Chapter 4.

Engine Cylinder Configurations
In this chapter, different cylinder configurations for reciprocating engines and
pistonless (Wankel Rotary) engine are presented.

4.1. In-line Engine

The in-line engine (straight engine) is an internal-combustion engine configuration
with all cylinders aligned in one row, with no or only minimal offset. They are usually
found in 4, 5, and 6 cylinder configurations (I4, I5, and I6).

An in-line engine is considerably easier to build than an otherwise equivalent
horizontally opposed or V engine because the cylinder bank can be milled from a single
metal casting and it requires fewer cylinder heads and camshafts. In-line engines are also
much smaller in volume than other designs, and they can be mounted in any direction
(transverse or longitudinal installations). Straight configurations are simpler to build rather
than their V-shaped counterparts. Although six-cylinder engines are inherently balanced,
the four-cylinder models are inherently off balance and rough, unlike 90 0 V4 and
horizontally opposed (boxer) 4 cylinders [1].

4.2. V Engine

A V engine is a common configuration for an internal combustion engine. The
cylinders and pistons are aligned in two separate planes, so that they appear to be in a "V"
when viewed along the axis of the crankshaft. The V configuration reduces the overall
engine length, height and weight compared to an equivalent straight engine. Corresponding
pistons at each bank share the same crank pin on the crankshaft in V engines. Number of
crank throws is equal to the half of the pistons.

Some V configurations are well-balanced and smooth, while others are less smoothly
running than their equivalent straight counterparts. With an optimal angle V16’s have even
firing and exceptional balance. The cross plane V8 can be balanced with counterweights on
the crankshaft. V12’s, being in effect two I6 engines married together, always have even
Fall 2014

BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4


and V10.3. it is a lot narrower [3]. b) V. A wider V6 engine of conventional design would have required lengthening existing vehicles to provide enough crumple zone between the front of the vehicle and the engine. 4. V6. and c) VR6 [3]. The VR6 was specifically designed for transverse installation in front wheel drive vehicles. it was possible to install a six-cylinder engine within the existing Volkswagen four-cylinder-model engine bays.firing and exceptional balance regardless of angle. it is nearly as smooth as an I6. such as the V2. flat plane V8. as a result.1. The VR6 is able to use the firing interval of an I6 engine and. Figure 4. The narrow angle between cylinder banks also allows just two camshafts to drive all of the valves and a single cylinder head to be used. Hence VR6 can be roughly translated as "inline V6 engine". Cross sectional view of three types of engines: a) In-line. By using the narrow 15° VR6 engine. Others. show increased vibration and generally require balance shafts [2]. Volkswagen launched the VR6 engine. Cross sectional and cylinder layout schematics of I4. The V6 has the length equals to 3 and a half cylinder in-line.1 and 4. V6 and a VR6 engines are given in Figures 4. The name VR6 comes from a combination of V engine (German: V-Motor) and the German word "Reihenmotor" (straight engine). This simplifies engine construction and reduces costs. however. and between the engine and the passenger cell.2 respectively. V4. VR6 Engine In 1991. The VR6 approaches 4 and a half. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 2 .

It combined two narrow-angle VR6 engines around a single crankshaft for a total of four banks of cylinders. 4. one with four banks. Figure 4. all connected to one crankshaft (Figure 4.Figure 4. and one with two banks of cylinders and two crankshafts. There have been three entirely different implementations of this concept: one with three banks of cylinders.3) [5]. The Volkswagen Group created the first successful automotive W engine with the introduction of their W12. W Engine The W engine is an engine configuration in which the cylinder banks resemble the letter W in the same way a V engine resembles the letter V. Classical W Engine Napier Lion II at Canada Aviation Museum [5].3.4. The classical W engine uses three banks of cylinders. V6 and a VR6 engines [4].2. Cylinder layouts of an I4. For this reason. the four-bank Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 3 .

that is. (a) (b) Figure 4. and the Bentley Continental GT—though in the latter application. each pair of corresponding pistons from each bank of cylinders share one crank pin on the crankshaft. b) cylinder layout of the Volkswagen W12 engine [4]. either by master/slave rods or by two ordinary rods side by Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 4 .5. they contain high number of cylinders but are relatively compact. the motion of all the pistons is in the horizontal plane. in which the cylinders are arranged in two banks on either side of a single crankshaft.4). and more accurately. The W12 is used in the Volkswagen Phaeton. In both configurations. A straight engine canted 90 degrees from straight up is a flat engine.configuration is sometimes. in that it has just two cylinder heads and two sets of camshafts [4]. the engine has been highly modified by Bentley and fitted with twin turbochargers. As a result. the Audi A8. Flat Engine A flat engine is an internal combustion engine with pistons that are all relatively horizontal. The major advantage of these engines is packaging. Usually. 4. it produces considerably more power than the original version. The narrow (15°) angle between bank pairs makes this resemble a V12 engine. the Volkswagen Touareg. referred to as a "VV" ("vee-vee" or "double-vee") to distinguish it from the traditional three-bank "W" design (Figure 4.4. a) End view.

