Saturday, 19 February 2011

Disaster has struck!

After making some improvements to the Ketro 120fst I tested it today and the one piece crankshaft is now a two piece crankshaft. I am amazed the whole engine didn't smash to pieces judging by the noise it made when it let go. Fortunately there is little other damage. However, I've had some thoughts. (Careful). When the throttle opens the revs increase as expected up to a point when there is a change in the sound in that the engine sounds like its suddenly working harder yet not increasing revs any further. Open the throttle more and the revs actually decrease, yet it sounds like its working even harder. Eventually the engine cuts and has become overheated. The problems are three fold:-
  • (1) I think this problem lies mainly in the size of the inlet valve, I have designed it too big and too much mixture is getting into the cylinders and compression reaches the point of ignition too soon before top dead centre (TDC). If it were a spark ignition engine I could control the point at which ignition takes place, but this is a glow plug engine or semi-diesel and ignition is controlled by the amount of compression. I fitted restrictors in the cylinder heads to reduce the gas flow into the combustion chamber. This has helped but there are other things to be done. I may have to look at the valve timing.
  • (2) I was hoping the crank case would breathe through the front bearing and to some extent it does, but its not enough so I've incorporated a breather nipple to replace one of the gearbox retaining screws. I had to drill the existing tapped hole in the crank case through to allow the pressure to release.
  • (3) The new crankshaft I'm going to build will have a sliding fit on the rear bearings to allow for the differing rates at which aluminium (crank case) and steel (crank shaft) expand and contract with temperature change. I think the existing set-up was trying to keep things a bit too rigid and bending of the crankshaft was taking place under high temperature resulting in an annular crack in the front crank journal, and eventually leading to its failure.

The picture says it all.

Crack detail.

You can see where the crack started to form around the outside and worked its way to the centre. Click on the photo and it should enlarge.

My first job is to retrieve the gear and bearing from the rear part of the shaft. Its probably best to drill the shaft out of the gear and do the same for the bearing. It's a good thing I've got plenty of stock material left over.

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