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Transmission, or gearbox?

Latest blog entry


08/04/2014 07:00 AM

That question depends on which side of the Atlantic you're on. To the Europeans, it's a
gearbox. To the Americans, it's a transmission. Although to be truthful, the transmission
is the entire assembly that sits behind the flywheel and clutch - the gearbox is really a
subset of the transmission if you want to split hairs.
Either way, this page aims to deal with the whole idea of getting the power from your
engine to the ground in order to move your car (or bike) forwards.
Every day the transmission has to cope with a number of tasks. One can hardly imagine
how many different ways it functions. Regular transmission maintenance will extend the
life of your transmission and save you money. Looking for high quality, durable
transmission parts? Why waste your time surfing the Internet when you can find top-
notch transmission parts at CARiD.com. CARiD.com has every single part you may need
for your iron friend. Dont take these words for it, check everything yourself!
Manual gearboxes - what, why and how?
From the Fuel & Engine Bible you know that the pistons drive the main crank in your
engine so that it spins. Idling, it spins around 900rpm. At speed it can be anything up to
7,500rpm. You can't simply connect a set of wheels to the end of the crank because the
speed is too high and too variable, and you'd need to stall the engine every time you
wanted to stand still. Instead you need to reduce the revolutions of the crank down to a
usable value. This is known as gearing down - the mechanical process of using
interlocking gears to reduce the number of revolutions of something that is spinning.
AmericanMuscle has Mustang transmission parts including flywheels and clutch
replacement kits.
A quick primer on how gears work

In this case I'm talking about gears meaning 'toothed wheel' as oppose to gears as in
'my car has 5 gears'. A gear (or cog, or sprocket) in its most basic form is a flat circular
object that has teeth cut into the edge of it. The most basic type of gear is called a spur
gear, and it has straight-cut teeth, where the angle of the teeth is parallel to the axis of
the gear. Wider gears and those that are cut for smoother meshing are often cut with the
teeth at an angle, and these are called helical gears. Because of the angle of cut, helical
gear teeth have a much more gradual engagement with each other, and as such they
operate a lot more smoothly and quietly than spur gears. Gearboxes for cars and
motorbikes almost always use helical gears because of this. A side effect of helical gears
is that if the teeth are cut at the correct angle - 45 degrees - a pair of gears can be
meshed together perpendicular to each other. This is a useful method of changing the
direction of movement or thrust in a mechanical system. Another method would be to
use bevel gears.

The number of teeth cut into the edge of a gear determines its scalar relative to other
gears in a mechanical system. For example, if you mesh together a 20-tooth gear and a
10-tooth gear, then drive the 20-tooth gear for one rotation, it will cause the 10-tooth
gear to turn twice. Gear ratios are calculated by divinding the number of teeth on the
output gear by the number of teeth on the input gear. So the gear ratio here is
output/input, 10/20 = 1/2 = 1:2. Gear ratios are often simplified to represent the
number of times the output gear has to turn once. In this example, 1:2 is 0.5:1 - "point
five to one". Meaning the input gear has to spin half a revolution to drive the output gear
once. This is known as gearing up.


Gearing down is exactly the same only the input gear is now the one with the least
number of teeth. In this case, driving the 10-tooth gear as the input gear gives us
output/input of 20/10 = 2/1 = 2:1 - "two to one". Meaning the input gear has to spin
twice to drive the output gear once.


By meshing many gears together of different sizes, you can create a mechanical system
to gear up or gear down the number of rotations very quickly. As a final example,
imagine an input gear with 10 teeth, a secondary gear with 20 teeth and a final gear with
30 teeth. From the input gear to the secondary gear, the ratio is 20/10 = 2:1. From the
second gear to the final gear, the ratio is 30/20 = 1.5:1. The total gear ratio for this
system is (2 * 1.5):1, or 3:1. ie. to turn the output gear once, the input gear has to turn
three times.
This also neatly shows how you can do the calculation and miss the middle gear ratios -
ultimately you need the ratio of input to output. In this example, the final output is 30
and the original input is 10. 30/10 = 3/1 = 3:1.


