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Balancing of crankshaft of four

cylinder and four stroke engine.

Submitted to:-

Mr.Jaspreet Singh
Lovely School Of Engineering-B
Deptt. Of Mechanical Engineering

Prepared by:-

Pathak Ratnesh Raman
Roll no-RB4912B37

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 Acknowledgement
 Introduction
 Various forces
 Single cylinder engine
 Multi cylinder engine
 Components of balancing
 Blue printing
 Generic balance technique
 Balance procedure
 Conclusion
 Internal vs external engine
 Invention background
 Advantage of balancing
 Refrences

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I take this opportunity to present my votes of thanks to all those guidepost who
really acted as lightening pillars to enlighten our way throughout this project
that has led to successful and satisfactory completion of this study. We are
really grateful to our HOD Mr. Gurpreet singh phull for providing us with an
opportunity to undertake this project in this university and providing us with all
the facilities. We are highly thankful to Mr.jaspreet singh for his active support,
valuable time and advice, whole-hearted guidance, sincere cooperation and
pains-taking involvement during the study and in completing the assignment of
preparing the said project within the time stipulated. Lastly, We are thankful to
all those, particularly the various friends , who have been instrumental in
creating proper, healthy and conductive environment and including new and
fresh innovative ideas for us during the project, their help, it would have been
extremely difficult for us to prepare the project in a time bound framework.

Pathak Ratnesh Raman


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Balanced combustion on reciprocating engines is important for reliable, emission-compliant

operation. Through the years, a number of engine balance techniques have been developed
and utilized. Unfortunately, no clear-cut standard has been established for engine balance
methodology or frequency. This paper will discuss the fundamentals of engine balance,
describe the history of balancing, and present the most current thinking on proper engine
balance technique, equipment, and frequency.

Engine balancing

In piston engine engineering, a balance shaft is an eccentric weighted shaft which

offsets vibrations in engine designs that are not inherently balanced (for example, most four-
cylinder engines). They were first invented and patented by British engineer Frederick
Lanchester in 1904.

Balance shafts are most common in inline four-cylinder engines which, due to the asymmetry
of their design, have an inherent second order vibration (vibrating at twice the engine RPM)
which cannot be eliminated no matter how well the internal components are balanced. Four-
cylinder flat engines in the boxer configuration have their pistons horizontally opposed, so
they are naturally balanced and do not incur the extra complexity, cost or power loss
associated with balance shafts (though the slight offset of the pistons introduces a rocking
couple). This vibration is generated because the movement of the connecting rods in an even-
firing four-cylinder inline engine is not symmetrical throughout the crankshaft rotation; thus
during a given period of crankshaft rotation, the descending and ascending pistons are not
always completely opposed in their acceleration, giving rise to a net vertical inertial force
twice in each revolution whose intensity increases quadratically with RPM, no matter how
closely the components are matched for weight.

The problem increases with larger engine displacement, since the only ways to achieve larger
displacement are with a longer piston stroke, increasing the difference in acceleration or by a
larger bore thereby increasing the mass of the pistons; either way, the magnitude of the
inertial vibration increases. For many years, two litres was viewed as the 'unofficial'
displacement limit for a production inline four-cylinder engine with acceptable noise,
vibration, and harshness (NVH) characteristics.

The basic concept has a pair of balance shafts rotating in opposite directions at twice the
engine speed. Equally-sized eccentric weights on these shafts are sized and phased so that
the inertialreaction to their counter-rotation cancels out in the horizontal plane, but adds in
the vertical plane, giving a net force equal to but 180 degrees out-of-phase with the undesired
second-order vibration of the basic engine, thereby canceling it. The actual implementation of

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the concept, however, is concrete enough to be patented. The basic problem presented by the
concept is adequately supporting andlubricating a part rotating at twice engine speed where
the second order vibration becomes unacceptable.

There is some debate as to how much power the twin balance shafts cost the engine. The
basic figure given is usually around 15 hp (11 kW), but this may be excessive for
pure friction losses. It is possible that this is a miscalculation derived from the common use
of an inertial dynamometer, which calculates power from angular acceleration rather than
actual measurement of steady state torque. The 15 hp (11 kW), then, includes both the actual
frictional loss as well as the increase in angular inertia of the rapidly rotating shafts, which
would not be a factor at steady speed. Nevertheless, some owners modify their engines by
removing the balance shafts, both to reclaim some of this power and to reduce complexity
and potential areas of breakage for high performance and racing use, as it is commonly (but
falsely) believed that the smoothness provided by the balance shafts can be attained after their
removal by careful balancing of the reciprocating components of the engine.

Engine balance is the design, construction and tuning of an engine to run smoothly.
Improving engine balance reduces vibration and other stresses and can improve the overall
performance, efficiency, cost of ownership and reliability of the engine, as well as reducing
the stress on other machinery near the engine.

These benefits are produced by:

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 Reduced need for a heavy flywheel or similar devices.

 Reduced wear.
 The opportunity to reduce the size and weight of components (other than the obvious one
of the flywheel) as a result of reduced stress and wear.
 Reduced vibration transmitted to the surroundings of the engine.
 The opportunity to extract more power from a given engine by:
 Higher maximum operating speeds made possible by reduced stress.
 Spreading loads equally over multiple components, for example if multiple
carburetors are poorly balanced, the maximum available throttle will be reduced.
Even a single cylinder engine can be balanced in many aspects. Multiple cylinder engines
offer far more opportunities for balancing, with each cylinder configuration offering its own
advantages and disadvantages so far as balance is concerned.

Inherent mechanical balance

Primary and secondary balance
Historically, engine designers have spoken of primary balance and secondary balance.
They are so called because they refer to vibration at the first and second harmonic of the
crank's rotational frequency, respectively. These excitations can produce both couples and
forces. Higher order harmonics also exist but, as the orders increase, the magnitudes
decrease, thus orders higher than the second are typically neglected. The source of the higher
orders is in the motion equation for a slider-crank mechanism, which forms the basis for
common reciprocating piston engines. Evaluation of the motion equation reveals an infinite
sinusoidal series, meaning there is actually no limit to the balancing orders.

Primary balance is the balance achieved by compensating for the eccentricities of the
masses in the rotating system, including the connecting rods. Primary balance is controlled by
adding or removing mass to or from the crankshaft, typically at each end, at the required
radius and angle, which varies both due to design and manufacturing tolerances. In theory,
any conventional engine design can be balanced perfectly for primary balance.

Secondary balance can include compensating (or being unable to compensate) for:

 The kinetic energy of the pistons.

 The non-sinusoidal motion of the pistons.
 The motion of the connecting rods.
 The sideways motion of balance shaft weights.

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The second of these is the main consideration for secondary balance. There are two main
control mechanisms for secondary balance—matching the phasing of pistons along the crank,
so that their second order contributions cancel and the use of Lanchester balance shafts,
which run at twice engine speed and so can provide a counteracting force.

No widely used engine configuration is perfectly balanced for secondary excitation.

However, by adopting particular definitions for secondary balance, particular configurations
can be correctly claimed to be reasonably balanced in these restricted senses. In particular,
the straight six, the flat six and the V12 configurations offer exceptional inherent mechanical
balance. Boxer eights with an appropriate configuration can eliminate all primary and
secondary balance problems, without the use of balancing shafts .

