Critical Speed
The rpm at which a driveshaft becomes unstable is referred to as its critical speed. This instability causes a driveshaft to bend in the center like a jump rope, and prolonged operation at critical speed will eventually lead to parts failure. The formula for calculating critical speed is extremely complex, but suffice it to say that it's a function of driveshaft diameter, length, wall thickness, and the modulus of elasticity of the material it's made from. Generally, the shorter the length and the larger the diameter of a driveshaft, the higher its critical speed will be. Although there isn't much you can do about the length of driveshaft your application requires, high-performance aftermarket driveshafts are commonly available in 3-. 3.5-, and 4-inch diameters. The bigger the better, but there is a practical limit to how large you can go due to trans tunnel clearance. As far as driveshaft material is concerned, carbon fiber offers the highest critical speed, followed by aluminum, and then steel.

While critical speed is indicative of potential driveshaft failure due to prolonged high-speed operation, it doesn't necessarily reflect the strength of a driveshaft. The sheer abuse a driveshaft can handle is primarily attributable to the tubing material. The typical mild steel driveshaft used in many production cars can fail at power levels as low as 400 hp. High-performance aluminum driveshafts are extremely popular upgrades for muscle car enthusiasts due to their high strength and low mass, as they can survive loads up to 1,000 hp. The strongest material by far is DOM chrome-moly, which is often the choice of extreme-duty drag cars producing in excess of 2,000 hp. This strength comes with a weight penalty, however, which also increases parasitic driveline loss. Carbon fiber is the wild card of the lot. Some people claim that carbon-fiber shafts can support 800-plus horsepower, while others have reported failure at substantially lower power levels. Furthermore, while carbon fiber weighs next to nothing, it can also cost twice as much as a comparable chrome-moly driveshaft.

Pinion Angle
If your chassis is already hooking up hard out of the hole, chances are that there isn't much to be gained by changing the pinion angle. In essence, dialing in the right amount of pinion angle prevents a loss of traction rather than enhancing traction. As the driveshaft applies torque to the ring gear, it forces the top of the rearend housing to rotate rearward, and the bottom to rotate forward. If viewed from the passenger side of the car, the rearend naturally rotates counterclockwise under acceleration. Excessive rearend wrapup can unload the rear suspension, compromising grip. Pointing the pinion downward in relation to the driveshaft-also known as negative pinion angle-compensates for this effect. Having the right amount of pinion angle can prevent a loss of traction, but excessive amounts won't improve grip, and increases U-joint wear and parasitic driveline loss. "More negative pinion angle doesn't always give you extra bite, and how much angle a car needs depends on the suspension setup. The goal is to have the pinion in line with the driveshaft under acceleration, which requires dialing some negative pinion angle in when the car is in a static state," Bill Buck says. "With a stock suspension that uses rubber bushings, it might need as much as -7 degrees. Leaf-spring cars have more suspension play, so they need more angle than cars with control arm-style suspension. Cars with urethane bushings need about -4 degrees of angle, while cars with Heim joints need -2 to -3 degrees. An extreme example is Mike Murrillo's Outlaw 10.5 Mustang. Everything is so solidly linked in that car that there's hardly any axlewrap, which means it only needs -1 degree of pinion angle."

Item: PN: Price:
Strange chrome-moly driveshaft U1702 $319
Strange trans yoke U1664 $179
Total: $498

Description: PHR Issue: Price:
'93 notchback Mustang November 2009 $3,000
Sold old wheels, tires, engine, trans N/A -$1,000
532 big-block Ford June 2009 $9,644
Phoenix TH400 trans September 2009 $1,645
Strange 8.8 rearend October 2009 $1,759
Comp Engineering rear suspension November 2009 $1,708
AJE front suspension December 2009 $1,679
Bill Buck custom 10-point cage January 2010 $2,000
Engine and trans install March 2010 $690
Russell fuel system April 2010 $804
Cooling system May 2010 $305
Strange driveshaft June 2010 $498
Total: $22,732

Strange Engineering
8300 North Austin Avenue
Morton Grove
IL  60053
Bill Buck Race Cars
10816 Motheral Drive
TX  78753