POSITION AND NUMBER OF CYLINDERS OF RECIPROCATING ENGINES BASIC AND TUTORIALS




(a) Single Cylinder. Engine has one cylinder and piston connected to the crankshaft.

(b) In-Line. Cylinders are positioned in a straight line, one behind the other along the length of the crankshaft. They can consist of 2 to 11 cylinders or possibly more. In-line four-cylinder engines are very common for automobile and other applications. In-line six and eight cylinders are historically common automobile engines. In-line engines are sometimes called straight (e.g., straight six or straight eight).

(c) V Engine. Two banks of cylinders at an angle with each other along a single crankshaft. The angle between the banks of cylinders can be anywhere from 15° to 120°, with 60°-90° being common. V engines have even numbers of cylinders from 2 to 20 or more. V6s and V8s are common automobile engines, with V12s and V16s (historic) found in some luxury and high-performance vehicles.

(d) Opposed Cylinder Engine. Two banks of cylinders opposite each other on a single crankshaft (a V engine with a 180°V). These are common on small aircraft and some automobiles with an even number of cylinders from two to eight or more. These engines are often called flat engines (e.g., flat four).

(e) W Engine. Same as a V engine except with three banks of cylinders on the same crankshaft. Not common, but some have been developed for racing automobiles, both modern and historic. Usually 12 cylinders with about a 60° angle between each bank.

(f) Opposed Piston Engine. Two pistons in each cylinder with the combustion chamber in the center between the pistons. A single-combustion process causes two power strokes at the same time, with each piston being pushed away from the center and delivering power to a separate crankshaft at each end of the cylinder. Engine output is either on two rotating crankshafts or on one crankshaft incorporating complex mechanical linkage.

(g) Radial Engine. Engine with pistons positioned in a circular plane around the central crankshaft. The connecting rods of the pistons are connected to a master rod which, in turn, is connected to the crankshaft. A bank of cylinders on a radial engine always has an odd number of cylinders ranging from 3 to 13 or more.

Operating on a four-stroke cycle, every other cylinder fires and has a power stroke as the crankshaft rotates, giving a smooth operation. Many medium- and large-size propeller-driven aircraft use radial engines.

For large aircraft, two or more banks of cylinders are mounted together, one behind the other on a single crankshaft, making one powerful, smooth engine. Very large ship engines exist with up to 54 cylinders, six banks of 9 cylinders each.

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