By on December 23, 2010

In this vivid demonstration of how steel differs from aluminum, we see how a junkyard-turbocharged Mitsubishi V6 eats one of its own pistons.

This Dodge Shadow, which won the coveted Index of Effluency trophy at the ’09 Goin’ For Broken 24 Hours of LeMons race, showed up to the Buttonwillow event with a hooptily installed remote-turbocharger setup (complete with intercooler in the passenger-seat area) force-feeding its Mitsu V6. It worked just fine… for several hours.

Hey, what’s that terrible noise? Better come in for a pit stop!

When the team got the head off, they discovered that the #6 piston was just gone. The rod and wrist pin were still there, but the aluminum piston got vaporized. Hey, maybe it ran a little lean?

The only remnants were some tiny metal particles on the other pistons. Yes, racers, ghettocharging your engine can result in unpleasantness when your kludged fuel-delivery system doesn’t work exactly right.

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16 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture?...”

  • avatar

    Wow. Just, wow.

  • avatar

    What did the accompanying head look like? I didn’t read the whole thing but it looks like a dropped valve.

  • avatar

    Pity the poor piston.

  • avatar

    “A little lean” just is just an OWT that refuses to die. Maximum heat is actually produced at a point just rich of peak, also where maximum power is made. Detonation is most likely what happened. Boost combined with too much spark advance, due to a bad knock sensor or aggressive reprogramming of the PCM, may have been the root cause.
    Expensive aircraft engines, especially turbocharged, have to be run either very lean (low power cruise) or very rich (full power) to survive.

  • avatar

    cast aluminum things don’t like high bending or tensile stresses. lots of boost pressure does both to the piston head. I’ve seen a saturn chuck a piston head right out the side of an aluminum block.
    I’d love to say that it was priceless, but it was actually about $20 in recycling profit from the local scrap yard. Paid for the pizza lunch.

  • avatar

    I still can’t believe people don’t understand the concept of an Endurance race, and the engineering behind it. Then again, it sure is fun to see their mistakes!!!

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think it’s that they don’t understand the concept of an endurance race — especially for multiple-race veterans. It’s just that the batsh|t-crazy ideas are more fun, and if that means you don’t complete the race, then sometimes that’s okay. It’s LeMons after all, not real racing, right?
      (says the guy building a Simca for the 2012 season)

    • 0 avatar

      It’s Lemons, you get more kudos for w IOE or Heroic Fix than actually winning the race so why not go for the batshit crazy.

  • avatar

    I love that word.

  • avatar

    Well, here’s your problem!

  • avatar

    Where did the Aluminum end up?

    • 0 avatar

      If it went out the exhaust valve, then thru the turbine and out the exhaust pipe …

      But my guesses:
      1. the particles in the adjacent cylinder are from the disintegration of that cylinders own piston;
      2. as for the piston-less cylinder, my guess is the larger debris ended-up residing in the bottom of the oil pan.

      For grins, it would have been interesting to have put the engine back together as it was found and run it either a) just like that with the pistonless conrod fapping around in the cylinder, or b) after taking a cut-off tool, and butchering-away the con-rod down near the crank…

  • avatar

    Kind of like unearthing an ancient skeleton that belonged to someone who had a lot of illness. fascinating

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Not enough Slick 50!

  • avatar

    Ahhh, the ghettocharge. I have fond memories of my first. Exhaust manifold gasket made from the cardboard back of a three subject notebook, junkyard mitsu turbo with more shaft play than I had as a hormonal teenager at the time and only the vaguest understanding of air/fuel ratio and the role it would play in keeping the engine’s insides inside. Car was fast until it puked it’s guts all over the street… a 1/2 mile away from my house. A necessary sacrifice though, car was in desperate need of an engine with two bump sticks.

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