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Porsche 356 & 912

Porsche 356 & 912

LN Engineering is proud to offer Nickies, the ultimate cylinders
for your powerful & reliable aircooled engine.

It is not always that you hear high performance and long life paired together, especially when referring to performance aircooled engines. It is very typical, even with high-powered cooling systems, that high-performance engines run too hot, and as you know heat kills! Higher operating temperatures result in a thermally overloaded engine that, among other things, has cylinders that fail to seal against the head and have significantly shorter life spans versus stock engines. Our Nickies™ package is the culmination of every technological advance related to pistons and cylinders for your aircooled engine! Nickies™ make the difference! Our NSC-plated, CNC billet, solid aluminum Nickies™ provide:

Up to four times the thermal conductivity of cast iron cylinders
Significantly reduced cylinder head and oil temperatures
Increased horsepower (dyno proven!)
Significantly reduced cylinder wear and increased ring life
Superior oiling (our NSC plating, like Nikasil™, is oleophilic i.e. oil-liking)
Tighter ring gaps and improved ring seal
Reduced friction and tighter skirt clearances
Improved efficiency using the stock cooling system
Rebuildability at a fraction of the original cost
Reduced engine weight
Quiet operation

Nickies are SCCA and PCA Club Racing Legal

Frequently asked questions regarding our 1883cc Nickies™

My mechanic says you cannot build an engine larger than 1720cc and have it be reliable. How are Nickies™ reliable in the 1883cc 90mm size?

Typical 1720cc 86mm cylinders have very thin cylinder walls and it is this fact coupled with their poor cooling that causes the main limitation to making more usable and reliable horsepower. Nickies™ provide excellent cooling and our 1800cc and 1883cc big bore kits are machine-in, requiring your case and cylinder heads to be "opened up" to accept our thick-wall cylinders, as typically done with other Porsche and VW engines. The 98mm head register and 94.50mm case register allows us to remove the least amount of material from the cylinder heads and crankcase while fitting our Nickies in bore sizes up to 91.5mm. The factory cylinder head castings are thick enough and well-supported in the area where the heads are "opened" up and at the case, enough material is left such that if a case-saver were needed for whatever reason, that the outside diameter of the case saver does not intrude into the larger case spigot diameter. When using JPS Aircooled billet cylinder heads and 8mm head studs, we can supply Nickies in 93 and 94mm (additional machine work is required for the case). Nickies for Porsche 356 and 912 engines have over fifteen years proven track record and are trusted worldwide as the number one choice of engine builders.

My 1720cc engine has plenty of power? Why should I use Nickies™ and why should I consider going to a larger, 90mm 1883cc cylinder over that of my current 86mm 1720cc?

There are three things that kill engines - heat, RPMs, and excessive compression. To make horsepower with a 1720cc engine, you have to turn higher rpms and run more compression than compared to an 1883, 1925, or 1946cc engine equipped with Nickies cylinders. When you make more power than stock, you make more heat, further stressing the engine. Nickies™ add significant cooling to both the oil and to the cylinder heads, reducing oil temperatures over stock by an average of 15-20F and peak cylinder head temperatures by up to 150F. An 1883cc engine can be built with stock heads, crankshaft, rods, and a mild camshaft upgrade to have significantly more torque and horsepower than an equivalently built 1720 due to the significantly increased displacement. Furthermore, this power comes on much lower than with a 1720, so less stress is placed on the case, crankshaft, and connecting rods. Many engine builders have reported excellent results using C or later crankshaft and rods with our 1883cc Nickies™ kits, eliminating the need for a billet SCAT crankshaft or Carrillo connecting rods, without the need for extra oil cooling even in desert enviroments. A 1720cc engine fitted with cast iron cylinders of this output level will run hotter, requiring a billet SCAT crankshaft and Carrillo connecting rods to safely turn the additional rpms required to make the same type of power a Nickies equipped 1883cc engine makes. The 1883 has superior drivability due to the greatly increased amount of torque, allowing the use of a taller fourth gear for quieted highway operation while running cooler than even a stock 356 or 912 engine! Most customers with an 1883 have experienced off idle torque almost similar to what a 912 engine made peak - something you will never get from a 1720.

What connecting rods should I use with Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a set of stock C or 912 connecting rods will be more than sufficient, as our 90mm 1883 and 91mm 1925cc JE Pistons are significantly lighter than the stock 82.5mm 912 pistons. Reducing reciprocating mass reduces the stresses on the crankcase, rods, and crankshaft. Furthermore, the increased displacement of our 90mm 1883cc Nickies allow the engine to make peak HP by 5000 rpm with our Torquer camshaft or 6000 rpm with our Performer camshaft and don't require upgraded rods. For those looking for upgraded rods, we offer CP-Carrillo forged connecting rods that are significantly stronger than the factory rods, utilizing CARR bolts, and allow for increased max rpm when paired with an uncounterweighted C crank or billet Scat crankshaft.

