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Crankshaft balance factors

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If you look at an old crankshaft from a large engine, such as a steam engine that might be found on a ship, you may notice that it has no counterweighting. The engine speeds that were common at that time were so slow that it seems wrong to use the word ‘speed’ at all. However, with low engine speeds, it was not necessary to provide any balance weighting to counter the rotating mass of the crankpin and the part of the con rod mass that can be considered to rotate along with the...

Eccentric shafts for rotary (Wankel) engines

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Wankel engines seem to provoke either indifference or passion in engineers. I fondly remember the times when the British motorcycle racing scene was excited by the presence of the works Nortons, the engines being based on the same units that carried the British police motorcyclists along the roads; to use the word ‘propel’ or ‘power’ seems wrong, because the police bikes were singularly unimpressive. However, the Norton race bikes were anything but. They were...

Taking advantage of centrifugal forces for oil systems

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Crankshafts are at the heart of the vast majority of race engines; only the occasional rotary engine doesn’t have one, and even then it has something that plays a very similar role. The cranktrain, comprising the piston assembly, con rod and crankshaft, converts the reciprocating motion of the piston into a rotary motion that we can use to drive a gearbox or, as we might find in future, an electric generator. The crankshaft itself rotates in bearings in the crankcases, and at very...

Visco-elastic dampers

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In the recent series of RET-Monitor articles on crankshafts, we have looked at various designs of vibration dampers/absorbers that can help protect engines from the effects of torsional vibration. There is a wide variety of basic concepts and many variations on each, while some concepts that have disappeared from engines would be more viable these days thanks to new materials, production methods and the ability to engineer the surfaces of components. As with many aspects of powertrain...

More on dampers

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In the previous couple of RET-Monitor articles under this keyword, we have looked at ways to control torsional vibrations in crankshafts. It would be possible to expand on this almost indefinitely, as there is a huge number of devices that have been used with success in engines in the past. Many of them are very complex and lend themselves to use on very large engines rather than the much smaller race engines we are used to working with, simply because the components can be made at a...