Cylinder (engine)


Cylinder (engine)
Illustration of an engine cylinder with a cross-section view of the piston, connecting rod, valves and spark plug.

A cylinder is the central working part of a reciprocating engine or pump, the space in which a piston travels. Multiple cylinders are commonly arranged side by side in a bank, or engine block, which is typically cast from aluminum or cast iron before receiving precision machine work. Cylinders may be sleeved (lined with a harder metal) or sleeveless — with a wear-resistant coating such as Nikasil.

A cylinder's displacement, or swept volume, can be calculated by multiplying its cross-sectional area (the square of half the bore by pi ) and again by the distance the piston travels within the cylinder (the stroke). The engine displacement can be calculated by multiplying the swept volume of one cylinder by the number of cylinders.

A piston is seated inside each cylinder by several metal piston rings fitted around its outside surface in machined grooves; typically two for compressional sealing and one to seal the oil. The rings make near contact with the cylinder walls (sleeved or sleeveless), riding on a thin layer of lubricating oil – essential to keep the engine from seizing and necessitating a cylinder wall's durable surface.

During the earliest stage of an engine's life, its initial 'breaking-in' or 'running-in' period, tiny irregularities in the metals are encouraged to gradually form congruent grooves by avoiding extreme operating conditions. Later in its life, after mechanical wear has increased the spacing between the piston and the cylinder – with a consequent decrease in power output – the cylinders may be machined to a slightly larger diameter to receive new sleeves (where applicable) and piston rings, a process sometimes known as 'reboring'.

Contents

Heat engines

Cylinder with piston in a double acting steam engine

Heat engines, including Stirling engines, are sealed machines using pistons within cylinders to transfer energy from a heat source to a colder reservoir, often using steam or another gas as the working substance. (See Carnot cycle.) The first illustration depicts a longitudinal section of a cylinder in a steam engine. The sliding part at the bottom is the piston, and the upper sliding part is a distribution valve (in this case of the D slide valve type) that directs steam alternately into either end of the cylinder. Refrigerators and air conditioners are heat engines driven in reverse cycle as pumps.

Internal combustion engines

Malossi air-cooled cylinder for two-stroke scooters. The exhaust port is visible to the right.
Four-stroke cycle (or Otto cycle)
1. Intake
2. Compression
3. Power
4. Exhaust
Air-cooled boxer engine on a 1954 BMW motorcycle

Internal combustion engines operate on the inherent volume change accompanying oxidation of gasoline (petrol), diesel fuel (or some other hydrocarbon) or ethanol, an expansion which is greatly enhanced by the heat produced. They are not classical heat engines since they expel the working substance, which is also the combustion product, into the surroundings.

The reciprocating motion of the pistons is translated into crankshaft rotation via connecting rods. As a piston moves back and forth, a connecting rod changes its angle; its distal end has a rotating link to the crankshaft. In addition to cylinder-piston engines, there are also rotary turbines. The Wankel engine is a rotary adaptation of the cylinder-piston concept which has been used by Mazda and NSU in automobiles. Rotary engines are relatively quiet because they lack the clatter of reciprocating motion.

Air-cooled engines generally use individual cases for the cylinders to facilitate cooling. Inline motorcycle engines are an exception, having two-, three-, four-, or even six-cylinder air-cooled units in a common block. Water-cooled engines with only a few cylinders may also use individual cylinder cases, though this makes the cooling system more complex. The Ducati motorcycle company, which for years used air-cooled motors with individual cylinder cases, retained the basic design of their V-twin engine while adapting it to water-cooling.

In some engines, especially French designs, the cylinders have "wet liners". They are formed separately from the main casting so that liquid coolant is free to flow around their outsides. Wet-lined cylinders have better cooling and a more even temperature distribution, but this design makes the engine as a whole somewhat less rigid.

A typical four-cylinder automobile engine has a single row of water-cooled cylinders. V engines (V6 or V8) use two angled cylinder banks. The "V" configuration is utilized to create a more compact configuration relative to the amount of cylinders. Many other engine configurations exist.

