The Beginning of Wisdom

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

agmalogo

An old proverb posits that “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their proper name.” In my previous posting I brought up the need to identify the meaning of the acronyms when you cite them. Our trade has many names for the same “thing,” and where you first learned something may affect what you call it.

AGMA has a nomenclature committee which develops definitions, symbols, and terms for use in the standards. They also coordinate with ISO to insure that our standards can be understood around the world. It is a testimony to the fine work these people do that we have a thriving international discussion of gear technology without more disagreement over what certain symbols “mean.”

It hasn’t always been this way. I have a 1972 copy of H.E. Merritt’s Gear Engineering that is tricky to use because of the different Greek letters used for key angles. I have to constantly convert formulas and keep a “cheat sheet” in the book to remind me.

I mention this topic in conjunction with earlier exhortations on teaching and mentoring. Make sure your pupils learn the common understanding of gear terms and can recognize non-standard usage when they see it. No matter what your “local dialect” is, they need to be able to converse with people outside your firm without having a translator present.

When AGMA first introduced software to rate gears according to ISO 6336, they held training sessions around the country. I was able to attend the class in Chicago and was embarrassed for some of my classmates. They knew “gears” in their local dialect but were unable to accurately fill in the input forms because of nomenclature differences.

This isn’t a new situation and it isn’t easy to resolve. AGMA and ISO are doing their part to make the standards consistent. No one is going to go back and revise all those cherished reference books. You can do your part by making sure our “newbies” learn to call things by their proper name.

Frequently Asked Questions (and Other TLA or FLA)

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

The advent of texting naturally leads to a desire for reduced typing. I like websites that have a “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab as it shows an interest in making newcomers welcome. The gear industry, like many others, has built up its own “lingo” that can baffle neophytes. I understand the Federal government has a manual devoted to the development of three letter acronyms (TLA) and four letter acronyms (FLA) to speed communication.

Even the TLA for four letter acronym points out the problem of confusing some people while trying to help others. I am sure the Florida tourism folks thought they had “dibs” on that particular three letter sequence. My wife and I like to think we are savvy travelers, but find ourselves baffled by some of the TLA and FLA on those oval-shaped decals on various rear windows. (And don’t get me started on the stick figure families, either.)

The Federal manual no doubt tries to avoid permitting scandalous language, a task made all the more difficult by our rapidly changing texting scene. Case in point: the Wisconsin Tourism Federation woke up one day after 25 years with a pressing need to rename their organization.

The situation in the gear industry is complicated by the different languages of our participating companies and the different descriptions we use for the same gear features. Somewhere in my files I have the valiant attempt of one group to assemble a “cheat sheet” of gear terms and abbreviations in six languages. It is “incomplete” at six pages.

I know that I am not alone when my eyes glaze over (MEGO) at a jargon- and TLA/FLA-filled paper or specification. As I approach final editing of my own FTM (Fall Technical Meeting) paper on HCR (High Contact Ratio) gears, I will do my best to keep the reader in mind and explain the terms upon first use. The TDEC (Technical Division Executive Committee) will be recruiting peer reviewers for each of the papers, and if you are in a position to help, please do so.

We are open to your comments on any of these blog posts and encourage your questions on all things gear-related. Or as the young whippersnappers say AMA!

Hunting for an Argument

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

One of the first things I learned about gears was the importance of having a “hunting tooth” combination. This was not open to discussion. It was carved in stone in our gear technology handbook. I had no idea this was not a universally held belief until I found myself charged with designing new product lines and there was no gear technology handbook to lean on.

The available reference books had mixed advice on the importance of the hunting tooth; some saw no point in it, others agreed with my early mentors that it was as necessary as the blue sky. I decided to become a free thinker on this bit of doctrine and haven’t though much about it since.

As mentioned earlier, I bought a reprint of 1910’s American Machinist Gear Book, written and edited by Charles Hays Logue, formerly of R.D. Nuttall Company. Mr. Logue had strong opinions on hunting teeth, as expressed on page 31:

“It has been customary to make a pair of cast tooth gears with a hunting tooth, in order that each tooth would engage all of the teeth in the mating gear, the idea being that they would eventually be worn into some indefinite but true shape. Some designers have even gone so far as to specify a pair of ̒hunting tooth miter gears’ That is, one ̒miter’ gear would have, say, 24 teeth and its mate 25 teeth.

“There never was any call for the introduction of the hunting tooth even in cast gears, but in properly cut gears any excuse for its use has certainly ceased to exist.”

