Engine configuration


Engine configuration

Engine configuration is an engineering term for the layout of the major components of an internal combustion engine. These components include cylinders, pistons, crankshaft(s) and camshaft(s).

For many automobile engines, the term ´block' is interchangeable with engine in this context, for example "V block" and "V engine" can often be used interchangeably in American English. This is because the most common forms are all based on a combined engine block and crankcase that are milled from a single piece of cast metal. The locations of the major components are largely determined by the shape of this one component.

The standard names for some configurations are historic, arbitrary, or both, with some overlap. For example, the cylinder banks of a 180° V engine do not in any way form a V, but it is regarded as a V engine because of its crankshaft and big end configuration, which result in performance characteristics similar to a V engine. But it is also considered a flat engine because of its shape. On the other hand, some engines which have none of the typical V engine crankshaft design features and consequent performance characteristics are also regarded as V engines, purely because of their shape. Similarly, the Volkswagen VR6 engine is a hybrid of the V engine and the straight engine, and can not be definitively labeled as either.The names "W engine" and "rotary engine" have each been used for several unconnected designs. The "H-4" and "H-6" engines produced by Subaru are not H engines at all, but boxer engines.

Categorisation by piston motion

Engine types include:
* Single cylinder engines
* Inline engine designs:
** Straight engine, with all of the cylinders placed in a single row
** V engine, with two banks of cylinders at an angle, most commonly 60 or 90 degrees.
** Flat engine, two banks of cylinders directly opposite each other on either side of the crankshaft.
** H engine, two crankshafts.
** W engine. Combination of V and straight, giving 3 banks, or two V's intertwined giving 4 banks.
** U engine, two separate straight engines with crankshafts linked by a central gear.
*** The square four is a U engine where the two straight engines have two cylinders each.
** Opposed piston engine, with multiple crankshafts, an example being:
*** Delta engines, with three banks of cylinders and three crankshafts
** X engine.
* Radial designs, including most:
** Rotary engine designs. Mostly seen on pre-WWII aircraft.
* Pistonless rotary engines, notably:
** Wankel engine.

Other categorisations

By valve placement

The majority of four stroke engines have poppet valves, although some aircraft engines have sleeve valves. Valves may be located in the cylinder block (side valves) or in the cylinder head (overhead valves). Modern engines are invariably of the latter design. There may be two, three, four or five valves per cylinder, with the intake valves outnumbering the exhaust valves in case of an odd number.

By camshaft placement

Poppet valves are opened by means of a camshaft which revolves at half the crankshaft speed. This can be either chain, gear or toothed belt driven from the crankshaft and can be located in the crankcase (where it may serve one or more banks of cylinders) or in the cylinder head.

If the camshaft is located in the crankcase, a valve train of pushrods and rocker arms will be required to operate overhead valves. Mechanically simpler are side valves, where the valve stems rested directly on the camshaft. However, this gives poor gas flows within the cylinder head as well as heat problems and fell out of favor for automobile use, see "flathead engine".

The majority of modern automobile engines place the camshaft on the cylinder head. There may be one or two camshafts in the cylinder head; a single camshaft design is called OHC or SOHC for (Single) OverHead Cam. A design with two camshafts per cylinder head is called DOHC for Double OverHead Cam. Note that the camshafts are counted per cylinder head, so a V engine with one camshaft in each of its two cylinder heads is still an SOHC design. See "overhead camshaft".

With overhead cams, the valvetrain will be shorter and lighter, as no pushrods are required. Some single camshaft designs still have rocker arms; this facilates adustment of mechanical clearances.

If there are two camshafts in the cylinder head, the cams normally bear directly on cam followers on the valve stems. This is the usual arrangement for a four-valves-per-cylinder design. This latter arrangement is the most inertia free, allows the most unimpeded gas flows in the engine and is the usual arrengement for high performance automobile engines. It also permits the spark plug to be located in the centre of the cylinder head, which promotes better combustion characteristics.Very large engines (e.g. marine engines) can have either extra camshafts or extra lobes on the camshaft to enable the engine to run in either direction.

A disadvantage of overhead cams is that a much longer chain (or belt) is needed to drive the cams than with a camshaft located in the cylinder block, usually a tensioner is also needed. A break in the belt may destroy the engine if pistons touch open valves at top dead centre.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Engine balance — is the design, construction and tuning of an engine to run smoothly. Engine balance reduces vibration and other stresses, and may improve the performance, efficiency, cost of ownership and reliability of the engine, as well as reducing the stress …   Wikipedia

  • Engine — This article is about a machine to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. For other uses of engine, see Engine (disambiguation). For other uses of motor, see Motor (disambiguation). A V6 internal combustion engine from a Mercedes car An… …   Wikipedia

  • Configuration management — Top level Configuration Management Activity model Configuration management (CM) is a field of management that focuses on establishing and maintaining consistency of a system or product s performance and its functional and physical attributes with …   Wikipedia

  • Engine swap — Warning: in some jurisdictions with strict smog rules it may not be possible to register a late model vehicle with an engine swap, even if it can be proven that it produces less pollution than the original engine (owing to visual inspection… …   Wikipedia

  • Engine control unit — An engine control unit (ECU) is an electronic control unit which controls various aspects of an internal combustion engine s operation. The simplest ECUs control only the quantity of fuel injected into each cylinder each engine cycle. More… …   Wikipedia

  • configuration — The particular arrangement of the parts in relation to each other. Also see chassis configuration delta configuration mid engine chassis configuration Y configuration …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • configuration — con|fig|u|ra|tion [kənˌfıgəˈreıʃən, gju US gju ] n [U and C] 1.) formal or technical the shape or arrangement of the parts of something = ↑layout configuration of ▪ the configuration of pistons in an engine 2.) technical the combination of… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • configuration — noun (C, U) 1 formal or technical the shape or arrangement of the parts of something; layout (+ of): the configuration of pistons in an engine 2 technical the combination of equipment needed to run a computer system …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • Internal combustion engine — The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel (normally a fossil fuel) occurs with an oxidizer (usually air) in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high temperature and high …   Wikipedia

  • V6 engine — A V6 engine is a V engine with six cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of three cylinders, usually set at either a right angle or an acute angle to each other, with all six pistons driving a common crankshaft. It is the second most… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.