The Essential Gear Book?

Continuing our discussion of gear training…


What one book would you advise a newbie to purchase, read, and keep handy in the years ahead?

I’ll disqualify my own book, An Introduction to Gear Design, because it is available for free download at my website ( and it was originally written for a very specific audience. Over the years, it suffered a bit of “mission creep” that added more technical content, but it started off as a way of dealing with repeated questions from purchasing agents, buyers, inspectors, and other non-technical types who suddenly found themselves tasked with these very complex and expensive items.

Machinery’s Handbook immediately comes to mind but, while present in most manufacturing operations, its gear content is somewhat dated and the authors seem to assume a certain amount of mechanical knowledge that may not be all that common in current times. The handbook was developed at a time when completing the 8th grade was “higher education,” yet the average man had much greater familiarity with machinery. Even prior to the 20th century anyone who saw or rode a train had some appreciation for gears, crankshafts, steam power, and elementary physics.

Franklin Jones carried that mindset over to Gear Design Simplified during the 1930s. Pre-calculators — in fact, pre-slide rules — this little volume, now available in reprint, offered standardized formulas for commonly used gear types that are still valid. Without the “mechanical instinct” of our forbearers, I fear even this little volume will confuse people.

So what is the earnest newbie to read to start his or her gear training? Writing for a knowledgeable “gear” audience is tough enough; ask anyone who has presented a technical paper or taught a seminar. In my files I have a coloring book that Cone Drive prepared for school children back in the 1970s, along with my notes from a discussion with elementary school teachers on what kids ought to know about gears at various ages. Sadly, our education system does not have the time to teach about our shared mechanical history. The things Franklin Jones could assume a grade school graduate knew are as out of style as diagramming a sentence.


About Charles D. Schultz 634 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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