Strong words back in 1910. I think I would have enjoyed meeting Mr. Logue and talking about gears. His book covers a lot of topics and I am sure he rubbed some people the wrong way. Other prominent engineers contributed to the book, so he had friends, too.

The “hunting tooth” is but one of the design guidelines companies make. I’ve found some engineers were taught, for example, to never use helix angles over 15 degrees or 20 degrees. Others were shocked when they saw pinions with less than 21 teeth or gear ratios over 5:1. Now there may have been some logical reasons for that in certain circumstances, but over the years the underlying reasons were lost. Yet the guideline remained.

It reminds me of a story of Thanksgiving dinner being prepared by a multi-generational group of women. The chief cook, somewhere in the middle of the generations, was just telling the youngster present to “always cut off the last half-inch off the ham” before putting it in the pan. A junior member of the crew insisted upon getting confirmation from the oldest present. Great grandma scoffed at the idea. “The one time your grandmother helped cook the ham we had an extra big ham and it wouldn’t fit in the roaster.”

Just a reminder to you teachers and mentors out there:

Teach your children well. Don’t just give them rules. Give them reasons.

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

No, I am not launching a criminal investigation. The title of this posting summarizes my ongoing study of the history of gear ratings. Most of you are aware that the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) was formed in 1914 by a group of gear makers who were concerned that the outrageous claims of some of their competitors were endangering the good reputation they were working to have with their customers.

The gear trade has attracted some of the greatest engineering minds in history, but prior to AGMA there were no recognized standards for the things we take for granted today. Other “standards” groups pre-date AGMA because of their involvement with public safety. I will not go over the rash of boiler explosions, bridge collapses, and structure failures that prompted the need for better understanding of those fields of engineering.

A gear failure was unlikely to be life threatening in the early 20th century, but AGMA’s founders foresaw a day when it could greatly interfere with the conduct of their business. They didn’t start the association in a vacuum either.

Thanks to the Internet and modern technology it is possible to gain insight into the pre-AGMA days of the gear business. I just received a beautiful reprint of the American Machinist Gear Book, edited by Charles Hays Logue in May of 1910. Mr. Logue, formerly of R. D. Nuttall Company, set out “to make a book for ’the man behind the machine,’ who, when he desires information on a subject, wants it accurate and wants it quick, without dropping his work to make a general study of the subject.” His preface continues “Controversies and doubtful theories are avoided.”

As author and editor, Mr. Logue relies upon noted experts for help in sorting out the topics. Wilfred Lewis, George B. Grant, and Percy C. Day are among those quoted. Engineering books dating back several hundred years are referenced in the very readable text. Many of the diagrams, drawings, and charts were very familiar from more modern reference books.

So the preliminary answers to the questions posed in the title are:

More than we give them credit for.
And,
Certainly by 1910.

I look forward to making a detailed comparison of the 1910 rating methods and our 21st century procedures.

Dr. Faydor L. Litvin: 100 Years a Genius

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

The Gear Technology gang wishes to congratulate Dr. Faydor L. Litvin of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) on celebrating his 100th birthday in January. We had hoped to interview this distinguished engineer, inventor and author for a more in-depth review of his contributions to our industry, but have just learned he no longer entertains such requests.

Dr. Litvin began his UIC tenure in 1979 at the age most men retire, following a noteworthy life in his native Russia. Besides teaching and supervising over 75 graduate students, he continued to develop his gear theories and to publish books and papers that are widely used today. In Development of Gear Technology and Theory of Gearing (1997, NASA RP-1406), Dr. Litvin offered the following testimony to the hundreds of people who contributed to our trade without recognition. We at the Gear Technology blog share this excerpt from that preface in honor of Dr. Litvin’s centennial:

The history of developments in any area, including gear technology and theory, is the history of creativity, which has often gone unrecognized during one’s lifetime. The aspiration to create is a passion that enriches the life but requires unconditional devotion. Usually, creativity is associated with the arts (music, literature, painting), possibly because they have the greatest influence on our emotions. However, we do not realize the extent to which this passion conquers the daily activities of many in all levels of society. The desire of gifted persons to create is the driving force in their lives, bringing them joy and suffering and often no fame. For Fame, a capricious goddess, does not award in the proper time and may not award at all. My sympathy is for those who failed to achieve recognition for their accomplishments, and I share Dostoyevsky’s philosophy that suffering is necessary for spiritual achievement, but the price to be paid is sometimes too high. However, an individual who gives his heart to create should not look for fame. This was expressed with great emotion by Pasternak (1960) in his famous verse, “To Be That Famous Is Hardly Handsome”:

Creation’s aim—yourself to give,
Not loud success, appreciation.
To mean round nothing—shames to live,
On all men’s lips an empty sermon.

