To quickly review from last time, we know that oscillations are just rapid back and forth movement. We also now know that they produce waves and the most commonly observed being sound waves. But how does this concept apply in cars and more specifically racing?
First, think back to the example with the spring, what causes the oscillation? The spring when compressed contains stored energy or potential energy. Then, when the spring is released it expands, thus expending all of its energy and creating an oscillation. This is an important concept to understand because springs are one of the most widely used mechanical devices on the planet. One of the most common examples is a suspension system on a car.
Now consider for a moment what we just learned about springs. Before you say “ wait, why doesn`t my car oscillate violently every time run over a speed bump”. Well this is true if your car`s suspension system was compromised exclusively of springs. However, in reality there is one extra component that smoothens ride of your car, a shock absorber.
Shock absorbers or dampers, as we say in the racing world, do exactly as the name suggests, they absorb the shock or control the oscillation of the springs (See diagram). Dampers come in many shapes and forms but the most common are comprised of a telescoping tube that contains an outer chamber and an inner chamber. The inner chamber contains either a type of oil or gas like nitrogen (N2 for you chemistry buffs). When the shock is compressed the fluid or gas is pressed out of the inner chamber and into the outer chamber. Then when the shock is released the substance travels back into the inner chamber. Performance shocks like the one we use in the racing world have a set of controls built in that allow us to control the rate at which this process occurs.
Were back for the fall after the thrilling season end cliffhanger that was oscillation part 1. With summer`s end it`s time for: School, coffee flavored like pumpkin and NEW NERD WORDS!