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Engine Crankshaft: Linear Motion to Rotating Motion for Power

When it comes to understanding how the engine operates to provide power to a vehicle, one of the most common parts mentioned is the crankshaft. Casually known as the crank, it works in accordance with the piston by transforming the piston's reciprocating linear motion into a rotating motion, which then translates into power produced to move the vehicle. The crankshaft is connected to the piston and is also connected to the flywheel. This position makes the crankshaft very susceptible to stress, which leads to failure or for it to be frequently replaced.

Engine Crankshaft
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Why Crankshafts Fail

When analyzing why crankshafts fail at certain point during its operation, it is important to understand that it is not uncommon for crankshafts to fail at certain points. This is because it is constantly subjected to stress and pressure in the engine resulting from the recurring motion of the piston. There are two main reasons why the crank fails and any of these or a combination of the two is the usual culprits when the crank fails:

  • Due to maximum pressure resulting to over bending at certain parts, which results to the rotating motion being off center. Usually, the area where there is too much bending is either at the center of the crankshaft where the piston is connected or at either ends at the point where it is attached to other cranks.
  • The second reason why the crank fails is due to constant twisting, resulting to the motion that it inherits from the movement of the piston.

Replacing Crankshafts

Crankshafts are very critical in powering any vehicle. However, due to the nature of its function and the environment where it is placed along with the heavy wear of the constant operation, the crankshaft must be regularly checked. A very simple technique in determining if the crankshaft is still usable is by plainly looking at its form. For example, if the crank is showing some bending at the center or that the crank is no longer in the shape of a straight line, it is wise to replace it immediately. If not, it will no longer be able to assist the piston in providing enough power for the vehicle, which in turn causes more fuel consumption.

When replacing crankshaft, one important consideration that auto experts suggest these days is to buy those that uses heavy and dense metal in their construction. It used to be that an all-steel crank was very popular in the market, but even with a heavy metal like this, the cranks still showed susceptibility to pressure and stress. A very popular choice nowadays is to use cranks made from tungsten alloy. Although more expensive than an all-steel crank, it is better than the latter because of better resistance to pressure. Another crank that is also very popular nowadays uses depleted uranium in its construction. Another alternative is using lead, but lead is less dense than either depleted uranium or tungsten, although still much better than an all-steel variety.

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