Ayrton Senna’s first TURBO F1 car | 800HP Toleman-Hart TG183B [TECH TALK]

Ayrton Senna’s first TURBO F1 car | 800HP Toleman-Hart TG183B [TECH TALK]


– When it comes to engine performance,
the original turbo F1 era is one of the standouts. The sort of power levels that they were
extracting out of these engines, particularly for the era and how advanced
the electronics were at the time is really incredible. It’s not often we get to talk to people that
have been involved at this level but we’re here with Geoff from Geoff Page Racing,
to do exactly that. So Geoff you’ve got a long and pretty
prestigeous resume with the engines you’ve been involved with over the years. But today I really want to focus on this
F1 turbo era. And we’ve all heard power numbers thrown
around up to around 1500 horsepower in qualifying trim from only a 1.5 litre
engine. Now even today those sorts of numbers
are pretty incredible but again as I’ve mentioned, given the technology that was
available back then, even more impressive. So for a start I just want to talk about the
engine construction. Now the one that we’ve got here in your
workshop is the Hart 415T. Interestingly a four cylinder engine with
some quite unique construction. Can you talk to us about the monoblock
design of that engine? – Yeah well basically Brian Hart evolved the
two litre, four cylinder, 420R engine into the turbo 1500, what we now know as a
415T. But the first 415T was in fact a two litre
Hart D stroked which therefore still had a head gasket. They had a lot of gasket issues as you would
expect in the early days, ’81 vintage. And they realised that it’s all been done
before with aero engines but they realised a monoblock would be the way
to go. So deleting the head gasket, deleting
the head studs, deleting any issues between a head and a block, they started to evolve
and design and evolve the 415T as we know it today. Which obviously being a monoblock,
you’ve got no reliability issues. And it went through many generations,
the first engines were mechanically injected, bit rough and ready but they
did work. – There’s a huge amount of information so
I want to stop you there before we go too far down the path. So I think for our viewers who maybe aren’t
up to speed on where the problems lie with turbocharged engines, so getting rid
of that head gasket joint is an issue because really when it comes to a
turbocharged engine, we’re pushing a huge amount of cylinder pressure into
the engine, that’s how we’re making power but of course you’ve got to hold the
cylinder head onto the engine block. So this is really the problem, particularly
in the F1 turbo era, was how much power they could make was really dictated by
holding the cylinder head onto the block? – Correct, yeah absolutely. – Now there are a few techniques that are
being used or have been used, including the other F1 turbo engines for
head gasket sealing. Can you talk to us about some of the
usual ones you might see in a very high boost turbo engine? – Yeah well I’m quite familiar with the RS200
engine and that runs what we call a double eyelet, standard type gasket. But it was a solution in the early days
then they went to what we call a Coopers ring which is a stainless steel
rolled shim type ring which would allow the head to pant, was more malleable. Then they would generate other issues with
that where the next solution was a solid beryllium ring which Cosworth evolved,
many of the others evolved. We’ve done a lot of different turbo engines
here and a number of them have a solid beryllium ring. – So the solid beryllium ring, can you
just tell us how exactly that seals and where the advantage is with using that
material? – Yeah the pre load is directly between the
head face and the groove of the block. And you would shim it if required. You’d normally have a two thou clamping
load. Most of the engines tend to run in the
region of 95 foot pounds of torque on the head studs. And the oil and water is obviously sealed
with o rings. So individual o rings for each gallery and
that’s how it works. – OK so all of those techniques, good in
their own right but when you’re talking about the kind of cylinder pressures that
you’re looking to generate in F1, particularly in qualifying trim where the
boost was wound up to the end of the scale, not sufficient or still problematic
at least. So Hart went to the trouble of designing
a monoblock with the head and block cast as one piece. Now I’m guessing that that creates its
own set of issues, particularly around machining the valve seats and the ports
et cetera, how’s that dealt with and is that even problematic or am I just
making that up? – No to be honest as I mentioned to you
off camera, that machining process was done local to here, we’re in Maldon in
Essex in England. It was done by a company called Modern
Precision, about eight miles up the road. The biggest problems they had by doing
the monoblock, which in the earlier days they hadn’t realised, was the fact that
they couldn’t control the water flow through the block and basically if the water
passes through the block too quickly, it doesn’t take heat away. So they started to realise that restriction’s
required as with a conventional head gasket where obviously you have different sized
holes to control the water pressure and the water flow from the pump, through
the head, through the skull of the chamber and out to the radiator. And they did realise that they were
overflowing the water system. Later generation 415T actually has
a dummy head gasket cast into the block to simulate a real head gasket to control
the water flow, control the water pressure and that worked really well. – Now these engines were developed
back in the ’80s and we’ve seen technology move along a long way since then,
I’m not personally familiar with casting processes but back then what you were
trying to do with a monoblock, in particular you’ve just mentioned
effectively casting in dummy head gasket, was that really pushing the sort of
