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Driveshaft layout in front-engined formulae


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#1 Paolo

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 21:29

A bit technical, but I am sure the knowledgeable TNFers have the answer...

Front engined formula cars from 50s-60s seem to fall in two categories as for driveshaft position:

1) central driveshaft passing under the driver seat

2) side driveshaft passing on a side of driver seat

The second arrangements seems to give the advantage of a lower driver position, while frontal area seems roughly the same for the two layouts.

Arrangement 2) can be obtained by a gearing shifting the engine power output to a side, and/or by having the engine canted a few degrees in the horizontal plane.

This could potentially give weight, aero and power loss disadvantages.

Questions are:

Is the above analysis correct?

Is there a definite historical succession between the two? That is, is arrangement 2) more "modern" than 1) or there was not a clear prevalence in time of a choice over the other?

Thanks for your insight.

Edited by Paolo, 03 October 2012 - 21:31.


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#2 Peter Morley

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 22:04

I've not thought about when the various versions were used (for example some pre-war Alfas had two propshafts, one each side of the driver) but I can add:

Some cars had a central propshaft that was lowered by fitting drop gears behind the engine and in front of the back axle - more common in F2 & FJunior I think.

In theory the offset propshaft allowed the driver to sit lower to reduce frontal area but the frontal area tended to be determined by the engine's size and the need to squeeze a huge amount of alcohol fuel under the bodywork.

Edited by Peter Morley, 03 October 2012 - 22:05.


#3 Mal9444

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 22:54

It always seemed to me that sitting feet apart and legs either side a whirling drive shaft added a very special vulnerability to the life and times of the drivers of racing cars in that era, especially given the general lack of mechanical reliability. But then I suppose that given the many other vulnerabilities involved this would have been but a marginal consideration. Driver safety does not seem to have been a high priority -indeed much of a consideration at all - to designers in those days. So presumably the decision on whether or not to offset the drive shaft was entirely mechanical and aerodynamic, rather than humane. I have read of at least one instance where a driver had the (broken) prop shaft come up through the floor beside him, but IIRC it was a sports car. I cannot recall the details, but Ascari and Lancia D24 ring a bell.

Edited by Mal9444, 03 October 2012 - 22:56.


#4 arttidesco

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 00:48

Was the Lotus 16 alone in having an oblique mounted engine ?


#5 Wilyman

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 03:08

Was the Lotus 16 alone in having an oblique mounted engine ?



Stanguellini front engined F JR had its Fiat 1100 engine mounted at an angle allowing the driver seating offset to the left. The propshaft then ran back to an extremely offset diff assembly. All this made for a low driving position.
The OSCA juniors had a normal engine driver position, the prop shaft running back to a reversed diff with the shaft passing under then relayed to drive the pinion. Think Halibrand drop gears.

#6 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 07:21

Was the Lotus 16 alone in having an oblique mounted engine ?

There was also the Lancia D50, the Ferrari Dinos and the Ferguson.

Edited by Roger Clark, 04 October 2012 - 07:22.


#7 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:54

There was also the Lancia D50, the Ferrari Dinos and the Ferguson.

And the Mercedes W154, of course.

#8 Allan Lupton

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:01

And the Mercedes W154, of course.

and some Maserati 250Fs!

#9 hatrat

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:22

The other alternative was front engine and front wheel drive. Examples in Formula Junior, for example, were the Emeryson Elfin Mk1 (BMC engine), Emeryson Elfin Mk2 (Ford) and the Bond (Ford).

#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:45

and some Maserati 250Fs!

The two cars built for Monza in 1956. Also the V16 BRM?

#11 Peter Morley

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:47

The Scarab F1 had an offset propshaft but was the engine angled or did the crankshaft move away from the centreline as a result of the tilted engine mounting?

Aston DBR4 had an angled propshaft, but inline engine.

I think all the answers show that the response to the original question is that the later front engined F1 cars tended to have an offset propshaft - which isn't surprising since the later non-alcohol fueled cars needed less fuel capacity and could try to reduce the frontal area to a larger extent than previously.

Edited by Peter Morley, 04 October 2012 - 10:50.


#12 arttidesco

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:04

It always seemed to me that sitting feet apart and legs either side a whirling drive shaft added a very special vulnerability to the life and times of the drivers of racing cars in that era, especially given the general lack of mechanical reliability. But then I suppose that given the many other vulnerabilities involved this would have been but a marginal consideration. Driver safety does not seem to have been a high priority -indeed much of a consideration at all - to designers in those days.


Posted Image

Apologies for going slightly off topic but it wasn't just the transmission a driver might find between his legs, the gentleman who tended this ERA advised me that one probably wouldn't want to drive it if one had not finished fathering kids :eek:

Back on topic thanks for the suggestions for all the other vehicles with oblique motors :up:

#13 Dick Willis

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:49

Here's an offset driveshaft cockpit setup, bit cramped for the driver, the Australian built Nota no 29

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#14 Paolo

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:00

Posted Image

Apologies for going slightly off topic but it wasn't just the transmission a driver might find between his legs, the gentleman who tended this ERA advised me that one probably wouldn't want to drive it if one had not finished fathering kids :eek:

Back on topic thanks for the suggestions for all the other vehicles with oblique motors :up:


A worse-than-death trap if I ever saw one.


#15 arttidesco

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:01

Posted Image

246 Dino #0007

#16 Michael Ferner

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 17:02

A worse-than-death trap if I ever saw one.


