October 12, 2022
[starbox]It is time to start preparing for the racing season so I have finally been spending some time in the garage. As a follow up to my last blog posting about designs staying in service for a long time, I offer the Model A Ford ring and pinion. First produced in 1927 for the 1928 Model A cars, this 9 x 34 spiral bevel set is still in production for use in midget race car quick change axles. That is 88 years and counting! Close behind is it successor, the ring and pinion set for the Ford Flathead V-8; used in current model quick change rear ends for street rods and sprint cars. The higher horsepower [60 at time of introduction in 1932] of the V-8 required a straddle mounted pinion or they might have just continued with the old “pumpkin” design. Considering that today’s midgets can have almost 400 horsepower and a sprint car double that, those gear engineers really did a fine job. Today’s material, heat treat, and manufacturing capabilities are responsible for that extra capacity but our friends at Gleason still “work” the same geometry system. What was a highly sophisticated design almost 90 years ago may not be anything special today but you have to admire things that keep working long after the design life has passed. It has been awhile since I read any news reports on the “infinity clock” being built with Silicon Valley money. A clock that will be self powered, run forever, and be working no matter what happens to us crazy humans. I rather suspect any future space visitors will be more interested in touring our old car museums than our feeble attempts at clock making. I mean no offense to the Infinity Clock team. Beings capable of interstellar travel are just more likely to find the artifacts of our journey from walking barefoot to interstate highway travel to be more informative of our progress as tool making apes than a clock.