# 'Undersquare' vs. 'Oversquare' pistons? Need Help

by Crazyevox
Tags: oversquare, pistons, undersquare
 P: 12 hi I'm a high school student doing a little research on the performance applications of oversquare and undersquare pistons in car engines... btw, oversquare = pistons with bore:stroke ratio > 1 undersquare = pistons with bore:Stroke ratio < 1 I've found that several sports models tend to have oversquare pistons, while the slower and rather heavy duty cars prefer undersquare pistons. Could someone explain the mechanics of this...? I've heard that, for every cubic centimeter or inch of displacement volume, oversquare engines can operate at much higher speeds than undersquare ones. Does this necessarily imply more power, if so how?? I mean if we were to create a 400 cc cylinder (not engine), and decide whether to make it undersquared (eg. bore= 7.14 cm, stroke = 10 cm, volume = 400cc) or oversquared (eg. bore = 9.21 cm, stroke = 6 cm, volume = 400cc) and want maximum power out of it... would we prefer the oversquare design? Is this simply because it can 'rev to more RPM'?? Please note I'm only concerned about the performance aspect of this comparison. Could someone kindly explain this to me in detail? Cheers!!
 PF Gold P: 7,363 Just Google on those terms. There's tons of information available. For instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroke_ratio
 PF Gold P: 8,964 Welcome to PF, Crazyevox. There is no power advantage to either design. Where they differ is in how that power is produced. As a general rule, a 'stroker' (undersquare) makes it's maximum hp/torque at lower rpm's. An oversquare motor of equal displacement can make the same amount, but you might have to rev it three times faster to reach the power band.
P: 12
'Undersquare' vs. 'Oversquare' pistons? Need Help

 Quote by Danger Welcome to PF, Crazyevox. There is no power advantage to either design. Where they differ is in how that power is produced. As a general rule, a 'stroker' (undersquare) makes it's maximum hp/torque at lower rpm's. An oversquare motor of equal displacement can make the same amount, but you might have to rev it three times faster to reach the power band.
I've googled this a bit and I find several sources claiming the same... but I havent found any source saying both types produce the same power if they have same displacement.

If that was the case, why would say, sports car makers prefer oversquare designs... wouldn't they wish that power would come earlier in the rpm band? Wouldnt producing that large amount of power at high rpm damage the engine?
A lot of the responsive engines such as porsches and several others seem to use that design.

well kindly correct me if I'm wrong... but this was what I have heard..

>>>>An oversquare engine produces 'more' power than an undersqaure one because it can 'rev higher'.

Since the volume of fuel involved is the same for both engines (as they have similar displacement), we could say that..
'Work' done by the fuel (gas) on the piston= p x V (p = gas pressure, V = gas volume)

Power = Work/Time
So if the gas can do more work per second, it obviously makes more power.
By revving high, the gas would do more pushing and pulling of the piston in a second, hence more work, and more power.<<<<

However, I'm afraid this could be incorrect because the 'work' at a given rpm would be different for undersquare and oversquare engines...
because work = p x v
the volume should obviously be same for both (because of equal displacement)

But I find the pressure value difficult to understand :(
Would the gas pressure be constant both engines too, because they have same displacement volume and presumably same temperatures (if temp and volume are constant, I think pressure should be too) ??

So this is what I believe:::::
If the pressure IS constant for both engines, so should the work done at a given RPM. So if RPM is increased, work done per second increases, hence more power! Since oversquare engines can rev very high... they should make higher max power. :)

By the way..... it can be proved that oversquare engines are naturally 'capable' of running higher rpm than undersquare ones.
Apparently oversquare pistons would be heavier than undersquare pistons of the same displacement due to their larger radius. This would create large stress loads on the engine. However, 'strokers' undergo a larger momentum change at BDC and TDC of the stroke. The overall effect is that increasing stroke length causes a greater increase in stress load on the engine than increasing the bore length. Hence, undersquare pistons cannot rev as high.