technology for pouring the blocks or casting the blocks I should say at the time? – Yeah absolutely there was basically two
foundries in the U.K. which most of the formal constructions were using. One of which was Kent Aerospace Castings,
which I think is where Brian went for most of his work, his major parts anyway. And as you know, they were old fashioned,
hand built tool and pattern work, wooden patterns and yeah they were
leading edge at the time. Nowadays it’s all pressure forced induction
aluminium with different runners and different specifications and some of
it’s quite well guarded. There’s one company in the U.K. called
Grainger and Worrall who is generally the go to company for this kind of work
nowadays. And that’s where we would go if we were
going to do anything similar in the future. – Now in terms of that finished cast block,
obviously short of something like a Nikasil coating, you can’t run the piston
rings directly on the aluminium material. So what was used there, is there a sleeve
pressed in or something of that nature? – No Brian Hart was again one of the
forerunners into the Nikasil technology because he’d done it with the BDG
for Cosworth earlier on in the ’70s. So obviously Nikasil that we know as
Nikasil is a Mahle process in Germany. Other companies around the world now
have reverse engineered a similar process, it’s not the same, it’s very
similar. But if you want true Nikasil you have
to go to Mahle. It will cost you some money but it can
be done. – So this was being done all the way back
in the ’80s with these engines. Now one of the other things that I just
want to talk about here is of course running the rings on the aluminium
material with Nikasil coating’s one thing but also we’ve got the bore
strength to consider. And generally aluminium blocks are a
little bit weaker in the bores than the likes of a cast iron or ductile iron sleeve
so obviously it worked but was that just a consideration taken into account
with the thickness of the bores when the block was cast? – Yeah absolutely I mean going back to my
RS200 experience, back in the day in the hype of the rallycross era in England
and in Europe, we were doing a 95, in fact 95.25 millimetre bored Evolution
RS200 engine. And we had a lot of success with that,
it was done between myself and Martin Schanche. That was in fact a Mahle Nikasil finished
bore. But what we realised, because the power
levels were going up even back in ’88, ’89, we were seeing 750 to 800
horsepower from a 2.4 litre Evolution RS200 but we had some block failures. And it wasn’t until we had a number of
block failures we realised that in the original wooden pattern type process,
they were, RS200 Evolution blocks were cast with core shift. So we would typically have a six millimetre
thick bore and then occasionally you get a core shift block where you’ve got a
three mil on one side, a nine mil on the other and generally it was the
thrust side where you’d always have the three mil, hence the failures. – So for those who aren’t aware of that
term core shift, I don’t think we see that too much with foundries these days,
the technology’s moved along. But that’s where the patterns used for
casting the block, as you’ve mentioned, the core shift, pretty self explanatory,
it actually moves and that’s where you get the thickness problem with your
block. So you see a lot of engine builders using
older engines where they’ll have a number of blocks and ultrasonically test the
thickness. They can find a bore which is nice and
thick. Now getting back to your monoblock here,
when you’re assembling a block where the head and block are one piece, obviously
that’s going to create a few more considerations with the assembly process. Can you talk us through how these engines
go together? – Yeah well to be honest it’s not rocket
science as we would say, it’s very simple. We have a lapping stick, a dowel,
same as you would use on any cylinder head. It just happens to be about two foot
long. Only you go down from the crank case
area of the block down into the combustion chamber and lap the valves like you would
any other valve, blue them like any other valve. And then we’ve just made ourselves a
little handheld tool to allow us to insert the valve and put the valve seals on
and the valve springs and the collets. – And understandably from there the
piston and conrod assembly needs to be installed from the bottom et cetera
et cetera. Is there anything particularly tricky in the
bottom of the block how the crankshaft’s supported into the alloy block? – No it’s not tricky, it’s very much a
Cosworth kind of derived philosophy where it’s a ladder frame block. So with regard to the 415T you’ve got
main bearing numbers one, three and five in the sump and two and four
is a separate cap. So to assemble the engine obviously
you’re going to put, as you say, the piston, rod assembly in first,
followed by the crankshaft, everything comes up together, torqued together and you can then
turn the engine over to start and do the top end with the crank supported by
numbers two and four main cap. – Now with the sort of power levels these
engines were producing, back in the ’80s, as I’ve kind of alluded to, the technology
in terms of electronic control, even turbocharger technology is nothing
like what we’re seeing today. So could you give us some insight
into how is that holding them back? If, back in the ’80s, they’d had the turbos
and the EFI systems we have access to today, what sort of numbers would
you have expected these engines could produce, where is the limit I
guess is what I’m asking? – Well unfortunately we’ve never been
asked to go maximum tack for a 1500 turbo, 80 generation engine but realistically
if we were, I think you would expect to see twice the power that that engine
made back in the day if we run it on modern fuel, modern electronics,
modern sensors, modern compression ratio, modern turbo, modern ECU, we would see
twice. So in the case of the 415T, they
