Columbus' first voyage to the Americas is not the only anniversary worthy of celebration this year. In 1892, on October 15, Wilfred Lewis gave an address to the Engineer's Club of Philadelphia, whose significance, while not as great as that of Columbus' voyage, had important results for the gearing community. In this address, Lewis first publicly outlined his formula for computing bending stress in gear teeth, a formula still in use today.
To mechanical engineers, the strength of gear teeth is a question of constant recurrence, and although the problem to be solved is quite elementary in character, probably no other question could be raised upon which such a diversity of opinion exists, and in support of which such an array of rules and authorities might be quoted. In 1879, Mr. John H. Cooper, the author of a well-known work on "Belting," made an examination of the subject and found there were then in existence about forty-eight well-established rules for horsepower and working strength, sanctioned by some twenty-four authorities, and differing from each other in extreme causes of 500%. Since then, a number of new rules have been added, but as no rules have been given which take account of the actual tooth forms in common use, and as no attempt has been made to include in any formula the working stress on the material so that the engineer may see at once upon what assumption a given result is based, I trust I may be pardoned for suggesting that a further investigation is necessary or desirable.