Another giant of the gear industry — Darle W. Dudley (1917-2003) — is still influencing new engineers today through his writings. The very first gear book I bought for my personal library was his 1962 Gear Handbook. Several years later, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Dudley at my office to discuss a project and he was kind enough to sign it for me. I must not have yet acquired his 1954 vintage Practical Gear Design because, sadly, it is unsigned.
The market for gear books is quite small and few books remain “in print” for very long. If there ever was a gear author who deserved frequent reprints, it is Darle W. Dudley. When confronted with a new or unusual problem, the first thing many of us reach for is our well-thumbed copy of “Dudley.” I believe there is a third and possibly a fourth “Dudley book” from later years but my memories are wrapped up in these two.
Both books are full of old business cards, bookmarks, and notes that take me instantly back to critical situations where guidance was needed. So much so that it is not unusual for me to “see” a particular page, photo, or chart in my mind as I pull the book from my shelf.
The first book was authored entirely by Mr. Dudley. The second includes chapters by several dozen other experts, but I do not recall anyone ever calling the book anything but “Dudley.” In an age when we bet our jobs on software that comes from an unknown third party, it makes me wonder if more documentation is needed. Nothing “settled” a technical dispute quite as quickly as an explanation that “we followed the procedure laid out in Dudley.” (Ed. Note: You might also find interesting an obituary for Dudley in the 2003 July-August issue of Gear Technology (page 39-40)