Vibrations not normally included in either primary or secondary balance include the
uneven firing patterns inherent in some configurations.

The above definitions exclude the dynamic effects due to flexure of the crankshaft and block
and ignores the loads in the bearings, which are one of the main considerations when
designing a crankshaft.

Single cylinder engines

A single cylinder engine produces three main vibrations. In describing them, it will be
assumed that the cylinder is vertical.

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Firstly, in an engine with no balancing counterweights, there would be an enormous vibration

produced by the change in momentum of the piston, gudgeon pin(wrist pin,US), connecting
rod andcrankshaft once every revolution. Nearly all single-cylinder crankshafts incorporate
balancing weights to reduce this.

While these weights can balance the crankshaft completely, they cannot completely balance
the motion of the piston, for two reasons. The first reason is that the balancing weights have
horizontal motion as well as vertical motion, so balancing the purely vertical motion of the
piston by a crankshaft weight adds a horizontal vibration. The second reason is that,
considering now the vertical motion only, the smaller piston end of the connecting rod (little
end) is closer to the larger crankshaft end (big end) of the connecting rod in mid-stroke than it
is at the top or bottom of the stroke, because of the connecting rod's angle. So during the 180°
rotation from mid-stroke through top-dead-centre and back to mid-stroke the minor
contribution to the piston's up/down movement from the connecting rod's change of angle has
the same direction as the major contribution to the piston's up/down movement from the
up/down movement of the crank pin. By contrast, during the 180° rotation from mid-stroke
through bottom-dead-centre and back to mid-stroke the minor contribution to the piston's
up/down movement from the connecting rod's change of angle has the opposite direction of
the major contribution to the piston's up/down movement from the up/down movement of the
crank pin. The piston therefore travels faster in the top half of the cylinder than it does in the
bottom half, while the motion of the crankshaft weights is sinusoidal. The vertical motion of
the piston is therefore not quite the same as that of the balancing weight, so they cannot be
made to cancel out completely.

Secondly, there is a vibration produced by the change in speed and therefore kinetic energy of
the piston. The crankshaft will tend to slow down as the piston speeds up and absorbs energy
and to speed up again as the piston gives up energy in slowing down at the top and bottom of
the stroke. This vibration has twice the frequency of the first vibration and absorbing it is one
function of the flywheel.

Thirdly, there is a vibration produced by the fact that the engine is only producing power
during the power stroke. In a four-stroke engine this vibration will have half the frequency of
the first vibration, as the cylinder fires once every two revolutions. In a two-stroke engine, it
will have the same frequency as the first vibration. This vibration is also absorbed by the
Two cylinder engines
There are three common configurations in two-cylinder engines:

 Straight-two (also known as parallel twin).

 V-twin.

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 Boxer twin (a common form of flat engine).

Each of the three has advantages and disadvantages so far as balance is concerned.

A straight two engine may have a simple single-throw crankshaft, with both pistons at top
dead centre simultaneously (parallel twin). For a four-stroke engine, this gives the best
possible firing sequence, with one cylinder firing per revolution, equally spaced. But it also
gives the worst possible mechanical balance, no better than a single cylinder engine. Many
straight twin engines therefore have an offset angle crankshaft, that is, two throws at an angle
of up to 180°, with the result that the pistons reach top dead centre at different times. While
this causes uneven firing, it produces better mechanical balance. It does not however produce
perfect mechanical balance since the piston at the top half of the cylinder moves faster than
the one at the bottom half of the cylinder. (See Single cylinder engines above for a more
detailed explanation).

The first vibration noted above for the single cylinder is minimised for a crank offset angle of
180°, but balance is still far from perfect. There is still a rocking moment produced by the
nonconcentricity of the cylinders relative to each other, and there is still the second vibration
noted for the single cylinder owing to the kinetic energy of motion of the pistons. This second
vibration is minimised by a crank offset of 90°. See external links below for a detailed
analysis of the effect of different crankshaft offset angles.

Most V-twins, like V engines in general, have only one crank throw for each pair of
cylinders, so the crankshaft is a simple one like that of a single cylinder engine, and unlike
any other V engine no crankshaft offset is possible. However there is still the question of the
angle of the V. An angle of 90° gives a very good mechanical balance, but the firing is
uneven. Smaller angles give poorer mechanical balance, but more even firing for a four-
stroke (but, even less even firing for a two-stroke). Many classic V-twin motorcycles use
narrow V angles as a compromise. See external links for a detailed analysis of the 90° V twin
mechanical balance.

Other engines with two cylinders in a V configuration have a small offset between the
cylinders to allow two separate crank pins, set at the angle the engine designer specifies,
similarly to a straight two. These engines include the Suzuki VX800 and Honda Transalp,
which have a two-pin crankshaft, and an offset angle between the two crank throws.

The boxer engine is a type of flat engine in which each of a pair of opposing cylinders is on a
separate crank throw, offset at 180° to its partner, so both cylinders of the pair reach top dead
centre together. Any boxer therefore is inherently balanced as far as the momentum of the
pistons is concerned. That corresponding cylinders do not lie in the same plane owing to the
crankshaft design, a reciprocating torque also known as a rocking couple results.
More than two cylinders

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The number of possible configurations with more than two cylinders is enormous. See
articles on individual configurations listed in Piston engine configurations for detailed
discussions of particular configurations.

There are four different forces and moments of vibration that can occur in an engine design:
free forces of the first order, free forces of the second order, free moments of the first order
and free moments of the second order. The straight-6, flat-6 and V12 designs have none of
these forces or moments of vibration and hence are the naturally smoothest engine designs.
(See the Bosch Automotive Handbook, Sixth Edition, pages 459-463 for details.)

Engines with particular balance advantages include:

 Straight-6
 Flat-4 with two geared crankshafts
 Flat-6
 Flat-12
 V12
Engines with more than two cylinders with characteristic balance problems include:

 I3 engines have a strong balance induced rocking motion

 Straight-4 using a single crankshaft has no better kinetic energy balance than a single, and
requires a relatively large flywheel.
 60 degree V6s
 90 degree V6s
In modern multi-cylinder engines, many inherent balance problems are addressed by use
of balance shafts.
Steam engines
The question of mechanical balance was addressed on steam engines long before the
invention of the internal combustion engine. Steam locomotives commonly have balancing
weights on the driving wheels to control wheel hammer caused by the up and down motion of
the coupling rods and, to some degree, the connecting rods. Again, the balance is a
Component balancing

To improve inherent dynamic balance of any engine configuration, the balancing masses can
be matched. In most engines, some individual components are matched as a set. Exactly
which components are matched is part of the design of the engine.

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For example, pistons are often matched and must be replaced as a set to preserve the engine's
dynamic balance. Less commonly, a piston may be matched to its connecting rod, the two
being machined as an assembly to tighter tolerances than either alone.

Component balancing is not restricted to considerations of mechanical balance. It is vital, for

example, that the compression ratio and valve timing of each cylinder should be closely
matched, for optimum balance and performance. Many components affect this balance.
Blueprinting is the re-machining of components to tighter tolerances to achieve better

Ideally, blueprinting is performed on components removed from the production line before
normal balancing and finishing. If finished components are blueprinted, there is the risk that
the further removal of material will weaken the component. However, lightening components
is generally an advantage in itself provided balance and adequate strength are both

What is engine balance?