I sympathize with the heroes of Pasternak’s verse.

We at Gear Technology are thankful that Professor Litvin has been recognized for his achievements within his lifetime and encourage readers to become familiar with his writings.

Time Flies When You Are Making Gears

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

On Saturday I began my 44th year in the gear industry. I remember way too many details of my first day as a drafting apprentice at the Falk Corporation for it to have been that long ago, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

After expressing shock that I had no relatives working there, my new co-workers began the long, hard task of teaching me enough so I wouldn’t be “a hazard to navigation.” At least one old hand advised having a good back up plan since hydraulics were going to take over everything. There have certainly been many changes in our trade since 1971 but anyone who ever watched an episode of Junkyard Wars could tell you, the hydraulic revolution never happened.

In my opinion, the big changes that reshaped our industry:

  1. Computer controlled machine tools. When I took my first shop tour at Falk it was wall- to-wall turret lathes in three buildings. Ten years later they were gone.
  2. Personal computers. In 1971 we punched our own cards for the mainframe computer. At least once a week a box of cards got dropped on the way to the computer room. I could have built a house with my boxes of cards. Ten years later that mainframe was in a little box on every desk.
  3. Computer Aided Drafting. I was a late adopter of CAD, as you might expect given my apprenticeship. By the mid 1980s, a single CAD station could out perform five or six draftsmen.
  4. Ground gearing. Falk held on to through hardened gearing longer than most companies, but by 1990 most of the industry had transitioned to carburized and hardened gears with ground flanks.
  5. Coated hobs and cutters. It took a while for everyone to believe the test results, but within a few years the benefits of extended tool life changed the economics of the business.
  6. CNC Form Grinders. In 1971 there were two dominant gear grinding technologies: MAAGs for bigger, high-precision parts and Reishauers for smaller, high-volume parts. On MAAGs you talked “days per gear” and on Reishauers it was “minutes per gear” after a day of wheel prep. The advent of CNC form grinding reduced the cost of gear grinding and made the advanced micro-geometry required for high performance possible.
  7. The Internet. Until the Internet came into our lives, you needed good library skills to research technical topics. Inquiries and purchase orders came in via the post office and might take days just to reach the appropriate desk. Responses went by “snail mail” too. Long distance phone calls were reserved for emergencies. For a short period of time, communication shifted to fax machines, but once the “dot com” boom started, we were on that slippery slope to instant communication.
  8. Cell phones. When I started traveling with sales people, the first thing that I noticed was how much of a hassle it was for them to communicate by phone. Most carried bags of “telephone change” and knew where every pay phone was on their turf. Being able to carry a cell phone, even at the outrageous rates of the early days, revolutionized the sales game.

Did I miss anything? Use the comments to let me know.

Internships: How Does the Employer Benefit? Part II

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

In my previous post I talked about the official ways an internship program benefited our company. Today I’d like to talk about a couple of unanticipated aspects of the program. Our shop, like most of yours, had many experienced employees, but few young people. The influx of inquisitive and personable students did annoy a few of the gruffer old hands, but far more of them were flattered by the kids asking them questions and soliciting their opinions on how things could be done better. You really can’t say you understand something until you try to explain it to someone completely unfamiliar with the topic. The very necessary interaction between our operators and interns gave us new insight into the ways we had always done things. In some cases it confirmed our process, in others it challenged our assumptions and allowed us to try new methods with less feather ruffling than if the changes came down from management.

The second thing I noticed was leadership is different from supervision. In some cases our foremen were not the “leaders” in their departments. Getting changes to “stick” was far more successful when the actual floor leader was convinced someone had finally listened to him. Your company, too, has some great leaders out on your shop floor; those leaders might have ideas you need to hear. Between the interns’ questions and our following up with the operators on the kids’ efforts, we learned many things we would not have without the program.

One of the things we made every intern do at the completion of a project was to prepare a presentation for anyone interested in attending. For most of the students this was by far the most stressful part of their tenure. It really informed management and their co-workers on what they had accomplished. And several reported afterwards that the experience helped them during job interviews upon graduation. You know the old joke about an extroverted engineer looking at your shoes when he talks to you? Mandatory public presentations gets their eyes raised a bit and increase their self- confidence for future assignments. That is a good thing for our industry.

