No doubt–it's Number One.

All smiles from the JFR team after John Force became the 2013 NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Funny Car Champion after qualifying #1 then winning the Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang had a set of BME Aluminum Rods in its engine. L-to-R: Crew Chief, Jimmy Prock, runner-up Courtney Force and John Force.
Image: Auto Imagery.

The Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod is the number one choice of professional drag racers. For 40 years, it's been the benchmark by which all aluminum rods are judged.

Since 1974, 46 NHRA and IHRA top fuel dragster and funny car Champions have used the BME Rod. Some of these Champions weren't even born yet when Bill Miller introduced the first version of his aluminum rod, but one who's used them almost from the start is 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force.

During 2013, using the BME Rod's strength and reliability, Force raced his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to four event wins, both ends of the F/C National Record and the Funny Car Championship. Force is the most successful driver in the history of drag racing and, at 64, the oldest person to win an NHRA title. He used BME Rods to win the other 15 of his F/C titles, too. Force puts BME Rods in the other race cars he fields in NHRA MellowYellow Drag Racing: Robert Hight's Southern California Automobile Club Mustang Funny Car, daughter Courtney's Traxxas Mustang Funny Car and daughter Brittany's Castrol Edge Top Fuel Dragster.

Long-time BME Rod user, Cruz Pedregon, finished fourth in 2013. In fact, he and his brother, Tony, used BME Rods to win four championships–'03 and '08 for Cruz; '92 and '07 for Tony. The '05 NHRA F/C Champion, Gary Scelzi, is one of only a handful of drivers in 24 years to beat John Force for the title and, in his long career, was the only drag racer to win championships in all four blown-fuel and blown-alcohol classes. BME Rods helped him do it.

  In fact, every NHRA Funny Car Champion since 1990, has had a set of BME Rods in his engine. Clearly the BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod is the champion's choice in blown-fuel funny car racing.

The most recognizable Top Fuel Dragster in drag racing is the U.S. Army car. Its driver, Tony Schumacher, is a seven-time NHRA Champion and all seven of those titles were won with BME Rods. Other NHRA Top Fuel stars running BME Rods are: the aforementioned Brittany Force, Clay Millican (Parts Plus Dragster) and Bob Vandergriff Jr. (C&J Energy Services Dragster). Obviously, Bill Miller runs his own parts in the BME Dragster he fields for Troy Buff. The BME Top Fuel Team has one of the best records among NHRA T/F teams which run partial schedules.

Perennial NHRA Top Fuel Champ, Tony Schumacher, won the Championship in 2009. Driving the U.S. Army Dragster, Schumacher won five events and the title, his sixth consecutive and seventh total. Tony, also, holds both ends of the T/F National Record: 3.771-sec. at 324.98- mph. BME Rods helped him do all that.
Image: Auto Imagery.

Cruz Pedregon, the 2008 NHRA Funny Car Champion, raced the Bill Miller Engineering equipped, Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara to three National Event wins and the title that year. The Funny car veteran is also the 1992 FC title-holder and a long-time BME customer.
Image: Auto Imagery

The BME Rod owns the International Hot Rod Association's Top Fuel class, too. In four of the last seven years, IHRA T/F Champions–2010, Bobby Lagana Jr.; 2009, Del Cox; 2008, Spencer Massey, and 2006, Clay Millican–used BME Rods. In fact, Millican is a six-time (2001-06) IHRAChampion and during that reign won 68% of his drag races in part because of the reliable BME Connecting Rod. In recent years, Clay runs NHRA T/F exclusively. He finished sixth in points for 2013 and, as he's done for 21 racing seasons, continues to trust BME performance and reliability.

Clay Millican drives the Parts Plus Top Fueler for Dexter Tuttle. Millican has had a long career in T/F racing, first in the IHRA, where he won the Top Fuel Championship six times, and now in NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing. Millican has used BME Forged Aluminum Rods since he began in T/F. Image: Parts Plus Racing.

There's a BME presence in the NHRA A/Fuel Dragster class. A/FDs are unblown but run on nitromethane. They are allowed to run NHRA's Mello Yello series as Top Alcohol Dragsters. Five-time TAD Champion (2006-2010) and current A/FD National Record Holder, Bill Reichert, uses BME Rods. 

How 'bout Pro Mod? Because of the interest and growth in Pro Mod racing and that some of the top competitors already use BME Pistons, the Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod is catching on with top competitors in that popular class, too.

BME Rods in a four cylinder engine? You bet! The racers at the top echelons of Sport Compact drag racing use BME Forged Aluminum Rods in their high rpm, high-boost Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi engines.

