Fuel Dragsters and High Speed Gear Sets

high speed gears sets in fuel dragsters

Nixon Gear has been making gear sets for Kobelco superchargers since they began making them in 1996. When manufacturing high speed gear sets, it takes super precision and finish to tolerate the harsh conditions they are put under.

We thought many of you, our techie friends, would enjoy some of the incredible facts about fuel dragsters. Here are some fun facts about fuel dragsters just for you:

  • One top fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first 4 rows of stock cars at the Daytona 500.
  • It takes just 15/100ths (0.15) of a second for all 6,000+ horsepower (some believe 8,000 HP is more realistic – there are no dynamometers capable of measuring) of an NHRA top fuel dragster engine to reach the rear wheels.
  • Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1-1/2 gallons of nitromethane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.
  • A stock Dodge Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to drive the dragster’s supercharger.
  • With 3,000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a near-solid form before ignition.
  • Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.
  • Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.
  • Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.
  • Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during one pass. After halfway, the engine is dieseling from compression, plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1,400 degrees F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.
  • If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.
  • In order to exceed 300 mph in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4G’s. In order to reach 200 mph well before half-track, the launch acceleration approaches 8G’s.
  • Top fuel engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to light! The redline is actually quite high at 9,500 rpm. The current top fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.428 seconds for the quarter mile (11/12/06, Tony Schumacher, at Pomona , CA ). The top speed record is 336.15 mph as measured over the last 66′ of the run (05/25/05 Tony Schumacher, at Hebron , OH ).
  • Nixon’s precision ground gear sets are built for speed. In this application we use ground spur gears instead of ground helical gears to minimize deflection at this amount of instantaneous torque.
  • Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, and for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimate $1,000 per second.

To put all of this into perspective:

Imagine you are driving the average $140,000 Lingenfelter ‘twin-turbo’ powered Corvette Z06. Over a mile up the road, a top fuel dragster is staged and ready to launch down a quarter mile strip as you pass. You have the advantage of a flying start. You run the Corvette hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and pass the dragster at an honest 200 mph. The ‘tree’ goes green for both of you at that instant.

The dragster launches and starts after you. You keep your foot down hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums, and within 3 seconds, the dragster catches and passes you. He beats you to the finish line, a quarter mile away from where you just passed him.

Think about it, from a standing start, the dragster had spotted you 200 mph and not only caught you, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you within a mere 1,320 foot long race course. That, friends, is what we call ACCELERATION!

So, the next time you need precision ground gear sets, think about Gear Motions for help in designing and manufacturing the best high speed gear sets for your project.

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