Motorhead Games...

I like cars. I’ve liked cars since I was 6 years old & my Dad got a '41 Dodge that had a “flat head six”.

Now, I know what overhead cans are, dual and otherwise. I understand desmodromic valve actuation. I understand valve-in-head and how it differs from a flathead. My big question is, however, just what are the valve configurations that made it into automobile designs, ahd what makes them different from each other?

I know what the above valve types are, but I don’t quite understand what is a sleeve-valve. Were there transitional types between flathead and valve-in-head? What were they called? What were the advantages of the different types of valve arrangements?


That should read cams. (I really should’ve previewed. Apologies rendered as necessary.)


Sleeve-valve: A sleeve surrounds the piston. It has ports cut into it, and slides up and down in the cylinder bore. When the ports in the sleeve align with the passages in the block, you get intake or exhaust. I’m not sure whether the sleeve is driven by a cam or a crank/con rod. Advantages: Smooth, quiet. Disadvantge: Burns oil. Used on Willys-Knight engines and some aircraft engines, not sure which.

Transitional types: F-head: Has overhead valves for intake, valve-in-block for exhaust. Both the intake and exhaust manifolds are on the same side of the block; the “F” represents a cross-section of the cylinder and the intake and exhaust passages. Used in the late twenties, I think on Willys.

T-head: Valve-in-block design in which intake and exhaust valves are on opposite sides of the cylinder. The Mercer Runabout used this design.

L-head: Valve-in-block design in which both valves are on the same side of the cylinder; most Detroit engines of the Thirties and Forties, for example the Ford four and flathead V-8, are L-heads.

All modern engines are overhead valve, actuated either by overhead cams or by rocker arms/pushrods/cam in block. All are spring-closed; desmodromic proved to be too hard to get set up right so the valves closed properly.


I thought Ducati’s been using this method of valve actuation for decades?

Has there ever been an engine design that puts the valves in the piston crown (yeah, probably impractical, but I’ll bet if it’s possible, some clown tried it)? What about a rotary valve in the combustion chamber crown?

Are there any (worthwhile) illustrations of the different valvetrain types (preferably animated) on the web?


Silly me, I was hoping someone had devised a drinking game based on Motorhead, the kicks-all-ass 80s British metal band. I envision it going something like this:

“Drink once every time Lemmy spits at the audience”
“Drink twice for every encore of ‘Ace of Spades’”
"Drink thrice…oh, nevermind.

Drink once for every fake ending to Overkill.