You are on page 1of 9


Manufacturing and materials

Piston crowns attain a running temperature of about 450
C and in this zone there is a
need for high strength and minimum distortion in order to maintain resistance to gas
loads and maintain the attitude to the rings in relation to the liner. The heat flow path
from the crown must be uniform otherwise thermal distortion will cause a non-circular
piston resulting in reduced running clearance or even possible contact with the liner wall.
In addition to this thermal stress the are also sub!ect to compressive stress from
combustion and compression loads" as well as inertial loads.
#aterials such as pearlitic" fla$e and spheroidal cast iron" allo cast irons containing
%ic$el and chromium" and aluminium allos ma be used.
The determining factor is the design criteria for the engine.
&or a modern slow speed engine steel forging or castings of nic$el-chrome steel or
molbdenum steel are common. The weight of the material is not normall a governing
factor in this tpe of engine although resistance to thermal stress and distortion is.
'fficient cooling is a re(uired to ensure the piston retains sufficient strength to prevent
&or medium and high speed engines the weight of the material becomes important to
reduce the stresses on the rotating parts. The high thermal conductivit of aluminium
allos allied to its low weight ma$es this an ideal material. To $eep thermal stresses to a
reasonable level cooling pipes ma be cast into the crown" although this ma be omitted
on smaller engines.)here cooling is omitted" the crown is made thic$er both for strength
and to aid in the heat removal from the outer surface.
*ard landings are inserted into the ring groves to $eep wear rated down.Composite
pistons ma be used consisting of an cast allo steel crown with an aluminium-allo or
cast iron bod.
+fter casting or forging the component is formed of different material thic$nesses. The
thinner parts will cool more (uic$l thereb setting up internal stresses. +nnealing
removes or reduces these stresse as well as refining the grain structure.
)ater Cooled ,il Cooled
*igh specific heat capacit therefore
removes more heat per unit volume
-ow specific heat capacit
.e(uires chemical conditioning
treatment to prevent scaling
/oes not re(uire chemical treatment but re(uires
increased separate and purification plant
-arger capacit cooling water pump or
separate piston cooling pump and
coolers although less so than with oil
-arger capacit -ube oil pump" sump (uantit
and coolers
0pecial piping re(uired to get coolant to
and from piston without lea$
%o special means re(uired and lea$age not a
problem with less ris$ of hammering and bubble
Coolant drains tan$ re(uired to collect
water if engine has to be drained.
Increased capacit sump tan$ re(uired
Pistons often of more complicated
Thermal stresses in piston generall less in oil
cooled pistons
Cooling pumps ma be stopped more
(uic$l after engine stopped
-arge volumes of oil re(uired to $eep o1idation
down and e1tended cooling period re(uired after
engine stopped to prevent co$ing of oil
Wear rings
)ear rings are found on some slow speed engines emploing loop or cross flow
scavenging although the ma be found in most designs. The are made of a low
coefficient of friction material and serves two main purposes. To provide a rubbing
surface and to prevent contact between the hot upper surfaces of the piston and the liner
wall.In trun$ piston engines wear rings to negate the distortion effect caused b the
interference fit of the gudgeon pin .
The ring ma be inserted in two pieces into the groove then lightl caul$ed in with good
clearance between the ends.
B&W LMC oil cooled piston
The piston has a concave top. This is near self supporting and reduces the need for
internal ribbing. It prevents the cclic distortion of the top when under firing load. This
distortion can lead to fatigue and crac$ing
Pistons ma be cooled b oil or water. ,il has the advantage that it ma be supplied
simpl from the lubrication sstem up the piston rod. Its disadvantage are that ma1imum
temperatures is relativel low in order to avoid o1idised deposits which build up on the
surfaces. In addition the heat capacit of oil is much lower than that of water thus a
greater flow is re(uired and so pumps and pipewor$ must be larger. +lso" if the bearing
suppl oil is used as is mainl the case a greater capacit sump is re(uired with more oil
in use.
)ater does not have these problems" but lea$age into the cran$case can cause problems
with the oil 2such as #icro 3iol-/egradation4. The concave or dished piston profile is
used for most pistons because it is stronger than the flat top for the same section thic$ness
Sulzer watercooled piston (rnd)
Increasing section thic$ness would result in higher thermal stress.
0ulzer piston re(uire a flat top because of the scavengeing and e1haust flow arrangement
2loop scavengeing of .%/ etc4. in order to avoid thic$er sections internal support ribs are
used. *owever these ribs cause problems in that coolant flow is restricted. The flow of
water with an ./ piston is directed to and from the piston b telescopic pipes. The outlet
is positioned higher than the inlet within the cooling cavit and on the opposite side of
the support rib in order to ensure positive circulation.
