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...by 3 Bar Racing Inc.

09 May

Why Brass?

Posted by Darren Dawes

One of the questions we are often asked is, "why are your boost controllers made of Brass"?

With all of the materials available, people often wonder why we don't make our boost controllers out of something like anodized aluminum.  We'll pick on aluminum, since that is the material that most of the low-cost (or high-margin) suppliers have chosen to use.  While aluminum (especially when anodized in a pretty blue, or red) offers advantages in look and cost (in machining and materials), it lacks in other areas.  Specifically, in lubricity. Because brass is made of copper and zinc, threaded brass sections are easier to turn.  Also, brass naturally inhibits corrosion by developing a patina with age.  Our ancestors realized this long before it was practical to forge aluminum, let alone anodize it.  Although anodized aluminum will resist corrosion, once the anodizing is scratched, it corrodes rapidly.  Also, the anodizing wears off of the threads if you make frequent (more than a few?) adjustments.  So a year later, when you go to make an adjustment, you find that the various parts have locked themselves together.  Complicating the situation is that often these aluminum parts are sourced from various suppliers, using different alloys of aluminum.  The process of electrolysis then takes over and speeds the corrosion even more.  We discovered this for ourselves in 1998, when we tried to have an aluminum product manufactured locally.  The Detroit machine shops are saturated with reclaimed and recycled aluminum of dubious origin.  We actually had to go outside the area (still in the US, though) to ensure that our materials are not from unknown sources.  Our Boost Controllers are made of Virgin Brass (meaning, it has not been sourced from recycled materials).  All components are machined from the exact same batch of brass, eliminating the potential of electrolysis. 

Another quality of brass is that it is hard enough to endure, but pliable enough to provide a good seat seal.  As the steel or ceramic ball (in the case of the Hybrid) repeatedly strikes the seat, during operation, it peens the seat to the shape of the ball.  This provides a good seal.  More importantly, it holds that shape over time.  Aluminum is also soft enough to peen.  However, as aluminum is repeatedly struck, its properties change and it tends to flake off.  So, you have a constantly changing seating surface.  This is not what you want for consistent boost control.   Some manufacturers use stainless steel, which eliminates most of the corrosion issue, but it is too hard (metal hardness, not difficulty, though one follows the other) to peen into a good sealing surface.  

Last, aluminum, although cheaper to purchase and machine, can be difficult to machine precisely.  It tends to stick to the drill and lathe, making it more difficult to make an EXACT product.  For that reason, threads and such tend to be designed to a coarser pitch.  That means it can be more difficult to make fine adjustments in the boost (although this is also application dependent, to a degree).

So, in a nutshell, here are some pros and cons of Brass and Aluminum Boost Controllers:


Pros: Cheap, easy to machine, provides a low cost product (or high margin, in the case of some sellers), looks nice when anodized.

Cons: Thin anodizing scratches easily, corrodes if anodizing does not reach the threads or is scratched, seat does not hold a peen.



Pros: Provides its own patina to limit corrosion, stays pliable and will not seize, holds a peen on the ball seat, easier to machine accurately

Cons: Brass is expensive (more and more so every day, as copper prices go up), it is less attractive than aluminum (although, if you polish and then clear-coat, it looks pretty flashy!)

    Hopefully, this answered a question in some of your minds and provided food for thought, for the rest of you.  As always, feel free to email us with questions, or comment in the blog.  

Thank you for being one of our customers and a part of our family!

Darren Dawes

--3 Bar Racing Inc.



09 May

Upgrade Springs for your Dawes Devices

Hello Customers,

    Just a quick note to let you know that we now have heavy springs available for the Nissan Patrol and VAG Boost Controllers, at our web site (www.dawes-devices.com).  

These are designed to replace the lighter springs shipped prior to November of last year. Although the original springs work as advertised, some customers desired a higher boost level, which meant stretching the spring.  If stretched too far, the life of the spring is reduced.  You can replace it with one of these springs to restore the boost controller and range of the controller.  It also increases the range of the boost controller, even if everything is already working great.

    Installers: upgrade springs are a great opportunity to invite your customer back to the shop and show them that you are looking out for their interests.  One of our installers in Canada just had an "upgrade" day, where they invited customers in for a burger and a chance to look around at their new offerings, while they upgraded their springs.  Don't forget to clean out the valve body when you remove the old spring and ball.  A shot of brake cleaner does the trick.

   If you are unsure which spring you have, it is easy to tell.  The original springs are grey in appearance and the new ones look chromed.  Also, you can squish the old style spring between the thumb and forefinger, but it is very hard to do this with the new ones.

