‘TK is Just a Comfortable Program For Me,’
Says Maker of Exotic Engine Parts

Who ya gonna call if you need an engine block for your 1937 DeLahaye 145 V-12 racecar? Alan Krem of Krem Engineering, Meadville, Pa., just made one—using TK Solver.
 
Besides the DeLahaye, the shop is working on one-off parts for some 1918 Liberty V-12 aircraft engines and for a 1930’s Soriano outboard marine racing engine—all using TK Solver.

The shop also does its bread-and-butter work—designing and making custom racing engine crankshafts for such suppliers as Oliver Racing Parts—using TK Solver.

“We use TK a lot,” Krem says.

 
  Alan Krem
  Home: Meadville, Pennsylvania
  TK User Since: 2002
  Uses TK For: Designing machined components and parts for internal combustion engines.

Photo: Le Club DeLahaye

 
In fact, Krem Engineering is in the process of becoming an all-TK Solver shop, the climax of a long period of frustration with spreadsheets and mathematics software.
 
“I’m not a big spreadsheet guy,” he says. “There’s too much nonsense with formatting cells and such. Spreadsheets work well in some applications—but if you want to solve problems with two or three variables and simultaneous equations, the last thing you need is a spreadsheet.”
 
Mathcad also had its frustrations: too many unused features and upgrades that cost too much for “not much that was new”.
 
“If you’re going to write a book with a lot of mathematical expressions, Mathcad seems well suited for that,” Krem says. “But this is day-to-day engineering. I want to set up some equations and I want a simple printout of my results.”
 
So, three years ago, he says, “I was looking for something different.” Krem had read about TK Solver in engineering news groups on the Internet and did a search engine search for it. It landed him on the UTS Website, and he ordered TK.
 
“We’re now in the process of converting the stuff we did as spreadsheets into TK,” Krem says. “It’s going to be our primary way of doing things.”
 
There is nothing exotic about the work Krem Engineering does with TK Solver. “This is a typical, practical application of mechanical engineering,” Alan Krem says. “It isn’t research. We do a lot of trigonometry—sines, cosines. We use a lot of our own custom formulas, for things like expansions of presses, loads, clearances, designing O-rings, calculating what our compression is and what our clearances are, bearing calculations, all kinds of everyday run-of-the-mill engineering equations—that’s what we do.
“It’s pretty fundamental applied engineering,” he says. “But the world wouldn’t turn without it.”
 
“And with them all set up in TK Solver,” he adds, “we have our own database of problem-solvers.”
 
Krem’s learning of TK has had the same practical bent: “We didn’t even take the tutorial,” he says. “I just kinda looked at the page and said, ‘Let’s see here…let’s start with two plus two’.
 
“It’s like learning a CAD program,” he adds. “Eventually you learn how to make a drawing, and you stand back and look at what you’ve done…it’s cool, but you realize you’ve used about 20 percent of the program. I’m just now going to get into this hard. It’s very clear that TK is going to do an awful lot of stuff that we haven’t begun to tap into yet.”
 
Krem says he uses TK’s backsolving “all the time,” and he likes the ease with which comments can be added to a TK model. Beyond that, “I don’t know that there’s anything in particular that I use more or like better.” Reflecting his exasperation with spreadsheets, he adds, “The important thing is that TK behaves for me exactly the way a spreadsheet doesn’t.”
 
Krem knew from an early age what he wanted to do. “I always had an interest in mechanical stuff,” he says. “And of course I’m from the 60’s. The car was the big thing in the 60’s. So I went to the University of Pittsburgh and got a degree in mechanical engineering—and while I was there I was pretty heavily involved in racing. From there I went into this.”
 
“I started doing this when I graduated from college in 1971,” Krem says. “I didn’t know how long it would last. But I’m still doing it.”
 
Concerning his relationship with TK Solver, Krem says, “TK’s just a comfortable program for me.”