)ith highl rated engines overheating occurred in stagnant flow areas between the ribs
and so a different form of cooling was re(uired. The coc$tail sha$er effect has air as well
as water in the cooling cavit as the piston reciprocates water washes over the entire
inner surface of the piston !ust as in a coc$tail sha$er. 5nfortunatel air bubbles become
trapped in the water and flow to outlet reducing the air content and removing the coc$tail
sha$er effect. To avoid this problem air must be supplied to the piston some engine
builders use air pumps feeding air to the inlet flow. The sulzer engine allows air to be
drawn into the flow at a speciall designed telescopic transfer sstem.
The telescopic arrangement is designed to prevent lea$age and allows air to be drawn into
the coolant flow to maintain the coc$tail sha$er effect. Consider the inlet telescopic" a
double nozzle unit is fitted to the top of the standpipe. 0mall holes allow connection from
the main seal to the space between the nozzles. )ater flowing through the lower nozzle is
sub!ect to pressure reduction and a velocit increase. The space between the nozzles is
therefore at a lower pressure than other parts of the sstem. +n water which lea$s past
the main seal is drawn through the radial holes into the low pressure region and hence
bac$ into the coolant flow.
The pumping action of the telescopic draws air past the lower seal and this is also drawn
through the radial holes into the coolant flow. This maintains the air (uantit in the piston
and so maintains the coc$tail sha$er effect.
The sulzer water cooled piston differs from that of the ,il cooled variet b the method it
uses for distributing the cooling medium. In tis case the piston is not continuall flooded
but instead contains a level governed b the outlet weir. Cooling of the crown occurs
during change of direction at the top of the stro$e b so called 6Coc$tail sha$er6 action.
Composite pistons
)ith medium speed and higher speed engines considerable inertia forces are placed on
the conn rod and bearings as the piston changes direction at the ends of the stro$e. The
amount of force is a factor of the speed and rotating mass. To reduce this force whilst
maintaining the same engine speed it is necessar to reduce this rotating mass.
+luminium" with its lower densit than steel is used when alloed with silicon for e1tra
strength. 'ven alloed the aluminium has less mechanical strength than the steel"
therefore damage is possible due to gas pressure acting on crown and piston rings. The
piston could deform sufficientl to prevent proper operation of the rings in their grooves.
0ome engine manufacturers fit cast iron inserts into the grooves but more generall the
piston is made in two parts with a cast steel crown containing two grooves.
+luminium has a better coefficient of heat transfer than steel thus overheating is not a
problem. Its lower coefficient of friction avoids the problems of fitting bushes for the
gudgeon pin" thus a floating gudgeon pin ma be used. The higher coefficient of
e1pansion could lead to the need for greater piston7liner clearance. *owever" as the main
bod is not sub!ect to the high temperatures of combustion this e1pansion is not a
Sulzer rotating piston
This piston rotates as it reciprocates. The rotation being brought about b the swing of the
con rod. This causes two spring loaded palls located in the spherical top end to oscillate.
These palls engage with a toothed rim which is connected to the piston b means of a
compensating spring. +s the conrod swings the palls act on the toothed rim causing it"
and hence the piston" to rotate. The amount of rotation is limited to one tooth pitch ever
engine rev and the action is similar to that of a ratchet mechanism. The advantage of this
is that local overheating of the piston or the liner due to blow past is prevented. .unning
in characteristics are improved and liner wear are improved. There is a better spread of
oil brought about b the piston rotation. + spherical top end is re(uired but this provides
better support for the piston which does not distort as much as one fitted with a gudgeon
pin. Piston to liner clearance ma therefore be reduced.
Transfer of gas loads from crown to piston rod
Is usuall transmitted from the reinforced crown to the piston rod b internal mechanism
avoiding possible distortion of the ring belt.
The tops of pistons are made dome shaped or have strong internal ribbing.
Termal distortion of Piston
Anti!Polising rings
*igh topland 2 the 8st piston ring is positioned will below the upper surface of the piston4
with asociated reduced ring heat load has given better ring pac$ performance b
improving wor$ing conditions for the clinder lube oil. The disadvantage of this sstem
is that a co$e build up can occur aboth the piston which leads to 6bore polishing6. This
polishing reduces the abilit of the clinder lube oil to 6$e6 into the liner therefore
increased clinder lube oil consumption7increased liner wear can result. To combat this
piston cleaning rings are incorporated into the liner. These slightl reduce the bore
removing the depoisits.
Modern "esign
The top piston ring is moved further down the piston. This allows the crown to enter
deeper into the crown reducing temperature and pressure on the liner. The top piston ring
is a 6Controlled Pressure relief6 2CP.4 ring. This design has several obli(ue shallow
grooves in the piston ring face allowing some gas presure to pass through to the 9nd ring
thereb reducing load on the top ring. To reduce blowpast an 606 tpe !oint is formed n the
ring ends