August 28, 2023
The holiday gift catalogs have started to arrive at my house. Over the years our gift list has been pared down, but we occasionally see something unique that is just perfect for someone on the list. In our family we have plenty of book readers, gardeners, and nick knack collectors. I am the only car nut (it only takes one!), but we get lots of catalogs full of car-related things. What I haven’t seen is a catalog full of gearing-related collectables for the office or man cave. Exposed gear train clocks might suffice for some people, but I’d like a cut-away manual transmission or perhaps a replica of that ancient astrolabe thingie shown in Darle Dudley’s book, Evolution of the Gear Art. I have various gears and bits of gears in my office, but nothing that meshes or rotates. There is something about a toy that moves. The next time you are at a trade show, look at how people are attracted to cut-a-ways that rotate — especially ones that are filled with a colorful lubricant to squish between the teeth. If you have interesting display gearboxes, consider putting them in your lobby for visitors to play with or taking them to schools. I first saw gears in action in a cut-a-way car transmission in seventh grade science class. It was never really part of the curriculum, yet students couldn’t keep their hands off it. Posters, etchings, and photographs have their place, but they don’t satisfy the tactile needs of the observer the way a cracked gear from a 1990s Indy car transmission does. Neither comes close to the patent model I was once caretaker for — working proof that you could have a one-tooth helical pinion. A small model of a differential or worm drive would be fun. Anyone know if there is a catalog of gearing-elated dust collectors?