During use, the cylinder is subject to wear from the rubbing action of the piston rings and piston skirt. This is minimized by the thin oil film which coats the cylinder walls and also by a layer of glaze which naturally forms as the engine is run-in, but eventually the cylinder becomes worn and slightly oval in shape, usually necessitating a rebore to an oversize diameter and the fitting of new, oversize pistons. The cylinder does not wear above the highest point reached by the top compression ring of the piston, which can result in a detectable ridge. If an engine is only operated at low rpm for its early life (e.g. in a gently driven automobile) then abruptly used in the higher rpm range (e.g. by a new owner), the slight stretching of the connecting rods at high speed can enable the top compression ring to contact the wear ridge, breaking the ring. For this reason it is important that all engines, once initially run-in, are occasionally "exercised" through their full speed range to develop a tapered wear profile rather than a sharp ridge.

Cylinder sleeving

Cylinder walls can become very worn or damaged from use. In such cases the use of a sleeve or liner can restore proper clearances to an engine. Sleeves are made out of iron alloys and are very reliable. A sleeve is installed by a machinist at a machine shop. The engine block is mounted on a precision boring machine where the cylinder is then bored to a size much larger than normal and a new cast-iron sleeve can be inserted. The sleeves can be pressed into place, or they can be held in by an interference fit. The interference fit is done by boring the cylinder (between 3 to 6 thousandths of an inch) smaller than the sleeve being installed, then heating the engine block and while hot, the cold sleeve can be inserted easily. When the engine block cools down it shrink fits around the sleeve holding it into place. Once a sleeve has been installed the cylinder needs to be finish bored and honed to match the piston.

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cylinder engine — Cylinder Cyl in*der (s?l ?n d?r), n. [F. cylindre, OF. cilindre, L. cylindrus, fr. Gr. ky lindros, fr. kyli ndein, kyli ein, to roll. Cf. {Calender} the machine.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Geom.) (a) A solid body which may be generated by the rotation… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Single-cylinder engine — A single cylinder motorcycle engine A single cylinder engine is a basic piston engine configuration of an internal combustion engine. It is often seen on motorcycles, auto rickshaws, motor scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, go karts, radio controlled… …   Wikipedia

  • Single cylinder engine — [ Four stroke cycle (or Otto cycle)] A single cylinder engine, colloquially known as a one lunger (or thumper in case of it being a large four cycle), is an engine configuration consisting of just one cylinder, the simplest arrangement possible… …   Wikipedia

  • 12 cylinder engine — can refer to: *Straight 12, a straight engine with twelve cylinders *V12 engine, a V engine with twelve cylinders *Flat 12, a flat engine with twelve cylinders *W12 engine, a W engine with twelve cylinders …   Wikipedia

  • Chevrolet 153 4-cylinder engine — Manufacturer Chevrolet Configuration Straight 4 Displacement 153 cubic inches (2.5 L) Cylinder bore 3.875 inches (98 mm) Piston stroke 3.25 inches (83& …   Wikipedia

  • Six cylinder engine — may refer to*V6 engine, a V engine with six cylinders. *Straight 6, an engine with six cylinders aligned in a single row …   Wikipedia

  • Revolving cylinder engine — The primary claimed benefit of the revolving cylinder, axial piston engine is that a 4 cycle, reciprocating piston engine can be achieved without the need for a complex and expensive valve train. The intake and exhaust flows are controlled by… …   Wikipedia

  • Volvo side valve six cylinder engine — Volvo introduced its first straight 6 engine in 1929. It was a side valve engine with a cast iron block and seven main bearings. These engines powered all six cylinder Volvo passenger cars and taxi cabs between 1929 and 1958.Versions:ee also*… …   Wikipedia

  • single-cylinder engine — An engine with just one cylinder such as used on some motorcycles and utility engines (e.g., lawn mower engine, water pump, portable generator, etc.) …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • opposed-cylinder engine — An engine with its cylinders arranged opposite each other in the same plane, with their connecting rods working on the same crankshaft. See horizontally opposed engine …   Aviation dictionary


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.