Collections of helical gears in a gearbox are what give the gearing down of the speed of
the engine crank to the final speed of the output shaft from the gearbox. The table below
shows some example gear ratios for a 5-speed manual gearbox (in this case a Subaru
Impreza).
Gear Ratio
RPM of gearbox output shaft
when the engine is at 3000rpm
1st 3.166:1 947
2nd 1.882:1 1594
3rd 1.296:1 2314
4th 0.972:1 3086
5th 0.738:1 4065


Final drive - calculating speed from gearbox ratios. It's important to note that in
almost all vehicles there is also a final reduction gear. This is also called a final drive or a
rear- or front-axle gear reduction and it's done in the differential with a small pinion gear
and a large ring gear (see the section on differentials lower down the page). In the
Subaru example above, it is 4.444:1. This is the final reduction from the output shaft of
the gearbox to the driveshafts coming out of the differential to the wheels. So using the
example above, in 5th gear, at 3000rpm, the gearbox output shaft spins at 4065rpm.
This goes through a 4.444:1 reduction in the differential to give a wheel driveshaft
rotation of 914rpm. For a Subaru, assume a wheel and tyre combo of 205/55R16 giving
a circumference of 1.985m or 6.512ft (see The Wheel & Tyre Bible). Each minute, the
wheel spins 914 times meaning it moves the car (914 x 6.512ft) = 5951ft along the
ground, or 1.127 miles. In an hour, that's (60minutes x 1.127miles) = 67.62. In other
words, knowing the gearbox ratios and tyre sizes, you can figure out that at 3000rpm,
this car will be doing 67mph in 5th gear.
Making those gears work together to make a gearbox

If you look at the image here you'll see a the internals of a generic gearbox. You can see
the helical gears meshing with each other. The lower shaft in this image is called the
layshaft - it's the one connected to the clutch - the one driven directly by the engine. The
output shaft is the upper shaft in this image. To the uneducated eye, this looks like a
mechanical nightmare. Once you get done with this section, you'll be able to look at this
image and say with some authority, "Ah yes, that's a 5-speed gearbox".
So how can you tell? Well look at the output shaft. You can see 5 helical gears and 3 sets
of selector forks. At the most basic level, that tells you this is a 5-speed box (note that
my example has no reverse gear) But how does it work? It's actually a lot simpler than
most people think although after reading the following explanation you might be in need
of a brain massage.
With the clutch engaged (see the section on clutches below), the layshaft
is always turning. All the helical gears on the layshaft are permanently attached to it so
they all turn at the same rate. They mesh with a series of gears on the output shaft that
are mounted on sliprings so they actually spin aroundthe output shaft without turning it.
Look closely at the selector forks; you'll see they are slipped around a series of collars
with teeth on the inside. Those are the dog gears and the teeth are the dog teeth. The
dog gears are mounted to the output shaft on a splined section which allows them to
slide back and forth. When you move the gear stick, a series of mechanical pushrod
connections move the various selector forks, sliding the dog gears back and forth.

In the image to the left, I've rendered a close-up of the area between third and fourth
gear. When the gearstick is moved to select fourth gear, the selector fork slides
backwards. This slides the dog gear backwards on the splined shaft and the dog teeth
engage with the teeth on the front of the helical fourth gear. This locks it to the dog gear
which itself is locked to the output shaft with the splines. When the clutch is let out and
the engine drives the layhshaft, all the gears turn as before but now the second helical
gear is locked to the output shaft and voila - fourth gear.


