Engine Cylinder Head
A cylinder head is the component on the engine that sits above the cylinders on the engine block. When placed correctly on the cylinders, it seals each cylinder,in order to create the combustion chamber. A head gasket is put between the block and the cylinder head before they are tightened using bolts to prevent any leaking or unevenness between the two metal parts when they seal. The cylinder head is also used to provide space for passages that carry fuel, air, and exhaust into and out of the cylinder. Valves, fuel injectors, and spark plugs are often mounted on the cylinder head because of its placement on the engine.
The size and shape of the cylinder head will vary depending on the type of engine it is being installed on. On flathead or sidevalve engines, the cylinder head takes the shape of a simple metal plate that is only used to seal the cylinders. This type of cylinder head is nice because it makes repairs easier and eliminates many moving parts that are prone to failure. Engines that use this flat plate design for the cylinder head require incoming air to flow through a convoluted path, which limits the ability of the engine to perform at higher RPM’s. Because of these limitations, the overhead valve design was created and featured an overhead camshaft that was needed to accommodate for the move of the valves and other components.
The internal part of the cylinder head features passages called ports and tracts which move the fuel and air mixture to the inlet valves from the intake manifold. Exhaust gases also had passages which allowed them to travel from the exhaust valves to the exhaust manifold. In a water cooled engine, the cylinder head will also contain ducts and passages for the engines coolant. This coolant is usually a mixture of water and antifreeze which are used to facilitate the transfer of excess heat away from the cylinder head and engine in general. In the overhead valve design, the cylinder head contains the poppet valves and the spark plugs, along with tracts and ports for the inlet and exhaust gases. These poppet valves are controlled by a system of pushrods and rocker arms which ride up and down on the camshaft lobes to open and close the valves. The camshaft is also contained along with all these other components in the cylinder head when operating on an overhead valve design. Since the camshaft is positioned up near these components, the pushrods can sometimes be eliminated and replaced with tappets.
The number of cylinder heads used in an engine varies depending on its size and configuration. For example, an inline engine which is a straight line will likely use only one cylinder head, to were a Vee engine will use two cylinder heads because it has valves on both sides of the engine. Some engines used in very large vehicles may utilize individual cylinder heads for each cylinder to reduce repair costs if one of the cylinders has an issue.
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