How Can an Engine Produce More Horsepower? Part I The Basics

Word Count:

A "basics" series of articles that deal with how to produce more horsepower from your engine. It is not an all inclusive article but just the basics. Part I is the theoretical part, continued with the Intake, Exhaust, and Engine Electrical system.

autos, automotive, cars, performance, import, domestic, JDM, trucks, combustion, engine, horsepower, cylinders, fuel, oxygen, intake, exhuast, headers, manifold, filters, turbo, kits

Article Body:
So you have a lead foot (and the tickets to show for it). You want to put the pedal down and have a little more power to the pavement (dont we all). Then lets talk about the basics of how your engine produces power, no matter if it is a 4 cylinder rice burner or a mammoth V-8 brimming out of your hood. Lets start with the basics. As a Crew Chief in the United States Air Force, jet engine combustion was always taught in the simplest of terms: <strong> Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow. </strong> Yes it sounds like a sultry movie you would watch at a pay by hour motel, but it will all make sense in a second.

Lets start with the first part of our friendly Department of Defense taught equation. Literally your engine sucksoxygen. Now follow me on this one Homer, the air from the outside travels through an intake tube to a manifold all the way into the cylinder chamber. So why do we need more oxygen? Good Question. We need the maximum amount of ambient air to fill each cylinder chamber (no matter if you have 4 or 10 of them) on the down stroke of a combustion cycle with one of the magical ingredients that produce horsepower: you guessed it, <strong> oxygen </strong>. Why? Keep reading.

At this point after our suck part of the equation is complete, we move on too the squeeze part. The valve that allowed the air to enter the cylinder chamber closes and the cylinder moves upwards and squeezes the air that was sucked in, at the same time fuel is introduced to the chamber at this point. Now if you where a Boy Scout or had gone through Combat Survival like I did, then you know you need three things to make fire. <strong> Air (oxygen), Fuel (gasoline), and Ignition (sparkplugs, more on these later). </strong> Now we are condensing the air and the fuel, making a nice packed (and denser) concoction for a nice fire, well really an explosion. How? Keep reading.

I like fireworks, and that is what you have for the third part of our equation, bang. Now we are cooking, with that oxygen and fuel all compressed and ready to explode. Remember I told you about the ignition, you know the sparkplugs. These little puppies produce a high intensity spark that are going to ignite that condensed concoction we have been talking about. Bang, ignition, an explosion happens and this is really where the horsepower happens. Why? Well at this point the cylinder is pushed down at X amount of force. That X amount of force is dependant on a lot of factors, which when you get right down to it is where horsepower is made. How? Because that little explosion pushes the cylinder down, in turn will push one of your other cylinders up and then that little explosion happens again. Its a tough vicious cycle, rotating continuously, producing what is better known as horsepower. Lets move on.

So we have sucked, squeezed, banged and now we need to blow (youre a pervert). The exhaust valve opens up and lets out the carbon dioxide that are left over after our little explosion inside the combustion chamber. Now this little cycle, which happens in milliseconds, is reproduced thousands of times a minute. You know your tachometer, RPM (revolutions per minutes), that is about how many times this cycle of combustion happens in one minute.

There you go this is the very basics of how an engine produces power.

If this is still a little confusing to you, well try to envision it as much as possible. Now on the next article we will talk about how we can improve this combustion cycle to produce the best possible combustion which in turn produces more horsepower from your engine.

Check out: How Can an Engine Produce More Horsepower? Part II The Intake

Monza Blog - Corvette, Corvair, Chevrolet, Performance