Figure 4-11 illustrates the operation of the radial piston pump. The pump consists of a pintle, which remains stationary and acts as a valve; a cylinder block, which revolves around the pintle and contains the cylinders in which the pistons operate; a rotor, which houses the reaction ring of hardened steel against which the piston heads press; and a slide block, which is used to control the length of the piston strokes. The slide block does not revolve but houses and supports the rotor, which does revolve due to the friction set up by the sliding action between the piston heads and the reaction ring. The cylinder block is attached to the drive shaft.
Referring to view A of figure 4-11, assume that space X in one of the cylinders of the cylinder block contains liquid and that the respective piston of this cylinder is at position 1. When the cylinder block and piston are rotated in a clockwise
direction, the piston is forced into its cylinder as it approaches position 2. This action reduces the volumetric size of the cylinder and forces a quantity of liquid out of the cylinder and into the outlet port above the pintle. This pumping action is due to the rotor being off-center in relation to the center of the cylinder block.
In figure 4-11 view B, the piston has reached position 2 and has forced the liquid out of the open end of the cylinder through the outlet above the pintle and into the system. While the piston moves from position 2 to position 3, the open end of the cylinder passes over the solid part of the pintle; therefore, there is no intake or discharge of liquid during this time. As the piston and cylinder move from position 3 to position 4, centrifugal force causes the piston to move outward against the reaction ring of the rotor. During this time the open end of the cylinder is open to the intake side of the pintle and, therefore, fills with liquid. As the piston moves from position 4 to position 1, the open end of the cylinder is against the solid side of the pintle and no intake or discharge of liquid takes place. After the piston has passed the pintle and starts toward position 2, another discharge of liquid takes place. Alternate intake and discharge continues as the rotor revolves about its axis-intake on one side of the pintle and discharge on the other, as the piston slides in and out.
Notice in views A and B of figure 4-11 that the center point of the rotor is different from the center point of the cylinder block. The difference of these centers produces the pumping action. If the rotor is moved so that its center point is the same as that of the cylinder block, as shown in figure 4-11, view C, there is no pumping action, since the piston does not move back and forth in the cylinder as it rotates with the cylinder block.
The flow in this pump can be reversed by moving the slide block, and therefore the rotor, to the right so the relation of the centers of the rotor and the cylinder block is reversed from the position shown in views A and B of figure 4-11. View D shows this arrangement. Liquid enters the cylinder as the piston travels from position 1 to position 2 and is discharged from the cylinder as the piston travels from position 3 to 4.
In the illustrations the rotor is shown in the center, the extreme right, or the extreme left in relation to the cylinder block. The amount of adjustment in distance between the two centers determines the length of the piston stroke, which controls the amount of liquid flow in and out of the cylinder. Thus, this adjustment determines the displacement of the pump; that is, the volume of liquid the pump delivers per revolution. This adjustment may be controlled in different ways. Manual control by a hand wheel is the simplest. The pump illustrated in figure 4-11 is controlled in this way. For automatic control of delivery to accommodate varying volume requirements during the operating cycle, a hydraulically controlled cylinder may be used to position the slide block. A gear-motor controlled by a push button or a limit switch is sometimes used for this purpose.
Figure 4-11 is shown with four pistons for the sake of simplicity. Radial pumps are actually designed with an odd number of pistons (fig. 4-12). This is to ensure that no more than one cylinder is completely blocked by the pintle at any one time. If there were an even number of pistons spaced evenly around the cylinder block (for example, eight), there would be occasions when two of the cylinders would be blocked by the pintle, while at other times none would be blocked. This would cause three cylinders to discharge at one time and four at one time, causing pulsations in flow. With an odd number of pistons spaced evenly around the cylinder block, only one cylinder is completely blocked by the pintle at any one time. This reduces pulsations of flow.