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#1
Old 06-13-2001, 10:06 AM
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Yes, I said "two thousand". Bonzo is working on algebra this summer, and the correct answer to one of the problems, to figure out the displacement for a piston engine, was about 2,000 cubic inches. And the Better Half, who was sitting here in the dining room with us as we worked on this, said, "That can't be right." And Bonzo said, "Why?" and his dad said, "Well, that big-ass Chevy van parked out front of the house is about 300 cubic inches, so a 2,000 cubic inch engine would be, what, about 7 times the size of that? You couldn't have an engine that size. Even the biggest Mack trucks have engines that are only about 400 cubic inches."

And I said, "Well, hey, it's just a math problem, it's purely theoretical, don't sweat it." And I made the mistake of adding, "And there are some really huge engines for airplanes, like jet engines", which of course made both males fall down on the floor laughing.

But then the Better Half remembered that Rolls Royce did used to make some really big engines, for aircraft or something, and he couldn't let it alone and he was sitting here racking his brain trying to remember the biggest size of aircraft engine that Rolls Royce made, and Google isn't much help unless you know the precise number of cubic inch displacement, and "Rolls Royce engines history" makes my brain hurt. A "gas turbine" engine isn't what we're looking for, is it?

So.

I guess it's one of those guy things, huh?
#2
Old 06-13-2001, 10:12 AM
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Yes, DDG, there are enormous piston engines used for such things as ships, airplanes, and stationary power production - some of which are quite a bit larger than 2000 cubic inches. I will get some links in a bit.
#3
Old 06-13-2001, 10:21 AM
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Here's a Jenbacher J320 piston engine (running off of landfill gas) that displaces 48.7 liters (2971 cubic inches)...
#4
Old 06-13-2001, 10:31 AM
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And no, it's not the same thing as gas turbines at all.

You should direct "better half" to many American passenger car engines that are pretty large, such as the Chevy 454, the Ford 460, and the Cadillac 500 - all three of which were pretty common to hear about at one time. Ford might even still make the 460 for work trucks.

Large diesel engines for on-road vehicles (semi's) can run in the 500-600 cubic inch range. I found a link for an old bus engine that displaced 855 cubic inches.

However, it is unlikely that you would find a gasoline engine larger than about 700 cubic inches or so, due to several different factors. An engine that large is typically needed for heavy-duty, high torque use (and thus ends up being diesel) or for stationary power production (and thus not gasoline, since it is too darned expensive for that purpose).

Of course, you could have posted this in my Energy forum...
#5
Old 06-13-2001, 10:54 AM
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That's nothing, It's about the displacement of four large car engines. Large static or marine motors will displace more than that per single cylinder.
#6
Old 06-13-2001, 11:40 AM
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Here ya, DDG. This little baby, Man B&W K98MC, has a bore/stroke of 980mm/2660mm. I'll save you the math. If my calculations are right that works out to approximately 2000 liters per cylinder or 125,000 cubic inches. It comes in the fuel efficient 6 cylinder model, up to the high perfomance 12 cylinder model at roughly 1.5 million cubic inches.

Before you go out to buy one of these things, they aren't exactly street legal.

Jim
#7
Old 06-13-2001, 11:52 AM
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About 500 cubic inches is indeed the upper limit for mass-produced, road-going, gasoline-powered cars and trucks.

In aviation, however, gasoline-powered radial piston engines of the WWII era maxed out at about 2800 c.i. (the 18-cylinder P&W Double Wasp). IIRC, the engines used in the B-36 bomber were even larger. The V-12 piston engines used in numerous fighters (such as the P-51 Mustang) were in the 1200-1800 c.i. range.

Diesel engines for use in locomotives, marine vessels and stationary power plants are probably the largest piston engines currently made. For example, the Electro-Motive division of General Motors produces two series of large diesels, named "645" and "710"; these indicate the displacement per cylinder, with a 16-cylinder 710 engine thus displacing a cool 11,360 c.i.

Useful links:

http://aviation-history.com/
http://gmemd.com/power/engine/dim/index.html
#8
Old 06-13-2001, 12:49 PM
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- - - I live near the Mississippi and can know of a local shop that refurbishes tugboat engines. I don't know exactly how big the things are, but the pistons look about 14 inches across - you could make a bar stool out of one. Sometimes they leave a stripped engine block outside the shop occasionally; the couple I've seen were V-12 engines and the bare engine blocks are about 12 feet long. - MC
#9
Old 06-13-2001, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Here ya, DDG. This little baby, Man B&W K98MC, has a bore/stroke of 980mm/2660mm. I'll save you the math. If my calculations are right that works out to approximately 2000 liters per cylinder or 125,000 cubic inches. It comes in the fuel efficient 6 cylinder model, up to the high perfomance 12 cylinder model at roughly 1.5 million cubic inches
Note that they run at a stately 84 to 94 RPMs. My question is if they come with a hand crank in case the battery fails.
#10
Old 06-13-2001, 02:12 PM
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When I was a kid in western PA, I remember that some of the old oil leases (the few still operating - most were defunct) had an arrangement that used a single cylinder donkey engine with an absolutely HUGE bore, on the order of a foot or two. The donkey engine drove a big turntable like affair about twenty feet across with cables attached to the edge of it. The cables led out through stanchions to the pumps out in the field and were pulled back and forth by the wheel.

