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Nitro Engine Tuning – RC Car / Truck

Introduction – RC Nitro Engine Tuning

Before tuning your radio control, rc nitro car or truck engine there are a few steps that must be taken prior to starting. The engine must have already completed the break in process. The engine also must be up to full operating temperature.

The RC nitro engine procedure is an important process to be able to perform/

Nitro Engine Tuning Adjustments

Nitro Engine Tuning Adjustments

Terms – Nitro Engine Tuning

Two terms that will be used to descibe the tuning process are Rich, and Lean. When Rich is refered to, it describes a fuel mixture that has excessive fuel in it. To richen a fuel mixture on the carburetor of the engine, adjust the mixture needle by rotating the needle counter-clockwise .
When Lean is refered to, it describes the fuel mixture has an insufficient amount of fuel. ` To lean a fuel mixture on the carburetor of the engine, adjust the mixture needle by rotating the needle clockwise.

Needles Found On a Nitro Carb – Nitro Engine Tuning

High Speed Needle: The High Speed Needle often refered to as the HSN. It is best viewed on the carburetor as the taller or longer valve stem. The High Speed Needle is the main control of the fuel mixture in the carburetor. Leaning or Richening this needle will also Richen or Lean the Low Speed needle. The High Speed Needle just as the name implies, controls mainly the top speed mixture of the engine. This is when the engine is in Higher or peak RPM’s. An incorrectly tuned High Speed Needle will not allow the engine to reach peak performance, and it may also harm the engine.

Low Speed Needle: The Low Speed Needle is often refered to as the LSN. It is typically located 90 degrees from the carburetor venturi opening on one end. The Low Speed needle like the name implies, controls the amount of fuel that enters the carburetor at low RPM’s or slow speeds.

The Nitro Engine Tuning Procedure

High Speed Needle

The only way to tune an engine is to run it. Before yous start the nitro engine tuning procedure, be certain that your needles are adjusted to the factory configuration. For this information, you may refer to your owners manual.

Start by running the car or truck wide open or full throttle. Carefully listen to how the engine responds. If it is bogging down or sounds like it is running lean, richen the High Speed needle valve, If the engine starts to make noises such as gurgling or suggesting too rich, lean the mixture.
It is important to listen to the quality of the engine sound. Sound and Performance is your most apparent suggestions to how the engine is tuned. A properly tuned engine will sound strong and perform great.
If you are unsure whether to lean or richen the mixture, it may be a better idea to start by trying to richen the mixture. If performance suffers, bring the needle back to the setting it was at prior to adjustment then go the other way. Always make adjustments in small increments. I would suggest no more than about an 1/8th of a turn.

Tune the Low Speed Needle

Once the High Speed Needle is adjusted, it is time to move on to adjusting the Low Speed Needle.
To start adjusting the Low Speed Needle have the engine up to operating temperature and run the car or truck at its slowest idle speed. If the car or truck takes off at the slowest speed adjust your linkage or idle set screw. Typically counterclockwise will bring the idle down.

While the car or truck is idling, If it slowly bogs out and sounds rich with a gurgling type of noise, lean the Low Speed Needle. If the RPM begins to rise with no input of throttle, richen the Low Speed Needle. Another test for proper tune of the Low Speed Needle is the acceleration test.
Run the Engine around its slowest running speed for around 10-20 seconds. After this time, punch the throttle.
If the engine quits and flames out, adjust the Low Speed Needle according to the noise it makes as described already.
If it’s quite difficult to determine which way to go, try punching the throttle at a slower rate. Another sign of a rich Low Speed Needle under heavy acceleration will be more smoke than usual with a slow acceleration rate. Once the engine hits higher RPM, it will begin to accelerate quickly.

Nitro Engine Tuning Tips

These are just a few tips that may help you in the nitro engine tuning process. One thing to keep in mind is that experience in knowing the sound the engines make and how that corresponds to its tune is quite important and will help greatly. Also note that a Nitro Car or Truck Engines tune will change from day to day. This is normal as the nitro engines fuel mixture is quite sensitive to any changes in temperature, humidity, and pressure.

Please Visit the RC Nitro Fuel Section to make certain you are running the proper Blend for your engine.