and have a lower center of gravity than any other common configuration. Boxer engines with 4 cylinders are more balanced and run smoother compared to the in-line 4 cylinder engine. The flat configuration also lends itself very well with air cooling and aircraft engines. The Chevrolet Corvair used an air-cooled flat-6. The 180° V engine. however. The extra width may cause problems fitting the engine into the engine bay of a front wheel driven car owing to the interference with the steering wheels. These engines. and thus each will reach top dead center half a crankshaft revolution after the other. The boxer engine has flat cylinder configuration and the corresponding pistons reach top dead center simultaneously. Some authorities divide flat engines into boxer engines which do not share crank pins in this way. where its width does not interfere with the steering of the front wheels. Flat engines with more than eight cylinders are most commonly V engines. and create cornering problems for a motorcycle. Flat engines are shorter than in-line engines. Automobiles and motorcycles powered by a flat engine generally have a lower center of gravity. Air-cooled designs such as in the VW Beetle used a flat-4. Flat engine cylinder layout [6]. Figure 4. as did the Porsche 356 and 912. in which corresponding pistons share a crank pin on the crankshaft. These automobiles situate the engine in the rear rather than the front. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 5 . are also wider than more traditional configurations and are more expensive to build.side. and 180° V engines which do. giving better stability and control. at first air cooled but later models are water-cooled.5. Both the older and newer models of the Porsche 911 use a flat-6.

There existed two versions: one with a displacement of 250 cm³. some heat from the fuel heats the piston head rather than expanding the gases to force pistons apart. a) VW Beetle flat-4 engine. with a piston at each end and no cylinder head. (a) (b) Figure 4. The fuel is burned inside the engine to expand gases to force pistons apart.6.7. the layout of an Otto cycle two-stroke engine similar to the prewar DKW race engine is shown. This results in a loss of efficiency. BMW uses an air-cooled or partially oil-cooled flat-twin in many of its motorcycles [6]. and one with 350 cm³ displacement. Opposed Piston Engine An opposed piston engine is one in which the cylinders are double-ended. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 6 .6. The main advantages of the opposed piston design is efficiency. b) Honda Gold Wing flat-4 motorcycle engine [6]. Subaru used front mounted water cooled flat 4 in all of mid-size cars. The engine had two cylinders with four pistons. The opposed piston Junkers Jumo 205 diesel was one example of this engine type. 4. two crankshafts and a supercharger. In an engine with one cylinder head per piston. The fuel-air mixture was produced by a carburetor [7]. In Figure 4. The crankshafts were connected by gears.Front-mounted air-cooled flat-twin engines were used by Citroën in their model 2CV and its derivatives.

7. Schematic of opposed piston engine [7]. This configuration was very commonly used in aircraft engines before being superseded by turboshaft and turbojet engines. original: Centrix) 3) Air box to buffer and distribute the mixture 4) Waste valve to limit the pressure level 5) Outlet crank mechanism 6) Inlet crank mechanism (runs approximately 20° past the outlet to achieve an asymmetric control diagram) 7) Cylinder with inlet and outlet slots 8) Exhaust 9) Water cooling jacket 10) Sparkplug Figure 4.7. 4. The remaining pistons pin their connecting rods attachments to rings around the edge of the master rod. One piston has a master rod with a direct attachment to the crankshaft.1) Intake for the fuel-air mixture 2) Supercharger (here: rotary vane pump. Four-stroke radials almost always have an odd number of Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 7 . In a radial engine the pistons are connected to the crankshaft with a master-andarticulating-rod assembly. Radial Engine The radial engine is a reciprocating type internal combustion engine configuration in which the cylinders point outward from a central crankshaft like the spokes on a wheel.

