Aircraft Reciprocating Engine Cylinder Removal and Installation

Cylinder Removal

Since these instructions are meant to cover all air-cooled engines, they are of a very general nature. The applicable manufacturer’s maintenance manual should be consulted for torque values and special precautions applying to a particular aircraft and engine. However, always practice neatness and cleanliness, and always protect openings so that nuts, washers, tools, and miscellaneous items do not enter the engine’s internal sections.

Cylinder Removal and Installation

Assuming that all obstructing cowling and brackets have been removed, first remove the intake pipe and exhaust pipes. Plug or cover openings in the intake or diffuser section. Then, remove cylinder deflectors and any attaching brackets that would obstruct cylinder removal. Loosen the spark plugs and remove the spark plug lead clamps. Do not remove the spark plugs until ready to pull the cylinder off. Remove the rocker box covers. First, remove the nuts and then tap the cover lightly with a rawhide mallet or plastic hammer. Never pry the cover off with a screwdriver or similar tool.

Loosen the pushrod packing gland nuts or hose clamps, top and bottom. Pushrods are removed by depressing the rocker arms with a special tool, or by removing the rocker arm. Before removing the pushrods, turn the crankshaft until the piston is at top dead center on the compression stroke. This relieves the pressure on both intake and exhaust rocker arms. It is also wise to back off the adjusting nut as far as possible, because this allows maximum clearance for pushrod removal when the rocker arms are depressed.

On some model engines, or if the engine is rotated, tappets and springs of lower cylinders can fall out. Provision must be made to catch them as the pushrod and housing are removed. After removing the pushrods, examine them for markings or mark them so that they may be replaced in the same location as they were before removal. The ball ends are usually worn to fit the sockets in which they have been operating. Furthermore, on some engines, pushrods are not all of the same length. A good procedure is to mark the pushrods near the valve tappet ends No. 1 IN, No. 1 EX, No. 2 IN, No. 2 EX., etc. On fuel injection engines, disconnect the fuel injection line and any line clamps that interfere with cylinder removal.

The next step in removing the cylinder is to cut the lock wire or remove the cotter pin, and pry off the locking device from the cylinder-attaching cap-screws or nuts. Remove all the screws or nuts except two located 180° apart. Use the wrench specified for this purpose in the special tools section of the applicable manual.

Finally, while supporting the cylinder, remove the two remaining screws or nuts and gently pull the cylinder away from the crankcase. Two technicians working together during this step, as well as during the remaining procedure for cylinder replacement, helps prevent damage or dropping of the cylinder. After the cylinder skirt has cleared the crankcase, but before the piston protrudes from the skirt, provide some means (usually a shop cloth) for preventing pieces of broken rings from falling into the crankcase. After the piston has been removed, remove the cloths and carefully check that all pieces were prevented from falling into the crankcase.

Place a support on the cylinder mounting pad and secure it with two cap-screws or nuts. Then, remove the piston and ring assembly from the connecting rod. A pin pusher or puller tool can be used when varnish makes it hard to remove the pin. If the special tool is not available and a drift is used to remove the piston pin, the connecting rod should be supported so that it does not have to take the shock of the blows. If this is not done, the rod may be damaged.

After the removal of a cylinder and piston, the connecting rod must be supported to prevent damage to the rod and crankcase. This can be done by supporting each connecting rod with the removed cylinder base oil seal ring looped around the rod and cylinder base studs.

Using a wire brush, clean the studs or cap-screws and examine them for cracks, damaged threads, or any other visible defects. If one cap-screw is found loose or broken at the time of cylinder removal, all the cap-screws for the cylinder should be discarded, since the remaining cap-screws may have been seriously weakened. A cylinder hold down stud failure places the adjacent studs under a greater operating pressure, and they are likely to be stretched beyond their elastic limit. The engine manufacturer’s instruction must be followed for the number of studs that have to be replaced after a stud failure. When removing a broken stud, take proper precautions to prevent metal chips from entering the engine crankcase section. In all cases, both faces of the washers and the seating faces of stud nuts or cap-screws must be cleaned and any roughness or burrs removed.

Cylinder Installation

See that all preservative oil accumulation on the cylinder and piston assembly is washed off with solvent and thoroughly dried with compressed air. Install the piston and ring assembly on the connecting rod. Be sure that the piston faces in the right direction. The piston number stamped on the bottom of the piston head should face toward the front of the engine. Lubricate the piston pin before inserting it. It should fit with a push fit. If a drift must be used, follow the same precaution that was taken during pin removal.

Oil the exterior of the piston assembly generously, forcing oil around the piston rings and in the space between the rings and grooves. Stagger the ring gaps around the piston and check to see that rings are in the correct grooves, and whether they are positioned correctly, as some are used as oil scrapers, others as pumper rings. The number, type, and arrangement of the compression and oil-control rings vary with the make and model of engine.

Perform any and all visual, structural, and dimensional inspection checks before installing the cylinder. Check the flange to see that the mating surface is smooth and clean. Coat the inside of the cylinder barrel generously with oil. Be sure that the cylinder oil-seal ring is in place and that only one seal ring is used.

Using a ring compressor, compress the rings to a diameter equal to that of the piston. With the piston at TDC, start the cylinder assembly down over the piston, making certain that the cylinder and piston plane remain the same. Ease the cylinder over the piston with a straight, even movement that moves the ring compressor as the cylinder slips on. Do not rock the cylinder while slipping it on the piston, since any rocking is apt to release a piston ring or a part of a ring from the ring compressor prior to the ring’s entrance into the cylinder bore. A ring released in this manner expands and prevents the piston from entering the cylinder. Any attempt to force the cylinder onto the piston is apt to cause cracking or chipping of the ring or damage to the ring lands.

After the cylinder has slipped on the piston, so that all piston rings are in the cylinder bore, remove the ring compressor and the connecting rod guide. Then, slide the cylinder into place on the mounting pad. If cap-screws are used, rotate the cylinder to align the holes. While still supporting the cylinder, install two cap-screws or stud nuts 180° apart.

Install the remaining nuts or cap-screws, and tighten them until they are snug. The hold down nuts, or cap-screws, must now be torqued to the value specified in the table of torque values in the engine manufacturer’s service or overhaul manual. Apply the torque with a slow, steady motion until the prescribed value is reached. Hold the tension on the wrench for a sufficient length of time to ensure that the nut or cap-screw tightens no more at the prescribed torque value. In many cases, additional turning of the cap-screw, or nut, as much as one-quarter turn can be done by maintaining the prescribed torque on the nut for a short period of time. After the stud nuts, or cap-screws, have been torqued to the prescribed value, safety them in the manner recommended in the engine manufacturer’s service manual.

Reinstall the push rods, push rod housings, rocker arms, barrel deflectors, intake pipes, ignition harness lead clamps and brackets, fuel injection line clamps and fuel injection nozzles (if removed), exhaust stack, cylinder head deflectors, and spark plugs. Remember that the push rods must be installed in their original locations and must not be turned end to end. Make sure that the push rod ball end seats properly in the tappet. If it rests on the edge or shoulder of the tappet during valve clearance adjustment and later drops into place, valve clearance is off.

Furthermore, rotating the crankshaft with the push rod resting on the edge of the tappet may bend the push rod. After installing the push rods and rocker arms, set the valve clearance. Before installing the rocker-box covers, lubricate the rocker arm bearings and valve stems. Check the rockerbox covers for flatness; re-surface them if necessary. After installing the gaskets and covers, tighten the rocker-box cover nuts to the specified torque. Always follow the recommended safety procedures.

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