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One difficulty experienced at this time was that the low compression ratio

also implied a low expansion ratio during the power stroke. Exhaust gases
were thus still hot, hotter than a contemporary engine, and this led to
frequent trouble with burnt exhaust valves.
A

major

improvement

to

the

sidevalve

engine

was

the

advent

of Ricardo's turbulent head design. This reduced the space within the
combustion chamber and the ports, but by careful thought about the airflow
paths within them it allowed a more efficient flow in and out of the chamber.
Most importantly, it used turbulence within the chamber to thoroughly mix
the fuel and air mixture. This, of itself, allowed the use of higher compression
ratios and more efficient engine operation.
Despite common knowledge, the limit on sidevalve performance is not the
gas flow through the valves, but rather the shape of the combustion
chamber. With high speed engines and high compression, the limiting
difficulty becomes that of achieving complete and efficient combustion,
whilst also avoiding the problems of unwanted pre-detonation. The shape of
a sidevalve combustion chamber, being inevitably wider than the cylinder to
reach the valve ports, conflicts with achieving both an ideal shape for
combustion[note 2] and also the small volume (and low height) needed for high
compression. Modern, efficient engines thus tend towards the pent roof or
hemi designs, where the valves are brought close in to the centre of the
space.
Where fuel quality is low and octane rating is poor, compression ratios will be
restricted. In these cases, the sidevalve engine still has much to offer.
Particularly in the case of the developed IOE engine for a market with poor
fuels,

engines

such

as Rolls-Royce

series or

the Land-Rover use

complicated arrangement of inclined valves, a cylinder head line at an angle


to the bore and corresponding angled pistons to provide a compact

combustion

chamber

approaching

the

near-hemispherical

ideal.

Such

engines remained in production into the 1990s, only being finally replaced
when the fuels available 'in the field' became more likely to be diesel than
petrol.

DETAIL:
Internally, the cylinder head has passages called ports or tracts for the
fuel/air mixture to travel to the inlet valves from the intake manifold, and
for exhaust gases to travel from the exhaust valves to the exhaust manifold.
In a water-cooled engine, the cylinder head also contains integral ducts and
passages for the engines' coolant - usually a mixture of water and
antifreeze - to facilitate the transfer of excess heat away from the head, and
therefore the engine in general.
In the overhead valve (OHV) design, the cylinder head contains the poppet
valves and the spark plugs, along with tracts or 'ports' for the inlet and
exhaust

gases.

The

operation

of

the

valves

is

initiated

by

the

engine's camshaft, which is sited within the cylinder block, and its moment
of operation is transmitted to the valves pushrods, and then rocker
arms mounted on a rocker shaft - the rocker arms and shaft also being
located within the cylinder head.
In the overhead camshaft (OHC) design, the cylinder head contains the
valves, spark plugs and inlet/exhaust tracts just like the OHV engine, but the
camshaft is now also contained within the cylinder head. The camshaft may
be seated centrally between each offset row of inlet and exhaust valves, and
still also utilizing rocker arms (but without any pushrods), or the camshaft

may be seated directly above the valves eliminating the rocker arms and
utilizing 'bucket' tappets.
Implementation:
The number of cylinder heads in an engine is a function of the engine
configuration. Almost all engines today use a single cylinder head that serves
all the cylinders. A V (or Vee) engine has two cylinder heads, one for each
cylinder bank of the 'V'. For a few compact 'narrow angle' V engines, such as
the Volkswagen VR6, the angle between the cylinder banks is so narrow that
it uses a single head spanning the two banks. A flat engine (basically a V
engine, where the angle between the cylinder banks is now 180) has two
heads. Most radial engines have one head for each cylinder, although this is
usually of the monobloc form wherein the head is made as an integral part of
the cylinder. This is also common for motorcycles, and such head/cylinder
components are referred-to as barrels.