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The original idea was to create a EMD unit for fitting inside locomotives or larger lego vehicles without having to take the full space requirements of the technic V6 engines. E.g. at Model Team scale. The 'pistons' are formed from short 4L axle pieces with a stud on the end. The block assembly is two 1x1 technic bricks with holes. The crank shaft is made from normal technic pieces.
Unfortunately the crank shaft is not ideal, and would benefit from assembly from some custom pieces; but these could be easily reused in other models.
As can be seen, placement of the crank elements needs to be precise. In LDD it was necessary to push the red axle 2L piece further than in real life... hence a custom piece would be welcome.
With a custom gearing, the 'engine' can be geared up from a locomotive wheel base for that ultimate push-along experience.