The Barra range of turbo charged straight six cylinder engines developed by Ford Australia are unique to our nation and hurl the Ford XR6 and Ford Performance Vehicles Typhoon down the road quicker than vee-eight Fords. The 245T (245 kilowatts & 480 Newton metres of torque), 270T (270/550), 270T FG (270/533) and 310T FG (310/565) are incredibly powerful but there are always motoring enthusiasts out there who want that extra grunt.
When you push an engine even further than it was originally intended that is when technical challenges can arise and in the case of our customer, an automotive high performance workshop, one such issue was oil flow.
As engine rev’s climb higher the oil has to be pushed faster throughout the engine to protect connecting surfaces and keep it cool but the standard Ford oil pump struggled to cope. Without correct oil flow you can risk single component or complete engine failure. Our customer inspected the turbo-six engines and identified the part at the core of the problem: the OEM oil pump plate. This diecast aluminium plate is made to a specific design with different diameter screw holes and oil flow holes, filleted recesses and a smooth facing on one side where it touches the pump.
Archer’s reputation for specialist solution-centric engineering and manufacturing is what led to us being briefed by the workshop to develop a cost-efficient solution for this niche project. We are not automotive specialists. Our customers include mining, defence, critical performance fail-safe product manufacturers and scientific laboratories. What they have in common is a need for someone with lateral thinking and world-best technology to think outside the box. This is where Archer comes in.
The initial phase of the project involved scanning the OEM part and converting it into a 3D parametric model using SolidWorks CAD/CAM software. This allowed us to accurately plot the minute dimensions and the smooth facing which would be replicated in the new design.
Next came the product development phase in which we applied our understanding of lubricant flow under various conditions to a prototype which retained key features but incorporated innovative new ideas to ensure that oil flow would no longer be restricted at high revs. The automotive workshop was very impressed by our photo-realistic 3D models which allowed them to quickly understand what we were changing and why.
It is interesting to note that during this vital phase there wasn’t any in-person contact with the customer. In fact, the entire project was carried out remotely relying on email and phone conversations to discuss the design to manufacture journey. Such was their trust in Archer.
The new design was standardised meaning that it would suit a variety of vehicle models. There would be no need to have small batches of different versions. Thus, it incorporated performance improvement as well as practical consideration of simplifying inventory and minimising production cost.
The decision was made to move away from casting the new plate in preference to machining it from a billet of aluminium 6061 and then hard anodising it with a 15 micron anodised coating. This offered dual advantages: an ultra-smooth surface finish along with added longevity. Manufacturing the plate in the Okuma multi-axis machine centre meant that the part number could be cut into it – a practicality with regards to specifying, ordering and stocking the part.
The final design was approved and went into production with the first batch of 50. The oil flow dilemma was solved and since then the customer has since ordered half a dozen batches.
Archer has a full-service Manufacturing Centre of Excellence on the NSW Central Coast and was able to conduct concept, computer design, prototyping, modelling, machining and product testing under the one roof.