Noisy as hell - the cables went squeeenk, squaaack and the donkey engine ran at some very low RPM that made it sound like somebody banging on a timpani with absolutely no sense of rythm. I don't know when most oil pumps went to those self-contained walking-beam units you see these days - actually, most working oil pumps I saw as a kid were of that variety. I remember seeing a lot of the earlier turntable arrangements as abandoned relics.
#11
Old 06-13-2001, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
You should direct "better half" to many American passenger car engines that are pretty large, such as the Chevy 454, the Ford 460, and the Cadillac 500.
Woohoo! Nitpick from a Cadillac weenie. The engine was actually the GM 501 at 500ci. I believe that, in addition to early 1970s Cadillacs, the engine was also used in several Oldsmobiles.

I actually had one in a 1973 Eldorado, and let me tell you, that engine was huge (and powerful: 375hp and 525 ft/lbs of torque at about 3500/4500 rpm resp.). The funny thing is, the engine compartment was even more vast, so that massive block didn't even come close to filling the cavity.
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#12
Old 06-13-2001, 03:30 PM
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The Pratt & Whitney R-4360 was the largest piston engine ever made for aircraft, with a displacement of 4360 cubic inches in 28 cylinders (4 rows of 7, giving it the nickname of "the corncob engine"). With turbocharger, it produced 3500 horsepower.
#13
Old 06-13-2001, 04:28 PM
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What about stationary steam engines? some of those beasts are massive
#14
Old 06-13-2001, 05:15 PM
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According to Automobile Magazine, the largest automotive engine is found in the 1907 Napier L.48. It measures a massive 14.485 liters, or roughly 900 cubic inches (i think). Now that's a massive motor, but no where near 2000 cubic inches
#15
Old 06-13-2001, 06:32 PM
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ME TOO! ME TOO!

I used to work for Caterpillar and they made some massive engines for their large (off-road) trucks and other construction equipment. But the biggest engines were, as indicated above, usually built for stationary power generation.

I just browsed Caterpillar's website (caterpillar.com) trying to find the biggest engine I could. The engine used in the largest track-type tractor, the D11R, (most of you would erroneously refer to it as a bulldozer) is the 3508. The 3500 series engines have a 6.7" bore and a 7.5" stroke. The -08 model (the last two numbers indicate the number of cylinders) has a total displacement of 2105 c.i.

But the record goes to the 797 off-highway truck (used in open pit mines, usually -- these things are HUGE!) It has a 3524 engine -- 24 cylinders, total displacement of 6300+ c.i. So there's a big engine in a moving vehicle. For comparison their locomotive engines top out at 16 cylinders.

When I was working there they were testing a new engine with a 10"-12" bore. They had a single cylinder model running in a test cell. It was just something they were trying out. I don't believe it ever went into production.

A funny story (well, kinda funny) related to this topic (well, kinda related): Once while I was working in the engine research laboratory the hourly labor force, represented by the UAW, was threatening to strike. When they couldn't come to terms the strike was called for midnight the next day. When I showed up for work the following day there was a huge engine (a 3516) sitting right in the middle of the main hallway of the lab building. By a strange coincidence, one of the workers just happened to be moving the largest engine in the building down that hallway exactly at midnight and had to leave it right there when he went on strike. Who would have believed it?
#16
Old 06-13-2001, 08:03 PM
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Well, the OP has been well and truly answered, but I still want to chime in.

The engines on large cargo ships- tankers and such- are huge! I don't know specifics and details, but when one has to walk down four flights of stairs to get from the cylinder head down to the crankshaft- and the crankcase has closet-sized doors on it so people can go inside for maintenence purposes- I just know that's a big engine.

Necros- the 472 and 500's used in the Caddies were pure Cad engines. Only installed- from the factory anyway- in Cadillac cars. Olds had their own 455 big-block (as did Pontiac and Buick, all unique designs and non-interchangeable except for the bellhousings) and Chevy had their 454.

You might be thinking of the GM 502, which is a big-block Chevy "crate motor" available as a complete engine from Chevrolet.

