Thursday, December 07, 2006

W-12 engine?

I am familiar with straight four, five, and six cylinder engines, flat four and six cylinder engines, and V four, six, eight, ten, and twelve cylinder engines. But when I heard about a W12 engine, I was fascinated. How could such an engine be produced? I began talking with someone about it and quickly realized that I had no idea how the thing was setup. Would it have three banks of four cylinders? four banks of three (criss-crossed like the VW symbol)? I wasn't sure until today.

This article made things a little more clear. The key to understanding the W-12 is an understanding of the VR6 engine. It is different from most V-6 engines in that there are only 15 degrees separating the two banks of three cylinders. The picture shows that the cylinders are asymmetrical and unusual. If you can grasp the design of the VR6, you will understand that the W-12 is two 15 degree V-6 cylinder banks connected to the same crank shaft.

Will this type of setup prove to be reliable? I guess VW must think so as their VR6 engines have become very popular. Whatever the case, the W-12 engine is truly an interesting setup ... even if I still don't quite understand it. I may need to read the article again, but until then I think I'll stick with the simple and familiar slant four.

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