Because the cylinders themselves functioned as a flywheel. A rotary engine is a standard Otto cycle engine. The design was used mostly in the years shortly before and during World War I to power aircraft. the crankshaft remains stationary and the entire cylinder block rotates around it. a) Radial engine cylinder layout. In the most common form. The effect of rotating the bulk of the engine's mass was an inherent large gyroscopic flywheel effect. Rotary Engine The rotary engine was an early type of internal combustion aircraft engine in which the crankshaft remains stationary and the entire cylinder block revolves around it. which smoothed out the power delivery and reduced vibration.cylinders. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 8 . providing smooth running (Figure 4. but instead of having a fixed cylinder block with rotating crankshaft as with the radial engine. b) radial engine in a biplane [8]. (a) (b) Figure 4. so that a consistent every-other-piston firing order can be maintained.8. the crankshaft was fixed solidly to an aircraft frame. and the propeller simply bolted onto the front of the cylinder block (Figure 4.8) [8]. Vibration had been such a serious problem on conventional piston engine designs that heavy flywheels had to be added. and also saw use in a few early motorcycles and cars.9). 4.8.

Unlike the rotary engine. Pistonless Rotary (Wankel) Engine A pistonless rotary engine is an internal combustion engine that does not use pistons in the way a reciprocating engine does. however. Felix Wankel completed his first working prototype in 1957 at NSU. The only commercial producer of (pistonless) automobile rotary engines as of 2005 is Mazda [10]. to provide smooth running. so that a consistent every-other-piston firing order could be maintained. Like radial engines. The copper pipes carry the fuel-air mixture from the crankcase to the cylinder heads [9]. but instead uses one or more rotors. radial engines use a conventional rotating crankshaft in a fixed engine block. rotaries were generally built with an odd number of cylinders (usually either 7 or 9). Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 9 .9.9. a typical rotary of WWI. An example of a pistonless rotary engine is the Wankel engine. [9] Figure 4. Rotary and radial engines look strikingly similar when they are not running and can easily be confused. since both have cylinders arranged radially around a central crankshaft.rotary piston engines typically had a power-to-weight ratio advantage over more conventional engines. 4. sometimes called rotary pistons. Le Rhône 9C.

Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 10 .10. thus for each eccentric (output) shaft revolution there is one power pulse. a) Major components of the Wankel rotary engine. Thus the rotor rotates and orbits around the shaft axis.13). Figure 4. The rotor revolves directly on the eccentric.There are two rotating parts in Wankel engines: the triangular-shaped rotor and the output shaft with its integral eccentric (Figure 4. therefore. Figure 1. each chamber produces one power stroke. As rotor makes one complete revolution. and exhaust processes of the four stroke cycle for the chamber defined by rotor surface AB ([11]. The rotor has an internal timing gear which meshes with the fixed timing gear on one side housing to maintain the correct phase relationship between the rotor and eccentric shaft rotations. Three power pulses occur. The combustion chamber lies between the center housing and rotor surface and is sealed by seals at the apex of the rotor and around the perimeters of the rotor sides. during which the eccentric shaft rotates through three revolutions.10). compression. Breathing is through ports in the center housing. power. for each rotor revolution. b) induction.

11. less vibration. the two rotors are out of phase to provide a greater number of torque pulses per shaft revolution. the rotor must also seal against the chamber ends. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 11 . Figure 4. The combustion chamber is cut out in each rotor face. mechanical simplicity. in three dimensions the reverse is the case. Although in two dimensions the seal system of a Wankel looks to be even simpler than that of a corresponding multi-cylinder piston engine. However seal system in Wankel rotary engine is the obstacle to widely usage of that engine. [11]). Advantages of Wankel rotary engines are higher power-to-weight ratio. As well as the rotor apex seals evident in the conceptual diagram.As seen in Figure 4.11.14. Cutaway drawing of two-rotor Wankel spark ignition engine (Figure 1.

Pistonless Rotary 4. Radial Engine. John However. 3. References 1. Wikipedia. 5.wikipedia. http://en. 11. W Engines. http://en. Straight Engines. AutoZine Technical School.wikipedia. Wikipedia. rather than to the crankcase. http://en. the less effective sealing of the Wankel is one factor reducing its efficiency. Each has a gap in fact to allow for expansion. Rotary Engine. Wikipedia. 7. http://en.wikipedia. Moreover the sealing at the Wankel apexes is less critical. Mc Graw Hill Book Company. 1998.html.wikipedia. Wikipedia. 4. http://en. http://en. Wikipedia. http://en. 2.Piston rings are not perfect seals. VR6 Engine.wikipedia. Wikipedia.wikipedia. Opposed Piston Flat Engines. http://www. 9. 6. http://en.wikipedia. Volkswagen's VR6 and W-engines. 8. Fall 2014 BU ME AUTO 524 – Chapter 4 12 .org/wiki/W_engine. Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals. 10.wikipedia. and confining its success mainly to applications such as racing engines and sports vehicles where neither efficiency nor long engine life are major considerations. as leakage is between adjacent chambers on adjacent strokes of the cycle. Wikipedia. http://en. V (ISBN: 0-07-100499-8).