In gas compression applications, reciprocating engines are designed to proportionately

distribute the compressor and auxiliary loads between the engine‘s power cylinders.

Unfortunately, a number of factors introduce variability into the cylinder-to-cylinder and

cycle-to-cycle combustion process.

Practical factors affecting cylinder-to-cylinder variability include:

 Mechanical construction - stroke length, head and piston heights, gasket and ring size,
camshaft profile, fuel manifold
wave harmonics, etc.
 Engine and component condition - worn rings, weak lifters, leaking fuel valves, spark
plug gap wear, ignition coil
degradation, etc.
 Combustion controls – air/fuel ratio, ignition timing, pcc pressure, engine cooling, etc.

To help reduce cylinder-to-cylinder variability, engine operators install fuel balancing valves,
hereafter referred to as a fuel gas modulator valves, in the fuel manifold piping upstream of
the cylinder‘s fuel injection valve. Using these valves, the operator affects combustion by
adjusting the fuel delivery to a given cylinder (thus affecting the cylinder‘s air/fuel ratio and
burn characteristics).

By properly adjusting each cylinder‘s fuel gas modulator valve, the combustion in each
cylinder can be stabilized and controlled for good engine balance.

Why should I balance my engine?

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There are five reasons to perform an engine balance.

1. Control peak combustion pressures – assuring safe operation within manufacturer‘s

2. Proportionately distribute the horsepower load across the power cylinders –
minimizing unbalanced crankshaft torsion forces
3. Reduce misfires and cycle-to-cycle variability - minimizing fuel consumption
4. Minimize excessive stresses on engine components created by high peak firing
pressures and detonation – maximizing
reliability and availability
5. Control combustion temperatures – stabilizing exhaust emissions

Generic Balance Technique

The engine balance process can be divided into four simple steps.

1. Direct pressure readings are taken for each power cylinder.

2. The pressure readings are analyzed and compared to determine which cylinders are
firing high and which cylinders are firing low (compared to the average pressure).
3. Using this information, the fuel gas modulator valves are adjusted to make the high
pressures lower and/or the low pressures higher (see example below for more details).
4. After the adjustments are made, pressure readings are retaken on all cylinders to
assure that the pressures are balanced within the balance criteria. If the balance is not
achieved, Steps 2, 3, and 4 are repeated.

Engine Balance Example

Imagine that the fuel system of an engine is a line of sprinklers in a sprinkler system (Figure
1). The system has one control valve (the governor) and six adjustable sprinkler heads
(modulator valves).

The yard needs 10 gallons of water per minute (or so many BTU‘s of fuel to generate the
required horsepower) and the water should be evenly distributed to the grass around each
sprinkler head (or the same pressures in every cylinder).

To do this, the individual sprinkler heads (or modulator valves) are adjusted. By pinching
valves #2 and #5 on sprinklers (modulator valves) the spray will be lower. If the flow through
the control valve (governor) stays constant, then sprinklers 1, 3, 4, & 6 would increase. Why?
To get the same flow through a smaller orifice requires a higher pressure.

Alternately, opening #4 sprinkler head would decrease the height of 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6. By

continuing to adjust the individual sprinkler heads, the spray on all the sprinklers will be the
same height. The same is true of a fuel system on an engine.

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History of Balance Equipment and Methodologies

The key to the balance technique is choosing the ―best‖ pressure. There are two thoughts
related to choosing the ―best‖ pressure. They are:

Mean Effective Pressure (Horsepower) ?

Peak Firing Pressure ?

Controversy has surrounded engine balance in gas compression service from the beginning.
Two issues lead to this controversy.

First, some engine manufacturers recommended against engine balance for years. Concerns
about unqualified personnel changing the air/fuel ratio weighed heavily on there minds.
Secondly, many of the early instruments used for engine balance came from diesel
applications. However, as balancing tools and training improved so did the practice of engine

The history of the engine balance controversy was strongly influenced by technological
advances in pressure indicating equipment. The BMEP gaugeTM and Pi meterTM
(mechanical devices used to measure Mean Effective Pressure) and the BacarachTM (Figure
2) and MaihakTM (mechanical devices used to measure Peak Pressure) were initially used on
diesel engines.

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With the invention of electronic pressure indicators a clearer picture was drawn inside the
power cylinder. Electronic tools include the Beta-TrapTM (Figure 3) and Enspec 1000TM
(peak pressure indicators), GET 1000TM (maintenance analyzer which graphically displays
pressure-time and pressure-volume patterns) and Recip-TrapTM, WindrockTM, PFMTM and
CarmaTM (performance analyzers with both mean effective calculations and peak firing
pressure traces and analysis).

Interestingly, in diesel engine applications, both mean effective and peak firing pressure
readings are good balance indicators due to the stability and repeatability of combustion. The
diesel is a compression-ignited (CI) internal combustion engine that uses the heat from highly
compressed air to ignite a spray of fuel introduced after the start of the compression stroke.
Extremely consistent peak firing and mean effective pressures characterize compression
ignition. As such, balancing by either pressure
generates similar engine balance results.

Conversely, a spark-ignited engine (SI) propagates the flame from one or two points across
the cylinder. The peak firing and mean effective pressures are very susceptible to flame front

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velocity changes due to poor homogenization. Adjustments to the fuel gas modulators don‘t
usually result in proportionally similar changes to peak firing and mean effective pressures.
As such, balancing by mean effective pressure and peak firing pressure generate different
engine balance results. Thus leading to the
question of which pressure is the ―best‖ or ―right‖ one to use for engine balance.

Mean Effective Pressure (Horsepower)

One horsepower is the energy required to lift 33,000 lbs of weight one foot in one minute.

It is numerically expressed using the formula:

Horsepower = P L A N / 33,000

Where: P = Mean Effective Pressure (MEP)

L = Piston stroke in feet
A = Area of piston in square inches
N = Number of power strokes per minute

Once installed in an engine, the piston stroke and area are fixed. Leaving horsepower as a
function of mean effective pressure (hereafter referred to as MEP) and engine speed only.

MEP is defined as the average (mean) theoretical pressure throughout the power stroke. It is
measured primarily and most accurately with some type of performance analyzer. Figures 4
& 5 are pressure-volume traces of 2-stroke and 4-stroke cycle engines.

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The area inside each pressure-volume trace determines the MEP of the power cylinder.
Imagine that the line representing the pressure volume is a string. To determine the MEP, the
odd-shaped power cylinder pressure volume is stretched into the shape of a rectangle from
TDC to BDC. The height of that rectangle would approximate the MEP (See Figure 6).

MEP is equal to the average
theoretical pressure throughout
the power stroke, represented
by the rectangle stretched from
TDC to BDC on the power stroke.

Engine speed affects horsepower by increasing or decreasing the number of cycles per
minute. Higher operating speeds result in
more pressure-volume cycles per minute and consequently more horsepower.

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What Controls MEP?

