shifted without damaging the transmission. Once the operator/driver shifts into a new gear, the clutch pedal is released then the clutch disk is allowed to start receiving power from the engine once again.

Automatic transmissions eliminate the clutch and grinding, basically automating the shifting process so the driver does not have to worry about shifting gears while driving. A flexplate is mounted to the crankshaft and connects the output from the engine to the input of a torque converter.

Torque converters replace the clutch of a manual transmission, allowing the load to be separated from the power source. They are generally a type of fluid coupling that can multiply torque and is used in transferring rotating power from the prime mover (internal combustion engine or electric motor) to a rotating driven load. The torque converter is located between the flexplate and the transmission.

Flywheels, due to the friction process, are very thick, made of steel and are as heavy as they look. Their lifecycle can outlast that of the clutch, but will need resurfacing before installing a new clutch. When they need do need replacing, you can typically get away with using an aftermarket replacement.

Flexplates are much thinner than a flywheel, as well as the ring gear it uses to connect with the starter (depending on vehicle and engine size), and are much, much lighter. This is due to the fluid coupling of the torque converter, which eliminates the grinding of a clutch. The lighter, thinner metal frame has an ability to flex across its main axis – bending side to side (hence the name Flexplate) – taking up motion in the torque converter as the rotational speeds change.

The metal frame of the flexplate itself will have multiple machine-cut holes within the body of the plate. One set of holes will look uniform and would be for mounting to the crankshaft. The other holes are specific to the vehicle, torque converter set-up and potential weight balance of the flexplate.

No matter the car size, small economy size or heavy duty truck, if your vehicle has a manual transmission and you have to step on the clutch to shift gears, your vehicle has a flywheel as part of your transmission. If all you have to do is put the shifter in drive (D) and step on the gas pedal, your vehicle has a flexplate.

What do you have in your ride?

Ceramic Coating Do-it-Yourself Basics

A few months back I had written an article about ceramic coatings being used on diesel engine parts like exhaust manifolds, exhaust pipes and some cases cylinder heads. The benefits of ceramic coatings were also discussed, especially when used on parts that are subject to extreme heat. I had ended the article mentioning that DIY options are tempting, but for more longevity of your parts, having them done professionally is the best way to go.

Now if you are running vehicles multiple hours a day or in some form of a professional racing league, having your parts professionally coated is probably your best option. But what about the average guy who is looking to restore their dream car, but are on a budget. Do-it-Yourself options can help save some money.

I have done some research and found that the application process is not very hard. Deciding what brand name or type of coating would be the most difficult choice. You can do a Google search on “ceramic coatings” and find multiple blogs of people talking about ceramic coatings, brand names and types.

They have cans that look like traditional paint and used in paint sprayers, or Aerosol can options. The Aerosol can options may not always be ceramic coatings, they may just be high-temp resistant paint. If you have an air compressor and access to a paint spray gun that would be best. Even a cheap spray gun from a local supply store would work.

Let’s say you want to put a ceramic coating on your exhaust manifold, here is what I have found to be the basic steps:

  1. Make sure you clean the entire exhaust manifold inside as well as the outside. Professionals will have fancy chemicals to help assist them, but a strong household degreaser can work just as well.
  2. Then you would want to sandblast the manifold to remove any loose pieces or dirt the degreaser couldn’t remove. If you do not have a sandblasting tool, or access to one, then you can use steel wool or sandpaper. It may take longer to do, but prepping the surface is a must.
  3. Prep your work area. Lay down tarps and cover anything (in immediate area) that you do not want painted. If possible, hang the part(s) by a wire, so the manifold or its pieces are suspended in air. This would be an ideal position for painting, but not necessary.
  4. Put on a safety mask or respirator, gloves, safety glasses and make sure you have plenty of ventilation if working in a garage or home work shop area.
  5. Before you begin to spray, make sure you read the instructions on the label of the product you purchased.
  6. Spray an even coating over the entire piece(s). Allow a few minutes to dry before applying multiple coats.

After applying the final layer to your exhaust manifold, the curing process is next. Professionals have industrial ovens and other heating equipment that can begin the curing process no problem. Using a conventional oven that can reach a temperature of 500 degrees can work, but you wouldn’t want to use the oven from your kitchen. Without access to an oven or a heat gun, you would need to let the manifold dry for at least eight hours.

The final stages of the curing process occurs while the parts are installed on the engine. You want to start the vehicle and let the engine run on idle for at least an hour, or drive the vehicle around. Then let your engine cool down completely and repeat the cycle. This may need to be done a few times, refer to the product instructions.

One important thing to note is that excessive heat from a poorly tuned engine can actually damage the ceramic coating of your exhaust manifold or other coated parts. Make sure all adjustments to camshafts, springs, valves, timing and fuel injection system are done, otherwise all the time spent coating your manifold and other parts could be time wasted.

Whether you are looking to restore your dream car, or you would like better performance and protection for your everyday car, the do-it-yourself option for ceramic coating can save you some money that can be used for different areas of your vehicle.