An engine block is an integrated component,which contains the cylinders and other surrounding components such as coolant passages, intake and exhaust passages, ports, and the crankcase. It is the main body of the engine that all of the other components of the engine build onto. Engine blocks are designed to be extremely strong and sturdy to prevent cracking which will completely ruin the engine and the parts in it. There are some solutions that can be used to repair a cracked engine block but its reliability and sturdiness will be compromised greatly until the block is replaced.
Engine blocks are usually made out a cast iron which is easily molded for those precise channels that need to be made in parts of the block. Cast iron is also very heavy and extremely durable. It is not uncommon for the engine block to account for a substantial portion of a vehicles weight. The extreme weight of the engine block is why the engine is located in certain parts of the vehicle to increase performance. For example, some race cars and sports cars will have to engine block in the rear of the vehicle to put more weight on the front tires which will increase grip. Engine blocks normally have to be lifted out of the vehicle using a jack or small crane depending on the size of the engine.
The core of the engine block is the cylinders because that is what it is built around and determines the blocks size. For example, an 8 cylinder engine block is going to be much larger than a block that only has 4 or 6 cylinders. The point of the engine block is to keep everything inside the block cool and free of contaminating particles. Even though the engine is cooled by oil and coolant, the block is still extremely hot when the engine is in use which is why it is vulnerable to cracking.
Engine blocks are usually categorized by the amount of bored inches they have. An example of some popular sized engines is the 350 and 427 cubic inch engine. The more cubic inches that the engine has, the larger it is. Engines blocks are also categorized by being a small block or big block. The difference between these two blocks is the distance between the dead center on each bore. A small block is likely to have a shorter distance which means the cylinders are closer together. Having cylinders closer together is less attractive as a performance aspect because it can cause overheating issues. Today there is less of a difference between a small block and big block because of the better metals being used to build the block such as titanium. Newer blocks are also capable of being bored out more which allows for a larger bore in the same size block. Technology in this area has grown so much that a 427 which has always been a big block can now be bored out into a small block. The ability to make a larger engine out of less material is a great performance aspect in a vehicle because it produces the same power but at a lighter weight and smaller size.
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