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Official Montana 500 Website


Al Powell is a member of our club from Miami, Florida. He writes a column for an AACA club. The following is one of his recent columns. I thought some of you might find it interesting.

Shade Tree Mechanic

by Al Powell

Check this out-

I try to keep up with modern advances in engines and parts. However, certain experts say there is nothing new today but simply old technology that has been upgraded. I will agree with this statement for the most part, my main exception would be in the field of electronics. They have come up with amazing sensors to monitor every aspect of engine performance. I hate to admit it but, engines today are much smarter than I am. New parts today which are upgrades are the multiple overhead camshafts and short stroke, high compression engines, common in racing before 1920. Also, few realize that the supercharger was first installed on an automobile prior to 1910 and the smooth flowing exhaust headers had been used in racing before that.

Today, there is a growing interest in motorcycles and the manufacturers understand that they must win races to sell their product. Horsepower wins races and this is gained in the most part by better breathing. Here, engineers were stymied because the motorcycle cylinders limited the size and number of valves they could use. There seemed to be no solution until one ingenious fellow tried something radical. Check this out! He designed an engine where each pair of side-by-side cylinders were brought together to make a single cylinder of oval configuration. The piston required a pair of connecting rods for proper support and alignment. Amazingly he was able to design piston rings for this goofy piston. This shape allowed for at least two additional valves bringing about much better breathing and more power. As you might imagine, reciprocating weight was slightly increased which lowered the RPM range of the engine however, this was not a bad thing as even though it put out more power and torque, the engines lived longer. I saw photographs of the engine and the piston with its twin rods but still cannot figure out how those rings sealed the walls of that oval cylinder!

They say it works so you cannot argue with success. This is one idea that is totally new today not just an upgrade of earlier technology.

The Montana 500 is Sanctioned by The Montana Cross Country T Association.