Internships: How Does the Employer Benefit?

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

The first question my boss asked me when I suggested we start an intern program was “What’s in it for us?” Fortunately I had done my homework and read the “instruction book” that a college placement office had e-mailed me: Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program, compiled and edited by Michael True, director, Internship Center, Messiah College, Grantham, PA 17027; revised edition by MACIC (Milwaukee Area Internship Consortium 5/03), sponsored by www.tccp.org, Pittsburgh Technology Council and Messiah College.

It helped that our company was at that time growing rapidly and that he was looking for less expensive ways to recruit qualified employees. Among the benefits an employer enjoys from a well organized internship program are:
• Year-round source of highly motivated pre-professionals
• Students bring new perspectives to old problems
• Visibility of your organization is increased on campus and within your community
• Quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and projects
• Freedom for professional staff to pursue more creative projects
• Flexible, cost-effective workforce not requiring a long-term employer commitment
• Proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees

Like many companies, we had a lot of projects that we never quite had the time to complete. Our list included finding a way to fit more cars in our parking lot, reorganizing our engineering files, inventorying gear cutting tools, converting CAD drawings to a different format, and improving material flow through the plant. All worthwhile projects that never got near the top of our priority lists. I’m sure we could have come up with even more projects had we asked the accounting, purchasing, or sales departments, but my list was sufficient to get an approval to hire a couple of engineering students for the summer months. Note I said “hire,” as we felt it was unfair to ask unpaid volunteers to perform “real work.” With input from the University’s internship advisor, we set an hourly rate based upon year in school and had plenty of well-qualified candidates to choose from. By the end of the summer our project backlog was eliminated, but my co-workers were already debating “what we should have the kids do next summer.”

Is It Summer Yet?

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

With the extreme weather much of the country has been having it isn’t too surprising that many people are daydreaming about summer vacations and relaxing days far from the snow shovel. But another group of people is already thinking of summer for far less relaxing reasons; they are college students in need of summer employment. Ideally that employment would be in their field of study with a company who might be in need of their services after graduation.

Until my own children started looking for “internships” I didn’t give much thought to this situation. Sure, I had seen “summer help” in action at various employers but it seemed like they were just being given manual labor tasks like cleaning out storage rooms and landscaping, with maybe a little painting thrown in for variety. I confess to drafting my son into some scut work when he had too long a winter break during his freshman year. The University of Cincinnati’s long tradition of co-op study preempted his need for further dirty work and his sister was wary of more assignments after one vacation of filing purchase orders.

My daughter became an advocate for internships after several dismal assignments early in her studies at the University of Illinois. At her urging I learned what made an internship “work” for both the student and the employer. Then I sold the idea to my bosses as a way of getting some long neglected tasks off the Engineering Department things-to-do list.

It took some effort on my part and some patience from my staff but that things-to-do list got whittled down by summer’s end. The students learned to apply some “book learning” to real world problems and to present their results before upper management. Several of the kids used their project reports in job interviews. Our company president was impressed enough to authorize another group of interns for winter break. That group got a rave review from him for presenting a unique solution to a capital spending problem worthy of a major consulting firm.

So despite the calendar, I encourage those of you who are in a position to offer summer employment to study your things-to-do lists for tasks you can delegate to eager young people. In my next posts I will give some tips on selecting projects, finding interns, and making the internship experience beneficial to everyone involved.

Times Haven’t Changed That Much

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

iron_age

I have been finding lots of interesting information on the Internet while researching my Fall Technical Meeting paper. Whoever decided to scan old engineering books and trade magazines for online reference did a great service to coming generations. As is often the case in research, you set out looking for information on one topic only to be distracted by a fascinating trail leading somewhere else entirely.

My interest in the adoption of standard tooth forms lead to trade magazine, The Iron Age, Volume #110, reports on AGMA meetings in 1921 and 1922. If you just saw the topic list you might think you were in a contemporary gathering of the association or on a TV business talk show. The 1922 meeting, for example, had a spirited discussion of tariffs and trade policy [page 995] and whether they were good for the gear trade.

Another hot topic was the shortage of skilled labor, rising wages, and the need to improve training methods (page 995). Apprenticeships were debated with the same concerns about retention and cost sharing that we hear today. Even the technical topics seem contemporary, ranging from the hot rolling of gear teeth (page 862) to the study of gear noise (page 994).

If there is interest amongst our readers we might be able to reprint some of these reports. Let me know via the comments.