The first rule of thermodynamics generally states:

Net Work Output = Net Heat Input When applied to gas compressor applications and
reordered, this rule can generally be restated as:

Brake HP (Engine) =
Indicated HP (Compressor) + Parasitic HP + Mechanical Loss HP

As a rule of thumb, the gas industry roughly approximates the lost mechanical horsepower as
5% of the indicated compressor horsepower. The parasitic load (auxiliary pumps, blowers,
fans, etc) is typically fixed at a given engine speed. As such, it can be said that:

Brake HP =
c1 (Indicated Compressor HP) + c2 where c1 = 1/0.95 and c2 = Parasitic HP

Then removing the constant values c1 and c2:

Brake HP (engine) µ Indicated HP (compressor)

Then, substituting the PLAN/33,000 formula for Indicated Engine HP, assuming a fixed
piston stroke and piston area, and lumping all constants together, the formula is further
simplified to state:

Mean Effective Pressure x Speed (engine) µ Indicated HP (compressor) Indicated horsepower

for the compressor is also calculated with the PLAN/33,000 formula (using compressor
dimensions and pressures).

In most cases, the compressor speed is equal to the engine speed thus leaving the simplest
form of the equation:

Mean Effective Pressure (engine) µ Mean Effective Pressure (compressor)

Answering the question of ―How is MEP controlled?‖ is now quite simple.

The engine‘s average MEP is controlled exclusively by the average compressor MEP (or
compressor load). With a fixed speed, the average compressor MEP (compressor load) is
affected operational by changing clearance volume (bottles or pockets), valve spacers, lifters,
or unloaders, or by varying suction and/or discharge pressure. Engine operating variables
such as air/fuel ratio, ignition timing and air manifold temperature don‘t change compressor
load – and subsequently don‘t change the engine‘s average MEP.

Can Air/Fuel Ratio Affect MEP?

Overall adjustments to the air/fuel ratio controller won‘t change the engine‘s average MEP.
However, these changes will affect the combustion properties within the power cylinder.
Assuming a ―normal‖ air/fuel mixture, leaning or richening the mixture will affect the burn
rate (flame front velocity), peak firing pressures, and temperatures. In general, the average
pressure-volume graph for the power cylinders will change in shape – but remain equal in
terms of area (or MEP). The pressure-volume chart and table in Figure 4 show the effects of
changing the engine‘s overall air/fuel mixture.

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If the mixture is further richened, the high peak firing pressures and advanced firing angle
will result in unstable combustion and eventually lead to cylinder detonation. On the other
hand, as the mixture is further leaned, partial and complete misfires will begin to occur. In
both cases, severe detonation and misfires will reduce the cylinder‘s MEP.

When spark plugs start to misfire or the air/fuel mixture doesn‘t burn properly, engine
performance decreases and fuel consumption increases. Most experts agree that a typical two-
cycle spark-ignited engine misfires approximately 25% of the time.

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A misfire is incomplete combustion as opposed to a dead or laying out cylinder that fails to
burn. Some misfires look very similar to a lean mixture (low peaks with high exhaust
pressures) but are able to maintain MEP. Some misfires are so severe that peak firing
pressure is lower than running compression also resulting in a lower MEP.

Severe detonation or misfires that results in lower MEP for a given cylinder will
consequently deliver less horsepower to the crankshaft. Assuming the compressor load has
not changed, the engine will begin to slow down. In turn, the governor will open up and
delivery more fuel to all cylinders. With the increased fuel, the good cylinders will pick up
load (increase MEP) for the
cylinder where MEP decreased. The pressure-volume chart and table in Figure 8 show the
effects of detonation and misfires on a cylinder‘s MEP.

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Can an Individual Cylinder‘s MEP Change by Adjusting the Fuel Modulator Valve?

During the engine balance process, adjustments to individual fuel gas modulator valves
change the air/fuel ratio within a given power cylinder. Generally MEP is not very responsive
to small changes in air/fuel ratio. To significantly change the cylinder‘s MEP, the fuel gas
modulator valve must be adjusted until the cylinder begins to misfire or detonate. In this case,
MEP is changed by adversely impacting the cylinder‘s combustion characteristics.

Peak Firing Pressure

Peak Firing Pressure (hereafter referred to as PFP) is much simpler to describe. It is the
highest pressure in the power cylinder due to combustion (See Figures 4 & 5). This pressure
is easily measured with mechanical and electronic devices.

In addition to PFP, another useful measurement is Peak Firing Angle. Peak firing angle
represents the crank position when peak firing pressure is achieved. The location of the peak
firing angle has a dramatic impact on the transfer of energy from the piston to the crankshaft.
When peak firing pressure occurs too close to TDC, some of the combustion occurs before
TDC - resulting in wasted energy and excessive wear on bearing surfaces.

What Affects PFP?

Unlike MEP, Peak Firing Pressure is affected by most changes to the engine and compressor.
The primary variables affecting PFP include compressor load, engine speed, air/fuel ratio,
ignition timing, fuel BTU, and mechanical condition.

How Does Air/Fuel Ratio Affect PFP?

As described in the MEP section, air/fuel ratio affects the burn rate and combustibility of the
mixture. In richer air/fuel mixtures, the rate of burn is accelerated causing the burn to occur
more quickly. The faster burn occurs closer to TDC and generally results in higher peak
firing pressures (Review Figure 7). Conversely, a lean air/fuel mixture slows the burn and
results in later and lower peak firing pressures.

Comparison of Balance Techniques

With a basic understanding of Mean Effective Pressure (MEP) and Peak Firing Pressure
(PFP), a logical comparison can be made to determine the ―best‖ pressure for balancing.

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Comparing each balance technique against the desired objectives results in the following

MEP (Horsepower) Technique PFP Technique

Operate safely by Maybe – Balancing by MEP does not Yes – Balancing by PFP
controlling peak assure that peak firing ressures will inherently
combustion pressures. not exceed the manufacturer‘s rating. allows the operator to
This can be avoided by using analyzer control peak pressures.
equipment that also measures PFP.
Minimize unbalanced Yes – assuming that mathematical Somewhat – this
torsion forces applied to corrections are made to account for technique errs to the
the crankshaft by differences in stroke length and safe side by limiting peak
proportionally distributing cylinder liner geometry. firing pressures. Note:
horsepower Balanced horsepower
across the power distribution is not
cylinders. guaranteed with this
Optimize fuel No – In fact, in order to reduce a Yes – Most PFP
consumption by cylinder‘s MEP, fuel gas modulator adjustments can be
minimizing misfires and adjustment frequently result in made without creating
cycle-to-cycle variability. increased misfires.
Maximize reliability and Maybe – Since MEP is constant over Yes – By directly
availability by reducing a wide range of pressure-volume controlling PFP, the
excessive stresses on settings, maximum forces created
engine excessive peak firing pressures can are controlled
components created by and do occur. This can be minimized within the safe operating
high peak firing pressures by also limits of the
and detonation. measuring PFP. equipment.
Comply with exhaust No – Unless misfires or detonation Yes – Combustion
emission standards by occur MEP is relatively independent temperature is
controlling combustion of directly related to PFP.
temperatures. temperature and therefore unable to As such, NOx
control emissions. exhaust emissions can be
controlled by
limiting PFP.

Which Pressure is “Best”?

