What is a plunger pair in a car?
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What is a plunger pair in a car?

Often, mechanics, when talking about repairing the fuel system of a diesel engine, mention a term such as a plunger pair. Let us consider in more detail what kind of mechanism it is, the peculiarity of its operation, why it is needed, and how the plunger malfunction is determined.

What is a plunger?

Plunger pairs, as the mechanism name suggests, are two small parts that go into a high pressure fuel pump (injection pump) device. The first is called a plunger and is represented as a thick, recessed finger. The second is the plunger sleeve and it looks like a thick-walled sleeve into which the first part is inserted.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

The plunger or piston itself acts as a fuel displacer from the bushing cavity. This element is used to create high pressure in the fuel supply system line.

It should be noted that this mechanism is not exclusively used in diesel engine pumps. For example, a similar element is used in the gas distribution mechanism as hydraulic compensators. However, the principle of operation of the devices is identical - reciprocating actions move the piston in the bushing, and through the coincidence of the cuts and holes in these two parts, liquid enters the cavity and is pumped into the main line.

Principle of work and varieties

The classic plunger pair works as follows:

  • The spring-loaded piston is located at the bottom of the sleeve;
  • The piston is pressed by a cam located on the shaft;
  • Under mechanical action, the piston moves upward in the sleeve;
  • In the space above the piston, fuel pressure is created, which enters the sleeve through a special slot in its wall;
  • The pressure of the fuel drives the valve, due to which the substance moves from the sleeve to the reservoir (this can be a fuel rail or a separate chamber in the fuel pump);
  • From the tank, fuel enters the nozzles;
  • The shaft in the pump rotates, the cam stops pressing on the piston, which moves it to the lower position due to the spring.

This simple plunger design explains why high pressure fuel pumps based on this principle are highly efficient and durable.

Today, two modifications of plunger pairs are used in cars (although the design of fuel pumps has a greater variety). They differ from each other by the presence of an annular recess in the piston.

In such plungers, it plays the role of a bypass valve, which collects fuel leakage and returns it back to the fuel line. Plungers with fuel cut-off are more expensive due to the complexity of the design. But this cost is offset by more efficient operation of the motor.

Main advantages and disadvantages

Diesel engines began to gain popularity since the introduction of high-pressure fuel pumps equipped with a plunger pair into their design. Impressive technical characteristics, high performance of the mechanism and high reliability are the key advantages of the mechanism equipped with a plunger pair.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

In addition to these advantages, the plunger has the following advantages:

  • With the help of a pair of plungers, it is possible not only to ensure the supply of high-pressure fuel and its dosage, but also to determine the appropriate fuel injection mode.
  • Maximum economy with high efficiency.
  • High environmental friendliness due to the combustion of a smaller portion of fuel and its high-quality spraying into the cylinders.

Any mechanism has disadvantages, and for a plunger pair this is wear. Although this simple design is very reliable and lasts for a long time, the effect of friction and high pressure on the elements of the mechanism cannot be ruled out. Plunger fuel pump manufacturers use high-strength materials, but even in this case, wear cannot be avoided, even after an extended service life.

Plunger pair of injection pump

We will discuss in more detail the functions of the plunger pair using the example of a diesel injection pump. As the name suggests, the pump pumps diesel fuel from the main tank into the high-pressure line (for example, into the fuel rail), from where it is sprayed into the engine cylinders under strong pressure.

The main element that creates such a pressure is just the plunger pair. The fuel is then distributed to the cylinders in accordance with the design of the fuel system. The types of pumps are described in another article.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

During pump operation, push rods and actuator return springs move the piston up / down inside the plunger sleeve, thereby reciprocating. So the design sucks diesel fuel through the hoses from the fuel tank and pumps it into a closed tank, which creates pressure in it. To prevent this parameter from increasing excessively, the pump device has a number of valves designed to hold or dump excess pressure in the system.

The piston itself has an uneven slot, which allows it to dose the fuel entering the tank with a slight axial displacement. This process depends on the position of the gas pedal in the car - the minimum clearance is when the accelerator is released, and the maximum is when the pedal is fully depressed.

Since the steam creates a high pressure so that it does not break down, it is made of strong steel, and the walls are thick enough to withstand a pressure of several hundred atmospheres. This makes the mechanism reliable even under high loads.

Another feature of the plunger pair is that both parts are created only for each other. That is, it is impossible to take a bushing from one mechanism and a piston from another and combine them. To prevent steam from letting in diesel fuel, the gap in it is created as minimal as possible. For this reason, one part is never replaced - the pair always changes (their parameters are adjusted on high-precision factory equipment).

Here is a short video on how the plunger pair is restored:

Zexel-KOMATSU plunger pair recovery process

The sequence of the plunger pair

The amount of fuel pumped in one piston cycle depends on the height of its working stroke. This regulates the operation of the pump to ensure idle speed. But as soon as the driver presses on the gas pedal, the plunger turns a little. The notch in that part is increased, therefore, the amount of fuel will be supplied in a larger volume.

This is how the most common plunger modification works. However, today there are many models that provide dosage in slightly different ways (often regulated by the electronics of the machine). The plunger pushers themselves are driven by the rotation of the crankshaft.

When the piston descends, through the inlet of the bushing, the fuel moves into the vacant cavity of the above-piston space due to the vacuum that has formed in it. As soon as the piston rises, the liner bore is closed off by the plunger body, and the fuel presses on the valve, opening it. Next, the fuel enters a high pressure tank. When the downward movement starts, the valve closes, and a vacuum (or vacuum) is formed in the cavity of the plunger pair. The cycle repeats itself.