It's one thing to win some races and a season title or two, but it's a far greater accomplishment to be a consistent winner for decades in a diverse range of drag racing classes. The BME Forged Aluminum Connecting rod has been a performance and reliability standard for 40 years. Other connecting rod makers may brag about racers who run their stuff, but you look at the facts and will find little doubt that BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods dominate drag racing. 

Bill Miller Engineering is the only manufacturer of aluminum connecting rods which develops and tests its products in its own Top Fuel Dragster. Shown is the BME/Okuma/Red Line Oil fueler, with Troy Buff at the controls, at Las Vegas in October of 2010. Image: Autoimagery.com

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Miracle Metal

Until 1995, Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods were made of 7075 aluminum, heat-treated to the T6 specification. In the early-1990's, Alcoa developed a revolutionary new aluminum alloy for Boeing to use for wing spars and other high-strength, lightweight structures in its military and commercial aircraft.

Obviously, Alcoa didn't invent a new aluminum alloy just for BME rods. The original application was for wing spars and other large aluminum structures in Boeing's commercial and military aircraft. There are three spars in a 747's wing. This is the center or "main" spar for the first 747-8, the latest version of Boeing's storied jumbo jet.
Image: Boeing Commercial Airplane Co

In 1996, after a comprehensive, joint research and development program with metallurgists at Aluminum Precision Products Corporation, a specialty foundry in California, Bill Miller Engineering introduced connecting rods made of this advanced, aluminum alloy. Compared to 7075-T6, BME's new material was capable of a 15% average increase in tensile and yield strength, equal or better elongation and other mechanical qualities but, most importantly–no increase in weight. In short, rods made of the unique Bill Miller Engineering aluminum alloy offered racers higher strength and longer fatigue life from a part of the same weight.

        In 2010, after experiencing significant increases in raw materials cost during the '00's, Bill Miller Engineering began researching materials and processes which would give racers more value in the BME Aluminum Rod. Once again, in cooperation with specialty foundry APP, Bill Miller Engineering introduced yet another new alloy for aluminum connecting rod applications based on the material they developed fourteen years before.

       As always, when it introduces a new material, connecting rods made of it were exhaustively tested both in the lab and on the racetrack in BME's Top Fuel Dragster to validate their performance, reliability and quality. The result was BME Aluminum Connecting Rods with the same strength and durability as the 1996 design   but with a more attractive price point.

BME Beats the Billets

The Aluminum Association, a trade organization of primary aluminum producers which sets industry standards, defines a “billet” as a "hot-worked, semifinished product suitable for subsequent working." Other manufacturers sell "billet aluminum" connecting rods. Unfortunately, BME’s competitors don't disclose that the billets they use in making their rods are cut out of thick pieces of flat stock–ordinary aluminum plates.

In this era of lightweight engine components, exceptional fatigue life comes only from superior raw materials, outstanding design and high-tech manufacturing. Bill Miller Engineering has combined the outstanding metallurgy in its advanced aluminum alloy with the advantages of the die-forging process to produce a forged aluminum connecting rod which beats the rods cut out of plates under real world racing conditions. Proof of that is number of NHRA and IHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car racers who use BME Rods and the 46 NHRA and IHRA championships they've won. No other aluminum connecting rod even comes close to that record.

      The premium, specialty aluminum BME uses to make its rods is not available in the lesser-quality, flat-stock used by its competitors to manufacture other aluminum rods. BME's raw material is aluminum bar stock which is, first, subjected to a minimum, 6:1 extrusion ratio. It's important to note that his extruded raw material is, indeed, a billet, because it’s "a semifinished, hot-worked aluminum product" but, while a billet is the final form of the competition’s rods; it’s only the start of a Bill Miller Engineering Rod.

Today's demanding quality and productivity standards mean there's a lot of automation in the making of a BME Aluminum Rod. That said, to make the best aluminum rod in the world, still requires some of the manufacturing process to be done by hand by experienced craftsmen with sharp eyes and a fine sense of touch. The big and small ends of each BME rod are finished by hand on a Sunnen Rod Hone. Image: BME Ltd.

  Forged for Ultimate Strength

During Alcoa's early-1990s research into the strength of connecting rod materials which resulted in BME's switch to a different type of aluminum, fatigue life studies proved failures are caused chiefly by stress resulting from severed grains and improper gain direction. With a connecting rod machined from an aluminum plate, any machining severs grain ends. If this machining is done to critical sections of the rod, such as the beam or the big end, the severed grain ends weaken the rod. If remaining uncut grains are not aligned in the proper direction, the rod's strength will be further compromised.

The first step in making a BME Forged Aluminum Rod, forging the Rod's basic structure from a chunk of aerospace-quality aluminum.


