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 Rod Ratio - Dynamics
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Forces on the cylinder wall and crankshaft

In the article on piston kinematics we investigated the piston position, speed, and acceleration as it moves up and down the cylinder bore. The effect of rod-ratio on piston acceleration was of particular interest, as this acceleration of the piston at TDC and BDC leads to large forces on the bearings (rod and main), as well as on the wristpin.

In this article we concentrate on the forces caused by combustion, as opposed to forces caused simply by piston motion. We know that the pressure from combustion produces a force on the piston which is transferred to the crank via the rod. But due to the fact that the rod is free to rotate at both ends, there is also a "resultant" force produced, which pushes the piston into the cylinder wall.

This force is the "side-wall load" and leads to power robbing friction as well as faster component wear. Also, if the cylinder walls are thin (due to boring the block close to its limits) then the side-wall load can cause significant block distortion on the expansion stroke. This distortion adds even more friction, but it can also cause excessive blow-by of combustion gases due to improper ring sealing, leading to a loss of power.

Also of interest to engine builders is the actual percentage of the piston force that causes the crank to rotate. As with side-load, part of the force exerted by the rod onto the crank is perpendicular (normal) to the crank arm. And only this component of the rod force actually causes the crank to rotate, which leads to torque production. The remaining component of the rod force exerted onto the crank arm does nothing more than push on the bearings (rod, main and wrist-pin). This component produces no work and therefore no torque. So how does the normal force on the crank vary through the expansion cycle? And what effect does rod ratio have on this normal force? These are interesting questions.

The equations for both the side-wall load and the normal force on the crank are derived as shown in the following link:
Click here for a derivation side-wall load and crank normal force...

The equations resulting from the derivation can easily be plotted in a spreadsheet so that any peculiar trends can be observed.
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