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In a splash lubrication system
In 2-stroke crankcase scavenged engines, the interior of the crankcase, and therefore the crankshaft, connecting rod and bottom of the pistons are sprayed by the 2-stroke oil in the air-fuel-oil mixture which is then burned along with the fuel. The valve train may be contained in a compartment flooded with lubricant so that no oil pump is required.
In a splash lubrication system no oil pump is used. Instead the crankshaft dips into the oil in the sump and due to its high speed, it splashes the crankshaft, connecting rods and bottom of the pistons. The connecting rod big end caps may have an attached scoop to enhance this effect. The valve train may also be sealed in a flooded compartment, or open to the crankshaft in a way that it receives splashed oil and allows it to drain back to the sump. Splash lubrication is common for small 4-stroke engines.
In a forced (also called pressurized) lubrication system, lubrication is accomplished in a closed loop which carries motor oil to the surfaces serviced by the system and then returns the oil to a reservoir. The auxiliary equipment of an engine is typically not serviced by this loop; for instance, an alternator may use ball bearings sealed with its lubricant. The reservoir for the oil is usually the sump, and when this is the case, it is called a wet sump system. When there is a different oil reservoir the crankcase still catches it, but it is continuously drained by a dedicated pump; this is called a dry sump system.
Surfaces in contact and relative motion
Diagram of an engine using pressurized lubrication
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Surfaces in contact and relative motion to other surfaces require lubrication to reduce wear, noise and increase efficiency by reducing the power wasting in overcoming friction, or to make the mechanism work at all. At the very least, an engine requires lubrication in the following parts:
Between pistons and cylinders
Big end bearings
Valve gear (The following elements may not be present):
Timing chain or gears. Toothed belts do not require lubrication.
Intake, induction or suction: The intake valves are open as a result of the cam lobe pressing down on the valve stem. The piston moves downward increasing the volume of the combustion chamber and allowing air to enter in the case of a CI engine or an air fuel mix in the case of SI engines that do not use direct injection. The air or air-fuel mixture is called the charge in any case.
Compression: In this stroke, both valves are closed and the piston moves upward reducing the combustion chamber volume which reaches its minimum when the piston is at TDC. The piston performs work on the charge as it is being compressed; as a result its pressure, temperature and density increase; an approximation to this behavior is provided by the ideal gas law. Just before the piston reaches TDC, ignition begins. In the case of a SI engine, the spark plug receives a high voltage pulse that generates the spark which gives it its name and ignites the charge. In the case of a CI engine the fuel injector quickly injects fuel into the combustion chamber as a spray; the fuel ignites due to the high temperature.
Power or working stroke: The pressure of the combustion gases pushes the piston downward, generating more work than it required to compress the charge. Complementary to the compression stroke, the combustion gases expand and as a result their temperature, pressure and density decreases. When the piston is near to BDC the exhaust valve opens. The combustion gases expand irreversibly due to the leftover pressure?in excess of back pressure, the gauge pressure on the exhaust port?; this is called the blowdown.
Exhaust: The exhaust valve remains open while the piston moves upward expelling the combustion gases. For naturally aspirated engines a small part of the combustion gases may remain in the cylinder during normal operation because the piston does not close the combustion chamber completely; these gases dissolve in the next charge. At the end of this stroke, the exhaust valve closes, the intake valve opens, and the sequence repeats in the next cycle. The intake valve may open before the exhaust valve closes to allow better scavenging.