Grinding gears. In the above example, to engage fourth gear, the dog gear is
disengaged from the third helical gear and slides backwards to engage with the fourth
helical gear. This is why you need a clutch and it's also the cause of the grinding noise
from a gearbox when someone is cocking up their gearchange. The common
misconception is that this grinding noise is the teeth of the gears grinding together. It
isn't. Rather it's the sound of the teeth on the dog gears skipping across the dog teeth of
the helical output gears and not managing to engage properly. This typically happens
when the clutch is let out too soon and the gearbox is attempting to engage at the same
time as it's trying to drive. Doesn't work. In older cars, it's the reason you needed to do
something called double-clutching.
Double-clutching, or double-de-clutching (I've heard it called both) was a process that
needed to happen on older gearboxes to avoid grinding the gears. First, you'd press the
clutch to take the pressure off the dog teeth and allow the gear selector forks and dog
gears to slide into neutral, away from the engaged helical gear. With the clutch pedal
released, you'd 'blip' the engine to bring the revs up to the speed needed to engage the
next gear, clutch-in and move the gear stick to slide the selector forks and dog gear to
engage with the next helical gear.
The synchromesh - why you don't need to double-
clutch.

Synchros, synchro gears and synchromeshes - they're all basically the same thing. A
synchro is a device that allows the dog gear to come to a speed matching the helical gear
before the dog teeth attempt to engage. In this way, you don't need to 'blip' the throttle
and double-clutch to change gears because the synchro does the job of matching the
speeds of the various gearbox components for you. To the left is a colour-coded cutaway
part of my example gearbox. The green cone-shaped area is the syncho collar. It's
attached to the red dog gear and slides with it. As it approaches the helical gear, it
makes friction contact with the conical hole. The more contact it makes, the more the
speed of the output shaft and free-spinning helical gear are equalised before the teeth
engage. If the car is moving, the output shaft is always turning (because ultimately it is
connected to the wheels). The layshaft isusually connected to the engine, but it is free-
spinning once the clutch has been operated. Because the gears are meshed all the time,
the synchro brings the layshaft to the right speed for the dog gear to mesh. This means
that the layshaft is now spinning at a different speed to the engine, but that's OK
because the clutch gently equalises the speed of the engine and the layshaft, either
bringing the engine to the same speed as the layshaft or vice versa depending on engine
torque and vehicle speed.
So to sum up that very long-winded description, I've rendered up an animation - when
you see parts of a gearbox moving in an animation, it'll make more sense to you. What
we have here is a single gear being engaged. The layshaft the blue shaft with the smaller
helical gear attached to it. To start with, the larger helical gear is free-spinning on its slip
ring around the red output shaft - which is turning at a different speed because it's
connected to the wheels. As the gear stick is moved, the gold selector collar begins to
slide the dog gear along the splines on the output shaft. As the synchromesh begins to
engage with the large helical gear, the helical gear starts to spin up to speed to match
the output shaft. Because it is meshed with the gear on the layshaft, it in turn starts to
bring the layshaft up to speed too. Once the speed of everything is matched, the dog
gear locks in place with the output helical gear and the clutch can be engaged to connect
the engine to the wheels again.



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What about reverse?

Reverse gear is normally an extension of everything you've learned above but with one
extra gear involved. Typically, there will be three gears that mesh together at one point
in the gearbox instead of the customary two. There will be a gear each on the layshaft
and output shaft, but there will be a small gear in between them called the idler gear.
The inclusion of this extra mini gear causes the last helical gear on the output shaft to
spin in the opposite direction to all the others. The principle of engaging reverse is the
same as for any other gear - a dog gear is slid into place with a selector fork. Because
the reverse gear is spinning in the opposite direction, when you let the clutch out, the
gearbox output shaft spins the other way - in reverse. Simple. The image on the left here
shows the same gearbox as above modified to have a reverse gear.


Crash gearboxes or dog boxes.
Having gone through all of that business about synchromeshes, it's worth mentioning
what goes on in racing gearboxes. These are also known as crash boxes, or dog boxes,
and use straight-cut gears instead of helical gears. Straight-cut gears have less surface
area where the gears contact each other, which means less friction, which means less
loss of power. That's why people who make racing boxes like to use them.
Normally, straight-cut gears are mostly submerged in oil rather than relying on it
sloshing around like it does in a normal gearbox. So the extra noise that is generated is
reduced to a (pleasing?) whine by the sound-deadening effects of the oil.