Peak Firing Pressure is clearly the best choice based on the engine balance objectives. For
every objective, except horsepower distribution, peak firing pressure balance control is
superior. And, for the objective of distributing horsepower along the crankshaft, the peak
firing pressure technique errs to the safe side by limiting combustion pressures within the
safety guidelines. In addition, PFP is much more responsive to modulator valve adjustments
than MEP in the stable combustion range.

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When is the Engine Considered Balanced?

The most widely accepted technique for measuring engine balance is to compare each
individual cylinder‘s average peak firing pressure against the average peak firing pressure of
the entire engine. The largest individual cylinder pressure difference from the average is
divided by the engine average. The resulting number is the ―balance percent‖. Most
companies agree that 5% is a good target for balance criteria.

Interestingly a number of studies have shown that tighter balance standards (i.e. 4%, 3%, etc.)
have negligible benefits to engine performance and efficiency.

How Often Should an Engine Be Balanced?

Engines should be balanced every time maintenance is performed, after any change in
operating condition (load, weather conditions, etc.), or on a periodic basis (weekly). This is
important because engine balance directly impacts reliability, fuel cost, emissions, and
maintenance cost.

Note: The balance frequency often varies by engine, but weekly is a good rule of thumb –
especially if balance is also used as a maintenance and troubleshooting tool.

When Should Engines Be Balanced?

Anytime of the day is acceptable, but to protect the engine from detonation, balancing in the
heat of the day is preferable (except to the person balancing the unit). If the engine is
balanced during the heat of the day, when ambient temperatures are the highest, the peaks
will be at the highest level. But if the engine is balanced in the cool of the morning, the peaks
will rise as ambient temperatures increase – potential creating unacceptably high peaks. .

Basic Engine Balance Procedure Regardless of the instrument used to balance engines, the
principles are the same. Below is a basic engine balance procdure.

Note: Refinements to this procedure should be made to conform to the operating instruction
of the specific balancing instrument.

Preliminary Tasks

1. Check ignition timing and ensure it is correct. If possible, have someone with an
ignition analyzer inspect the condition of the primary and secondary of the ignition
2. Check the mechanical condition of the injection, intake, and/or exhaust valves to
insure proper clearances.
3. Inspect the rocker arm bushing for wear and repair as needed.
4. Load the engine as near as possible to 100% speed and torque. If an engine begins to
detonate, unload the engine.
NEVER PERMIT AN ENGINE TO DETONATE!!!!! Detonation is usually caused
by one or more cylinders not carrying their share of the load. It is also important to
remember detonation is the symptom of the problem. The real problem is somewhere

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5. If automatic unloaders are used, lock into manual so load changes don‘t occur while
6. Ensure the engine and compressors are up to normal operating temperatures.
7. On engines with mixture controls, check the set points and calibrate to known
performance grids.
8. Ensure the balancing device is in good operating condition and calibrated.
9. Record the following information (where available):
1. Engine Number
2. Suction Press
3. Discharge Press
4. Pocket Setting
5. Horsepower
6. Engine Speed
7. Eng Oil Press
8. Eng Oil Temp
9. Exhaust Temps
10. Engine Water Temp
11. Ignition Timing
12. Air Manifold Temp
13. Date & Time
14. Ambient Temp
15. Name of Person
16. Air Manifold Press
17. Fuel Manifold Press
18. Turbo Bypass Position

Balance Procedure

1. Collect peak firing pressures for each individual cylinder. If a mechanical indicator is
being used, collect a minimum of 10 peak firing pressures in a readable manner. The
greater the number of peaks collected, the better the sample (one of the advantages of
electronic engine balancers).
2. Analyze the pressure data and determine the average peak firing pressure for each
cylinder and the overall engine average peak firing pressure.
3. Note the high and low cylinders. Begin adjusting the individual fuel valves by
opening low cylinders or closing high cylinders. Determine whether to open or close
the fuel gas modulator valve based on governor position. Pinching the modulator
valves causes the governor to open; opening the modulator valves causes the governor
to close. Governor position should be approximately 75-80% open. This permits
enough range for the governor to compensate for load
changes without giving it enough range to compensate for major problems such as
dead cylinders.
4. After making any adjustment wait at least 20 minutes to allow cylinder conditions to
5. Retake the peak firing pressure readings on all cylinders (not just the cylinders that
were adjusted).
6. Calculate the engine balance percent and compare it against the desired balance
criteria. If the balance criteria is not met, steps 3, 4, and 5 should be repeated until the
balance is achieved.

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7. Evaluate the balance data by looking for high cycle-to-cycle pressure deviations on a
given cycle to identify problem cylinders.
8. Clean and put away the balancing instrument.
9. Balance the engine once a week, anytime maintenance is performed, or when
significant changes in operations occur.

Engine Balance As a Troubleshooting Tool

The more sophisticated, electronic balance equipment provides local operating and
maintenance personnel with an effective troubleshooting and predictive maintenance tool.
Problems such as dead cylinders, detonation, excessive misfires, leaky fuel
injectors, worn spark plugs, and failing PCC check valves can be identified by carefully
reviewing the engine balance data. The following table identifies some of the common
problems that may be identified through engine balance.

Balance Indicator Engine Symptom Potential Equipment Cause

Extremely low peak Dead Cylinder Fuel injector problem, faulty ignition
firing pressures components,
(similar to running worn spark plugs, collapsed lifters, or fuel
compression modulator
pressure) closed
Sporadic low peak Misfires Fuel injector problem, faulty ignition
firing pressures components, worn spark plugs, or collapsed
Extremely high peak Detonation or Pre- Typically caused by misfires on other cylinders
firing pressures Ignition or hot
spots in the power cylinder
Erratic peak pressure / Unstable exhaust Air/fuel ratio, PCC check valves, leaking fuel
high pressure emissions injector,
deviations (NOx and CO) improper balance, or defective ignition drive


This paper covers a lot of ground in an effort to fairly and objectively evaluate the engine
balance process. As a result of that discussion, the following conclusions and
recommendations were made:

 Engine balance is ―best‖ achieved using Peak Firing Pressure.

 Ideal engine balance equipment would have the following attributes:
1. Accurate peak firing pressure measurements
2. Calculated cylinder and engine average peak firing pressures
3. Calculated pressure deviations for each cylinder
4. Measured peak firing angle (typically only available on performance analyzers)
5. Capability to measure performance data over at least 32 cycles per cylinder
 General guidelines for engine balance frequency are:
1. Each time maintenance is performed,

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2. After any change in operating conditions, and

3. At least once per week.
 A good rule of thumb for balance criteria is to assure that the average peak firing
pressure for each cylinder is within 5% of the engine‘s average peak firing pressure.

A system balancing an internal combustion engine, particularly a four-stroke engine with five
cylinders in line, in which two of the counterweights for balancing the crankshaft have
asymmetric geometry defined by an additional mass in each case. The respective centers of
gravity of the two additional masses are situated in the plane containing the resultant moment
of the rotary components of the first-order alternating forces and the centrifugal forces of the
rotating masses.


The present invention relates in general to internal combustion engines, particularly four-
stroke motor-vehicle engines with five cylinders in line, each including a crankshaft with
crank pins which are equi-angularly spaced around the axis of the shaft and provided with
balancing counterweights.