Discharge valves

Each high-pressure fuel pump is equipped with pressure valves, the purpose of which is to shut off the part of the line in which the fuel is at rest from the one where the diesel fuel is already under pressure. Also, valves are needed to maintain static pressure in the system (while the engine is running, the pump continues to pump diesel fuel into the tank) - they dump the excess back into the fuel tank.

There are several types of discharge valves that are used in plunger pumps. Here are their distinctive features.

Constant volume valve without return flow restriction

The design of this valve includes a retraction piston (part of the valve design). When the plunger is lifted, the helical slot is closed by the bushing body, the discharge valve is closed. The piston moves into the rod sleeve guide.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

At this moment, that part of the line is cut off, in which high pressure is formed from the supra-plunger cavity. Due to this, the volume of fuel in the high-pressure container increases insignificantly - only by the amount that has entered through the retraction piston into the cavity of the piston stroke.

Fixed volume valve with return flow restriction

When fuel is atomized through the nozzle, after closing the needle, backflow pressure is created in the line. This effect can lead to wear on some of the valve itself. For this reason, some pump models use a return flow limiting valve. It acts as a damper to prevent back pressure from acting on the valves.

The device of such a discharge valve includes the following elements:

Often, these valves are used as an additional mechanism to facilitate the operation of the check valve.

Constant pressure valve

In addition to the main elements of the valve, the device of this mechanism also includes a ball and a restrictive channel. These valves are capable of delivering fuel pressures in excess of 800 bar.

Its design includes two mini valves - pressure and stabilization. The first element supplies fuel, and the second maintains the generated pressure. This function allows it to maintain a static pressure between injection phases.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

The valve modification depends on the parameters of the engine in the car. Some valves are not triggered by mechanics, but by a signal that comes from an electronic control unit.

Scope and functional purpose

Basically, a plunger pair is used in high-pressure fuel pumps of diesel power units, but there are also modifications of gasoline ICEs that require high gasoline pressure (for example, in engines with direct fuel injection), which is also provided by a plunger pair.

In this case, the plunger pair performs the following functions:

  1. Provides high pressure fuel supply, regardless of the type of fuel system;
  2. In some fuel systems, this mechanism automatically doses the right amount of fuel for the operation of the injectors;
  3. Due to the design features of the piston and sleeve, it provides a change in the mode of fuel supply to the injectors.
What is a plunger pair in a car?

In order for the plunger pair to perform all these tasks, it is used with various additional mechanisms that provide automation and control of the fuel supply. The key assembly of the high-pressure fuel pump creates the required pressure (due to the design features, this mechanism allows for such a high pressure that no other pump of this size can handle), and other elements of the system are responsible for distributing and maintaining the required pressure in the circuit.

Since a plunger pair of even small sizes can create incredible pressure, such units are used not only in diesel engines. For example, such an assembly can be found in pumps, hydraulic machines and other mechanisms that create high pressure and require high reliability of the assembly.

Features of the operation of the plunger pairs of the fuel pump

There are no special steps for servicing the plunger pair of the fuel pump. However, the car owner can do something to make the mechanism work as long as possible.

First, it is worth considering that a diesel engine runs on a special fuel, which can contain a large number of microscopic particles. If you use low-quality diesel fuel, then the gap between the plunger and the bushing may increase due to the content of abrasive particles, water and other impurities in the diesel fuel.

For this reason, the only service that a car owner can perform is to monitor the quality of the fuel, prevent condensation in the line and change the filter in time.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

At first glance, the presence of water droplets in diesel fuel does not seem so critical, but because of this, the fuel film in the gap of the plunger pair will collapse, and the mechanism will not be able to create an appropriate pressure. Also, diesel oil lubricates the surfaces of parts, preventing friction when dry, and protecting the device from overheating.

If the fuel filter is not changed in time, its element may burst. Because of this, dirty fuel will be pumped through the pump, in which small particles may be present. In this case, there is a high probability of pump failure, since the plunger pair will simply jam.

How to determine the malfunction of the plunger pairs yourself

The stability of the machine's power unit depends on the correct operation of the plunger pair. Since this mechanism is the main element of the injection pump, its malfunction will lead either to unstable operation of the pump, or even to its failure.

To check the efficiency of the pump, you will need to diagnose it. Most repair shops have special equipment for this. It allows you to determine what exactly the malfunction is - even determine the condition of the plunger pair. According to the results of diagnostics, specialists will offer appropriate repairs. If the plunger fails, the entire kit must be replaced.

What is a plunger pair in a car?

Symptoms of a malfunction

The fact that there are problems with the plunger pair is evidenced by the "symptoms" characteristic of a breakdown of the fuel pump. Among them:

A supplementary review examines the difference between a cold and hot plunger test:

To make sure that the plunger is faulty, one should not skimp on diagnostics. Only specialists with the help of specialized equipment are able to accurately determine the malfunction. Thanks to this, the cost of repairs will be justified - you will not have to change parts that will work for a long time.

Related videos

This video shows how to restore a plunger pair:

Questions and answers:

What does a plunger pair do? The plunger pair is used in high pressure fuel pumps. This device will provide the highest pressure for efficient fuel delivery to the cylinders.

What are plunger assemblies? This is the main element of injection pumps, which are widely used in diesel engines. It is distinguished by its impressive simplicity of design, durability and reliability.

What is included in the Plunger Pair? The pair consists of a piston located in a thick-walled bushing (cylinder). There is a minimum clearance between them to ensure free piston travel.

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