QUEENSLAND’S Allen Waye is a man of many facets. Apprenticed to an engine reconditioning shop located in Brisbane, he then moved on to work for a while in performance spare parts, was offered a spot in a team looking after a Formula Two race car, and then got into a shop involved in cylinder head reconditioning and porting. That was a two-man team until Allen bought the business in 1980 and turned his talents to engine building as well as performance heads.
He bought his valve springs for these highpowered mills from Performance Springs in Sydney, until the owner of that business decided to retire during 1990, and said to Allen: “Do you want to buy what I’ve got?” He did, and moved the stock of mainly basic Holden and Ford springs to Brisbane, embarking on a major expansion of Performance Springs while still working on street machine and race car cylinder heads.
As continually porting heads gave Allen too many headaches and painful hands, he sold that side of his income to a mate in 1995, although still continuing to work a few heads when they came along. The performance valve spring sales were booming, as Allen delved deeper and deeper into spring technology, working with high-tensile wire manufacturers like Suzuki, Kobe and Kiswire. He then designed his springs to be made by specialist coilers, buying a CNC machine to be run in his spare time to manufacture valve spring caps out of titanium bar stock. His brilliance in producing just the right mix of steel wire alloys and coil windings saw them fitted into stuff like Ferraris, Porsches, Audis and Nissans.
Now based in Yatala, Allen sends his selfdesigned springs all over the world – Ferrari performance parts going into Italy and France, Porsche pieces into the USA, Audi springs exported to Sweden and Norway. Allen said the Jap stuff ends up in places like America, Malaysia and Canada, where it’s really working for them, but the old-style spring needs for Ford and Chevy markets are dying out.
“I had dealings with a company here who needed springs for their interstate transporters, where they had two or three Mack truck engines mated together,” Allen said. “They bought springs out of America, and they had an issue with them all breaking. I had to go see why, and I found a manufacturing issue with them. I ended up getting a call from a spring company in India, so they were made in India, not the USA. Just because somebody says it’s made in America, doesn’t mean that it is!”
I asked what happens when valve springs get rusty. “They’re no good. Throw them away,” Allen replied. “Any nick on the side, if you drop
ALLEN WAYE SENDS HIS SELF-DESIGNED VALVE SPRINGS ALL OVER THE WORLD. HIS BRILLIANCE IN PRODUCING STEEL WIRE ALLOYS AND COIL WINDINGS HAS SEEN THEM FITTED INTO FERRARIS, PORSCHES, AUDIS AND NISSANS
something heavy enough on them, it’s not good for that spring, so throw it away. And we are probably the only supplier who will get one-off springs made. We’ve just done eight springs for a vintage engine. Most manufacturers don’t want to know. But the people I deal with will do it for me. It’s expensive, but they will do it. I’ve got 150 part numbers of springs, and 50-odd retainers we do. The other side of it is, some of the vintage stuff has very long springs, so you have no choice but to make them.”
I also asked about beehive springs. “They’re in a lot of engines now; they’ve got their place, but they won’t replace a dual in some applications,” Allen said. “The new manufacturers make these beehives and use smaller and lighter retainers. The harmonics are not there, or the internal friction of the doubles. Sometimes you’ve got no choice and you have to go for a dual. They have got their limits.”
And what did he reckon about high spring pressures? “Depends on how high the revs get, and what camshaft you’ve got. I don’t have an issue with high spring pressures. You do more damage with too low a spring pressure. First thing you do is break retainers in half if the pressure is too low. And you start chewing the locks out. Some engines don’t run enough spring pressure from standard. That’s just poor design. They get away with it, so the manufacturers just leave it at that. The Ford Barra engine was one example of that. The XR6 was way too light on the springs. The word I hear is: ‘Once our $100,000 budget is over, that spring stays in the engine; we’ll warrant whatever we have to.’ I don’t know how true it is, but it’s good for me, because that is our biggest-selling spring!
“I have a little laugh sometimes,” he continued, “when you get on a forum and see three guys arguing about springs: ‘We reckon so-and-so’s springs are the best.’ Second guy comes back and says: ‘No, his are not as good as so and so’s.’ I think to myself: If only you guys knew that all the springs are the same springs from us. Just in different packets!”
Although Performance Springs mainly sells wholesale, you can talk springs now with Allen on the internet – search ‘Allen Waye’ on Facebook or visit performancesprings.com.au, or ring him at Yatala on (07) 3807 3882.
He said that if I want, he’d be happy to go on and talk about the technology involved in the different spring steel wire alloys. But that involved story will have to wait for another time.