Following extrusion, BME’s die-forging process shapes the aluminum and compresses its grain structure by heating it to 700°F then applying pressure of 2000 tons. Compared to rods cut out of ordinary flat stock, Bill Miller Engineering's forging process:

A half-a-dozen raw BME forgings. They'll sit for a while then get moved to the machining facility. Don't touch! They're still hot.

1) enhances grain flow and increases grain density, 2) forces the grain of the extrusion into the connecting rod shape without exposing grain ends, 3) aligns that part of the grain which makes up the rod's tapered beam with the direction of highest stress the rod will sustain, and 4) forces the grain around the rod bearing bore, creating a "hoop stress" phenomenon which provides maximum strength for the limited cross-section available at the rod’s big end.

Other brands of aluminum rods are machined from flat-stock, so their grain length is cut by tapering process and again by the rod bearing and pin bores, exposing the grain ends in all those locations. In contrast, the forging process used by Bill Miller Engineering forces the grain into the taper and around the rod bearing bore. These advantages are impossible to attain with connecting rods cut out of aluminum plates. Those advantages are, also, why a BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod has an exceptionally long fatigue life.

BME Rods are available in a variety of architectures: Chrysler 426 Hemi, 440 Wedge and 340 A-Block, Chevrolet Small- and Big-Block V8s, Ford V8s and traditional Pontiac V8s. Bill Miller Engineering can custom-make aluminum rods for virtually any engine. Recent custom connecting rod projects were for a late model Mercedes V8, a 1925 Mercer Raceabout six-cylinder and a single-cylinder speedway motorcycle racing engine. For more information, see our rod prices page or call BME for pricing on custom work.

The Only Streetable Aluminum Rod
      Urban legends abound in the gearhead community. One is: aluminum connecting rods don't work in street engines. Prior to the mid-'70s, that might have been true, however, introduction of the Bill Miller Engineering Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod in 1975 discredited that myth.

The BME Rod has great durability in high-end, high-power, street/strip or hot street engines because it is die-forged, rather than cut out of a plate. Bill Miller Engineering's unique, aluminum alloy further enhances fatigue strength such that the durability of BME Rod rivals that of many forged steel rods and exceeds that of a few.

About 25 years ago, a few resourceful engine builders, led by H-O Racing's, Ken Crocie, began using BME Rods in very-high-performance street engines. Crocie, a racing and street/strip Pontiac V8 specialist, faced with a shortage of acceptable steel rods for Pontiac V8s, began to use BME Aluminum Rods in some engine builds. While, since then, other engine builders followed Crocie's lead, admittedly, use of the Bill MIller Engineering Rod in street engines has not been widespread–but that's only because of the stubborn belief that any aluminum rod is unsuitable for street use.

 

       "In a hot street application, using the aluminum rod is a no brainer," BME President, Bill Miller, said in an interview with an automotive magazine. "I don't know how the myth that aluminum rods can't be used on the street got started, but I'll guess that, back in the 60s and early-70s, they weren't making them using the process we're using today. With the material we've got and they way we manufacture the connecting rods, they'll live a couple hundred thousand miles on the street because a street application is, for the most part, low load. Our basic Aluminum Rod is made for an 1000-hp, 10,000 rpm race engine. The design criteria for the connecting rod is way overkill for what it's going see on the street. We been running aluminum rods on the street for more than two decades."

       Why build a street engine with BME Rods? One reason is the "cool factor." Bill Miller Engineering Rods are unique, high-end racing parts and there always will be people who spend extra money to have the same rods in their engines as John Force puts in his. More importantly, there are practical reasons for using BME Rods—the same reasons racers use them: less reciprocating and rotating mass due to their comparative lightness. That allows the engine to accelerate quicker. Lighter rods also improve throttle response and allow the engine to run reliably at a higher rpm than it could with steel rods.

      You do a few things differently when setting-up a street engine for BME Rods. Minimum bearing clearance at room temperature should be .002-.0025-in. Wrist pin clearance should be .0006-.0008-in. Rod side clearance should be .020-in. The engine's oiling system needs to be appropriate for a racing application with larger rod bearing clearances once the oil reaches operating temperature. The oiling system must be configured to provide 10 psi, hot oil pressure for every 1000 rpm in the engine's rpm range. The minimum acceptable oil is a premium, 10W30 synthetic and Bill Miller Engineering recommends either Red Line 10W30 Engine Oil or Gibbs Driven HR 10W30 Oil. Engines with BME Aluminum Rods must not be run at high load or high rpm until oil temperature reaches at least 130 deg. F. Lastly, while Red Line and Driven oils lubricate reliably at oil temperatures up to 300 deg. F, the recommended oil temperature for an engine using BME Rods is 200 deg. F.


