The paper presents an original probabilistic model of the balance of internal combustion engines. The model considers the manufacturing tolerances and predicts the most probable value of the first-order residual unbalance for engines that—theoretically—have the first order forces and moments balanced. It has been found that, assuming normal distributions of the geometric and mass parameters of the reciprocating mechanisms of a multicylinder engine, the unbalancing forces and moments are statistically distributed according to a Rayleigh law. The mode of the Rayleigh distribution, which represents the most probable value of the residual unbalance, is expressed in terms of the statistical characteristics of the parameters subjected to manufacturing tolerances. In this way, the tolerances and, especially the ones admitted for the reciprocating masses, are directly correlated to the expected value of the residual unbalance making it possible to establish reasonable limits for these tolerances. Validation of the probabilistic balance model is demonstrated by computer simulation. [S0742-4795(00)01704-X]

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