What camshaft should I use with big bore 1720cc or 1883cc Nickies™?

Planning on building an 1883 for your Porsche 356 or 912? We have your camshaft! 100% new cams, ground on new billets, available in two popular grinds - Torquer and Performer street grinds. All in-stock for immediate delivery. When coupled with our 1883 or larger Nickies big bore kit, the Torquer grind provides lots of low end grunt and peak power by 5000 rpm. The Torquer is equivalent to "Maestro" grind from what we're told by Dema Elgin, who grinds these for us. Torquer grind also suitable for 1600-1720cc engines. Our Performer grind is good to 6000 rpm with plenty of torque at 2500 rpm - a very wide powerband for all kinds of driving and is also suitable for 1720cc engines. Both street grinds will work with stock or ported cylinder heads. All cams ground by none other than Dema Elgin of Elgin Cams.

What crankshaft should I use with my 1883cc 90mm Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a STD or .010" under C or later crankshaft is optimal, but many have used the B crankshafts without any issues since the custom forged JE Pistons we supply for the 90 and 91mm 1883 and 1925cc Nickies kits are significantly lighter than the stock pistons, resulting in reduced reciprocating mass. These increased displacements do not require the engine to be revved past 6000 to make peak bore. In most cases, a SCAT billet crankshaft is not required unless you plan on regularly exceeding 6000 rpm or plan on autocrossing or tracking your 356 or 912.

What cylinder heads should I use with my 1883cc 90mm Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a set of stock B or later heads will deliver excellent torque with 912 heads being ideal, but for the ultimate in performance, we offer JPS billet cylinder heads and match ported intake manifolds that flow over 200 CFM and are capable of supporting more horsepower and torque than any stock cylinder head. We stock JPS heads to work with our 90-91.5mm Nickies as well as a special version designed to accept our large 93 and 94mm Nickies which require use of special 8mm head studs and extra case machining.

What pistons can you use with Nickies™?

LN Engineering’s custom forged pistons are the best of their kind. Before ordering your Nickies cylinder and piston set for your Porsche 356 or 912 engine, we require you to provide us your actual cylinder head chamber volumes. This is required for us to supply the correct piston to ensure your compression ratio is correct for your intended application. Where others give you a one size fits all, every piston is custom made, so whatever the case, we work with your desired engine specifications to make the ideal pistons for your application, period. Our custom forged pistons are the best of their kind. They feature the low-friction slipper skirts, low weight, balancing within 1/2 a gram, and are manufactured from the superior 2618-aluminum forged alloy material when specified for use with our Nickies™ cylinders. Our pistons are designed to maintain optimal deck height for maximum quench. Good quench allows for faster burn and better thermal efficiency, leading to better gas mileage, lower potential for detonation, and more power. Our pistons are machined to reduce their weight, making them lighter than most factory or aftermarket pistons. This reduces reciprocating mass, reducing the stress on your crankshaft, rods, and crankcase, making your engine more durable and reliable.

I've heard forged pistons are noisy, smoke, and burn oil. Why are Nickies different?

Most of the common issues we see with cast iron 86mm 1720cc big bore kits are because they are thermally overloaded. Heat kills. Biral cylinders don't help either - in bore sizes larger thant he stock 82.5, biral cylinders washboard and fail due to limits imposed by their construction. Both cast iron and biral cylinders go out of round and rings can't seal properly, leading to smoking and oil consumption. When fitted with forged pistons, it is common for engines with cast iron cylinders to be noisy, suffering from piston slap due to the added clearance required between a forged piston and cast iron cylinder. With Nickies, this is not an issue. Nickies have over four times the thermal conductivity of cast iron cylinders, allowing the engine to make more power and run cooler. This keeps the bores round and rings functioning properly. Likewise, a 2618 alloy forged JE Piston has a similar expansion rate as our Nickies cylinders, allowing us to run a very tight piston to cylinder clearance similar to an aircooled 911 with aluminum nikasil cylinders. This results in quiet operation with a piston that is stable and supported, with no piston slap. Properly configured, a set of Nickies cylinders will always outperform any cast iron or steel cylinder in an aircooled application.

Where some engine builders have had issues is that they set the piston to cylinder clearances wrong, use the wrong rings, or improperly clean and lubricate the cylinders and pistons during assembly. Aluminum cylinders with Nikasil bores, like ours, have special requirements for pistons, rings, and assembly. If they aren't followed, results will be less than spectacular.

I've been told cast iron cylinders are more thermally stable than aluminum ones. Is this true?

