Reciprocating Engine Exhaust Systems (Part One)

in Induction and Exhaust Systems

The reciprocating engine exhaust system is fundamentally a scavenging system that collects and disposes of the high temperature, noxious gases being discharged by the engine. Its main function is to dispose of the gases with complete safety to the airframe and the occupants of the aircraft. The exhaust system can perform many useful functions, but its first duty is to provide protection against the potentially destructive action of the exhaust gases. Modern exhaust systems, though comparatively light, adequately resist high temperatures, corrosion, and vibration to provide long, trouble-free operation with minimum maintenance.

There are two general types of exhaust systems in use on reciprocating aircraft engines: the short stack (open) system and the collector system. The short stack system is generally used on nonsupercharged engines and low-powered engines where noise level is not too objectionable. The collector system is used on most large nonsupercharged engines and on all turbosupercharged engines and installations on which it would improve nacelle streamlining or provide easier maintenance in the nacelle area. On turbosupercharged engines, the exhaust gases must be collected to drive the turbine compressor of the supercharger. Such systems have individual exhaust headers that empty into a common collector ring with only one outlet. From this outlet, the hot exhaust gas is routed via a tailpipe to the turbosupercharger that drives the turbine. Although the collector system raises the back pressure of the exhaust system, the gain in horsepower from turbosupercharging more than offsets the loss in horsepower that results from increased back pressure. The short stack system is relatively simple, and its removal and installation consists essentially of removing and installing the hold-down nuts and clamps. Short stack systems have limited use on most modern aircraft.


Figure 3-38. Location of a typical collector exhaust system.

Figure 3-38. Location of a typical collector exhaust system.

In Figure 3-38, the location of typical collector exhaust system components of a horizontally opposed engine is shown in a side view. The exhaust system in this installation consists of a down-stack from each cylinder, an exhaust collector tube on each side of the engine, and an exhaust ejector assembly protruding aft and down from each side of the firewall. The down-stacks are connected to the cylinders with high temperature locknuts and secured to the exhaust collector tube by ring clamps. A cabin heater exhaust shroud is installed around each collector tube. [Figure 3-39]

Figure 3-39. A cabin heater exhaust shroud.

Figure 3-39. A cabin heater exhaust shroud.

The collector tubes terminate at the exhaust ejector openings at the firewall and are tapered to deliver the exhaust gases at the proper velocity to induce airflow through the exhaust ejectors. The exhaust ejectors consist of a throat-and-duct assembly that utilizes the pumping action of the exhaust gases to induce a flow of cooling air through all parts of the engine compartment (augmenter tube action).