Street Machine - - Dirty Stuff - WIL­LIAM PORKER

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


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.

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