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Piston ring flutter

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Pistons rings are items that we are perhaps not accustomed to having to worry too much about, especially if our race engine is not of bespoke design. Once ‘bedded-in’, they normally form a reliable seal between the piston and bore. However, there is a particular case where piston rings can cause a problem owing to a vibration condition which is due to a combination of factors centred around the fundamental geometry of the engine, the mass of the piston rings, engine speed and the...

Piston pin design features

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In its most basic form the piston pin is simply a piece of round bar. However, very few engines – other than very basic, low-budget units – are equipped with solid gudgeon pins as standard. Of course, in the rarified world of racing, there are some applications where conventional technology won’t suffice, and we can also find solid piston pins in some tractor pull engines. It is usual though for engines in production cars and motorcycles, and almost all race engines, to be...

Oval pistons

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For those who don’t follow motorcycle racing or development, there may be interesting things – quite aside from the racing – which you are missing out on. However, even engineers who have a veritable aversion to motorcycles must have tried hard, if they were working in the 1980s or early 1990s, not to notice the development of the Honda oval-piston motorcycles. The top class of motorcycle racing had for some time been dominated by two-stroke motorcycles. The capacity limit...

The piston’s role in combustion efficiency

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We all understand the role of the piston in terms of the general operation of the engine. It is an important part of the pumping mechanism of the engine, drawing in and expelling the working fluid. It is also an important part of the combustion chamber, and it is this function of the piston that we will concentrate on here. The piston crown shape affects the flow of the fuel-air mixture into and around the chamber during the intake stroke. Its shape is particularly important where fuel is...

Piston rings – materials

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While there is always something new going on with piston design, we tend to see less obvious development with piston rings. Visually it is pretty obvious with a piston that someone has a new concept or idea, and we can see from looking at new pistons at various trade shows that fresh design concepts appear that take advantage of new materials or different manufacturing methods. Piston ring development is very much more incremental though – evolution rather than revolution. The...