A crankshaft is a rotating shaft that converts the reciprocating motion of a piston into a rotational motion. It’s commonly used in internal combustion engines to perform such operations.  Crankshafts consist of a series of cranks and crankpins to which the connecting rods are attached.

A crankshaft with at least one shaft rotates within the engine block.  It rotates using the main bearings. The crankpins rotate within the connecting rods using rod bearings.



How crankshafts are made

Crankshafts are usually made from metal like cast iron. Molten metal is poured into a mold during the process (Casting).

Modern crankshafts are made from forged steel which is used in some performance engines. It is made by heating a block of steel until red hot. It then forms into shape using extremely high pressure.

Crankshafts are forged to withstand wear and the strain of rotary movement. Alloyed heat-treatment steel or nitride steel materials are used. The crankshaft journals are also surface-hardened.


The function of crankshafts is to give a smoother drive to the vast motors with multi-cylinders. Linear motion of the pistons which is changed into rotational motion.

In the combustion of the fuel-air mixture, power is produced. This power is transformed into the rotary movement of the crankshaft. The linear motion of the pistons is converted via the connecting rod into torque. It’s then passed to the flywheel

The crankshaft’s shaft is bored with some holes that feed the motor with oil. This oil smoothens the movement. The counterweights aid the adjustment of the framework and the heaviness of the connecting rod.

Crankshafts also function as load-bearing as some load is withstanding during the process. One of the loads is the severe bending and torsional stress.

As the rotary movement of the crankshaft is constantly being accelerated and decelerated, further loads from torsional vibration are added. Bearings also experience a high degree of wear.

Crankshaft Components & Design

The componential parts of the crankshaft include:

Main journals carry the main bearings and declare the axis of rotation of the shaft.

Crankpins allow the connecting rod to be attached to it.

Crank webs connect the crankpins to the main journals.

Counterweights offer to balance and are mounted to the webs.

The design of a crankshaft is based on the firing ability of the engine and the number of cylinders. It is also determined by the design of the engine, the number of crankshaft bearings, and stroke size.

component of crankshafts

Crankshaft Lubrication

Lubrication plays an important role in an engine’s efficiency as its working mechanism involves the robbing of two metal parts. Avoiding unnecessary wear on the crankshaft, main journals, and rod journals both ride on a film of oil. This film of oil sits on the bearing surface.

The oil is supplied to the main bearing through the oil galleries from the engine block. It leads to each crankshaft saddle, and the matching hole in the bearing shell collects the oil to the journal.

How crankshaft work

The working of the crankshaft is quite interesting and easy. There is a distance between the center of the main journal and the center of the crankshaft pin. This distance is known as crank radius or crank throw. Its measurement determines the range of piston travel as the crankshaft rotates.

The distance from the top to the bottom is known as a stroke. The piston stroke is twice the crank radius.

The rear end of the crankshaft extends outside the crankcase and is supported with a flywheel flange. This flange is a precision machined part that is bolted to the flywheel. Its heavy mass allows smooth pulsation of the pistons firing at different times.

Flywheel rotation makes its way through the flywheel and transmission and final drive to the wheels. Crankshafts are bolted to the ring gear in an automatic drive. It carries the torque converter and passes it to the automatic transmission.

For more understanding watch the video on how the crankshaft works:

Common crankshaft faults

Issues on the crankshaft are rare, only if the engine is experiencing extreme conditions. The engine component is reliable and sturdy but some common fault includes:

Worn journals: is caused when there is not enough oil pressure. The crankshaft journals make contact with the bearing surfaces. This gradually increases the clearance and worsens the oil pressure.

Worn journals can cause serious problems to the engine if care is not taken. It leads to destroyed bearings and causes huge damage to the engine.

Fatigue: is when constant forces on the crankshaft lead to fractures. This problem usually occurs on the fillet where the journals and the be web joined.

A smooth radius of the fillet is critical to avoid weak spots which leads to fatigue cracks. Cracks can be inspected on the crankshaft using a magnafluxing.

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I hope you’ve gained a lot from this article. It contains functions, types, problems, parts, and working principles of the crankshaft. Kindly comment, share, and recommend this site to other technical students. Thanks!

2 Responses

  1. Great blog post! I found it very informative and helpful in understanding the working principles and functions of a crankshaft. The sections on the different parts of the crankshaft and common problems were particularly useful. As a mechanical engineering student, I will definitely refer back to this post for future studies. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great post! I found it really informative and helpful in understanding the basics of crankshafts. It’s amazing how complex yet simple these components are, and it’s impressive how they play such a crucial role in our engines. Thanks for sharing!

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