  Last, for those who read this far, we have a weekend discount code for anyone that wants to upgrade springs or even the whole boost controller (we have the New Mark II Hybrid available!) .  That code for 10% off, is "upgrademe".  It can be entered at checkout and is good on everything on the site, through Sunday.

Have a great weekend,

Darren Dawes

3 Bar Racing Inc.

07 May

We've added Items to www.dawes-devices.com!

Posted by Darren Dawes

We've now brought over some of our other 3 Bar Racing products, to Dawes-Devices.  If you (or a friend) have a turbocharged vehicle running on gasoline, alcohol or diesel, we've got you covered.  We've also put up a new analog vacuum/boost gage that we really like!  Check out the new product categories and let us know what you like and don't like.  As always, thank you for your business and kind words.

30 Apr

Free Shipping from 3 Bar Racing and Dawes Devices

Posted by Darren Dawes

We are happy to re-introduce FREE SHIPPING, anywhere in the world, for packages under 1lb.  This covers 90% of our customers.  Unfortunately, we still have to charge something for larger packages, or priority shipping.  But, hopefully this keeps some money in your wallet!  Please let me know if you have any problems taking advantage of this offer (d@3barracing.com)

Thank you for your business!

--Darren Dawes

25 Apr

Dawes Devices Gets Schooled by a Customer!

Every once in a while, you have to admit that your customers can teach you things ;-)  This is one of those cases.  Recently, I was schooled by one of my customers, resulting in the introduction of this new product.  First, some back-story is in order:
When I first developed the TDI Boost Controller for VW/Audi applications (later adopted by Nissan Patrol owners), I elected to use the stainless steel ball of our Basic Boost Controller, instead of the more expensive synthetic ball of the Hybrid (we were FIRST in that technology, by the way).  The Hybrid was developed to control the oscillation that sometimes occurs in very small or very large gasoline turbo applications.  But in testing, there did not seem to be any difference between the two, in the TDI application.  That has something to do with it being a diesel, as well as a VNT, and also turbo size.  Too much to get into here, but basically I didn't want to increase the price for something that would not increase performance.  Testing our non-TDI controllers on GM, Cummins, and Ford diesel engines also showed that there was no advantage in using the synthetic ball.  Spool up, spiking, and oscillation, were all fully controlled, with the Basic.  Note, the internal design on the Basic is the same as the TDI, they just have different tips.  Then, the other day, one of our US customers showed us something interesting......
One of the advantages to living in Detroit is that I often get to associate with engineers that work in the auto industry.  These guys have access to test equipment and vehicles that are way beyond anything that we could afford.  However, I often get testing info from them, that I can use in product development.  So, the other day I was shown something interesting.  The customer had a full data recorder connected to his big diesel pickup truck, recording all kinds of stuff like fuel flow, EGT, and boost, in addition to various accelerometers.  He was showing me how on the road, the boost controller performed better than the factory solenoid (of course) with more area under the curve and a more stable peak.  But off road, things were different.  There were cases where the boost suddenly dropped, without a movement corresponding change in the accelerator position.  Then he showed me the accelerometer data, that tracked the vehicle motion.  It seemed that whenever he went over a really rough patch of test road (and if you've every been to Detroit---all the roads are that way!) the boost would fluctuate.  I'll save you the story of four hours of investigation and a sore back and just say that in the end, I determined that the problem occurred if the boost controller was mounted vertically, but not horizontally.  It appeared that the ball was jumping off the seat when the truck hit a big bump.  Now keep in mind that these were BIG jarring bumps.  Like running over curbstones at 45 mph.  If he was driving over sand dunes, or even off road, I'm not sure he would have had the same issue.  Anyway, relative to the spring force, that stainless steel ball has a bit of mass.  I guessed that swapping in the synthetic ball from the Hybrid might help.  Turns out it SOLVED the problem completely.  We tried mounting the controller vertically, both upside down and right side up, sideways, etc.  Then we wailed over the same stretch of road at different speeds and could not reproduce the problem.  Went back to the stainless ball and the problem came back.  So, I sent him on his way, with the Hybrid ball installed.  About an hour ago I got a call from him saying that he reviewed all the data from his trip to the test track yesterday and the problem has been completely solved.  So, it looks like there IS an advantage to the Hybrid, in certain off-road circumstances.  As a result, I'm now offering this as an option for the standard MK II TDI Boost Controller.  If you are an avid off-roader, you may want this advantage.  I should say that no one from the Patrol group has EVER complained about this problem, but if I didn't offer the option, I couldn't sleep at night.  So, although I am certain that you would be satisfied with the standard MK II controller, you now have another option.  Thank you all, for your business and support!
Darren Dawes
3 Bar Racing Inc.