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  DEVELOPMENT OF THE DATSUN U20 MOTOR,
BRE SHOP, EL SEGUNDO, CA, 1969

"PETE BROCK'S BRE SHOP WAS SO WELL MAINTAINED YOU COULD EAT YOUR LUNCH OFF THE FLOOR"

Pete Brock’s base in El Segundo, California, was extremely well equipped back in 1969. These pages look at the team's facilities, its specialist equipment and, in particular, BRE's development of the Datsun 2000's U-20 motor.

Art Oehrli works on the U-20 motor
 Above: Art rebuilds a U-20 motor


BRE's facilities totalled over 10,000 square feet and included a machine shop and engine assembly department. The crew undertook virtually all of the fabrication and welding work at the shop and, although there were no facilities for cam grinding, forging, casting or gear cutting, Pete's Californian contacts allowed him to offer other racers a full design and development service.

BRE's Heenan & Froude dyno was particularly versatile. On one side it could test up to 450bhp. On the other, with the impellor rotating the other way, it could test up to 150hp. Brock powered the dyno using two starters with opposite rotations. Art Oehrli was the specialist engine man in 1969. His place was taken by John Caldwell for the 1970 season, when Art went to work for Porsche. BRE offered a dyno service to many local outfits which helped fund his BRE Datsun interests.

Sponsorship from Nissan, and from the likes of Champion, Fram, Goodyear and Valvoline, helped Pete to develop other competition parts for Datsuns in competition. Some of these parts were developed in house - others were outsourced.

The Datsun's U-20 motor, the factory's first production overhead cam design, was the subject of many hundreds of development hours at the BRE shop. Development was aided by Brock's experienced team and his equipment. Like the car itself, which also underwent meticulous preparation, the motor was almost unburstable.

By the second season of Datsun Roadster competition, when John McComb scored eight victories in a row, there was no other roadster to touch the power and speed of the BRE machine. Only a fluke stopped the team from gaining it's first National Championship in both seasons of competition. The success of 2 x National Champion Bob McQueen and ARRC competitor Gene Felton, who ordered BRE motors for his ex-BRE car, are testimony to the team's engine building skills.

The pictures on this page give an insight to the work involved in the preparation of the U-20 motor and its ancilliaries in the shop back in 1969. This preparation helped the team beat allcomers in the immaculate 240Z and 510 rides of John Morton over the coming three seasons.

Art on the BRE dyno

Above: Art Oehrli was the specialist
dyno man in the El Segundo shop in 1969. 

The U-20 on the test bench
Above: A U-20 motor on the test
bench.

Pete does some tuning
      Above: Pete with the U-20

Note the special sensing unit
placed above the  U-20 motor's
test-bed to read the temperature
at the carburettor airinlet, in
order to achieve consistent
dyno readings.

Barometric pressure, as well as
shop temperature was also
always measured.

Pete with Nissan's Tom Kanbe
Nissan's Tom Kanbe and Pete Brock
test the Stewart Warner oil cooler.
The 4 into 1 header
Pete with the 4 into 1 header and some
of the many lengths of tubes tested


  Datsun U-20 development
Air Flow bench #1

BRE's airflow bench, to check the through flow of air through one port and cylinder to assist with valve and chamber modifications.  

Air Flow bench #2 Setting up the head with the reworked carbs and trumpets.
U20 Cylinder Head The BRE head - the combustion chambers were opened up around the valves to improve flow. The ports were 'tuliped' resulting in a venturi action.
Testing the hardness of the pistons

Machines tests the hardness of the pistons, before and after running. This helps detect 'hotspots' on each piston.

Measuring plug temperature A terminal measures plug temperature. In addition, thermo-couple plugs with built-in sensors, could detect any change in fuel distribution. 
Weighing the rods Pete weighs the big and small ends of the rods. To reduce the reciprocating load the lightest rod is measured and the others are matched up to it using a cutter.
The assembly rack A rack, designed by Pete, in which every piece of the Datsun engine was stored separately after disassembly, for inspection and reassembly. Individual blocks and cutouts in the unit locate the valves, springs and pistons in sequence to avoid any oversights.  

Among many other improvements, Pete worked on the oil supply by cutting grooves in the main bearings, which increased the oil supply to the rods, and by improving the oil return passages from the head to the crank casing.

SEE ALSO THE BRE ROADSTER SPECIFICATIONS PAGE


Note: The above images all appeared in contemporary articles and are attributed to Brock Racing Enterprisesdatsun.org/fairlady counter


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These pages, unless otherwise stated, are copyright ©1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002 Rob Beddington & The Classic Fairlady Roadster Register. Do not redistribute in any form without the prior permission of the owner.