In engines of this type, there is a problem in balancing the resultant moments of the
centrifugal forces of the rotating masses and the rotary components of the first-order
alternating forces.

Balancing systems are known for this purpose which have counterweights designed so that
each has a static moment opposed to that of the respective crank pin. This solution, however,
involves the use of very large counterweights which are sometimes incompatible with the
space available for the installation of the engine in the vehicle. In fact, in order to balance the
said moments, which are indicated M c below, it is necessary for the counterweights to
achieve a static moment m s given by the formula: M c=aim s ω 2

where a is a coefficient which depends on the engine type (for example a=0.449 for a five-
cylinder, in-line engine), and i is the interaxial spacing of the cylinders.

m s is therefore large since a and i are small.


The object of the present invention is to avoid the aforesaid problem and to provide a system
for balancing an engine of the type defined above which enables the resultant moment of the
centrifugal forces and the rotary components of the first order alternating forces to be
balanced by means of light-weight drive shaft counterweights of low bulk, without the need
for separate balancing of the flywheel and the pulley associated with the engine.

According to the invention, this object is achieved by virtue of the fact that two of the
counterweights for balancing the crankshaft have assymetric geometry defined by an
additional lateral mass in each case, the respective centers of gravity of the two additional

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masses being situated in the plane containing the resultant moment of the torques generated
by the rotary components of first-order alternating forces and the centrifugal forces of the
rotating masses.

As is well known, this plane can be identified in precise geometric terms by calculation and
its position is characteristic of the number of cylinders in the engine. In the case of an engine
with five cylinders, the plane intersects the vertical plane passing through the axis of the
crankshaft at an angle of 54°.

To advantage, the two additional masses are carried by the balancing counterweights
associated with the ends of the shaft.

This leads to the two additional masses having very low static moments: in fact the moment
to be balanced thus becomes: M c =(ni)m' s ω 2

where n i is the lever arm expressed as a multiple of the interaxial spacing: clearly ##EQU1##
Moreover by calibrating the values of m' s one can easily adapt the same drive shaft to
different alternating masses, that is, for example to Otto-cycle and Diesel-cycle versions of
the same engine: it is in fact sufficient to provide corresponding cut lines at different depths
for the different versions on the additional masses m' s .

how to balance an engine?

'The performance world is full of cool stroker engine combinations these days that fill more
pages in crankshaft catalogs than ever before. We're talkin' about long-arm 460 Fords, wild
Cleveland combos, oddball inline-six cylinders, and stroke bumps for the new generation of
GM Gen III engines. All of this is in the service of the "mine is bigger than yours" approach
to horsepower heroism. But all this stroker hype can also cause confusion.

Car crafters are famous for buying parts through nontraditional means such as swap meets,
shop closeouts, and clandestine good-guy deals. While the price is usually right, this can also
lead to hidden costs when it comes time to balance the rotating assembly. Balancing sounds
simple, but as we found, there are many shops out there still drilling holes the traditional way
when applying a few simple tricks may make life easier and less expensive. We ran across a
typical weight issue when it came time to balance a small-block 331ci stroker Ford. The gruff
old guy at the local balance shop said, "I'm not gonna balance this. I'd have to turn it into a
piece of Swiss cheese. Take it someplace else. . . . " So we did and learned a little about
balancing engines in the process.

Before digging into the custom stuff, we figured we'd better brush up on exactly how OE
engines are balanced and look into the internal/external-balance issue. To start us on our
journey, we decided to talk to Scat Crankshaft's Tom Lieb, who has a strong background in
the area of balancing. Lieb is very opinionated about this issue because he has seen just about
every imaginable variation on crankshaft failure. Most of these are not due to poor quality, as
many think. Usually, the engine has either been abused with excessive rpm, balanced
improperly, or often suffered some parts-abusing combination of the two.

Let's start with a short lesson on crankshaft design. Crankshaft counterweights are designed
to offset (or balance, if you will) the inertia effect of a relatively heavy piston
and connecting rod moving in both a rotational and reciprocating (up-and-down) fashion at

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speed. The weight of the piston-and-rod combination affects the size and placement of the
counterweight. A longer stroke combined with a heavy piston, pin, and ring package requires
a larger counterweight (more mass) to balance the greater reciprocating weight. Most V-8
engines use large counterweights toward the front and rear of the crankshaft, leaving the
center portion without counterweights. That splits the engine into front and rear halves. The
positions of the counterweights on all V-8 90-degree crankshafts are the same. The height of
the counterweight as measured outward from the crankshaft centerline is limited by both the
cylinder block and by the placement of the bottom of the cylinders. A counterweight placed
farther away from the crank centerline has more balance effect, but it is limited by the width
of the block crankcase. Weights placed toward both ends of the crank also have a greater
effect and therefore don't need to be as large to effectively balance the engine. This makes the
overall crank lighter.

Internal vs. External Balance

Packaging is also an important issue. During the design of the 400ci small-block, a major
engineering hurdle was insufficient real estate inside the small-block crankcase for the larger
counterweights demanded by the 400's supersized 4.125-inch piston. This was especially
difficult in the rear of the engine because the rear crankcase area on a small-block Chevy is
restricted by the placement of the oilfilter. The solution called for external balance weights
placed on the harmonic balancer and flywheel/flexplate. One advantage to external weights is
that they are generally lighter because they are positioned at the extreme ends of
thecrankshaft. The disadvantage is that these offset weights impart their own twisting forces
back into the crankshaft, which is not good. This same situation occurs with the 454ci big-
block Chevy, which is also the only production big-block that uses external weights to
balance the engine.

Small-block Fords have always been externally balanced, but because Ford is a name
synonymous with change, the Blue Oval engineers altered the amount of the external balance
when the engines morphed to a one-piece rear main seal. Early small-block Fords used 28
ounce-inches as the external weight amount, changing in 1981 to 50 ounce-inches. Like
small-block Chevys, parts can interchange between early and late engines, but to guarantee
smooth engine operation, the crankshaft, balancer, and flexplate/flywheel must all be kept
within the same balance family.

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Rotating weight (gm.) Reciprocating weight (gm.)

Rod bearing 50
Rod big end 420
Rod small end 180
Piston 450
Wristpin 80
Rings 38
Oil 2
Subtotal 470 750

Before we go further, remember we have a pair of reciprocating weights (two pistons) per
crank journal. The math looks like this:

Half of reciprocating weight is 750/2 = 375 x 2 pistons per journal = 750 grams, while total
rotating weight is 470 x 2 = 940 grams. Thus 750 + 940 = 1,690 grams.

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Balancing goes hand-in-hand with performance engine building. Balancing reduces internal
loads and vibrations that stress metal and may eventually lead to component failure. But is it
worth the time and effort for mild performance applications, everyday passenger car engines
or low-buck rebuilds?

From a technical point of view, every engine regardless of the application or its selling price
can benefit from balancing. A smoother-running engine is also a more powerful engine. Less
energy is wasted by the crank as it thrashes about in its bearings, which translates into a little
more usable power at the flywheel. Reducing engine vibration also reduces stress on motor
mounts and external accessories, and in big over-the-road trucks, the noise and vibration the
driver has to endure mile after mile.

