The measurement of liner - piston skirt oil film thickness by an ultrasonic means

The paper presents a novel method for the measurement of lubricant film thickness in the piston-liner contact. Direct measurement of the film in this conjunction has always posed a problem, particularly under fired conditions. The principle is based on capturing and analysing the reflection of an ultrasonic pulse at the oil film. The proportion of the wave amplitude reflected can be related to the thickness of the oil film. A single cylinder 4-stroke engine on a dyno test platform was used for evaluation of the method. A piezo-electric transducer was bonded to the outside of the cylinder liner and used to emit high frequency short duration ultrasonic pulses. These pulses were used to determine the oil film thickness as the piston skirt passed over the sensor location. Oil films in the range 2 to 21 μm were recorded varying with engine speeds. The results have been shown to be in agreement with detailed numerical predictions.