Cylinder Removal

in Engine Maintenance and Operation

Since these instructions are meant to cover all air-cooled engines, they are of a very general nature. The applicable manufacturer’s maintenance manual should be consulted for torque values and special precautions applying to a particular aircraft and engine. However, always practice neatness and cleanliness, and always protect openings so that nuts, washers, tools, and miscellaneous items do not enter the engine’s internal sections.

Assuming that all obstructing cowling and brackets have been removed, first remove the intake pipe and exhaust pipes. Plug or cover openings in the intake or diffuser section. Then, remove cylinder deflectors and any attaching brackets that would obstruct cylinder removal. Loosen the spark plugs and remove the spark plug lead clamps. Do not remove the spark plugs until ready to pull the cylinder off. Remove the rocker box covers. First, remove the nuts and then tap the cover lightly with a rawhide mallet or plastic hammer. Never pry the cover off with a screwdriver or similar tool.


Loosen the pushrod packing gland nuts or hose clamps, top and bottom. Pushrods are removed by depressing the rocker arms with a special tool, or by removing the rocker arm. Before removing the pushrods, turn the crankshaft until the piston is at top dead center on the compression stroke. This relieves the pressure on both intake and exhaust rocker arms. It is also wise to back off the adjusting nut as far as possible, because this allows maximum clearance for pushrod removal when the rocker arms are depressed.

On some model engines, or if the engine is rotated, tappets and springs of lower cylinders can fall out. Provision must be made to catch them as the pushrod and housing are removed.

After removing the pushrods, examine them for markings or mark them so that they may be replaced in the same location as they were before removal. The ball ends are usually worn to fit the sockets in which they have been operating. Furthermore, on some engines, pushrods are not all of the same length. A good procedure is to mark the pushrods near the valve tappet ends No. 1 IN, No. 1 EX, No. 2 IN, No. 2 EX., etc. On fuel injection engines, disconnect the fuel injection line and any line clamps that interfere with cylinder removal.

The next step in removing the cylinder is to cut the lock wire or remove the cotter pin, and pry off the locking device from the cylinder-attaching cap-screws or nuts. Remove all the screws or nuts except two located 180° apart. Use the wrench specified for this purpose in the special tools section of the applicable manual.

Finally, while supporting the cylinder, remove the two remaining screws or nuts and gently pull the cylinder away from the crankcase. Two technicians working together during this step, as well as during the remaining procedure for cylinder replacement, helps prevent damage or dropping of the cylinder. After the cylinder skirt has cleared the crankcase, but before the piston protrudes from the skirt, provide some means (usually a shop cloth) for preventing pieces of broken rings from falling into the crankcase. After the piston has been removed, remove the cloths and carefully check that all pieces were prevented from falling into the crankcase.

Place a support on the cylinder mounting pad and secure it with two cap-screws or nuts. Then, remove the piston and ring assembly from the connecting rod. A pin pusher or puller tool can be used when varnish makes it hard to remove the pin. If the special tool is not available and a drift is used to remove the piston pin, the connecting rod should be supported so that it does not have to take the shock of the blows. If this is not done, the rod may be damaged.

After the removal of a cylinder and piston, the connecting rod must be supported to prevent damage to the rod and crankcase. This can be done by supporting each connecting rod with the removed cylinder base oil seal ring looped around the rod and cylinder base studs.

Using a wire brush, clean the studs or cap-screws and examine them for cracks, damaged threads, or any other visible defects. If one cap-screw is found loose or broken at the time of cylinder removal, all the cap-screws for the cylinder should be discarded, since the remaining cap-screws may have been seriously weakened. A cylinder hold down stud failure places the adjacent studs under a greater operating pressure, and they are likely to be stretched beyond their elastic limit. The engine manufacturer’s instruction must be followed for the number of studs that have to be replaced after a stud failure. When removing a broken stud, take proper precautions to prevent metal chips from entering the engine crankcase section. In all cases, both faces of the washers and the seating faces of stud nuts or cap-screws must be cleaned and any roughness or burrs removed.