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Piston ring

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Horizontal steam engine. The piston is shown at D. The three piston rings prevent steam from escaping between
chambers A and B.

Piston ring. The piston ring (PR) is a split band pressed against the wall of the cylinder by springs (S) mounted in the
inner "junk ring" (JR). The tongue (T) maintains the seal as the ring expands and splits apart.
Spring-loaded piston rings.

A pair of piston rings mounted on a 47mm two-stroke cycle scooter piston.

A piston ring is a split ring that fits into a groove on the outer diameter of a piston in a reciprocating
engine such as an internal combustion engine or steam engine.
The main functions of piston rings in reciprocating engines are:

1. Sealing the combustion chamber so that there is minimal loss of gases to the crank case.
2. Improving heat transfer from the piston to the cylinder wall.
3. Maintaining the proper quantity of the oil between the piston and the cylinder wall
4. Regulating engine oil consumption by scraping oil from the cylinder walls back to the sump.[1]
The gap in the piston ring compresses to a few thousandths of an inch when inside the cylinder bore.
Piston rings are a major factor in identifying if an engine is two stroke or four stroke. Three piston rings
suggest that it is a four stroke engine while two piston rings suggest that it is a two stroke engine. Most
piston rings are made of a very hard and somewhat brittle cast iron.


 1History
 2Automotive
 3Wear due to ring load on the bore
 4Fitting new piston rings
 5See also
 6References
 7External links

The split piston ring was invented by John Ramsbottom who reported the benefits to the Institution of
Mechanical Engineers in 1854. It soon replaced the hemp packing hitherto used in steam engines.[2] The
use of piston rings at once dramatically reduced the frictional resistance, the leakage of steam, and the
mass of the piston, leading to significant increases in power and efficiency and longer maintenance

Piston rings have been an area of considerable focus and development for internal combustion engines.
The needs of diesel engines and small piston-ported two-stroke engines have been particularly difficult.
Piston rings may account for a considerable proportion of the total friction in the engine, as much as
24%.[3][4] This high friction is a result of the design compromises needed to achieve good sealing and long
lifetime. Sealing is achieved by multiple rings, each with their own function, using a metal-on-metal
sliding contact.
Rings are also sprung to increase this contact force and to maintain a close seal, either by the stiffness of
the ring itself or by a separate spring behind the seal ring. It is important that rings float freely in their
grooves within the piston, so that they can stay in contact with the cylinder. Rings binding in the piston,
usually due to a build-up of either combustion products or a breakdown of the lubricating oil, is a common
cause of failure, especially for diesel engines.
Lubrication of piston rings is difficult and has been a driving force to improvements in the quality of motor
oil. The oil must survive high temperatures and harsh conditions with a high-speed sliding contact.
Lubrication is particularly difficult as the rings have an oscillating motion rather than continuous rotation,
as for a bearing journal. At the limits of piston movement, the ring stops and reverses direction. This
disrupts the normal oil wedge effect of a hydrodynamic bearing, leading to pronounced wear and the
formation of a 'step' in the cylinder bore around the height of the upper ring. Noting that some sleeve
valve engines suffered far less from such wear, complex designs such as a rotating cylinder liner have been
considered, just to address this problem.[5]
Most automotive pistons have three rings: The top two, while also controlling oil, are primarily for
compression sealing (compression rings). Meanwhile, the lower ring is for controlling the supply of oil to
the liner, which lubricates the piston skirt and the compression rings (oil control rings). At least two piston
rings are found on most piston and cylinder combinations. Typical compression ring designs will have an
essentially rectangular cross section or a keystone (right angled trapezoidal) cross section. The periphery
will then have either a barrel profile (for the top compression rings) or a taper napier form (for the second
compression ring or scraper ring). There are some taper-faced top rings as well, and on some old engines
simple plain-faced rings were used.
Oil control rings typically are of three types:

1. single piece cast iron

2. helical spring backed cast iron or steel
3. multipiece steel
The spring-backed oil rings and the cast iron oil rings have essentially the same range of peripheral forms,
which consist of two scraping lands of various detailed form. The multipiece oil control rings usually
consist of two rails or segments (these are thin steel rings) with a spacer-expander spring which keeps the
two rails apart and provides the radial load.
The piston might be a fairly loose fit in the cylinder. If it were a tight fit, it would expand as it got hot and
might stick tight in the cylinder. If a piston sticks (seizes) it could cause serious damage to the engine. On
the other hand, if there is too much clearance between the piston and cylinder walls, the ultimate result will
be insufficient sealing of the piston rings against the cylinder walls, and thus much of the pressure from the
burning gasoline vapour will leak past the piston (a condition known as blow-by) and into the crankcase.
In such a situation, the push on the piston from combustion will be much less effective in delivering

Wear due to ring load on the bore[edit]

Piston rings are subject to wear as they move up and down the cylinder bore due to their own inherent load
and due to the gas load acting on the ring. To minimize this, they are made of wear-resistant materials,
such as cast iron and steel, and are coated or treated to enhance the wear resistance.
In two-stroke engines, the port design is additionally critical to ring life. In modern motorcycle engines,
various proprietary shapes are used to help maximize ring longevity. Examples include specialized port
shapes such as tapered serrations and the use of various combinations of heat-treating and special coatings
applied by PVD (physical vapour deposition) processes and other techniques. Typically, top ring and oil
control rings will be coated with chromium,[6] or Nitrided,[7] possibly plasma sprayed [8] or have a
PVD [9] ceramic coating. For enhanced scuff resistance and further improved wear, most modern diesel
engines have top rings coated with a modified chromium coating known as CKS[6]or GDC,[6] a patent
coating from Goetze which has aluminium oxide or diamond particles respectively included in the chrome
surface. The lower oil control ring is designed to leave a lubricating oil film, a few micrometres thick on
the bore, as the piston descends. Three piece oil rings, i.e. with two rails and one spacer, are used for four-
stroke gasoline engines.

