Picking the right cylinder sleeve is a critical part of building an engine. It protects the engine from the high pressure action of the piston. Without the sleeve, a cylinder block can overheat or get damaged in a very short span of time. Sleeves are made to prolong the life of the engine, while giving it fuel efficiency. Since, sleeves are replaceable, they also make the engine easy to maintain. In short, picking the right sleeve is critical.
The first part of doing this is picking the right supplier. A reliable supplier means that you are getting a product that is of good quality, which takes care of half the battle for you! Here are a few tips to follow when picking a right supplier:
Research: Like any other supplier, it starts with the research. There are many avenues for finding the candidates — industry peers, blogs and online forums. Most manufacturers will have their own website. Go through the website to see their specialisations, location, and other relevant information. Find out as much as you can and then schedule a meeting.
Deciding what you want: The first thing you have to decide is what you are looking for. There are many factors that you have to consider here. Liners can be made of many metals — cast, iron steel or alloys. You have to decide what you want before you go ahead. The next factor is the type of liner you want — wet or dry. The wet liners have an integrated coolant, while a dry liner must fit snugly. This has to decided according to your own priorities.
Then comes the volume that you are looking for. Small suppliers will have a limited capacity. So, if it is high volumes you need, you may have clear this during the initial meetings. You should also ensure that the supplier can scale up with future demands. Remember the more clarity you have, the more clear will be your demands and negotiations.
Specialisation: Most cylinder liners will be manufacturing both dry and wet liners. Nevertheless you should find out if they can supply just what you want and if they have specialisation in the field. You may also want to know if they have supplied to your industry. This is not strictly required, since cylinder sleeves have a pretty homogenous design, but experience of working in the industry will give them an understanding of how it works, the rules and regulations.
Customisation: If you are looking for something very different, you may want to look for manufacturers who offer customisation. Most manufacturers will have the standard cylinder sleeves with different specifications that fit the standard cylinder block. But engine designs are one of the most researched fields. So, you want something special. However, customisation is not offered by every manufacturer, especially if the volumes are low.
Machining capacity: Cylinder sleeves, especially dry sleeves have to be very precisely machined. This is critical for the correct fit of the sleeve in the cylinder block. Some manufacturers do it in-house, while some outsource it to specialists. Look for manufacturers who have in-house machining capacity. This gives you greater control on the quality, design and delivery of the finished product. You must also check if their CNC capacity is up to mark and they can machine the sleeve as per your requirements.
Metal used: Cylinder sleeves are made mostly with cast iron and ordinarily this would be fine. But for an engine with high horsepower you may need ductile cast iron of very high grade. Many automotive engineers also prefer working with alloys, like chromium, when plating the inside of the sleeve. So, find out if the manufacturer can supply these for you.
Other products & services: Some manufacturers offer a host of other products — crank shafts, valves, piston pins, pistons and other engine components. This could be an invaluable supply for those manufacturers who want to source these products. You may want to stick to a single manufacturer. Similarly, there are many important services offered by many suppliers, such as design and prototype printing. Before you decide, do a cost evaluation to see if hiring such services are economic in the long term.
You should also personally visit the cylinder sleeve manufacturer units. It can give you an insight on their efficiency, woking style, willing to cooperate with you and their own corporate ethics.