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How to Tune Nitro Engines

How Pros Tune Their Nitro Engines

Here are highlights of how pros break in and tune their nitro engines. For more info, please visit their websites. Also follow the engine manufacturers' procedure on how to break in specific engines as these vary from each other.

HPI Racing

Adam Drake (www.losi.com)

  1. Tuning the GRP engine.
  2. Break in with engine installed in the car.
  3. Heat engine to 160-180 degrees with a heat gun before starting the break in process.
  4. Start engine in rich condition, with glow plug starter connected, wheels freely turning off the ground for a few minutes.
  5. Idle engine for 4 - 5 tanks of fuel.
  6. Occasionally turn model on side to drain excess residue in the pipe.
  7. Now run on track or street.
  8. Run very rich for 3 fuel tanks.
  9. Close high speed needle a third of a turn, run for 2 more fuel tanks.
  10. Consume at least 6 tanks of fuel.
  11. Recommend to use Nitrotane 20% or 30% race fuel to break in engine.
  12. Use same nitro content and brand during break in and when racing.
  13. Proper temp range for GRP engines is 170-200 degrees F.
  14. Always run with an oiled air filter. Change on regular basis.

Ofna (www.ofna.com)

  1. Get a temperature probe, preferrably one that mounts on chassis of the car with a lead connecting to the head of the nitro engine to monitor the temperature.
  2. If engine is too rich, temp will be colder than desired operating range.
  3. If engine is too lean, temp will be higher than deisred operating range,
  4. Run with top end rich, should see heavy smoke on the straightaway.
  5. Run for a few laps to get engine up to running temp before tuning.
  6. If temp shows engine is rich (cold), lean out using by turning top end screw 1/12 turn at a time clockwise. 
  7. If temp shows engine is lean (hot), richen by turning top end screw 1/12 turn at a time counterclockwise.
  8. Never try to tune a cold engine!
  9. Adjust top end first.
  10. Always tune from rich to lean. If in doubt, richen it up first.


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