A Century of Gears

The American Gear Manufacturers’ Association [AGMA] will celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2016. The party will begin with the Fall Technical Meeting [FTM] and Gear Expo in Detroit this October. The Association is seeking milestones of gearing to put on a timeline that will be on display.

I don’t expect my getting a drafting apprenticeship back in 1971 to make the cut  but there may be events in your company’s history that may belong there. So many important advances in our trade are not well documented, their originators, inventors, and champions names lost into the pre-searchable records of long lost companies or trade journals.

In 1916 the United States was trying to avoid getting dragged into a European war that was grinding up people and wealth. American companies were awash in orders JP Morgan, the giant Wall Street firm, was the purchasing agent for the British and French governments. Between the war effort and the auto industry, industrial growth was incredible.

Hundreds of companies made gears. There were dozens of gear tooth forms and widely varying methods of calculating their load capacity. A handful of leading firms had the foresight to organize a trade association to propose rating standards, rationalize the terminology, and pare down the tooth forms. Some of those firms –or their descendants- are still around and remain active in AGMA.

It took years for AGMA members to reach a consensus on these important matters. Consensus is never the fast way to get things done but it is the best way to get an agreement that lasts. AGMA standards are popular around the world –despite our reluctance to fully embrace the metric system- because they represent the best consensus on how gear work in the world not in the laboratory.

We have a great searchable data base of gear articles at www.geartechnology.com covering the last 30 or so years. I would like to see earlier material available too, especially old catalogs and technical articles so we could learn about the commercial development of our products. Let us know if you have source material.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.