When it comes to crankshafts, camshafts, pistons, and transmissions, most people are in the dark about how they work.
The truth is that cars, generators, boats, and anything with a combustible engine are a modern miracle of engineering. Interestingly, it predates the combustible engine and cars by centuries. Most of it relies on mechanical precision, but computers and sensors are playing a more and more critical role in perfect operation, too.
That all said, what is a crankshaft and what does it do? Keep reading to find out what a crankshaft is, and how it’s different from a camshaft.
What Is a Crankshaft, Anyway?
The crankshaft translates the energy of the movement of the pistons into the movement of your wheels.
Because of the criticality of crankshafts (and camshafts) it stands to reason that you’ll want to get quality parts. For larger and more specialized engines like marine or generators, you need to find the best and most trusted suppliers like Depco parts.
There’s not a single combustible engine that doesn’t use a type of crankshaft and camshaft to operate.
The Parts of a Crankshaft
There are six main areas of the crankshaft that make it work. Along with the camshaft (more on that later), the crankshaft makes up a major component of the drive train. From the crankshaft, power goes into the flywheel and engages the transmission (gearbox) of your car.
- Flywheel mounting flange
- Main bearing journals
- Rod bearing journals
- Crank webs and counterweights
- Oil seals and passages
- Pulley end or keyway
How the Parts Work Together
Pistons are in the cylinders and gas is firing, pushing them down with great force. This in turn pushes down the connecting rod. On the big end of the connecting rod are the big end bearing inserts and the rod cap.
These clamp down on the rod bearing journals of the crankshaft. The main bearing journals are in line with the flywheel and pulley end, while the rod bearing journals are offset to match the piston position.
Camshaft vs Crankshaft: What’s the difference?
If the engine is the heart of the car, the camshaft is equivalent to the valves of your heart opening and closing at just the right time for respiration. The crankshaft is more like the aorta sending freshly oxygenated blood to your body.
The camshaft literally opens and closes the four valves of each piston to allow oxygen in and exhaust out. The camshaft is connected to the crankshaft, usually through the timing chain. This is a metal chain that looks similar to a bicycle chain but much stronger.
Precise timing has to happen for camshafts and crankshafts to work in unison. This is why they’re as directly connected as possible.
We didn’t get into the counterweights, or why oil passages and seals are important, but we’re confident you get the gist of what those are for. Crankshafts are as important as your pistons, valves, and transmission.
None of the parts can move your car, boat, or generate power without the other.
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