For other "big" gasoline car/truck application engines, there's an aftermarket company called Merlin that makes a custom V-12, that can be modified up to an 800+ inch displacement. There's also a machine shop somewhere that, for a pure "technical excercise", sequentially-furnace-welded two small-block Chevy 350s into a V-16 that, including overbore, displaced something like 710 CI.
#17
Old 06-13-2001, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
The engines on large cargo ships- tankers and such- are huge! I don't know specifics and details, but when one has to walk down four flights of stairs to get from the cylinder head down to the crankshaft- and the crankcase has closet-sized doors on it so people can go inside for maintenence purposes- I just know that's a big engine
I'll ask again: can you hand crank it if you leave your lights on and find you have a dead battery?

I'll give you the answer: no. They are not started with an electric motor like your car. Normally these engines are built with the ship and are part of the ship. They have no gear but are solid with the prop shaft. They are started by pushing compressed air into the cylinders and they are braked the same way. When you want to reverse the prop rotation you have to reverse the engine rotation. They can rotate in both directions. You start turning the engine by blowing air into the cylinders. Then you fire up one cylinder, then the next, etc. A large ship takes quite a while to come to a stop, even in an emergency. Those of us in small boats know well to stay out of their way. Reversing te engines to full astern is quite an operation as you have to start pumping air to stop the rotation, then reverse it and start firing in the opposite direction.

In ships with twin props the engines are symmetrical and rotate in opposite directions. So when maneuvering you have to handle both engines.
#18
Old 06-13-2001, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
said:
This little baby, Man B K98MC, has a bore/stroke of 980mm/2660mm
Good God! The 12-cylinder version is 13.7 metres high, 24.6 metres long, masses approximately 2167 tonnes, and provides power at a rate of up to 68 MW! And some of the details in the drawing look like they could be balconies...
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#19
Old 06-13-2001, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
JimB said:
This little baby, Man B K98MC, has a bore/stroke of 980mm/2660mm
Good God! The 12-cylinder version is 13.7 metres high, 24.6 metres long, masses approximately 2167 tonnes, and provides power at a rate of up to 68 MW! And some of the details in the drawing look like they could be balconies...
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#20
Old 06-13-2001, 10:23 PM
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This question has been answered well enough. All I'll add is that when you tour the Battleship Texas, as I often do, and enter the engine room(s) you realize that you're walking around in the crankcase of an internal combustion engine. A truly mighty crankshaft and piston rods from the land of giants are your company.

That being said, on with the hijack. Since some with apparent knowledge of marine engines have visited, let me ask a question. Although I never became involved with them I learned during my hot rod days that hot rod boats using auto engines ran them in reverse rotation to that of their rubber burning cousins. Why is that?
#21
Old 06-14-2001, 02:09 AM
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>> hot rod boats using auto engines ran them in reverse rotation to that of their rubber burning cousins. Why is that?

Well, not necessarily. It is not that you want it rotating contrary to what it was, more likely it is that you want it rotating in a specific direction: the direction you want the prop rotating.

So now you ask, why do you want the prop rotating in one direction and not the other. Well, if you have twin props (and twin motors) you need them rotating in opposite directions. This is mostly the case of any boat with any amount of power. You will have two similar motors rotating in opposite directions.

If you have a single prop (like my boat) then you have a phenomenon which I am not going to explain in detail but it is the fact that the prop does not push the boat only forward but also sideways. When moving ahead it is much less noticeable and easy to compensate but when you are maneuverng and have no way through the water and engage astern, the boat has a very marked tendency to "walk" sideways. So, what happens is the boat will turn much better in one direction while turning very badly in the other. If you know and learn this you can use it to your advantage but if you don't and try to turn the boat to where it does not want to go, you'll make a mess. My boat's prop turns clockwise (viewed from astern) and I believe that is the most common arrangement. It will turn left very easily but will turn right with difficulty or not at all.

If the convention is that props turn right and your motor turns the other way, you may want to reverse that.

Note that the convention is that the direction of rotation of the prop is as viewed from astern and looking forward while you describe the rotation of the motor as you are looking at it and facing astern. My motor and prop rotate in opposite directions because the gear box reverses it. So, my prop rotates right and my motor rotates right (I told you they rotate in opposite directions).
#22
Old 06-14-2001, 05:02 AM
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My Dad at one time had two Cadillac Coupe De Villes, a '74 with the 472 and a '76 with the 500. Unfortunately for me, he sold them both before I got my drivers license. 8^(
#23
Old 06-14-2001, 05:38 PM
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Doc Nickel: Thanks! Good to know that the 501 was a Caddy-only engine.
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#24
Old 06-15-2001, 09:43 AM
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Wow, thanks, guys, this is great! I printed this out for the Better Half, and he sat there on the couch reading it, happily muttering to himself about "crankshaft ratios" or something.

[minor hijack]
Sorry, Una, it didn't occur to me that it might be an "Energy" question, just a "guys and their fixation on big-ass internal combustion engines" question. And GQ is the only place for those kind of questions.

[/minor hijack]
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