Internal combustion might as well be wizardry to me. I have a basic idea of how engines work and I've been wrenching on them since I was a teenager, so I get the gist of it, but my feeble brain still turns to a bowl of mush every time I think deeply about the nitty-gritty details. This is why I love demonstration videos such as this one, which shows how internal combustion works through a transparent engine block and head.
The video comes courtesy of the SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel and spotlights Brian King from the AWD Cutlass YouTube channel. King's channel mainly surrounded his all-wheel drive Cutlass build, hence the name. However, more recently, King built a completely transparent engine, from the scraps of an old Chevy LS V8, to demonstrate how internal combustion works.
King bought the old, broken LS V8 for $50, stripped it of its metal skin, and replaced it with transparent plastic. Most of it still works exactly like a typical internal combustion engine, with a fully functioning crankshaft assembly, camshafts, valves, and even an oil pump. However, a few modifications were made to make it "run" without actually running. Since the transparent engine is just for display, it doesn't have actual spark plugs or ignition. Instead, the crank is driven by an electric motor.
However, King equipped the cylinders with LEDs, to signify when the spark plugs should ignite and just getting that to work, with the correct timing, is more impressive than anything I've ever done, mechanically. To get the timing down, he placed a magnet on the camshaft sprocket. As it turns, the magnet passes by metal tubes with magnetic switches that flip the lights on.
When King flips the engine's crank motor on, and it starts working, you can see each cylinder "fire" and how the firing order on an LS V8 works in real time. It always amazes me to think of how fast engines rev and the violence of those metal parts flying around at such speed. To see it in action, with the room lights off, is amazing. It's also kind of funny when King diagnoses a "misfire" from the magnet being strong enough to trigger multiple cylinder LEDs at once.
We've seen transparent engine components before, such as those that show the inside of a cylinder head in action. However, this fully see-through homemade engine is a great demonstration of an engine's full four-stroke cycle.
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