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A carburetor is a device that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine.

The carburetor works on Bernoulli's principle: the faster air moves, the lower its static pressure, and the higher its dynamic pressure. The throttle (accelerator) linkage does not directly control the flow of liquid fuel. Instead, it actuates carburetor mechanisms which meter the flow of air being pulled into the engine. The speed of this flow, and therefore its pressure, determines the amount of fuel drawn into the airstream.

Fixed-venturi, in which the varying air velocity in the venturi alters the fuel flow, this architecture is employed in most carburetors found on cars. Variable-venturi, in which the fuel jet opening is varied by the slide (which simultaneously alters air flow). A carburetor basically consists of an open pipe through which the air passes into the inlet manifold of the engine. The pipe is in the form of a venture, it narrows in section and then widens again, causing the airflow to increase in speed in the narrowest part. Below the venturi is a butterfly valve called the throttle valve which is a disc that can be turned end-on to the airflow, so as to hardly restrict the flow at all, or can be rotated so that it (almost) completely blocks the flow of air. This valve controls the flow of air through the carburetor throat and thus the quantity of air/fuel mixture the system will deliver, thereby regulating engine power and speed. The throttle is connected, usually through a cable or a mechanical linkage of rods and joints or rarely by pneumatic link, to the accelerator pedal on a car or the equivalent control on other vehicles or equipment. Fuel is introduced into the air stream through small holes at the narrowest part of the venturi and at other places where pressure will be lowered when not running on full throttle. Fuel flow is adjusted by means of precisely calibrated orifices, referred to as jets, in the fuel path.


Following are the main parts of carburetor.


The float chamber holds a quantity of fuel at atmospheric pressure ready for use. Its supply is refilled by a float driven valve; as the level drops the float drops too and opens an inlet which allows the fuel pump to deliver more fuel to the float chamber. The float rises with the replenished fuel level, closing off the inlet.


With some carbureted engines such as those that drive power tools like brushcutters or chainsaws a float chamber is unsuitable, as the engine needs to work even if it is upside down. In that case, a chamber with a flexible diaphragm on one side is used. Atmospheric pressure pushes the diaphragm inwards as the fuel is used. A needle valve connected to the diaphragm opens to allow the fuel to be replenished as the diaphragm moves inwards, pushing the diaphragm out again and maintaining consistent fuel pressure.


In a carburetor, air passes through a pipe in the form of a venturi into the inlet manifold of the engine. A butterfly valve called the throttle, which is connected to the accelerator or gas pedal, rotates to restrict the airflow almost completely, or turns end-on to the airflow to allow free flow of air. This valve controls the amount of air/fuel mixture delivered to the engine through the venturi, and therefore also controls the engine's speed and power.


When the throttle valve is closed or nearly closed, the manifold vacuum created behind the throttle is sufficient to pull a small amount of fuel and air through small openings located after the butterfly valve. This is called the idle circuit and it enables the engine to keep running when there is no pressure on the accelerator. As the rotating valve moves forward to a slightly open throttle position, the vacuum is reduced, so additional small openings are revealed to compensate for this. This is the 'off-idle' circuit.


When the throttle is progressively opened, more and more air is allowed to flow through the pipe and into the engine. The idle and off-idle circuits cease to function because the manifold vacuum is now lowered, but as the airflow through the venturi increases, the Bernoulli Effect, which lowers the pressure in the pipe as the velocity increases, sucks fuel into the airstream through a jet in the center of the throat.


If the throttle is opened wide very quickly, the idle circuit stops working immediately, but the main circuit does not become effective until the airflow has had time to build sufficiently. To bridge that

gap in fuel flow, an accelerator pump delivers a squirt of fuel under low pressure to smooth the transition from idle circuit to main circuit.


Fuel ignites less readily when cold, and if the engine is also cold, then some fuel vapor can condense out of the air fuel mixture onto the intake manifold and cylinder walls. This makes the mixture leaner, so to compensate for this, a valve known as the 'choke' restricts the flow of air at the entrance to the carburetor, keeping the manifold pressure low even though the throttle valve has been opened. In this way, fuel is sucked into the incoming air through all the fuel circuits at once idle, off-idle, and main. In some engines, instead of using a choke valve, an additional fuel circuit behind the throttle valve can enrich the air fuel mixture.

The forerunner of the wick carburetor was the rotary-brush atomizer. It featured a brush that rotated above a small reservoir of gasoline; at the bottom of its stroke, the brush plucked at the surface of the gas and flicked droplets into the air. The suction created by the downward motion of the pistons sucked the gas-air mixture into the combustion chamber. This atomized, but did not vaporize, the liquid fuel -- the wick carburetor was the first to do that. The wick carburetor is a complex device than the rotary-brush; it consisted of two chambers and the eponymous wicks. The lower chamber held gasoline and the bottoms of the wicks. The gas-saturated wicks passed into the upper chamber, where the fuel evaporated. Air was drawn through the upper chamber, where it became mixed with the vapors the wicks gave off. The fuel-air mixture passed through a wire mesh intended to remove impurities -- effectively the worlds first fuel filter -- and into the combustion chamber.


These are so called because the fuel level in the fuel chamber is maintained by a float controlled valve. The float type carburetor has features which provide for adjustment and regulation of the fuel air to meet different operating conditions. When a sudden load or acceleration is demanded, a richer mixture (more fuel-air) is required. These carburetors have what is called an accelerating well that surrounds the lower part of the fuel discharge nozzle and remains full of fuel while the engine is operating under normal load. When there is a sudden demand for power a governor opens the throttle valve and air moves past the nozzle much faster thus picking up more fuel


This type is usually mounted on the top of the fuel tank. Vacuum from the engines intake stroke causes a low pressure in the venturi. Atmospheric pressure forces fuel up through the tube into the low pressure area of the venturi and then into the engine. This type of carburetor will not work with larger engines and tanks.

This type uses a spring-loaded diaphragm for regulating the fuel flow into the carburetor fuel chamber. The diaphragm serves the same purpose as a float in the float type carb. The main difference between this and the float type is that the use of the diaphragm carburetor will allow the engine to work on any angle. For this reason the diaphragm type is used a lot in multi-positional engines.


The surface carburetor was the first device to be used in combining air with gasoline to form an explosive vapor. Before the motorcycle or automobile became popular, the gasoline available was of very high volatility, more readily than the heavier fuels available today. The carburetor was filled with fuel to a definite height which was so regulated that the surface of the liquid was just below the lower main air pipe opening. The air entered through a funnel-shaped member which deflected it over the surface of the fuel. Here it became mixed with the vapor given off by the volatile liquid and the mixture passed through a safety screen to a mixing valve on top of the carburetor. The vapor given off is very rich and in order to dilute it extra air was admitted through an auxiliary air cone attached to the mixing valve. The gas supply to the engine was regulated by a simple throttle. A separate throttle was provided to regulate the quantity of gas supplied as the only function of the mixing valve or chamber was to regulate the quality of the gas.