In its simplest form, tuning
your pipe is fairly straight forward. There are two ways to go about tuning the tuned
pipe. You can perform the trial & error method OR do it Mathematically. I will cover
THE TRIAL & ERROR METHOD:
Here is where you begin. Select a prop you plan to fly with. Whatever that prop is, go
down one pitch. For example: If you are planning to fly on a 10x7 prop, then
install a 10x6 prop for tuneup purposes. We'll call the 10x6 your TUNEUP PROP. The purpose
of the tuneup prop is to "simulate" the RPM of your airplane un-loading in
flight with the bigger prop.
The next item is your fuel. The engine must be tuned to the fuel you intend on using all
the time. Your new tuned pipe will not perform the same if you change fuels.
OK, you have your "tuneup" prop installed and the plane fueled up. The FIRST
thing you need to do is establish a BASELINE RPM. This is done by running the engine on
the HEADER ONLY. In other words, leave your Tuned Pipe off and fire up your engine with
only the header installed. Peak your engine with the highend needle and take an RPM
reading. That RPM reading (on the header only) is your BASELINE RPM. Now install the Tuned
Pipe and fire up the engine. Peak it on the highend needle and take an RPM reading.
Compare the Tuned Pipe RPM reading to the BASELINE RPM. Did the RPM (on the pipe) go up,
down, or stay the same?
IF the RPM dropped, the HEADER PIPE is way too long.
You can shorten the HEADER PIPE in 1/2" increments, and take RPM readings until the
RPM is EQUAL to, or slightly higher than the baseline RPM.
IF the RPM is the same or slightly higher, the HEADER
PIPE is slightly long. You can shorten the HEADER PIPE in 1/4" increments and take
RPM readings after each cut. Keep shortening it until the RPM goes as high as it will go.
When the cut either doesn't change the RPM, or it slows down slightly, back up the Tuned
Pipe 1/8" on the coupler and lock it down.
Your Tuned Pipe and header will be coupled with a silicone coupler. Do not let the Tuned
Pipe & header touch! Their must be at least 1/8" to 1/4" space between them.
If your engine runs HOT in the air
or it "seems" to be running lean,
The header pipe is TOO SHORT when flying! Lengthen
the gap between your header and Tuned Pipe in 1/8" increments immediately. If
you don't, you will fry your piston & sleeve in no time at all.
If you burn out glow plugs, your header is still a
little short for flying. Again, lengthen it at the coupler in 1/8" increments.
Once your Tuned Pipe is setup correctly you will need to keep the same prop & fuel
from here on out. If you change anything you'll have to adjust your pipe again.
NOTE: For those not up to tuning to a specific engine,
prop & fuel, you can always add a tuned muffler like the Performance Specialties
TurboThrust. You won't get the absolute maximum power that a tuned pipe will provide, but
it will certainly boost your power.
Here is what's happening:
Beginning at COMBUSTION, the piston is driven down until the exhaust port opens. The
gasses exit into the tuned pipe. Further down the stroke, the INTAKE port opens and begins
to purge the cylinder to the point whereby un-burned fuel makes its way through the
cylinder and partially into the tuned pipe. On the up stroke, the intake port is closed,
and the exhaust port is still partially open. The wave bounces back from the rear of the
pipe and pushes the un-burned fuel back into the cylinder. This compresses the cylinder
before the piston begins its compression cycle, thus increasing the compression and
increasing the air/fuel charge. The length of the pipe is critical and is only effective
at a narrow RPM range. This refered to as "getting on the pipe" or resonant.
The Tuned Pipe must be tuned to a specific prop by adjusting the length of the pipe
until it gets resonant.at the desired RPM.
You do not want your engine getting on the pipe while on the ground! If it does, you
will go past the peak resonance and loose power in flight and over-heat. So if you tune
your engine on the ground to peak, then go up in pitch or diameter on your prop for
flying. This will (hopefully) ensure that your engine will peak when your plane begins to
un-load in the air.
Pipe Theory and Practice (Mathematical Method)
You know that changing the exhaust pipe and pipe length on
your engine can have a marked effect on the engine's power characteristics, but do you by
how much and why ?
How Much. A two stroke 125cc engine with standard exhaust system can combust no
more than 125cc of fuel air mix. A two stroke 125cc engine with good tuned exhaust system
can combust approx 180cc of fuel air mix.
Why. Simply put, it's because the two-stroke exhaust system, commonly
referred to as an 'expansion chamber' uses pressure waves emanating from the combustion
chamber to effectively supercharge your engine.
In reality, expansion chambers are built to harness sound waves (created in the combustion
process) to first suck the cylinder clean of spent gases--and in the process, drawing
fresh air/gas mixture (known as 'charge') into the chamber itself--and then stuff all the
charge back into the cylinder, filling it to greater pressures than could be achieved by
simply venting the exhaust port into the open atmosphere. This phenomenon was first
discovered in the 1950s by Walter Kaaden, who was working at the East German company MZ.
