Watch an Engine Run With a Wood Cylinder Head for the Sake of Science

We all love weird science experiments. I’m personally a real big fan of the crazy stuff those Garage 54 guys do. One time they made some pistons out of wood, and the results were pretty great. But what happens when the other end of the combustion chamber is made out of a stationary block of wood? That’s what ChargerMiles007 aimed to find out when he cut apart a 2X4, drilled some bolt holes, mounted a spark plug in the middle, and slapped it on an old Briggs & Stratton motor he had laying around. For science.


Because the old Briggs is a side-valve engine, the cylinder head didn’t need to house the valvetrain, which makes this whole thing a little easier. Now I’m interested to see if a two-stroke would work, as it has a similarly simple cylinder head.

The protagonist of this short video wanted to determine if the engine would run at all. The first attempt ended with the side of the block of wood blowing out pretty quickly. After filling in the three cracks with a plastic filler and JB Weld on the end, he gave it a second shot. And it worked. For a little while.


Because the inside of an engine is basically just fire, and wood doesn’t like fire very much, it quickly burned and lost compression out the side of the wood block again. I think if he had slathered the end of the wood grain in JB Weld, it might have held on a little longer. Or if there had been some kind of thin metal barrier between the combustion and the wood. But then it would defeat the purpose.

If you absolutely need an engine to run for about 15 seconds, you can definitely make up a cylinder head out of wood.

Via: BangShift

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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Where’s David Tracy? Someone needs to show him this. He doesn’t need to worry about that cracked head in his DJ now because he can just make a new one out of wood. He can make the frame out of wood, too. The frame can’t rust if there’s no metal to oxidize. Genius!