realistically never saw more than 800 horsepower from a 415T when Brian Hart Ltd
was at Harlow which again is in Essex, local to here. Today if somebody said right Geoff,
let’s go for it, I would say you would easily see 1600 horsepower from a 1500
Hart 415T. – Even back in the day, that 800 horsepower
that you’ve just quoted, is that just a qualifying power level or is that actually
how they did a full Grand Prix? – I can’t answer that but I would say that
was the maximum ’cause I worked for Brian in 1996 and Brian and I in those days
were very very friendly. Unfortunately he passed away some years
ago now, we all went to his funeral as you can imagine but yeah Brian and I used to
have many many discussions on various aeroplanes around the world about how
the 415T evolved and how it was working back then. And Brian knew that I worked for another
guy called Terry Hoyle. He knew that I’d evolved the Evolution
RS200 engine which was another project that Brian did for Ford Motor Company back
in the ’80s. So we had lots of very very good intimate
discussions. What you could do then, what you could
do now. And like I just said, if we had the
opportunity today, 1600 horsepower would be easy to achieve I’m sure. – Of course these days, the likes of this
car which is Ayrton Senna’s very first car, the first car he drove in Formula 1,
essentially priceless. So safe to assume that no one’s really
interested in pushing these cars or engines to the limit because it’s just there
for exhibition purposes, no one’s trying to put them on pole
position or win Grand Prixs anymore. But one thing I have noticed with this
car is you’ve done a complete electronics overhaul with the car, it is now running
modern EFI. So can you talk us through that process
and why you decided to go that route? – That’s an interesting question because
we’ve done over the years many Hart 415T engine cars from Lola to
Tolemans to RAMs et cetera et cetera. And some years ago I was the first
person to try and produce an original Hart 415T with four injectors per cylinder
as it was back in the day on a Life Racing ECU. So I went to my colleagues at Life,
asked them for an ECU that could control four injectors per cylinder on
a four cylinder engine and that became the Life Racing F88RX. So the first prototype RX was built
for GPR and now that’s on their inventory, anybody can buy one. We started to run it on four injectors. This actual engine here was originally
derived from a four injector, so single injector per cylinder which
means that the inlet system is originally mechanically injected, which we
converted to a solenoid injector for ease of maintenance and so we
could run it and we were in control from the ECU. So this is on a conventional type F88RS
ECU which works fine. – So just in terms of the startup,
just to give us one example of that. You’ve talked off camera about the
startup process when the car was running on the original mechanical
injection versus the Life Racing ECU. So can you just reiterate how that
works? – Well on the original mechanical injection
it would probably take you about two hours to get it to run. Today, it’s a shame that the car’s not
running today while you’re here with the cameras because when we had it
running in the workshop here three days ago, literally you would plug the
starter into the back of the gearbox, press the button, pull the starter away,
it would be running. You don’t need to hold the throttle open
or make it idle, it just runs. You’d never do that on a mechanical and
you’d never do that on the original Zytek. – And safe to assume as well, you’ve got
a lot more control now on fuel and ignition so the reliability of the engine,
drivability of the engine, far superior to what it would have been back in the
day? – Yeah I would say this engine sitting here
would be, unless you really pushed the edge of the limit of the turbocharger,
this engine sitting here would be 100% reliable and have good longevity. You’d be talking probably 25 hours
longevity which back in the day they were a two hour engine and most of them only
lasted for an hour. And you could run it for that kind of
period at three bar of boost which would make 780 horsepower and be fine. – It sounds like plenty. Now just in terms of modifying or I guess
modernising is probably a better term, a historic car with that sort of value,
what sort of considerations have you got going through your mind? Because obviously you don’t want to
destroy the originality of the car but of course adding modern electronics as
we’ve just discussed, makes the car easier to run and a lot more usable. So how far, where do you draw the line
on what you would modify on a historic car like this or can you just convert it
back to the original mechanical if desired? – To be honest we don’t really draw the
line, all we try and do is we try and keep as much of it as we physically can original. Yes as I said just now we’ve modified the
inlet system to run a solenoid injector away from the old mechanical Lucas
injector. But that enables us to run the car. And with respect to all these guys that
collect these cars, the crowds want to see them running, they don’t want to see
them parked in a museum. It’s history, this is Senna’s first car,
this is the ultimate if you’re an Ayrton Senna fan. A lot of people think the Senna car is the
’84 car which was the famous Monaco in the wet car, yes it is, the Monaco in
the wet car but this is the TG183B which is the first car he drove, first race of ’84
which was Brazil, which was his home race, and it’s the first car he drove when he
scored his first point with. – Well you’ve got to respect that history
and obviously no one can take that away. Look Geoff it’s been great to get that
insight into this car. A little bit of information about the
original F1 turbo era which certainly I’ve always been interested in, so really
appreciate your time, thanks a lot. – No problem, come again next year. – If you liked that video
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