Kaaden understood that there was power in the sound waves coming from the exhaust system,
and opened up a whole new field in two-stroke theory and tuning.
An engine's exhaust port can be thought of as a sound generator. Each time the piston
uncovers the exhaust port , the pulse of exhaust gases rushing out the port creates a
positive pressure wave which radiates from the exhaust port. The sound will be be the same
frequency as the engine is turning, that is, an engine turning at 24,000 rpms generates an
exhaust sound at 24,000 rpms or 399 cycles a second--hence, an expansion chamber's total
length is decided by the rpm the engine will reach, not displacement.
Of course those waves don't radiate in all directions since there's a pipe attached to the
port. Early two strokes had straight pipes, a simple length of tube attached to the
exhaust port. This created a single "negative" wave that helped suck spent
exhaust gases out of the cylinder. And since sound waves that start at the end of the pipe
travel to the other end at the speed of sound, there was only a small rpm range where the
negative wave's return would reach the exhaust port at a useful time: At too low of an
rpm, the wave would return too soon, bouncing back out the port. And at too high of an
rpm, the piston would have traveled up the cylinder far enough to close the exhaust port,
again doing no good.
Indeed, the only advantage to this crude pipe system was that it was easy to tune: You
simply started with a long pipe and started cutting it off until the motor ran best at the
engine speed you wanted.
So after analyzing this cut-off straight-pipe exhaust system, tuners realized that
pressure waves could be created to help pull spent gases out of the cylinder. Following
this, The tuners realised that these pressure waves could be utilised still further
by using a divergent cone to increase the strength of the negative wave and then that a
convergent cone added to this would increase power still further as explained next....
The exhaust opens on the down stroke and a pressure wave
emanates from the exhaust port into the header pipe. This pressure wave travels through
the exhaust gases that are in the pipe at the speed of sound.. Its the pressure wave
that travels at this speed, not the exhaust gases themselves. (Imagine a stream and you
throw in a rock. The waves from that rock will travel down the stream faster than the
speed of the water.) Anyway, the wave reaches the front divergent cone and a weak negative
wave (negative pressure or suck) (laws of physics) is sent back to the exhaust
port which reaches the exhaust port while the transfers are open helping to remove exhaust
gases from the cylinder which in turn helps fresh mixture from the crankcase up through
the transfers into the cylinder. ( some of which will enter the front part of the header) The length of the
front cone and its distance from the cylinder (header length) determines the amount of
time that the pressure reducing wave from the exhaust does it work in emptying the
cylinder of exhaust gas and then assisting the fresh mixture up from the crankcase into
the cylinder. If header is too short then the wave energy from the front cone is wasted
because the negative wave ( the suck) arrives at the exhaust port while the
cylinder pressure is still high after combustion. It should arrive there when the pressure
in the cylinder is low but there are still exhaust gases that need to be extracted. If the
header length is too long then the wave is arriving later than optimum and the exhaust
gases are not fully removed from the cylinder. The front cone needs to be long enough to
generate a wave to help the fresh mixture into the cylinder but it also needs to continue
working long enough to allow some fresh mixture into the first part of the header. This is
the mixture which will be forced back into the cylinder. If it is too short, then it does
not allow mixture into the header. If its too long, then it reduces the length of the rear
cone and that needs to be long enough to force all of the unburnt mixture in the header to
be forced back into the cylinder. The pressure wave continues into the rear cone and
immediately sends a positive pressure wave (laws of physics!) back down the tuned pipe
towards the exhaust port forcing the unburnt fresh mixture back into the cylinder. The
strength of the wave increases as the rear cone gets smaller and the length is made so
that the returning pressure wave from its very end at the junction with the stinger
coincides with the point of exhaust port closure. When this most
critical length (start of stinger to exhaust port) is correct, then maximum
power is achieved. If this critical length is too short then the returning wave forces hot
gases back into the cylinder, dramatically increasing cylinder combustion temperatures. If
this length is too long the maximum power will not be achieved because maximum
supercharging or cylinder filling will not occur, although power in the corners will be
better because the tuned length will coincide more with the reduced rpm in the
In conclusion we can see that the front cone length and
distance from exhaust port is very important to achieve maximum cylinder filling and to
pull some mixture into the header and the distance from piston to start of stinger is
extremely important to get maximum filling ( supercharging) of the cylinder. . When we
adjust the tuned pipe length on our engines we are moving several things at once, the
start of front cone, the end of front cone, the start of rear-cone and the end of rear
cone/start of stinger.
