Transparent Engine Block Made of Resin Actually Runs, But Just for a Second

If you’ve always wanted to see inside an engine, here’s your chance.

byLewin Day|
Builds photo
YouTube/Garage 54

YouTube has given us everything from transparent carburetors to cameras in intake manifolds, showing us what's going on in an engine in greater detail than ever before. Garage 54 attempted the holy grail of making the engine block itself transparent, and succeeded... for a fraction of a second.

In a video posted to YouTube, the basic idea is laid out. The aim was to create a transparent engine block based on a four-cylinder engine from an old front-wheel-drive Lada. To achieve this, a silicone mold was created from the Lada engine, which would then be used to cast the block out of resin. The team was under no misapprehension that the block would last very long, with the expectation from the outset that it would be disposable.

The transparent block was given some post-processing to flatten the deck and fit the head studs. It was then assembled with a regular Lada head, crank assembly, and other relevant components. Notably, the engine's pistons appear to be fitted with rubber O-rings in place of steel piston rings, to avoid marring the resin. The block was also made extra transparent with a coat of additional resin applied by hand, to cover the rough surface that had transferred from the original engine block casting.

With everything assembled and the engine on a stand, the team sets about starting their creation in a following video. In place of a starter motor, a large power drill is tasked with starting the engine instead. On the first attempt, we see a couple of flickers of combustion in the chambers, but the drill couldn't quite hack it. The sheer torque required to turn the engine over ripped the chuck right off the drill.

A proper starter and flywheel were fitted instead, with all the torque required to get the engine turning over. That was enough to get the engine to its first power stroke, where the combustion pressure instantly shattered the block, sending shrapnel flying across the workshop floor.

It's a shame to see the engine destroyed so quickly after all that hard work. Notably, there's a large crack visible in the block just before it fails along that very line, so some manufacturing issues may have been part of the problem. The team also note the judicious use of starter fluid which may have played a role.

Regardless, we got a tiny look at what goes on inside a reciprocating engine. It's perhaps plausible that with a few tweaks, the concept could work. A stronger block running at lower compression with more careful fuelling might last long enough to run for more than a second. In any case, Garage 54 is further along than most in the quest to produce an epic transparent engine video for YouTube.

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