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The K-Series engine is a series of engines built by Powertrain Ltd, a sister company of MG Rover. The engine was built in two forms: a straight-4 cylinder, available with SOHC and DOHC, ranging from 1.1 L to 1.8 L; and the KV6 V6 variation.

Design history

The K-Series was introduced in 1988 by Rover Group as a powerplant for the Rover 200 car. It was revolutionary in that it was the first volume production implementation of the low pressure sand casting technique. This works by injecting liquid aluminium into an upturned sand mould from below. In this way any oxide film always remains on the surface of the casting and is not stirred into the casting structure. This production technology overcame many of the inherent problems of casting aluminium components and consequently permitted lower casting wall thickness and higher strength to weight ratios. However, the process required the use of heat treated LM25 material which gave the engines a reputation for being fragile. An engine overheat would often result in the material becoming annealed and rendering the components scrap. The aluminium engine blocks were fitted with steel cylinder liners that were initially manufactured by GKN's Sheepbridge Stokes of Chesterfieldmarker, but replaced by spun liners made by Goetze after some seminal research conducted by Charles Bernstein at Longbridge, which proved influential even to Ducati for their race engines. Unfortunately a large number of aftermarket engines, the so called "VHPD"s" were built with the old substandard GKNs by Minister, Lotus and PTP well after the Goetze liner's introduction to the production line in 2000.

The engine was introduced initially in 1.1 L single overhead cam and 1.4 L dual overhead cam versions. The engines were unique in a production automotive engine by being held together as a sandwich of components by long through-bolts which held the engine under compression, though this construction is not unknown in early lightweight fighter engines from the First World War. It had also been used in motorcycle engines and Triumph Car's "Sabrina" race engine. As the Honda engines became obsolescent and were phased out, but well before the BMW takeover, an enlargement of the K Series design to 1.6 and 1.8 litres was carried out. This was done by using larger diameter cylinder liners and also increasing the stroke. The change required a block redesign with the removal of the cylinder block's top deck and a change from "wet" liners to "damp" liners.

The two types of head that were bolted to the common 4-cylinder block were designated K8 (8 valves) and K16 (16 valves). A later head design also incorporated a Rover-designed Variable Valve Control (VVC) unit (derived from an expired AP patent). This allowed more power to be developed without compromising low-speed torque and flexibility. The VVC system constantly alters the inlet cam period, resulting in a remarkably flexible drive - the torque curve of a VVC K-series engine is virtually flat throughout the rev range and power climbs steadily with no fall-off whatsoever until the rev limiter kicks in at 7,200 rpm.

By comparison, the V6 engines are more conventional engines that do not make use of the through bolts to hold the head to the block.

The 1.8 litre versions are often used in kit cars and are starting to be used in hot rods, especially as a popular swap into the MG Midget, Morris Minor and the Caterhammarker versions of the Lotus 7.

Head gasket and water pump problems

Early engines suffered from head shuffle causing the neoprene bonded to the head gasket to "rub off". Later engines had steel dowels (rather than plastic) to reduce head shuffle, and the design of the head gasket itself was changed to a design that had neoprene bonded from both sides through holes in the steel gasket. A multi-layer steel head gasket is also available. On heavier models such as the Rover 75/MG ZT and Land Rover Freelander where the engine has to be worked hard from cold, the coolant in the cylinder head can reach high temperatures before having a chance to circulate and open the thermostat. For this reason many owners prefer to fit a pressure relief thermostat, which opens with with increased temperature or pressure.

Mechanics often recommend that the water pump be changed along with the cam belt every 50,000 miles, as failure of the water pump bearing can reduce the tension on the timing belt and risks catastrophic damage as a result of slippage.

Engine Management

K8 Engine

Early K8 engines used a single SU KIF carburetter with a manual choke and a breakerless distributor mounted on the end of the camshaft. MEMS Single point injection became standard with the launch of the Rover 100 in 1994.

K16

K16 models used MEMS electronic engine management in either Single Point or Multi Point forms, with a single coil on the back of the engine block and a distributor cap and rotor arm on the end of the inlet camshaft. MEMS 2J was used on the VVC engine, to control the Variable Valve Control and also the distributorless ignition system which was necessary thanks to having camshaft drive belts at both ends of the engine. With the launch of the Rover 25 and Rover 45 in 1999, MEMS 3 was introduced, with twin coils and sequential injection.

KV6

Early KV6 as used in the Rover 800 used MEMS 2J, which controlled the three wasted spark coil packs and variable intake manifold geometry. The later KV6 used Siemens EMS 2000.

Model range

1100

All 1100 engines displace 1.1 L (1120 cc/68 in³). Four variations were created:
  • SOHC K8 8-valve, Carburettor, 60 hp (44 kW)
  • SOHC K8 8-valve, SPI, 60 hp (44 kW)
  • SOHC K8 8-valve, MPI, 60 hp (44 kW)
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, 75 hp (55 kW)


Cars that came with the 1100:

1400

Engine Codes: 14K2F (8V), 14K4F (16V), 14K16 (16V)?

All 1400 engines displace 1.4 L (1396 cc/85 in³). Six variations were created:

The K16 82 hp variant is exactly the same as the version apart from a restrictive throttle body designed to lower the cars insurance group, the Spi features single-point fuel injection rather than the multi-point of the later engine.

Cars that came with the 1400:



1600

Engine Code: 16K4F

All 1600 engines displace 1.6 L (1588 cc/96 in³). Two variations were created:

Cars that came with the 1600:



1800

Engine Codes: 18K4F, 18K4K (VVC variants)

All 1800 engines displace 1.8 L (1795 cc/109 in³). Six variations were created:
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, 117 to 120 hp (86 to 88 kW)
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, 136 hp (100 kW)
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, VVC, 145 hp (107 kW)
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, VVC, 160 hp (118 kW)
  • DOHC K16 16-valve, MPI, turbocharged, 150 to 160 hp (110 to 118 kW)
  • DOHC K16 VHPD - Very High Performance Derivative 16-valve, MPI, 177 hp (130 kW) or 192 hp (142 kW) (Lotus version) (Uses VVC unique cylinder head casting (similar to VVC casting), has big valves, but with fixed cam timing - No development input was requested from Rover)


Cars that came with the 1800:



References

  1. Modus Engine Services
  2. Sands Mechanical Museum- King K



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