# Nikasil Cylinders

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#### Marc W

I have been researching Nikasil cylinders. I have read one first person account of someone having problems with them. Most of what I have found is heresay. I have also read that the Lnengineering Nickies work with special head studs but they are north of $3700. Does anybody know of a successful combination using the cast aluminum nikasil cylinders on a type 1 vw?? #### rmeyers ##### Active Member Not a type 1 but a cousin. I have a 1973 Porsche 911 with the 2.4 engine. It is generally believed that this was the first production vehicle to use Nikasil. Original engine, cylinders never off. Did the valves once, first time engine was opened. Cylinders looked like new then. Compression was/is still good on all cylinders. 120,000 miles. We use various cylinder coatings on the engines that we develop, never have used the Nikasil brand. The only problem that we have encountered is that if you have high piston side loading, for whatever reason, e.g. short rods, heavy pistons, etc, you can experience plastic deformation of the cylinders over time. Only in aluminum cylinders of course. #### mcrae0104 ##### Well-Known Member HBA Supporter Log Member AeroConversions no longer offers them. I think they cited barrel distortion, but you could search the Sonex forums for more info. #### Hot Wings ##### Grumpy Cynic HBA Supporter Log Member Does anybody know of a successful combination using the cast aluminum nikasil cylinders on a type 1 vw?? Nikasil is good stuff in the right place. On an aluminum VW cylinder? I have no direct experience. It appears to work OK if you define what 'works' is. My personal opinion is that I won't use them, even if trying to make weight on a part 103. It has nothing to do with the Nikasil. My objection is to the aluminum part. They aren't stiff/strong enough to maintain good ring seal. I drew one up in SolidWorks once to compare to a steel cylinder and ran it through the canned SW FEA. #### rv6ejguy ##### Well-Known Member Are Porsche 911 or Rotax 912/914 cylinders thicker than the VW Nikasil cylinders? #### Hot Wings ##### Grumpy Cynic HBA Supporter Log Member Can't say about the Rotax but the 2.2L 911s are thicker, have more fins/stroke and are only 84mm bore. #### WonderousMountain ##### Well-Known Member Nickel coatings are proven, but can harden, flake and trouble ring seal.They're my plan b liner. I prefer blueprinting with homogenous material. #### slociviccoupe ##### Well-Known Member Ive dealt with melinnium technologies on all my plating needs. Im just wonddring if one has a cnc lathe and big chunk of 6061 t6 aluminum bar stock why not make turned machined 6061 cylinders instead of cast. There are plenty of "billet" big bore cylinders offered for almost all forms of powersports in machined 6061 that has been plated. You can make whatever barrel thickness you want, any fin thickness or spacing that your cutter can physically cut. Could make 94mm jugs that fit in cases bored for 92mm cylinders. Just step down spigot size going in the case and keep wall thickness elsewhere. Im going to try with mine and do ground testing. #### Vigilant1 ##### Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter I was under the (mistaken?) impression that the good Nikasil cylinders underwent some specialized processes to assure the oil still worked on the surface, that it was of an appropriate bhardness, that it stayed bonded to the AL, etc. It would be worth exploring the materials and processes used on the products that work before going DIY. #### Marc W ##### Well-Known Member Scott Casler offers nikasil cylinders on his 1/2 VW engines. I found a post on the Sonex forum that he makes his own from 6061T6 and has them plated. Scott originally assembled my engine so I will give him a call at some point. Right now I am getting ready for guests and have to focus on that. Vigilant, I suggest you read the description of the different types of nikasil cylinders and the manufacturing processes used at the link I posted above from LN Engineering. It will answer your questions. Nickies™ Billet Aluminum Performance Aircooled Porsche Piston and Cylinder Sets #### pictsidhe ##### Well-Known Member 6061 is a bit soft. If you look at the cost of nikasil plating, you notice that the ready made ones aren't such a bad price, after all... For a custom requirement, you may well need custom cylinders. But if you just want VW or Corvair cylinders, there are folks out there who will dent your wallet in a similar manner, but take away most of the hassle... #### rmeyers ##### Active Member We use U. S. Chrome. They have a facility in Fon du Lac. All of our recent cylinders have been made from 7075-T6 or T651. They use a process that they call NiCom Nikasil coating. Don't know what's up with that, I thought that Nikasil was a trademark of Mahle, but, whatever. The process is of electroplating nickel onto the surface while in a thick slurry of silicon carbide. The silicon carbide particles are physically trapped in the nickel layer. The density of the silicon carbide to nickel ratio can be adjusted over a broad range. Thicknesses up to .03 in are possible. After plating they diamond grind the bore to the ID you specify. For us, they regularly achieve .0001 in dimetral accuracy. Twenty years ago I seem to recall that told me that they had a problem with AL alloys with a lot of copper, so we never considered the 2000 series alloys. It is worth noting that I don't see any such warning now on their website, so maybe the less expensive 2024 would work. You'd have to ask them. #### proppastie ##### Well-Known Member Log Member saw pictures of a PPG engine cylinder with about quarter size chunk of Nikasil/cylinder chipped off at the top of the cylinder. looked rather ugly and of course ruined the cylinder....must of blown out the exhaust because all that was done was to replace the piston/cylinder. I believe it was an aluminum cylinder. #### slociviccoupe ##### Well-Known Member I know nickies are available for vw platform. But they are stupid expensive. That and they come with je forged pistons which is a bit overkill for a 40 hp 3100rpm engine when stock cast mahle pistons will work. I know no one is going to give up their metalurgy of what aluminum they are using. Im asuming cast 356-t6 just like every cast cylinder, Head or block is made of now days. Even though you do see big bore machined cylinders for 2 strokes and 4 strokes made of 6061 and then plated. Would 7075 be better choice to start with? I have an 8" diameter log of that as well. I dont understand the difference in strength between centrifugally spun cast and a piece of extrusion. Only thing i can think of not related to strength is the casting is slightly more porous than the extrusion and allows the nicasil or whatever the company is calling it to penetrate deeper into the metal. Id be leaving my bore finish size to gheir specs for my pistons and having them do the propper clearancing, plating, and honing. The next question is if running aluminum or mag case, aluminum cylinders, aluminum heads thoughts on bolting cylinders to case with a flange and bolts and bolting heads to the cylinders. Not using the long studs? Not applicable to stock vw configuration but working on something else. #### pictsidhe ##### Well-Known Member GP has piston and cylinder sets for 850. QSC cylinder sets 488. Cheapest plating I found was 495 for 4 cylinder... #### osprey220 ##### Member Nickies are fabulous and truly "fix" the VW... well maybe. Much as we love the VW - a 1930's engine designed for 37hp and now composed of a hodgepodge of aftermarket parts with no unified QC, specs, or tolerances - all pushed to continuously produce ~60hp, is not a receipt for reliability. On the other hand, 80 years of experience and modifications to "fix" issues should be a good thing. To specifically answer your question "Does anybody know of a successful combination using the cast aluminum nikasil cylinders on a type 1 vw??" No I dont know of any successful use of CAST aluminum cylinders. I'm guessing that the strength is just not there. Nickies are crazy expensive, but as they say, why pay less! The truly crap cast QSC cylinders really gave aluminum cylinders a bad name in the VW community, but aluminum cylinders are standard now in high performance engines. The down side of CNC machined aluminum nikasil coated cylinders is cost. A set of 4 cylinders from Hummel Engines cost ~$1,600, and a set of 4 from LN Engineering cost ~$3,800! Ouch! Scott Casler's CNC'ed cylinders are excellent and I've never heard a bad word about their reliability. He is amazingly helpful and at the builder of Hummel Engines, more experienced than anyone I know. Home | hummel If your top priority is cost, stick with the steel. However the steel will require new heads every ~300-500hrs due to heat. (And decent heads are going to cost you$\$) You may be able to compensate with a ceramic coating on pistons and combustion chamber and valve faces in order to keep more of the heat in the exhaust. But who knows? (I may if I get my KR2s project done!)

