Flexplates of the Future
New TCI 29.2 lightweight flexplates check all the boxes for racers
Words: Dan Hodgdon
In the drag racing world, the two adjectives all competitors like to hear are “strong” and “light-weight”. It doesn’t matter if it’s in reference to a crankshaft, rear end housing, or body of the car itself. “Strong” and “light” are the dynamic duo of the motorsports world. TCI, one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of drivetrain components with its roots in drag racing, has been heeding this call for decades.
TCI’s latest endeavor is what it’s calling 29.2 Lightweight Flexplates — pieces that don’t look like flexplates seen before — are capable of withstanding up to 12,000 rpm. They are available for both big- and small-block Chevy engines, along with GM LS applications. That means a stunning cross-section of drag racers can utilize them.
According to TCI engineer Jonathan Lunati, the goal was to create a cutting-edge, SFI-certified flexplate meeting and exceeding the expectations of the racing community.
“Traditional steel flexplates are heavier than they need to be and carry too much weight on the outboard extremities,” Lunati explains. “It doesn’t make sense to spend countless dollars for lightweight crankshafts and related internal components and then attach a heavy flexplate to the end of the crank. This makes it more difficult to accelerate, and defeats the purpose of internal component lightening.”
The flexplates utilize a computer-aided design which enables weight reduction, while providing the necessary strength. They also add an aesthetically pleasing look to a necessary component.
TCI says each 29.2 Lightweight Flexplate is SFI 29.2-certified, meaning they meet the highest quality assurance standards for high-horsepower, automatic transmission applications. Each one is constructed from gas-nitrided 4140 forged steel and utilizes lightening holes to reduce rotating mass and overall weight. A dual-bolt pattern allows either narrow- or wide-bolt-pattern converters to be utilized. Each flexplate also features a hobbed-on ring gear and laser-welded converter spacers where required. The gas nitriding provides for extra surface hardness and strength.
The big- and small-block Chevy version weighs in at just 5.3 pounds, while the LS flexplate weighs 6.11 pounds. That reduction in weight is of paramount importance of course. E-coating offers corrosion protection on each version.
When put to the test, the flexplates revealed faster acceleration made possible with the new weight reduction design and less “flywheel effect inertia” by reducing outboard mass. “These are very desirable for any automatic transmission car,” TCI’s Lunati says. “Multiple converter bolt patterns enable various converter combinations, and the integral starter gear adds reliability and eliminates run-out problems associated with weld-on gears.”
While the flexplates may be cutting-edge, the staff at TCI believes they are long overdue. However, the technology required in the form of new computer applications and manufacturing developments was not available in previous years.
It’s said the best things come to those who wait, so drag racers who have waited until 2017 to upgrade their drivetrain may be on the verge of the lightest and strongest GM flexplate of all.
Source: TCI Automotive, tciauto.com