      Standard BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods for most production Chevrolet, Chrysler and Pontiac V8s are reliable replacements for steel rods in engines of up to 1000 horsepower. Aluminum Rods for some Ford V8s of similar power output are available on special order. A Big-Block Chevrolet style, Pro Stock rod, good to 1200-hp, is, also, available. If the application is a Chrysler 426 Hemi or big-block "wedge", BME's blown-alcohol rods can be used at levels well over 2000-hp with outstanding reliability/durability.

And What About Bolts?

Keeping with the Bill Miller Engineering commitment to quality, BME installs nothing but the finest cap screws in its Aluminum Rods. These "bolts" are manufactured to BME's specifications by the world's top fastener manufacturer, Automotive Racing Products (ARP).

BME/ARP cap screws come in two varieties. The fasteners in most BME Rods are made of 8740 chromium-molybdenum steel, a quenched and tempered steel alloy having a yield strength of 180,000-psi  and tensile strength of 200,000-psi.

The cap screws used in rods Bill Miller Engineering sells for supercharged drag racing applications are made of a special hybrid alloy, "ARP2000", which can be heat-treated to a higher level than 8740 steel. While 8740 and ARP2000 have about the same yield strength, because of the different heat-treating, the latter has a tensile strength of 220,000 psi and, thus, is capable of clamp loads of 22% higher. BME's fasteners made of this ARP-developed material receive a special, proprietary heat-treating process designed by BME specifically for cap screws used in blown-fuel and blown-alcohol drag race engines.

 

ARP 2K2 steel, rolled threads and a special, BME-designed heat-treating process makes the bolts in a BME Aluminum Rod the strongest in the industry. Image: BME Ltd.

 

BME/ARP 2K2 rod bolts are mounted in vertical racks during the heat-treat process. That insures 360° thermal penetration. Image: BME Ltd.

A rack of BME/ARP 2K2 cap screws gets pushed into the heat treating oven at ARP's in-house, heat treading facility.  Yep. It's hot in there. How hot? Well, that's a trade secret, but we can tell you it's well over 1000°F. BME, Ltd.

Both types of BME/ARP fasteners are manufactured at Automotive Racing Product's Santa Paula, California facility using SDF or CHQ grade–both higher than "aircraft grade"–materials. They are heat-treated in vertical racks which ensures complete, 360-deg. heat penetration. Like all ARP cap screws, the units in BME Rods have rolled threads and the thread rolling is done after heat-treating which provides up to 10-times more fatigue life than cap screws having threads rolled before heat-treating.

Needless to say, when you buy a BME Aluminum Rod, the last thing you need to worry about are its fasteners.

BME Rods:  The finest money can buy.

The five reasons to choose BME Rods:

1) They outperform and outlast all other aluminum connecting rods.

2) BME puts overriding emphasis on quality through testing, inspection and manufacturing process controls. 

3) Bill Miller has raced a Top Fuel car since the early 1980s. There is no better way to find out what it takes to make the best drag race connecting rod in the world than to regularly test it in your own Top Fueler.

4) In 40 years of manufacturing aluminum connecting rods, Bill Miller Engineering has earned for a reputation for innovative technology and continuous improvement.

5) BME Rods are MADE IN AMERICA with the finest materials and the best workmanship of any racing connecting rod available today.

 

 

What's great about BME is the hands-on involvement of company President, Bill Miller, at left. Bill started BME with the Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod as his first product and he was the company's only employee. Today, 40 years later, Miller is still involved with design, development, manufacturing and marketing–the entire process.  He works directly with his team members and deals with many customers personally, such as 16-time Funny Car Champion, John Force, shown below, talking with Bill at the 2011 NHRA Winternationals. Images: BME Ltd.

Since 1975, Bill Miller Engineering has been dedicated to designing, developing, and manufacturing the finest aluminum connecting rods in the industry. Our commitment to the racer is total. We conduct continuous research and development to increase the performance and improve the reliability of our product. Rest assured, when you buy BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rods; you get the best connecting rod modern technology can provide.

Bill Miller stands behind his company's rods, both literally and figuratively. The BME Forged Aluminum Connecting Rod was Bill Miller's first product and remains the core of his business.

BME Rods are widely used in the Top Fuel ranks. The Todd Smith tuned engine in Brittany Force's Castrol Edge T/F Dragster has a set of them in it. Image: John Force Racing.


 



Bill Miller Engineering, Ltd, 4895 Convair Drive, Carson City, Nevada 89706
Phone: 775.887.1299 FAX: 775.887.0390
Email: bill@bmeltd.com
Last Updated: May 7, 2014  Copyright © 2014 Bill Miller Engineering
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