No. It is important to look back in time to understand the history of aircooled engines. Porsche used aluminum cylinders on their highest horsepower engines, knowing they needed the extra cooling. Before Mahle invented Nikasil plating, ferral and chromal alloy cylinders were utilized. Once Porsche exceeded 21 horsepower per cylinder, they made the move to biral cylinders. These were soon replaced with aluminum cylinders using the durable and long living Nikasil plating, due to their ability to shed heat better than cast iron. However, that's where the similarities between the original cast aluminum cylinder used on 911 models and our Nickies ends. Nickies cylinders are 100% billet, not cast, and are significantly stronger with increased ductility and cool better than any cast iron or cast aluminum cylinder. Remember, your engine is aircooled, not oil cooled! Hundreds of sets of Nickies for the 356 have been sold and installed since 2003. Nickies are proven to last and outperform any cast iron or cast aluminum cylinder. No other cylinders are more trusted by builders worldwide and asked for by name.

Customer Testimonial: William Noblitt

For those of you who aren't familiar with William Noblitt, he's a vintage racer who also builds 356/912 engines as a hobby, and does so with the dedication and passion that makes these engines and cars so great. 1800ccs doesn't limit him in the slightest, going from street to track with ease. 160 HP and 148 ft/lb of torque, with peak HP by 5500 rpm and no need to spin past 6000 rpm, there's no loss of driveability. In fact, we've never seen a torque curve so flat! Keep reading below for customer testimonials from Mr. Noblitt.

The best testimonials are those from enthusiastic customers like William Noblitt, who races a 356 with Nickies and also has built numerous engines featuring Nickies cylinders, like these:

April 10th, 2004: Charles, finished the dyno work today. Didn't spend a tremendous amount of time on the dyno but got it awfully darn close. The readouts are not direct so the data has to be put in a spread sheet to give the actual torque / horse power figures. I'll share that with you when I get the figures. Will say that Les Long from Air Power Racing who has the dyno said the figures were getting real close to what he is getting out of his race engine. Of course he is running at least 2 points higher a compression ratio with a little more than .050" additional lift at the cam and about 30 degrees more duration, a 1720 piston/cylinder set up, considerably lighter flywheel/pressure plate, etc in his all out race engine. His horse power and torque are considerably higher up the RPM range than mine due to the radical cam.

May 3rd, 2004: You will be happy to hear that I ran the engine in my Convertible D (photos enclosed) at the Intermountain Region PCA's club race one day in Las Vegas this past weekend. I performed flawlessly and amazingly. I used to race Formula V about 25 years ago (though I haven't been on a track a speed since) so possibly I have a little more experience on track than some of the drivers there so some of the comparisons may be misleading yet the numbers are true.

During the weekend in the last 2 sessions once I got used to the car and engine there was only one car that passed me, was either a late model 911 Carrera or 993, and that was only under breaking as my old drum breaks were essentially nonexistent after slowing the car down 3 or for times from 120 MPH. Incidentally, the car that passed me got pushed so hard through turns 1-4 that it didn't make turn 5-- so the torque and power this thing is putting out is great. People watching said the car appeared to be faster through the infield portion of the track than any of the other cars there.

At then of the two straight that are associated with the oval, I was turning between 7000-7500 RPMS in 4th gear with a top speed of around 120. Might have been able to get a little more out of it had I not had to straight slowing so early before the corners at the end of the straights. Sessions were 20 minutes long and there was none of the loss of power/speed that Duane was afraid there would be going down the long straights-- that he mentioned was a problem with the aluminum/biral cylinders that Porsche initially used with the Super 90s.

Should also mention that Les Long was my instructor and for the first 3 laps of the opening session drove the car to show me the track. He said the car pulled as good as his race car, it just topped out earlier due to the milder cam.

September 9th, 2004: After the dyno runs I installed it in my Convertible D and did some incidental driving and ran it in a hill climb. The hill climb was one I do every year and I didn't quite meet my expectations. I was 2 seconds faster than I had ever been before, yet it was an extremely cold day and the tires were not sticking at all or I would have easily gotten under 2:10 which has been my goal for years. Still got within tenths of seconds.

William Noblitt was an early adopter of LN Nickies cylinders, making history with his 1800cc Nickies 356 engine as well as an 1883cc using our Nickies cylinders, and still runs his original sets of Nickies today (2020). William is an avid racer and engine builder. Having retired from the US Forest Service, William returned to work, but for Les Long at Air Power Racing for quite a few years, helping rebuild Porsche 356 engines, many of them using Nickies cylinders. Although William doesn't build engines for Les anymore, he's building engines for his own use and racing them. LN continues to supply Nickies cylinders to Air Power Racing for their street and track builds.

William Noblitt can be contacted by email to answer any of your questions or share his experiences with our Nickies™ cylinders both as a customer and engine builder. More information about Air Power Racing can be found on their website at

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