|Topics||Alternator, Battery, Crankshaft, Cylinders, Distributor, Ignition Timing, Intake Manifold, Radiator, Thermostat, Water Jacket|
Once the engine is running, the alternator provides electrical current to recharge the battery and power the electrical system. The alternator is driven by the engine's crankshaft and produces alternating current (AC) which is then fed through a rectifier bridge to convert it to the direct current (DC) required by the electrical system. A voltage regulator controls the output of the alternator to maintain a consistent voltage (approx. 14.5 volts) in the electrical system regardless of load.
The battery supplies the power necessary to start the engine when the ignition switch is is turned on.
The crankshaft converts the reciprocating motion of the piston into the rotational motion that's used to power the vehicle and its components.
Cylinders act as a guide for the pistons that translate the heat energy of combustion into the mechanical energy necessary to move a vehicle. Piston rings seal the piston to the cylinder to contain combustion gases and also regulate the oil distribution between the piston and cylinder wall. A cylinder head closes in the top of the cylinder forming the combustion chamber which is sealed by a head gasket (head). The head provides space for air and fuel intake valves, exhaust valves, and mounts for spark plugs and fuel injectors.
The distributor is driven by the engine's camshaft and is responsible for timing the spark and distributing it to the correct cylinder. The distributor cap contains a rotor that connects the ignition coil (and its high voltage) to the proper cylinder at the proper point in the stroke cycle.
Ignition timing defines the point in time at the end of the compression stroke that the spark plug fires. Measured in number of degrees before top dead center (BTDC), the exact point that the spark plugs initiate combustion varies depending on the speed of the engine. The timing is advanced (the spark plugs fire a few more degrees BTDC) when the engine is running faster and retarded when it's running slower.
The intake manifold distributes outside air to the intake ports on the cylinder heads. The intake air filter removes any airborne contaminants before the air enters the engine.
The radiator is responsible for tranferring heat from the coolant to the outside air. Radiator hoses transfer coolant to and from the engine to the radiator and a radiator cap maintains pressure in the cooling system to increase the boiling point of the coolant mixture and thus allow it to absorb more heat.
The thermostat controls coolant (and, through it, engine) temperature by regulating the flow of coolant through the radiator. A bypass tube allows coolant to bypass the radiator and flow back into the water pump when its temperature is low enough that the thermostat is closed.
A water jacket is a coolant-filled casing that allows heat transfer from the engine block and cylinder heads to the liquid coolant.