Believe it or not, automobile engines share a lot with human beings. Of course there is the relationship that is we make them but the similarities go beyond what meets the eye. Some petrol heads accord more love to their machines than to their fellow human beings. I will come out and say that I am one of them. It’s hard to put a finger on it and say, ‘this is why I love cars more...’ but trust me; I will skip a date just for an opportune drive. It’s therapy for me.
That being said, I will dive into engine break ins. An engine that hasn’t been broken into is brand new. I mean it has never run. Straight from assembly. A brand new engine is not to be driven hard as that might in fact ruin it. The breaking-in process is similar for internal combustion engines be it bikes or cars. Constant speed internal combustion engines, like generators and land mowers, need not worry about this.
An internal combustion engine is made up of a collection of parts that rely on each other to make power. Some of these parts sit inside others and need some bashing to sit right just like hammers are used to gently coerce parts that almost fit to fit. Some of these parts include the bore (where the pistons move up and down ), crank bearings (the thing converting up and down motion to rotational movement), the piston rings (they seal gaps in the piston that lubricate the bore) and the cylinder head which houses the cam shaft (timing shaft) and valves that operate the pistons.
All these parts have to work together to achieve the smooth hum we hear from new engines. However the machining processes are not always perfect thought we have come a long way with the help of computers and precise laser measuring devices. This means that the engine has tiny imperfections all round that need to be gently ‘hammered’ into place. This is similar to how landscape people leave mounds and assure you that it will settle into hard flat ground. Hadn’t they done that, a hole could have been formed.
Similar case applies to internal combustion engines. For example, the piston rings scrub the wall of the bore for a new engine. This is not bad as in a gentle fashion they will smoothen over time and settle into a perfect position. The valves which are operated by the cam shaft also need some time as the cam nodes that operate the valves need some getting used to. These changes are indistinguishable at first but they have a big say towards the reliability of your engine.
An athlete competing in the hundred meter dash starts his session with warm up routines that start slow and gradually increase pace to what they call trial runs. These are full speed workouts where now the athlete starts pushing his or her top speed. Without a warm up these muscles would have been torn and injuries could result hence compromising performance.
Cars are not so different either.
[continued in the next article]