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Engine block, aluminum vs iron/steel

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
One of the items that comes up in discussions of truch tech is the engine block. Lots of smaller vehicles have aluminum blocks, and don't seem to have a problem. The F-150 still has a cast iron block, but the Titan has an aluminum block, and I assume so does the Armada. On a large V-8, such as you'd want for a large SUV or half ton pickup, what's the weight saving by going to aluminum for the engine block? Is there really a weight savings? Do any large American SUVs or P/U use them, or is this another place where Detroit follows only after Tokyo's there?
post #2 of 7
The British have been using an aluminum block V8 for over 30 years. Originally developed by Buick, the 216 could be found in Land Rovers to TVRs. The Land Rover variations, while they may seem anemic in the acceleration department, have gobs of torque. The original 3.5 had 164hp and 220lbs.ft of torque for a compact lightweight engine. The last incarnation, the 4.6, puts out 225hp and 277lbs.ft.

In fact, Back in the 50's, GM was looking towards aluminum for building all of its future engines from because of its efficiency and lighter weight, however it was the lobbying power of "big steel" that eventually turned GM around. That and in the 60's thin walled casting techniques improved and in effect negated the major advantages of aluminum.
post #3 of 7
The Buick Olds Pontiac 215 V8 aluminum block of the 60's .... remember it well. The results were a disaster across the board. Overheating and blown head gaskets were the order of the day. Gone after three years and banished to the British, folks who actually thought the Lucas Electrics stuff was good. The combination of dissimilar metals in the radiator, block and cylinder supported galvanic reaction. And the differing expansion rates of iron and aluminum finished it off. Not exactly a success story even when compared to the Pontiac, 4 cylinder, sawed-off 389 V8 cast iron behemoth of the same era. Couple it to a flimsey trans-axle and you have a contender for the worst car ever made title. Might have even been a Motor Trend Car of the Year selection.

PS Don't ever consider buying any "Motor Trend "Car of the Year" winner.

Steve
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
So far as I can tell, the Titan / Armada is the largest engine with an aluminum block currently made. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up. Sales of the Titan are apparently running somewhat below Nissan's expectations, and I believe there is a rebate for it, a rare thing for a new Japanese vehicle. Most reviewers seem to like it, though the reviews are definitely written for the "lifestyle" owner rather then the guy on a construction site.
post #5 of 7
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Sasquatch, thank you. I've taken a look at a couple of the links, don't have time for all of them just now and will be back ... clearly you're in tune with technical developments. Does GMC have an update for the Tahoe/Yukon anywhere near? The Displacement on Demand didn't happen this model year.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianBM:
Sasquatch, thank you. I've taken a look at a couple of the links, don't have time for all of them just now and will be back ... clearly you're in tune with technical developments. ..
Nah, just curious and hit google real quick. Copy/Paste and there ya go!
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