In a forced (also called pressurized)
In 2-stroke crankcase scavenged engines, the interior of the crankcase, and therefore the crankshaft, connecting rod and bottom of the pistons are sprayed by the 2-stroke oil in the air-fuel-oil mixture which is then burned along with the fuel. The valve train may be contained in a compartment flooded with lubricant so that no oil pump is required.
In a splash lubrication system no oil pump is used. Instead the crankshaft dips into the oil in the sump and due to its high speed, it splashes the crankshaft, connecting rods and bottom of the pistons. The connecting rod big end caps may have an attached scoop to enhance this effect. The valve train may also be sealed in a flooded compartment, or open to the crankshaft in a way that it receives splashed oil and allows it to drain back to the sump. Splash lubrication is common for small 4-stroke engines.
In a forced (also called pressurized) lubrication system, lubrication is accomplished in a closed loop which carries motor oil to the surfaces serviced by the system and then returns the oil to a reservoir. The auxiliary equipment of an engine is typically not serviced by this loop; for instance, an alternator may use ball bearings sealed with its lubricant. The reservoir for the oil is usually the sump, and when this is the case, it is called a wet sump system. When there is a different oil reservoir the crankcase still catches it, but it is continuously drained by a dedicated pump; this is called a dry sump system.
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Other systems are also used
On its bottom, the sump contains an oil intake covered by a mesh filter which is connected to an oil pump then to an oil filter outside the crankcase, from there it is diverted to the crankshaft main bearings and valve train. The crankcase contains at least one oil gallery (a conduit inside a crankcase wall) to which oil is introduced from the oil filter. The main bearings contain a groove through all or half its circumference; the oil enters to these grooves from channels connected to the oil gallery. The crankshaft has drillings which take oil from these grooves and deliver it to the big end bearings. All big end bearings are lubricated this way. A single main bearing may provide oil for 0, 1 or 2 big end bearings. A similar system may be used to lubricate the piston, its gudgeon pin and the small end of its connecting rod; in this system, the connecting rod big end has a groove around the crankshaft and a drilling connected to the groove which distributes oil from there to the bottom of the piston and from then to the cylinder.
Other systems are also used to lubricate the cylinder and piston. The connecting rod may have a nozzle to throw an oil jet to the cylinder and bottom of the piston. That nozzle is in movement relative to the cylinder it lubricates, but always pointed towards it or the corresponding piston.
Typically a forced lubrication systems have a lubricant flow higher than what is required to lubricate satisfactorily, in order to assist with cooling. Specifically, the lubricant system helps to move heat from the hot engine parts to the cooling liquid (in water-cooled engines) or fins (in air-cooled engines) which then transfer it to the environment. The lubricant must be designed to be chemically stable and maintain suitable viscosities within the temperature range it encounters in the engine.