Do you know this part of your car?
A piston, by design is something that goes up and down. But an automotive piston has a much more brutal fate ahead of it. Not only does it go up and down, but it has to survive thousands of explosions every time you use your car or truck.
A piston has a top and bottom. The top is generally smooth, sometimes with little indentations in the surface so the piston won’t hit one of the valves. The top end is where the explosions happen.
As the piston pushes itself up into the cylinder, the fuel air mixture that is sealed in there gets compressed, then a spark plug makes the whole thing blow up.
Do you know this part of your car? Rather than looking like a scene from Star Wars, this explosion is contained inside the engine, and serves only to push the piston back down quickly and powerfully. When the piston is pushed down, the connecting rod pushes against part of the crankshaft, and keeps the engine turning.
A distributor is a device in the ignition system of an internal combustion engine that routes high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plugs in the correct firing order. The first reliable battery operated ignition was developed by Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co. (Delco) and introduced in the 1910 Cadillac. This ignition was developed by Charles Kettering and was considered a wonder in its day. Atwater Kent invented his Unisparker ignition system about this time in competition with the Delco system.
A distributor consists of a rotating arm or rotor inside the distributor cap, on top of the distributor shaft, but insulated from it and the body of the vehicle (ground). The distributor shaft is driven by a gear on the camshaft on most overhead valve engines, and attached directly to a camshaft on most overhead cam engines. (The distributor shaft may also drive the oil pump.)
The metal part of the rotor contacts the high voltage cable from the ignition coil via a spring-loaded carbon brush on the underside of the distributor cap. The metal part of the rotor arm passes close to (but does not touch) the output contacts which connect via high tension leads to the spark plug of each cylinder. As the rotor spins within the distributor, electric current is able to jump the small gaps created between the rotor arm and the contacts due to the high voltage created by the ignition coil.
The distributor shaft has a cam that operates the contact breaker. Opening the points causes a high induction voltage in the system’s ignition coil.
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