What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

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What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby MEC407 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:34 pm

The opposed piston engine may soon make a comeback: in automobiles.

While not directly related to locomotives, I thought some of you F-M O.P. fans might find this interesting:

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/ ... ss&emc=rss
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby RussNelson » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:36 pm

"new"? All of my Subarus have one. They call it a "boxer" engine.
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby chrisf » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:13 pm

RussNelson wrote:"new"? All of my Subarus have one. They call it a "boxer" engine.

No, an opposed piston engine is essentially the opposite of a Subaru/boxer engine. The crankshafts (yes, plural) are at the far ends of the engine block, and the pistons move toward one another in a common cylinder.
A boxer engine has one crankshaft and the pistons are diametrically opposite each other.
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Desertdweller » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:39 pm

We have here a problem in nomclature. The same name applying to two different engineering designs.

It is obvious that the writer of the article linked to has no idea of the existence of Fairbanks-Morse and Deltic OP engine designs. He thinks it is a new concept. Maybe the "ship engine" he referred to may be an FM (used mainly in submarines).
I know of no fighter plane to ever have used this design, although "opposed piston" engines of the Subaru type are commonly used in light aircraft. These are "boxer" engines, like in the old VW Beetle or the Corvair. A flat crankcase is fitted with two or three cylinders on each side (usually air-cooled). The pistons are 180 deg. across from each other.

The FM and Deltic engines are two-cycle Diesels. To come up with a four-cycle engine would require some innovative valve design (like the sleeve valves mentioned).

A boxer engine uses only one piston per cylinder and only one crankshaft in the center. It is just another way of arranging cylinders in a conventional four cycle engine. A two cylinder Briggs and Stratton garden tractor engine is another example.

A true OP engine uses two pistons in each cylinder, coming toward and away fom each other in the center of the cylinder. Multiple crankshafts are used. In the FM engine, the cylinders are arranged in a row vertically. There is a crankshaft at the bottom of the engine, connected to the lower set of pistons, and another at the top of the engine, connected to the upper set of pistons. In the Deltic engine, the cylinders are arranged in rows of triangular sets (deltas). Each corner of the triangle holds a crankshaft. Each crankshaft is connected to two rows of pistons, each row of pistons in two of the three sets of cylinders.

If you can follow this description, you can see there is no place to mount conventional poppet valves. So OP Diesels are two-cycle, using forced induction and ports in the cylinder walls.

With two pistons in each cylinder, the power output of a given number of cylinders is effectively doubled over a conventional Diesel. Although OP engines are by necessity quite large, they still have high horsepower output for their size.

The obvious drawback to OP engines is maintenance time. To pull a piston, an entire crankshaft must be pulled. Also, due to the movement of pistons in ported cylinders, they are notorious finger-eaters.

The OP engine is such an efficient design, that some in fixed-power applications have run literally for decades without being shut down. Stationary engines can have their lube oil and coolant changed out while the engine is running (think electric generating plants).

If a true OP gasoline engine can be developed, it would certainly put a lot of power in a small package, but it would still be larger than a conventional gas engine of similar displacement.

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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby mp15ac » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:55 am

The nomenclature issue can be cleared up by remembering that the FM diesel is an opposed piston engine while the Subaru and Porsche 'Boxer' engines are just opposed engines.

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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby MEC407 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:32 am

Right. The company in the article I linked to is talking about building an actual opposed PISTON four-cycle gasoline engine. Which IS a new concept.

It'll be very interesting to see what they come up with.
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby litz » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:39 pm

Interesting ... this is like someone took the CCKB in my Fairmont MT-19 (which itself is very similar to an old Indian motorcycle engine) and turned it inside out and backwards ...
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby AVR Mark » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:06 pm

There was almost a second US builder of OP Locomotives which was Baldwin.

During World War II, Germany's Air Forces ("Luftwaffe") had numerous Airplanes powered by the Junkers model 207D Opposed Piston Diesel engine. This was a 2 cycle liquid cooled turbocharged six cylinder engine. Bore and stroke was 4.33 inches x 6.30 inches. (about 11 cm x 16 cm.) It was rated at 1200 HP at 3000 rpm. In order to produce higher horsepower, pairs of Junkers would be set up to drive a common gearbox which would drive a single propeller. This was referred to as the "Jumbo" configuration. Apparently the main problem was a relatively short lifespan in hours.

After WW II ended, Baldwin tried to develop the Model 547 OP Diesel engine, and several of the German engineers that had developed the Junkers engines were brought to the US and worked on this project. A total of four 547 engines were built, three 3 cylinder and one 9 cylinder. After 3 years of development no real progress had been made, so the entire project was abandoned.

Mark

ref:Dawn of the Diesel Age by John F. Kirkland pages 50-51
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Desertdweller » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:13 pm

Mark,

Well, THAT was an eye-opener! Were all Junkers "Jumo" engines of that configuration? I thought that was just a brand name for their product line of mostly V-12 gasoline aero engines.

Junkers of course was also an aircraft builder. I had read that certain aircraft (the Junkers Ju-86 bomber/transport) had optional Diesel engines. Diesels had to be pretty heavy for aircraft, especially OP ones.

In addition to the gasoline and Diesel aircraft engines, Junkers also built turbojet aircraft engines for the builders of Luftwaffe aircraft.

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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Petz » Fri May 06, 2011 3:42 pm

Interesting project and it would be a must for railfans to have a car with the legendary FM - sound...:-)
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Otto Vondrak » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:19 pm

We're featuring an article about the history of FM opposed piston engines in the November 2011 issue of Railfan & Railroad. It's the first of two parts to be concluded in the December issue.

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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Ðauntless » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:00 pm

Ill have to pick those issues up.

FMs are still alive and well in just about ever other application then Rail. A boat I work on has one, the downside is there a royal pain to work on and are loud as all hell. They have them with (Alco) turbos now making stupid horsepower.

FM makes a good cloths dryer to.
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:44 pm

On a linguistic note...
Desertdweller, a few posts back, asks about "Jumo",
"I thought that was just a brand name for their product line of mostly V-12 gasoline aero engines."

German (like Russian) often uses what are sometimes called "stump compounds" to form short words abbreviating long phrases. Like acronyms, but using (instead of just the first letters of words) the whole first syllable. Example: "Stasi" for the former East German secret police, short for something like "STAatSIcherheitsdienst," or "Gestapo" for the Nazi's secret police, short for something like "GEheimSTAatsPOlizei." I could be wrong, but I've long assumed that "Jumo" was a similar coinage abbreviating something like "JUnkersMOtoren."
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby Petz » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:37 pm

Allen, think you are right and "Jumo" is only a shortened term for "Junkers Motoren" or "Junkers Motorenwerke".
"Gestapo" correctly means "Geheime Staatspolizei".

Look at Google with the term "Junkers Gegenkolbenmotor" (the last word is the german translated term for "opposed piston engine") to find more infos, pictures and videos.
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Re: What's old is new again: the opposed piston engine

Postby FM Fan » Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:30 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:We're featuring an article about the history of FM opposed piston engines in the November 2011 issue of Railfan & Railroad. It's the first of two parts to be concluded in the December issue.

-otto-


Great info !!!

I'll share this info with my FM Loco Yahoo group....

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