Drivetrain Effects on Small Engine Performance

B. Callahan, Robert Kee, Charles McCartan, Robert Fleck, Robert Kenny, D.O. Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Presented is a study that expands the body of knowledge on the effect of in-cycle speed fluctuations on performance of small engines. It uses the methods developed previously by Callahan, et al. (1) to examine a variety of two-stroke engines and one four-stroke engine. The two-stroke engines were: a high performance single-cylinder, a low performance single-cylinder, a high performance multi-cylinder, and a medium performance multi-cylinder. The four-stroke engine was a high performance single-cylinder unit. Each engine was modeled in Virtual Engines, which is a fully detailed one-dimensional thermodynamic engine simulator. Measured or predicted in-cycle speed data were input into the engine models. Predicted performance changes due to drivetrain effects are shown in each case, and conclusions are drawn from those results. The simulations for the high performance single-cylinder two-stroke engine predicted significant in-cycle crankshaft speed fluctuation amplitudes and significant changes in performance when the fluctuations were input into the engine model. This was validated experimentally on a firing test engine based on a Yamaha YZ250. The four-stroke engine showed significant changes in predicted performance compared to the prediction with zero speed fluctuation assumed in the model. Measured speed fluctuations from a firing Yamaha YZ400F engine were applied to the simulation in addition to data from a simple free mass model. Both methods predicted similar fluctuation profiles and changes in performance. It is shown that the gear reduction between the crankshaft and clutch allowed for this similar behavior. The multi-cylinder, high performance two-stroke engine also showed significant changes in performance, in this case depending on the firing configuration. The low output two-stroke engine simulation showed only a negligible change in performance in spite of high amplitude speed fluctuations. This was due to its flat torque versus speed characteristic. The medium performance multi-cylinder two-stroke engine also showed only a negligible change in performance, in this case due to a relatively high inertia rotating assembly and multiple cylinder firing events within the revolution. These smoothed the net torque pulsations and reduced the amplitude of the speed fluctuation itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2147-2159
Number of pages13
JournalSAE 2003 Transactions Journal of Engines
Volume112 (3)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

Bibliographical note

Journal Name: 0768014506


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