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You Don't Truly Understand How Gears Work Unless You've Watched This 1936 Film

Road & Track logo Road & Track 2/25/2021 Bob Sorokanich
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Think about it—do you really, truly understand how gears work? We all get the basics, how pairing bigger and smaller gears together can give us the torque or speed needed for a particular task. But ask the average car enthusiast to explain the similarities between a lever and a gear, and you'll get a lot of vague wording and a puzzled look.

Let's change that right now. Let's introduce ourselves to Mr. Jam Handy.

Henry Jamison"Jam" Handy made a career out of producing short, elegant films, explaining intricate engineering concepts in a simple, relatable way. We've featured a bunch of his work before, elucidating the inner workings of differentials, cooling systems, drum brakes, and independent suspension. His films were often made as promotional material for Chevrolet, highlighting the technology and engineering solutions you'd get in your brand-new Thirties or Forties GM product.

a close up of a sign: Admit it: You're still kind of fuzzy on the principle that makes gears work. Let's change that right now. © US Auto Industry - YouTube Admit it: You're still kind of fuzzy on the principle that makes gears work. Let's change that right now.

This short film from 1936 starts with the absolute basics—a single lever—and explains how that simple machine can be refined, modified and updated to become the gears spinning inside your car's transmission. Even if you already know the basics about how gears work, I guarantee you'll learn something you didn't know.

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