Though all engines are balanced from the factory (some to a better degree than others), the
original balance is lost when the pistons, connecting rods or crankshaft are replaced or
interchanged with those from other engines. The factory balance job is based on the
reciprocating weight of the OE pistons and rods. If any replacements or substitutions are
made, there‘s no guarantee the new or reconditioned parts will match the weights of the
original parts closely enough to retain the original balance. Most aftermarket replacement
parts are "balanced" to the average weight of the OEM parts, which may or may not be close
enough to maintain a reasonable degree of balance inside the engine. Aftermarket crank kits
are even worse and can vary considerably because of variations within engine families.

If the cylinders are worn and a block needs to be bored to oversize, the larger replacement
pistons may be heavier than the original ones. Some piston manufacturers take such
differences into account when engineering replacement pistons and try to match "average"
OE weights. But others do not. Most high performance pistons are designed to be lighter than
the OE pistons to reduce reciprocating weight for faster acceleration and higher rpm.
Consequently, when pistons and rods are replaced there‘s no way of knowing if balance is
still within acceptable limits unless you check it.

If you‘re building a stock engine for a passenger car or light truck that will spend most of its
life loafing along at low rpm, your customer might question the value of balancing such an
engine. But if a customer values durability and smooth operation, selling them a balance job
shouldn‘t be too difficult – and it will add some extra profit, too.

On the other hand, if you‘re building a performance motor, a stroker motor or an engine
that‘s expected to turn a lot of rpms or run a lot of miles, balancing is an absolute must. No
engine is going to survive long at high rpms if it‘s out of balance. And no engine is going to
last in a high mileage application if the crank is bending and flexing because of static or
dynamic imbalances.

Forces In Action
To better understand the mechanics of balancing, let‘s look at the theory behind it. As
everybody knows, a rotating object generates "centripetal force." Centripetal force is an
actual force or load generated perpendicular to the direction of rotation. Tie a rope to a brick
and twirl it around and you‘ll feel the pull of centripetal force generated by the "unbalanced"
weight of the brick. The faster you spin it, the harder it pulls. In fact, the magnitude of the
force increases exponentially with speed. Double the speed and you quadruple the force.

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The centripetal force created by a crankshaft imbalance will depend upon the amount of
imbalance and distance from the axis of rotation (which is expressed in units of grams,
ounces or ounce-inches). A crankshaft with only two ounce-inches of imbalance at 2,000 rpm
will be subjected to a force of 14.2 lbs. At 4,000 rpm, the force grows to 56.8 lbs.! Double the
speed again to 8,000 rpm and the force becomes 227.2 lbs.

This may not sound like much when you consider the torque loads placed upon the crankshaft
by the forces of combustion. But centripetal imbalance is not torque twisting the crank. It is a
sideways deflection force that tries to bend the crank with every revolution. Depending on the
magnitude of the force, the back and forth flexing can eventually pound out the main bearings
or induce stress cracks that can cause the crank to snap.

Centripetal force should not be confused with "centrifugal" force, which is the tendency of an
object to continue in a straight trajectory when released while rotating. Let go of the rope
while you‘re twirling the brick and the brick will fly off in a straight line (we don‘t
recommend trying this because its difficult to control the trajectory of the brick).

Back to centripetal force. As long as the amount of centripetal force is offset by an equal
force in the opposite direction, an object will rotate with no vibration. Tie a brick on each end
of a yardstick and you can twirl it like a baton because the weight of one brick balances the
other. If we‘re talking about a flywheel, the flywheel will spin without wobbling as long as
the weight is evenly distributed about the circumference. A heavy spot at any one point,
however, will create a vibration because there‘s no offsetting weight to balance out the
centripetal force.

This brings us to another law of physics. Every object wants to rotate about its own center of
gravity. Toss a chunk of irregular shaped metal into the air while giving it a spin and it will
automatically rotate about its exact center of gravity. If the chunk of metal happens to be a
flywheel, the center of gravity should be the the flywheel‘s axis. As long as the center of
gravity for the flywheel and the center of rotation on the crankshaft coincide, the flywheel
will spin without vibrating.

But if there‘s a heavy spot on the flywheel, or if the flywheel isn‘t mounted dead center on
the crank, the center of gravity and axis of rotation will be misaligned and the resulting
imbalance will create a vibration.

Applied Physics
Okay, so how does all this scientific mumbo jumbo translate into the real world dynamics of
a spinning crankshaft? A crankshaft, like a flywheel, is a heavy rotating object. What‘s more,
it also has a bunch of piston and rod assemblies reciprocating back and forth along its axis
that greatly complicate the problem of keeping everything in balance.

With inline four and six cylinder engines, and flat horizontally opposed fours and sixes (like
Porsche and Subaru), all pistons move back and forth in the same plane and are typically
phased 180° apart so crankshaft counterweights are not needed to balance the reciprocating
components. Balance can be achieved by carefully weighing all the pistons, rods, wrist pins,
rings and bearings, then equalizing them to the lightest weight.

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On V6, V8, V10 and V12 engines, it‘s a different story because the pistons are moving in
different planes. This requires crankshaft counterweights to offset the reciprocating weight of
the pistons, rings, wrist pins and upper half of the connecting rods.

With "internally balanced" engines, the counterweights themselves handle the job of
offsetting the reciprocating mass of the pistons and rods. "Externally balanced" engines, on
the other hand, have additional counterweights on the flywheel and/or harmonic damper to
assist the crankshaft in maintaining balance. Some engines have to be externally balanced
because there isn‘t enough clearance inside the crankcase to handle counterweights of
sufficient size to balance the engine. This is true of engines with longer strokes and/or large

If you‘re rebuilding an engine that is internally balanced, the flywheel and damper have no
effect on engine balance and can be balanced separately. But with externally balanced
engines, the flywheel and damper must be mounted on the crank prior to balancing.

Customers should be told what type of engine balance they have (internal or external), and
warned about indexing the position of the flywheel if they have to remove it later for
resurfacing. Owners of externally balanced engines should also be warned about installing
different flywheels or harmonic dampers and how it can upset balance.

Balance Shafts
In recent years, the auto makers have added balance shafts to many four and six cylinder
engines to help cancel out crankshaft harmonics. The counter-rotating balance shaft helps
offset vibrations in the crank created by the firing sequence of the engine.

On these motors, make sure the balance shaft is correctly "phased" or timed to the rotation of
the crank. If the shaft is out of sync, it will amplify rather than diminish engine vibrations.

Balance shafts are not a substitute for normal engine balancing, nor do they reduce the
vibration and stress the crankshaft itself experiences as it turns.

Balancing Act
The process of balancing begins by equalizing the reciprocating mass in each of the engine‘s
cylinders. This is done by weighing each piston on a sensitive digital scale to determine the
lightest one in a set. The other pistons are then lightened to match that weight by milling or
grinding metal off a non-stressed area such as the wrist pin boss. The degree of precision to
which the pistons are balanced will vary from one engine builder to another, and depends to
some extent on the application. But generally speaking pistons are balanced to within plus or
minus 0.5 grams of one another.

