Ø 64 cm bore, 90 cm stroke, 2’150 kW (2’880 hp) power per cylinder: The world’s largest four-stroke engines are very mighty machines indeed!
These powerful engines were built during the late 1990’s, mostly in a 6-cylinder configuration. With a nominal power output of 12’900 kW, they found popular application as single propulsion engines in multi-purpose cargo vessel of about 20’000 DWT size.
During 20 – 25 years of operation until now, these engines have accumulated more than 120’000 running hours each. In terms of number of engine revolutions, this is equivalent to a car driving for 1.8 million kilometers (1 million miles)!
It is therefore hardly surprising, that after that many running hours signs of wear were found on the crankpins of these engines. As is often the case on medium-speed, four-stroke engines, the crankpins were suffering from what is called “cam effect” or “ridge wear”.
Usually, then the cam effect will manifest itself in two ways:
- Through uneven wear in horizontal direction, with nearly no wear at the centre of the pin and at the edges, but with easily noticeable wear to the left and right of the oil bore.
- The pin is not affected evenly throughout its circumference. The cam effect is usually most pronounced at about 30 – 45 degrees after Bottom Dead Centre (BDC). For this reason it is called “cam effect” – the pin is not perfectly circular anymore.
QuantiServ appeals to owners and operators of medium-speed four-stroke engines to sensitize the crew about the cam effect. We highly recommend that the pins are carefully checked whenever an engine overhaul or bearing replacement is carried out. If any uneven wear patterns are detected, then the pin must be machine-polished to restore its proper geometry before any new bearings are installed and the engine is restarted.
If the cam effect is detected in good time, then machine polishing of the pins is usually sufficient to correct the problem. After machine polishing, the crankshaft will be ready again for several years of continuing operation. Whether standard bearings or undersize bearings will have to be installed after polishing will depend on the actual situation.
If, on the other hand, the cam effect goes undetected for too long, then a crankpin failure is almost inevitable. Such was also the case here on the first engine. Heat treatment and machining was therefore necessary and was swiftly carried out by our Swedish specialists. Having seen the excellent result and now aware of the cam effect, the customer tasked us to machine polish all pins on this engine and on the sister vessels, which is why we eventually polished about 70 pins in quick succession but in different ports.
All work described above was carried out on board by our Swedish in-situ specialists. They were supported by our reconditioning experts that meanwhile worked on those engine components that were removed from the vessel for an intervention ashore. These components were sent to our reconditioning centre in Kruiningen, The Netherlands, where they underwent thorough overhauling and machining works.
By the time of writing in August 2022, we have overhauled around 70 cylinder heads and have re-bored a similar quantity of big end bearing housings. Machining the big end bearing housings became a necessity due to excessive ovality in the bore.