Fitting new piston rings[edit]

Piston ring, in different configurations:

A) Rectangular section
B) Barrel face
C) keystone
D) Torsional twist
E) Taper face
F) Dykes
Which also differ for the type of retainer band:
Y) Behind-band
X) Above or under-band
Or for the ends that work without firm stops:
K) Step
J) Oblique
W) Oblique with step (there are several variations)
When fitting new piston rings or breaking them in within an engine, the end gap is a crucial measurement.
In order that a ring may be fitted into the "grooves" of the piston, it is not continuous but is broken at one
point on its circumference. The ring gap may be checked by placing the ring into the bore/liner (squared to
bore) and measuring it with a feeler gauge. The end gap should be within recommended limits for size of
bore and intended "load" of engine. Because metals expand with a rise in temperature, too small a gap may
result in overlapping or bending when used under hot running conditions (racing, heavy loads, towing)
and, even at normal temperatures, an undersized ring gap may lead to ring-gap closure, ring breakage, bore
damage and possible seizure of the piston. Too large a gap may give unacceptable compression and levels
of blow-by gases or oil consumption. When piston gap is measured in a used bore, it may serve to indicate
either excessive bore wear or ring wear, or a combination of both types of wear. (Radial wear on the ring
face reduces the effective thickness of the used/worn ring, thereby essentially decreasing the face
circumference of the ring. This increases the size of the ring's end gap.)
It is considered good practice to build a new engine with the ring gaps staggered around the circumference
of the bore. This means that any escaping gas must negotiate a labyrinth before escaping past the rings.
However, while the engine is running, the rings will tend to rotate around the piston and not remain in the
position as fitted. Many rings will then stick in one spot at random and remain there for the life of the
engine. For this reason, ring position during build cannot be considered to be important, although most
engine builders would feel uncomfortable assembling an engine with the gaps aligned.
When fitting new rings to a used engine, special "ridge dodger" rings are sometimes used for the top
compression ring, to improve compression and oil consumption without reboring the cylinder. These have
a small step of iron removed from the top section to avoid making contact with any wear ridge at the top of
the cylinder, which could break a conventional ring. These are not widely recommended, however, as they
are usually not required and may give inferior oil consumption. A more acceptable method is to remove
the wear ridge with a "ridge reamer" tool before lightly honing the bore to accept new rings. In fact, if the
"ridge " is measured it will generally be apparent it is not really a ridge but a relatively local hollow caused
by the top ring near the ring reversal point. The upper edge of this hollow will take the form of a "ramp"
about 2mm long from the point of maximum wear to the point of zero wear. In this case, there is not
actually any ridge to hit, so light honing may be all that is required.
During engine assembly, a piston-ring compressor is used to evenly squeeze the rings long enough to slide
the piston into the cylinder.
Rings are not a very expensive part, but fitting new ones is very costly on most engines. This is because in
order to fit them, the mechanic must dismantle a large part of the engine so labour costs are the major
factor. However, on some simple engines, such as lightweight two-stroke engines found in motorcycles,
piston ring replacement is generally straightforward and relatively quick.

See also[edit]
 Obturator ring

1. ^ Piston Ring Handbook. Federal-Mogul Burscheid GmbH. August 2008.
2. ^ Alex Weiss (2008). Bearings. Special Interest Model Books.
3. ^ VDi-richtlinie 2840 Kohlenstoffschichten, Grundlagen, Schichttypen, Eigenschafte
4. ^ "Piston Ring Coating Reduces Gasoline Engine Friction" (PDF). Federal-Mogul.
5. ^ Dimitrios Dardalis, PhD (February 2004). "Rotating Liner Engine: A New Approach to Reduce Engine
Friction and Increase Fuel Economy in Heavy Duty Engines" (PDF). Austin, TX: RLE Technologies, Inc.
6. ^ Jump up to:a b c "Wear-Resistant Peripheral Coatings". Retrieved 2010-07-04.
7. ^ "Wear-Resistant Peripheral Coatings". Retrieved 2010-07-04.
8. ^ "Wear-Resistant Peripheral Coatings". Retrieved 2010-07-04.
9. ^ "Wear-Resistant Peripheral Coatings". Retrieved 2010-07-04.

External links[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has
media related to Piston

 Tech Tips for Automotive Mechanics

 Federal-Mogul Piston Ring Handbook
 Piston Ring Museum
 Construction of Piston Rings
 Types of Ring Gaps for Piston and Seal Rings
 Glossary of Ring Gaps types


Automotive engine


Aircraft piston engine components, systems and terminology


 Pistons
 Seals (mechanical)
 Engine technology
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 This page was last edited on 18 March 2018, at 21:40 (UTC).

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