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Before retiring from St. Louis Gear in 2000, Roy Harmon liked to tinker. Since the customer base at the time was seasonal, Harmon was looking for a project to keep himself busy. The engineer decided to challenge himself by designing a “South Pointing Chariot,” a device he had read about in the book The Evolution of the Gear Art by Darle Dudley.
The south-pointing chariot exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., (circa 2600 BC)is shown in Fig. 1. Although the mechanism is ancient, it is by no means either primitive or simplistic. The pin-tooth gears drive a complex system, wherein the monk on the top of the chariot continues to point in a preset direction, no matter what direction the vehicle in moved, without a slip of the wheels.(1)
The curved tooth cylindrical gear is one of ancient design. Samples which date from the period of the Warring State (475-221 BC) have been excavated from archeological sites in China. One such sample is now on display in the Xi'an Clay figures of Warriors and Horses Exhibition Hall. This example is about 3/4" in diameter and made of bronze. It was used in the famous model, "Ancient Chinese Vehicle With a Wooden Figure Always Pointing to the South." Although this early gear is handmade and somewhat crude, it is a viable model.
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