The weight difference between the steel and aluminum cylinders is crazy! Holding a steel and a Nickel in your hands makes you want to through the steel in the trash bin. The difference feels HUGE. In reality it is "only" a difference of about 12.5lbs for the four cylinders, but that weight difference is at an extreme end of the airplane, so you may have CG issues.

Steel

Nickie

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
All I have heard about the Nickel cylinder is negative but I have never tried them because of the huge price increase over steel cylinders without any problems. The weight saving would be nice when you are trying to save ounces. Steel cylinders are tried and proven.
My top priority is reliability, so I'll save weight somewhere else.
I have been driving type 1 VW's since 1969 and have about a million miles driving the Bug when I was on the road with my job. First one was in 1969 and put 78K on it in 18 months. I never had any problems with VW heads in auto's or airplanes. I think that most of the problems with short life is the result demanding to much out of the little engine and running the heads at to high of a temp. I also use MM oil in the fuel for valve guide lube and check the valve lash at each oil change and record a trend. Also make sure the cylinder heads are running cool along with the oil temps . If an aero VW engine has good CHT's and oil temps, and good maintenance there is no reason you shouldn't get 500/700 hrs between cylinder head rebuilds. Friend of mine took his 1/2 VW down at 1050 hrs that was on his Mini-Max that was still running good.
One time I did try to see how long a 1600 cc engine in a 1966 beater would go without any maintenance of any kind and drove WOT most all the time on interstates. I had a side business of building VW engines so I kept an another engine ready to swap out. One day in the winter the engine had some where between 60K to 70K on it if I remember correctly and I was cruising at about 75/80 mph when a head of a valve went through a piston. With proper maintenance and driving at the speed limit, I usually got close to 200 K on each engine.

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
What is the original reason the aluminum cylinders were designed under? Weekend race car or 100,000 mile commuter? Yes there are production cars with them and almost all of them started out with problems at middle to high miles. Warrantee claims means they have to move the target just out of range or time limit. Fix or patch is the question.