That's just a Roots blower - kid's stuff! Some early supercharged Millers had a vane-type supercharger (essentially a razor-blade rotating at about ten times engine speed) in the cockpit - that'll get your attention when it blows up! :|

#17 arttidesco

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 18:21

That's just a Roots blower - kid's stuff! Some early supercharged Millers had a vane-type supercharger (essentially a razor-blade rotating at about ten times engine speed) in the cockpit - that'll get your attention when it blows up! :|


Might get a bit more than your attention Michael :eek:

#18 bradbury west

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 19:37

And the Zoller was even bigger
Roger Lund

Edited by bradbury west, 04 October 2012 - 19:40.


#19 Mal9444

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 19:44

Those guys had b.... oh, never mind

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#20 TooTall

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 20:04

Not to go too far afield but the arrangement of the old style front engined Top Fuel dragsters always seemed pretty frightening. The driver sat right behind the rear axle which ran under his (or her!) knees, with their feet either side of the bell housing and the blower about 2 feet in front of their face. Power was usually a blown, injected Chrysler Hemi running on nitromethane. Drop an intake valve and the blower explodes in your face. Burn a piston and the bottom of the engine may explode. Or, as happened to Don Garlits, the clutch could explode on launch taking off part of a foot and cutting the frame in half. Garlits designed the first competitive rear engined dragster while sitting in his hospital bed.

Cheers,
Kurt O.

#21 bradbury west

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 20:16

Front engined FJ cars were regulars with offset drivelines, but the Yimkin was more so with the engine in line but offset alongside the driver's legs, as was the not-raced-in-period, IIRC, Fairthorpe FJ car which Ron Welsh brought out a couple of years ago at the Revival. My photos of it will not load up.
This is another example of an offset engined FJ car at the 2009 Revival
Posted Image
photo copyright Roger Lund, all rights reserved. Click image for larger view.
Roger Lund

#22 eldougo

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:14

Could please explain what the hot covered waterpipe ?is doing up along side the driver leg that is insane. Never seen anything like it.
246 Dino #0007



#23 Wilyman

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:39

Heat shield over oil pipe from/to engine to tail mounted tank? :eek:

#24 arttidesco

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:25


Could please explain what the hot covered waterpipe ?is doing up along side the driver leg that is insane. Never seen anything like it.
246 Dino #0007

I might be completely wrong, but I got the impression there might be a prop shaft beneath the heat shield :confused:

#25 Woody3says

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 16:16

Thats how I see it too. It at least has a cover to give the illusion of safety!

#26 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 18:10

Unless that photograph is slightly distorted, that's a hell of a lot of bend for a driveshaft! Also, didn't the driveshaft run left of the driver in the Dino?!?

#27 ray b

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 18:55

Here's an offset driveshaft cockpit setup, bit cramped for the driver, the Australian built Nota no 29

Posted Image

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sorry to go off topic but

what does Nota stand for/mean ?
how many cars how much success who and when

as my name on several forums [not this one] is nota
I used [ none of the above ] for nota
but at the time picked I had no idea it was a race car name

back on topic

did any of the successful racers with these thru the legs whirling bits
use a scatter shield like drag racers use [basically a steel armored bellhousing]

#28 David McKinney

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 21:43

Maybe you should make this the start of a new thread, Ray

#29 Dick Willis

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 22:18

What does Nota stand for/mean ?

The explanation is rather too lengthy to explain in a few sentences here, why not go to the website ; www.notasportscars.com



#30 Roger Clark

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 23:36

Unless that photograph is slightly distorted, that's a hell of a lot of bend for a driveshaft! Also, didn't the driveshaft run left of the driver in the Dino?!?

Left in 1957-59, right in 1960.

#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:30

George Reed's final racing car was front engined with a different method of relocating the driveshaft...

It had a Skoda rear end fitted back to front with a reduction gear lowering the driveline so it ran very low under the seat.

#32 Dick Willis

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:35

Ray, do you mean this one, built by Ted Read of Botany it has a similar rear end to that described by you.

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#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 03:21

Yes, that's the one, Dick...

I'm sure someone told me George Reed built it. You can see it has a TC gearbox mounted sideways too.

#34 ZOOOM

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 15:05

Here are some pictures of American side shaft cars:
Posted Image
This is a replica Indianapolis "roadster". Engine canted to the right, prop shaft running alongside the driver.
Posted Image
This is the "Scarab" F1 car. It has the offenhauser engine laid on it's side with the prop shaft running , again, on the drivers left.

Posted Image
Then there is this monstrosity...
An Indy roadster, with a Ford Four cam V-8, mounted outside the frame, driving straight through to the rear end....

ZOOOM

#35 Wilyman

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 10:03

Here are some pictures of American side shaft cars:
Posted Image
This is a replica Indianapolis "roadster". Engine canted to the right, prop shaft running alongside the driver.
Posted Image
This is the "Scarab" F1 car. It has the offenhauser engine laid on it's side with the prop shaft running , again, on the drivers left.

Posted Image
Then there is this monstrosity...
An Indy roadster, with a Ford Four cam V-8, mounted outside the frame, driving straight through to the rear end....

ZOOOM



I understand that torque tube enclosed drives are a requirement on midgets and US track cars.

#36 arttidesco

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:39

Left in 1957-59, right in 1960.


Posted Image

Not noticed it until I reread this thread but you can see the line of carburetor intakes offset to the drivers right, quite clearly on the Tony Best entered Dino, which is listed as a '1959 type' in the Goodwood programme.

Posted Image

A marginally clearer view of the left side of Tony Smiths 0007 cockpit shows no signs of a drive shaft.