Very often cylinder head prep equipment solves challenges for race engine builders, such as Chad Mullins of Mullins Race Engines in Mount Olive, Illinois. “We used to have to buy cylinder heads from other manufacturers that weren’t doing what we wanted done,” Mullins explained. “Then when we got those heads in, even though they were supposed to be fully CNC machined and ready to go, we’d still spend a day and a half on them.
“Now we do everything exactly the way we want it,” he continued. “When it comes out of the CNC machine, we don’t have to spend that extra time. We weren’t able to get paid for that before. We’re just able to do all of our own little things, and it works out great.”
All of Indianapolis, Indiana-based M&M Competition Engines’ cylinder head prep equipment has a very specific pre-planned purpose for the company. “Take for example our CNC equipment: We purchased three new machines last year due to the fact that we have begun machining other companies’ components along with our own,” Scott Patton explained. “Our own products kept the machines we had at their capacity, so if we were going to take on additional jobs, we had to properly equip ourselves to do so.”
One common challenge for race engine builders is to find a programmer to manage all the data points it takes to machine a cylinder head, according to Jack Halenkamp of Mazak, Florence, Kentucky. “You need an operator who wants to be the best and not crash your $500,000 machine. Usually areas that have aerospace companies have programmers who are familiar with 5-axis machining and how complex some of the intersections can become. There are usually operators available who are also familiar with machining complex geometries in these areas,” he said.
John Cowher of Howard, Pennsylvania-based Centroid stressed that, in general, cylinder head prep systems put engine builders in control of their race machine shops. “They do not have the outsourcing to do—be it engineering and development of their cylinder head program. They can do other tasks while machining. Many have taken advantage of this fact and put it into race-winning results,” he said.