Does Your Main Engine Top Piston Ring Break Often?


MAN B&W has witnessed (A Service letter issued in the year 2012/2013) seen a number of incidents with high top ring wear on small bore engine types 26 to 50.  For this reason, MAN B&W has successfully tested a new piston top ring, which they now introduce as part of the standard ring pack configuration for two-stroke MAN B&W 26-50 bore engines.

On the small bore engines, the smaller depth of the controlled leakage (CL) grooves reduces the wear potential of the piston top ring compared to the large bore engine types.

In the cases observed, premature wear out of the controlled leakage (CL) grooves on the top ring running surface can be seen.  As a result, the pressure drop over the top ring increased further and caused increased wear on the top ring, as well as a high liner wear rate and an increased ring groove wear.

To remove the negative influence from worn out (CL) grooves, MAN B&W has tested an alternative ring type to replace the CPR-CL ring.  The new ting type is called CPR-POP (Port-On-Plane).


The CL grooves on the running side have been omitted and replaced with a number of ports milled into the lower side of the piston ring.


These passages have been configured with a 90 degree narrowing, causing the ring to increase the bypass area as the ring wears, instead of reducing it when the minimum depth is reached, as is the case with the CL grooves.  Thereby, the pressure drop decreases instead of increasing.


To measure the wear of the ring, the width of the leakage passage can be measured using a feeler-gauge-type measuring tool.


The opening is 3 mm from the beginning and the milled passage is designed in such a way that for every 1 mm the ring is worn radially, the gap opens 2 mm.

The Table lists the maximum allowable width of the leakage gap for our small bore engines.


All ring packs from 26 to 50 bore with the new CPR-POP top ring have alu-coat on the running surface.


The new piston top ring has been tested on the various engine types.  The test results have shown improved TBO in all cases, compared with the previous CPR-CL piston top ring.


Liner hardening:

It is important that operators experiencing worn-out top rings of the CPR-CL type on small bore engines note that there is a risk of liner surface hardening when running with a worn out top ring.  In a number of cases, ship operators have seen a high increase in liner and ring wear rates after installing new rings in a liner suffering from a hardened surface due to running with worn-out piston rings.  To ensure normal wear rates and eliminate surface hardening, the liner surface must be machined by honing or grinding.

If the oil film between the cylinder liner and the piston rings is damaged, adhesive contact will occur, followed by temporary high temperatures on the surface and, subsequently, cooling, with hardening of the running surfaces as the result.  These areas of hardened surface must be removed to facilitate the running-in of new piston rings.

Source: MAN B&W


  1. I got problem on main engine 6S50MC can’t starting from wheel house or control and already trying change fuel fro F.O to diesel oil and trying start by emergency by engine side… But main engine still can’t start to…. Are you know what problem on my engine type 6S50MC.. need help

  2. The worst engine (6S42MC 7) I have seen in my life even with new liner, piston, etc you will get the same result
    More than 30 years as engineer

  3. The double S-lock CPR ring has been found breaking off at the finger lock with in 1000 hours, if the liner suffered any slight ovality.
    My assumption is that – slight blow pass that takes place at the weaker butt, while ring travel through the oval part of liner while running in. The blow pass push the weaker finger lock tip inwards. Once it is initiated, the continuous blow pass will heat up the finger lock, bend it permanently inward, exposed to higher heat stress and breaks away. I have monitored this sequence of deterioration through under piston inspection at every port after unit overall and conformed it
    To prevent such breakage, if unable to hone the liner to remove ovality, engineer may consider to install the top ring 180 deg off the oval sector, so that butt is sufficiently run-in and maintained gas sealing by the time the ring rotate and reach at worn out sector of the liner

  4. I wouldn’t say over riding the Makers could be a mistake, but I believe and I have seen it in not so ideal conditions. The new CPR-POP ring will cause a higher wear out on piston ring grooves and piston rings itself.

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