Next the rods are weighed, but only one end at a time. A special support is used so that the
big ends of all the rods can be weighed and compared, then the little ends. As with the
pistons, weights are equalized by grinding away metal to within 0.5 grams. It‘s important to
note that the direction of grinding is important. Rods should always be ground in a direction
perpendicular to the crankshaft and wrist pin, never parallel. If the grinding scratches are
parallel to the crank, they may concentrate stress causing hairline cracks to form.

On V6 and V8 engines, the 60 or 90 degree angle between the cylinder banks requires the use
of "bobweights" on the rod journals to simulate the reciprocating mass of the piston and rod

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assemblies. Inline four and six cylinder crankshafts do not require bobweights. To determine
the correct weight for the bobweights, the full weight of a pair of rod bearings and the big end
of the connecting rod, plus half the weight of the little end of the rod, piston, rings, wrist pin
(and locks if full floating) plus a little oil are added together (100 percent of the rotating
weight plus 50 percent of the reciprocating weight). The correct bobweights are then
assembled and mounted on the crankshaft rod journals.

The crankshaft is then placed on the balancer and spun to determine the points where metal
needs to be added or removed. The balancer indexes the crank and shows the exact position
and weight to be added or subtracted. The electronic brain inside the balancer head does the
calculations and displays the results. The latest machines have graphical displays that make it
easy to see exactly where the corrections are needed.

If the crank is heavy, metal is removed by drilling or grinding the counterweights. Drilling is
usually the preferred means of lightening counterweights, and a balancer that allows the
crank to be drilled while still on the machine can be a real time saver.

If the crank is too light, which is usually the case on engines with stroker cranks or those that
are being converted from externally balanced to internally balanced, heavy metal (a tungsten
alloy that is 1.5 times as heavy as lead) is added to the counterweights. This is usually done
by drilling the counterweights, then press fitting and welding the heavy metal plugs in place.
An alternate technique is to tap the hole and thread a plug into place. Drilling the holes
sideways through the counterweights parallel to the crank rather than perpendicular to the
crank is a technique many prefer because it prevents the metal from being flung out at high

After drilling, the crankshaft is again spun on the balancer to determine if additional
corrections are required. If the crank is for an externally balanced engine (such as a big block
Chevy), the balancing will be done with the flywheel and damper installed. On internally
balanced engines, the flywheel and damper can be balanced separately, or installed on the
crank and balanced as an assembly once the crank itself has been balanced.

New machinery has been introduced that both simplifies the balancing process and increases
the accuracy of the job. Electronic equipment that allows accurate measurement of not only
the amount of unbalance force, but also accurately reports the unbalanced vector position is
now available to engine rebuilders. Typically, balancing machines have assumed that the
unbalance force was equally opposed, so they would require the technician to correct the
excessive amounts of unbalance on the excess side to the point of making them equal.
Technicians have had to ‗stair-step‘ the corrections equally until the final tolerance was

Technology such as that in the Multi-Bal 3000 HMV eliminates this requirement, according
to Randy Neal of Cast Welding Technologies. Software and hardware are combined to allow
radical differences to be reported at each end of the crankshaft (including any rotational
positioning or vector position of the unbalanced force). Because the position and unbalance
amounts are reported correctly the technician can make changes to the crankshaft with
confidence that he will not over shoot the correction. In most cases the required cycles of
analysis and correction are reduced by 80 to 90 percent, according to Neal.

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The unbalance amount and position are imported into a special computer program called
"Heavy Metal Analysis" (HMA). This program allows the technician to plot the position and
amount of material that will be required to correct the crankshaft. The program lets rebuilders
create multiple scenarios based on rotation and radius position, weight amounts and sizes of
Mallory – all of which can be simulated without having to cut the first chip.

How Long?
How long does it take to actually balance an engine? A typical Chevy smallblock V8 might
take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half depending on how much work is
needed and the degree of accuracy you‘re trying to achieve. You‘re obviously going to spend
more time on a motor that‘s going into a NASCAR Winston Cup racer than one that‘s going
into Grandma‘s grocery getter.

Though a balancing accuracy of plus or minus one gram is typically good enough for most
production street engines, many balancers today can achieve balancing accuracies in the
tenths or even hundredths of a gram!

The most time-consuming part of the job is weighing and matching the pistons and rods. A
four cylinder engine takes half as much time for this step as a V8. The next most time
consuming part is making up the bobweights for a V6 or V8. This step isn‘t needed with a
straight six or four. The actual setup on the machine takes only a few minutes, and the initial
spin and readings take only a couple of minutes more. The time required to perform the
necessary weight corrections will depend on the crank (weight removal goes much faster than
adding weight). And if you‘ve done your work carefully, the final spin will require no further
corrections because the balance will be right on the mark.

Most shops charge $150 to $225 to balance a V8. If heavy metal is required, add $40 to $75
per slug. Some shops charge less to balance engines, but these tend to be shops that are trying
to compete in the budget rebuild market, not the performance market.

The most profitable applications for balancing include small high revving engines such as
those in motorcycles, boats and go-carts. Some shops get $100 or more to balance a single
cylinder Briggs & Stratton engine, which requires a lot less time and effort than a V8.

Other profitable applications include balancing turbocharger impellers and blower rotors,
flywheels, driveshafts and even brake rotors and drums. Such jobs can be billed by the piece
or by the hour.

Like any other piece of shop equipment, you can spend as much or as little as you can afford
on a balancer. The higher end units will have more bells and whistles, and generally be
equipped with a drill stand as part of the work station. The less expensive units will have
fewer features and be "portable" so they can be mounted on an existing bench or mill

An entry level balancer will require an initial investment of around $11,000 to $15,000,
which may or may not include bobweights and stand. The electronics will be fairly basic and
probably have a numeric display rather than a graphic display. If you want to add a drill, add
another $4,000 to $5,000 to the cost of the basic unit.

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For $17,000 to $28,000 you can step up to a fully equipped balancer that includes a color
graphic display, upgraded computer electronics and a drill stand. The computer software on
some of the high end units is Windows 98 based and gives you the ability to store and recall
specifications and other technical information about specific crankshafts.

Though most balancers can handle a wide range of crankshaft sizes, some manufacturers
have equipment that is designed for small engine applications or large diesel cranks. At the
recent Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, IN, Hines introduced a new mini-
balancer called the "Eliminator 10" which is specifically designed for small parts under 10
lbs. The balancer, which sells for $13,999, can balance turbo impellers and blower rotors to
within 0.0001 ounce/inches accuracy.

How fast can a balancer pay for itself? The payback obviously depends on the volume of
work you do and how much you charge. If you finance a $15,000 balancer over 5 years and
the monthly payments are around $300, one-and-a-half jobs a month at $200 each would
cover your payment


Heywood, J.B.: Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988.

Jones, J.B. and Hawkins, G.A.: Engineering Thermodynamics – An Introductory Textbook

(2nd Edition), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1986.

Wylen, G.J.V. and Sonntag, R.J.: Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics (2nd Edition),
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1973.

Anderson, E.P.: Gas Engine Manual (Revised by Charles G. Fackman), Theodore Audel &
Co., Boston, 1985.

John Deere Service Training: Fundamentals of Service: Engines (6th Edition), Deere &
Company, Moline, IL, 1986.



Dynamics of Machine

The End