Saturday, January 9, 2010

What are the advantages of an OHV engine versus its L-Head counterpart?

Last time we discussed the mechanical difference between OHV and L-Head engines.  Today we will discuss the advantages of the OHV engine when compared to its L-Head counterpart.

So what are the advantages of OHV engines versus L-Head engines? OHV engines are alleged to have the following benefits:
  • Higher quality engine (better grade components),
  • Higher torque,
  • Better fuel effiency,
  • Quieter operation,
  • Cooler operation,
  • Cleaner operation,
  • Longer engine life,
  • With the final result of requiring fewer major repairs than their L-Head counterparts,
  • And allegedly, less expensive to operate.

Disadvantages of OHV versus its L-Head counterpart:
  • Not as compact (bigger external size),
  • More complex,
  • More components (this can also mean there are more components to fail),
  • Due to their complexity, typically are more expensive to purchase,

Summary: The advantages of OHV far outweigh its disadvantages.  When purchasing engines, and given the the option to purchase one with OHV or and L-Head engine, it is easily worth the extra initial cost to purchase the OHV rather than the L-Head engine.

Next: Next time we will discuss what "OHC" means.  Stay tuned while we rev our engines!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What is an Over Head Valve (OHV) engine?

 What is an Over Head Valve (OHV) engine?

In today's Power Equipment market you may see a machine advertised with an "Over Head Valve" or "OHV" engine.  What does that mean? First of all, let's understand that there are 2 basic valve configurations in today's engine.  These configurations are:
  1. L-Head (commonly referred to as "flathead", "conventional head", "valve in block" or "side valve").  As some of these names imply, the L-Head engine has the valves positioned in the block, typically next to the piston/cylinder.
  2. Over Head Valve (commonly referred to as OHV or "valve in head").  Again, as the name implies, the OHV engine has the valves positioned in the head of the engine, above the piston/cylinder.  The valves are also in an inverted position when compared to the L-Head engine.

So how are the L-head and OHV engine different from each other?  The L-head is the "old" design, with the valves in the block.  The valves normally are positioned along side the cylinder with the tops of the valves being even with the top of the cylinder.  Below is a diagram of a L Head or flathead engine, courtesy of

The OHV engine, on the other hand, has the valves positioned in the head.  The valves are positioned directly above the piston, as shown in the photo below.

Next time we will discuss the advantages of the OHV engine versus its L-Head engine counterpart.