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# Copyright © 2005 by George Reid

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tion are the property of the author, unless otherwise noted or Engine Math
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CHAPTER 8 of this book for further limitations and warranties.

E NGINE MATH

W
hen you’re building an Pi x (1/2B)2 x S = CALCULATING COMPRESSION
engine, it’s nice to be armed Volume of One Cylinder RATIO
with the facts necessary to do
it successfully. Much of engine building We can simplify this further by An engine’s compression ratio is the This diagram shows all the volumes you need to know to calculate an engine’s true compression ratio: Cylinder volume (V),
is about math — machining dimensions, plugging in the numerical value for Pi, ratio between two volumes: The volume piston dome (-P) or dish volume (P), piston/deck height (D), compressed gasket volume (G), and the combustion
compression and rod ratios, bore sizes, then doing some basic algebra that does- of the cylinder and combustion chamber chamber volume (C). The compression ratio is the volume of the cylinder and combustion chamber (V + P + D + G +C) when
stroke, journal diameters, carburetors, n’t necessarily need to be covered here when the piston is at BDC, and the vol- the piston is at bottom dead center, compared to the volume of the combustion chamber (P + D + G +C) when the piston is
port sizes, dynamic balancing, and all — but trust us: the equation before is ume of the combustion chamber when at top dead center.
the rest of it. Without math, you cannot equal to this equation: the piston is at TDC. But there’s more to
successfully build an engine. What fol- consider than just cylinder volume and Combustion Chamber Volume Compressed Head (TDC) and measure the distance from
lows are quick facts that will help you in B x B x S x 0.7854 = head cc’s. To get the engine’s TRUE Combustion chamber volumes for Gasket Volume the top of the piston to the deck of the
your Ford engine building. Volume of One Cylinder compression ratio, you need to know stock heads and aftermarket heads are Compressed head gasket volume is block. This is normally somewhere
these volumes: typically available from the manufac- simply the volume of the cylinder hole between .008 and .025 inch. If the block
CUBIC-I NCH D ISPLACEMENT To determine the engine’s displace- turer. If you can’t find the info or if in the head gasket — think of it as a deck has been machined, say .010 inch,
ment, factor in the number of cylinders (N): • Combustion Chamber Volume (C) you’ve modified the combustion cham- very shallow cylinder. So, its volume is then deck height will be smaller.
Cubic-inch displacement is simply • Compressed Head Gasket Volume (G) bers, you’ll have to measure the vol- computed the same way you compute Once again, this volume is a shallow
the volume displaced by the cylinders of B x B x S x 0.7854 x N = • Piston/Deck Height (D) umes (using a plastic deck plate, cylinder volume: cylinder. Compute its volume by plug-
your engine. So, if we calculate the vol- Engine displacement. • Piston Dish Volume (P) or Dome burettes, and a graduated cylinder) or ging the piston/deck height measurement
ume of one cylinder, and multiply that Volume (-P) have your local machine shop do it for B x B x Gasket Thickness x 0.7854 = (D) into the cylinder volume formula:
figure times the number of cylinders, we So, let’s use this to figure out the • Cylinder Volume (V) you. Compressed Head Gasket Volume
have the engine’s displacement. displacement of a Ford engine that has a B x B x D x 0.7854 = Piston/Deck
The formula for a cylinder’s volume is: 4-inch Bore and a 3-inch Stroke: When the piston is at BDC, the total Converting cc’s to ci’s In this case, the gasket’s com- Height Volume
volume is all of these volumes added pressed thickness is .038 inches, so . . .
Pi x r2 x S = Volume of one cylinder. 4.000” x 4.000” x 3.00” x 0.7854 x 8 = together. When the piston is at TDC, the Combustion chamber volume, In our example, this measurement
301.59 ci total volume is all of these EXCEPT the dome volume, and dish volume are 4.000” x 4.000”x .038” x 0.7854 = was .015 inch, so we plug in that value
Where Pi is a mathematical constant Cylinder Volume (V). So... true com- generally measured in cc’s, not cubic 0.4775232 ci to compute piston/deck height volume
equal to 3.14159, r is the radius of the Ford rounded 301.59 up to 302 ci, pression ratio is this: inches. To convert cc’s to cubic inches, in cubic inches.
cylinder, and S is the stroke. If you think or 4.9L. (Note: One liter is equal to divide the measurement in cc’s by 16.4. Piston/Deck Height Volume
back to your high school geometry, you about 61 cubic inches.) V+D+G+C+P Piston/Deck height volume is the 4.000” x 4.000” x .015” x 0.7854 =
may remember that a circle’s radius is D+G+C+P cc/16.4 = ci small volume at the top of the cylinder 0.188496 ci
half the diameter. In this case, the diam- that is not swept by the piston. Measure
eter is equal to the bore (B), so 1/2B = r. piston/deck height with a dial indicator.
Plug that in, and our formula becomes: Bring the piston to top dead center

136 How To Rebuild the Small-Block Ford How To Rebuild the Small-Block Ford 137