Pleeeeeeaase correct me if I'm wrong!!

Cheers again!!
PF Gold
P: 7,363
 Quote by Crazyevox It's because undersquare engines have heavier pistons which create more stress load (both pistons have same displacement, but the 'strokers' need to compensate for a lack of bore length by increasing their radius, and hence mass) Pleeeeeeaase correct me if I'm wrong!! Cheers again!!
Read that Wiki article again. Undersquare engines are the strokers. They have smaller-diameter pistons than short-stroke engines of the same displacement.
 P: 12 oh cheers turbo! That was a careless mistake on my part. I've got it sorted out now. Hopefully its more clear.
P: 12
 Quote by Crazyevox So this is what I believe::::: If the (gas) pressure IS constant for both engines, so should the work done at a given RPM. So if RPM is increased, work done per second increases, hence more power! Since oversquare engines can rev very high... they should make higher max power. :)
Does anyone believe this is incorrect? :(
 PF Gold P: 8,964 Remember that a stroker takes longer to extract the energy from the expanding gas because there is less surface area to the pistons. Since the volume is the same as the shortie, the pistons travel farther to achieve it.
P: 12
 Quote by Danger Remember that a stroker takes longer to extract the energy from the expanding gas because there is less surface area to the pistons. Since the volume is the same as the shortie, the pistons travel farther to achieve it.
Could you kindly elaborate a bit further?

So does that imply that oversquare pistons are indeed capable of producing more max power than strokers of the same displacement volume?

Basically, for the same disp volume, given a fixed number of revs, shouldnt both pistons produce the same power? They're doing the same amount of work (gas pressure x volume are same for both cases, given the compression ratios are equal too), in the same amount of time (because of the same revs).
SO theoretically if we increase the revs, they should produce more power. But it can be proved that the shortie is capable of doing more revs than the stroker because of physical strains on the system.
Hence the shortie (oversquare) should make more max power.
 PF Gold P: 8,964 Horsepower is calculated from torque and time. A stroker has more torque because the crankshaft 'throw' gives a longer lever arm on the power stroke. An oversquare engine has to spin faster to get the same horsepower from less torque. That longer throw is also why a stroker will have a higher compression ratio if other design considerations are the same, and why it can't match the rpm's of a spinner.
P: 12
 Quote by Danger Horsepower is calculated from torque and time. A stoker has more torque because the crankshaft 'throw' gives a longer lever arm on the power stroke. An oversquare engine has to spin faster to get the same horsepower from less torque. That longer throw is also why a stroker will have a higher compression ratio if other design considerations are the same, and why it can't match the rpm's of a spinner.
Well I kind of disagree with the fact that the stroker provides higher torque because of its leverage.

I think theres something that compensates for that extra leverage effect...
Oversquare pistons have a larger surface area affected by the gas pressure.

Hence Force on piston = Pressure x Surface Area

So strokers, having lesser surface area, will thus experience lesser force than a wide bore oversquare piston.

Torque = (Force on piston) x throw length
So between strokers and oversquare pistons, there is a trade off between the force and throw length. And this effectively makes the torque produced by both types the same, given that the gas does the same amount of work (pressure x volume) on both.

Now on to the pressure issue,
I really wanted to keep the same compression ratios for both types... although it could seem a bit unfair....
if trading off between bore and stroke (while keeping displacement constant), makes the strokers have better compression ratios... I'd want to change the combustion chamber volume to ensure the ratio is the same for both. Hopefully that doesnt have any significant impact on the way power is produced.

So equal compression ratios imply equal gas pressures right?
Hence same work done for both pistons at given rpm. But since shorties can rev more,
This should eventually mean that shorties are indeed capable of more max power.
 P: 12 I have another issue I need help with... I've heard that piston speed is directly proportional to stroke length. Could someone prove this, possibly by derivation?
 P: 63 Subscribing...