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TOO HOT TO HANDLE Shielding May Be One Of The Easiest Ways To Manage Heat By Dan Sanchez SCORE racers know only too well that competing in 110-degree heat can drain the energy out of you and cause you to make mistakes on the course. It’s also much the same with engine components, as exposure to excessive heat can corrode, deteriorate, and simply melt things in your vehicle. For this reason, race car builders use heat shielding on just about everything, from blocking exhaust heat entering into the cab, to reducing underhood temperatures, and protecting vital wiring and engine parts. For each of these, there are various levels and forms of protection. According to Steve Heye, VP at Heatshield Products, the type of shielding your vehicle needs for a particular area, depends on the type of heat being produced. “There are three types of heat in automotive applications, conductive, radiant, and convective,” says Heye. “Depending on which one you are trying to manage you can use a barrier or insulator, each of which has its properties. In general, airflow and distance to a heat source are as critical a factor as the material used to insulate.” One of the most common areas for heat management is exhaust headers. Header wrap is typically a great way to minimize the effects of heat and offers other benefits. “Keeping the heat in the exhaust system has a scavenging effect on the engine which increases power,” says Heye. “It also reduces underhood temperatures, as well as protecting wiring and brake lines. We always recommend wrapping headers and exhaust with a ¼-inch overlap so you don’t over insulate the pipe. When wrapping an exhaust pipe with a heat shield product, however, we recommend a one to two-inch seam or gap to allow the pipe to breathe.” The reason is that over insulating pipes can have a negative effect in some circumstances. “Trapping heat reduces or mitigates the amount of potential damage in an exhaust system, but the question is the quality of the metal,” says Heye. “For example, headers made from low-quality metal could become damaged if it can’t withstand the added heat trapped by header wrap or insulation. Depending on the quality or thickness of the metal, we can make recommendations to make sure racers and enthusiasts aren’t damaging their exhaust system.” Engine bays are also areas that are often protected, and are outfitted with gold reflective shielding, which works differently than insulation. “Real gold shielding is very reflective,” says Heye. “That’s why they use it in NASA to protect satellites and on the Space Station. It’s very expensive, however, so for automotive applications we use a gold mylar that is reinforced with fiberglass. It works perfectly to reflect heat away from floorboards and firewalls to keep vehicle interiors cool. This is especially true on UTVs as the engines are at the rear and the airflow has an eddying effect. It circulates behind the firewall like in the bed of a pickup, and continues to build up heat.” Aside from uses in vehicles, Heye also sees other related areas where heat shielding can be beneficial. “Take for example in off-road racing, teams have fuel canisters often sitting in the back of chase trucks or out in the open waiting for their vehicle to pit,” says Heye. “Fuel jug heat shields that can keep fuel cooler for better engine performance. Another area that has seen some impressive results is intake manifold heat shielding. According to Heye, dyno testing on the company’s I-M Shield, which mounts to the bottom of engine intake manifolds, has seen improvements of 20 horsepower. “That’s a great gain for a product that costs less than $100,” said Heye. “The same is true for air intake tubing. Anywhere you can keep engine intake and fuel temperatures cooler, there are performance gains to be had. In these areas, it’s the best horsepower-per-dollar spent.”SJ Heatshield Products Design Engineering

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