|The tuned length L as
shown in the diagram is the length that most people use as a comparison. This is OK as a
comparison but the length that is most critical is TL. Many different
pipes can be used on an engine but that tuned length TL will always remain the same
within a few millimetres for a specific rpm (if all other factors remain constant, nitro
content, oil content, air density, temperature etc). This applies to all two stroke
model engines , petrol (gas) or Glow powered (nitro). We know this from many many
bench and on the water tests conducted on many different engines. To
elaborate: If you were running a tuned pipe at its optimised length (the length that
is giving most power or speed) and that pipe had no flat in the centre section and you
wanted to change to a pipe with a flat in the centre or belly section. You should measure TL
on the old pipe and then set TL on the new pipe to the same length to give you a
starting point for adjustment. I will add that the theoretical tuned length
according to many textbooks is halfway down the rear cone but from practical experience I
find that TL is the measurement that you must use to be accurate.
| Pipe length is decided by rpm, exhaust timing and speed of sound within the
exhaust system. The last part should remain almost the same whatever you do to the exhaust
timing or rpm.
If you increase the exhaust timing and rpm stays the same then pipe length is longer. If
you increase the rpm but exhaust timing stays the same then the pipe length has to be
shorter. If you can measure the rpm of your motor and exhaust timing then you can use a
simple calculation to show how much you need to change the pipe length when altering ex
timing and rpm. The speed of sound within the exhaust system is dependent upon the
EGT ( exhaust gas temperature). The higher the temperature the longer the pipe length must
be for a given rpm.. EGT will vary with these factors..Stinger diameter( smaller stinger
= higher EGT) , Fuel needle setting. (A leaner mixture will raise EGT.) Fuel
mix. High oil content reduces EGT, High Nitro content also reduces EGT.. ( this is because
a very rich mixture must be used with high nitro).
Here are some some simple calculations for gas engines where the
exhaust gas temperature is not affected by nitro content and varying fuel settings.
( For these calculations you can measure the pipe length between whatever points you want
to, but the norm is from plug to widest part of cone.)
= L ( for an example 13" or 330mm)
Exhaust timing = E ( for an example
rpm ( for an example 15,000)
Firstly you work out the constant for your set up. So..
K = rpm x L
That would give a K number of 1114 and as I wrote before, K will remain the same whatever
If you want the engine to rev at 16,000, the equation changes to ..
L= E x K
This would make the new pipe length 12.18" or 309mm.
If you wanted to increase Exhaust timing to 180 and run at 17000 then it would be
11.79" or 302mm.
NB These same calculations can be used on nitro engines but the K factor will
change if the nitro content or oil content is altered.
length should be separated from stinger diameter because although they are linked, in
practice you would need to make a big change in stinger length to affect the backpressure.
Stinger diameter is crucial to the pipes operating temperature and hence the power
production. If the stinger is bigger than optimum them making it even bigger will have
little effect but by sleeving it down then you will be able to find the size that gives
best power. Normally a smaller stinger will improve top end power because the exhaust gas
temperature will increase which will have the effect of a shorter pipe length. If you go
too small on the stinger then power will suddenly start to drop in the corners and the
motor will begin to overheat. To get the best power its usual to lengthen the header and
make the stinger smaller to get the best overall performance. A bigger stinger will have
the effect of spreading the power band but the engine will not make the same peak
Stinger length is important because its part of the pipe resonance. The wrong stinger
length will reduce performance at the upper end of the rpm band. i.e. between peak torque
and peak bhp.. There will be maybe one or two stinger lengths that will cut the rpm off at
a certain level reducing the 'overrev' which gives the best top speed. There will be one
stinger length which gives the best overall power and overrev. I find no way to calculate
that stinger length, trial and error is the only way. Its not dependent upon engine size,
just on the pipe design. For example, my best .21 pipe runs over 100 mm stinger but my
best .90 runs around 60mm. One thing though, very short stingers up to 40mm long don't
normally work and extremely long stingers of 150mm to 200 mm can work very well. Once the
best stinger length is found, it does not seem to vary if the pipe length is altered.
PS On stinger length, its only a few percent performance difference but every little
|A few helpful facts.
The volume of a pipe is only really related to the displacement of the engine because the
various diameters of the pipe ( header, belly and stinger) are a function of exhaust port
area and if an engine has a bigger displacement it usually has a bigger exhaust port area.
It's often said that a bigger volume pipe is less peaky or it has a broader spread of
power. This is not actually so. The volume takes care of itself when the pipe is
calculated. The important things are firstly (and most importantly) the length from piston
face to start of stinger and secondly header length, cone lengths, belly length, and then
header diameter, belly diameter and stinger diameter. Normally a good pipe will have a
belly cross sectional area of about 10 times the exhaust port area with a stinger diameter
of about 0.5 to 0.6 of the exhaust port area and the header around 1.2 times exhaust port
area. By exhaust port I mean the actual port in the liner not the port where the exhaust
manifold bolts on. If we take 2 pipes with the same cone lengths and total tuned
length then the pipe with the largest volume will will require a smaller stinger
diameter to maintain the same EGT (exhaust gas temperature) within the
03/2004 -----Dave Marles. February 2004