The sleeve valve is a type of valve mechanism for piston engines, distinct from the more common poppet valve. Sleeve-valve engines saw use in a number of pre-World War II luxury cars, sports cars, the Willys-Knight car and light truck, the British Daimler and French Avions Voisin luxury cars, also used the same Willys-Knight double-sleeve system. They subsequently fell from use due to advances in poppet-valve technology (sodium cooling) and to their tendency to burn a lot of lubricating oil or to seize due to lack of it. The Scottish Argyll company used its own, much simpler and efficient, single-sleeve system in its cars, a system which, after extensive development, saw substantial use in aircraft engines of the 1940s, such as the Napier Sabre and Bristol Hercules and Centaurus, only to be supplanted by the jet engine.
A sleeve valve takes the form of one or more machined sleeves. It fits between the piston and the cylinder wall in the cylinder of an internal combustion engine where it rotates and/or slides, ports (holes) in the side of the valve(s) aligning with the cylinder's inlet and exhaust ports at the appropriate stages in the engine's cycle.
Types of sleeve valve
The first successful sleeve valve was patented by Charles Yale Knight, and used twin alternating sliding sleeves. It was used in some luxury automobiles, notably Daimler, but was noted for its high oil consumption.
The Burt-McCollum sleeve valve, as used by the Scottish company Argyll for its cars, and later adopted by Bristol for its radial aircraft engines, used a single sleeve which rotated around a timing axle set at 90 degrees to the cylinder axle. Mechanically simpler and more rugged, the Burt-McCollum valve had the additional advantage of reducing oil consumption (compared to other sleeve valve designs), while retaining the rational combustion chambers and big, uncluttered, porting area possible in the Knight system.
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