But what is a dog box? Well - motorbikes have been using them since the dawn of time.
Beefing the system up for cars was the brainchild of a racing mechanic who wanted to
provide teams with a quick method of altering gear ratios in the pits without having to
play "chase the syncro hub ball bearings" as they fell out on to the garage floor.
Normal synchro gearboxes run at full engine speed as the clutch directly connects the
input shaft to the engine crank. Dog boxes run at a half to a third the speed of the
engine because there is a step-down gear before the gearbox. The dog gears in a dog
box also have less teeth on them than those in a synchro box and the teeth are spaced
further apart. So rather than having an exact dog-tooth to dog-hole match, the dog teeth
can have as much as 60 "free space" between them. This means that instead of needing
an exact 1-to-1 match to get them to engage, you have up to 1/6th of a rotation to get
the dog teeth pressed together before they touch each other and engage. The picture on
the right shows the difference between synchro dog gears and crash box dog gears.
So the combination of less, but larger dog teeth spaced further apart, and a slower
spinning gearbox, allegedly make for an easier-to-engage crash box. In reality, it's still
quite difficult to engage a crash box because you need exactly the right rpm for each
gear or you'll just end up grinding the dog teeth together or having them bounce over
each other. That results in metal filings in your transmission fluid, which ultimately
results in an expensive and untimely gearbox rebuild.
But it is more mechanically reliable - it's stronger and able to deal with a lot more power
and torque which is why it's used in racing.
So in essence, a dog box relies entirely on the driver to get the gearchange right. Well -
sort of. Nowadays the gearboxes have ignition interrupters connected to them. As you go
to change gear, the ignition system in the engine is cut for a fraction of a second as you
come to the point where the dog teeth are about to engage. This momentarily removes
all the drive input from the gearbox making it a hell of a lot easier to engage the gears.
And when I say 'momentary' I mean milliseconds. Because of this, it is entirely possible
to upshift and downshift without using the clutch (except from a standstill). Pull the gear
out of first, and as you blip the throttle to get the engine to about the right speed, the
ignition is cut just as the gears engage.
Even the blip of the throttle isn't necessary now either - advanced dog boxes can also
attempt to modify the engine speed by adjusting the throttle input to get the revs to the
right range first.
Of course even with all this cleverness, you still get nasty mechanical wear from cocked
up gear changes, but in racing that doesn't matter - the gearbox is stripped down and
rebuilt after each race.
Before the gearbox - the clutch
So now you have a basic idea of how gearing works there's a second item in your
transmission that you need to understand - the clutch. The clutch is what enables you to
change gears, and sit at traffic lights without stopping the engine. You need a clutch
because your engine is running all the time which means the crank is spinning all the
time. You need someway to disconnect this constantly-spinning crank from the gearbox,
both to allow you to stand still as well as to allow you to change gears. The clutch is
composed of three basic elements; the flywheel, the pressure plate and the clutch
plate(s). The flywheel is attached to the end of the main crank and the clutch plates are
attached to the gearbox layshaft using a spline. You'll need to look at my diagrams to
understand the next bit because there are some other items involved in the basic
operation of a clutch. (I've rendered the clutch cover in cutaway in the first image so you
can the inner components.) So here we go.

In the diagram here, the clutch cover is bolted to the flywheel so it turns with the
flywheel. The diaphragm springs are connected to the inside of the clutch cover with a
bolt/pivot arrangement that allows them to pivot about the attachment bolt. The ends of
the diaphragm springs are hooked under the lip of the pressure plate. So as the engine
turns, the flywheel, clutch cover, diaphragm springs and pressure plate are all spinning
together.
The clutch pedal is connected either mechanically or hydraulically to a fork mechanism
which loops around the throw-out bearing. When you press on the clutch, the fork
pushes on the throw-out bearing and it slides along the layshaft putting pressure on the
innermost edges of the diaphragm springs. These in turn pivot on their pivot points
against the inside of the clutch cover, pulling the pressure plate away from the back of
the clutch plates. This release of pressure allows the clutch plates to disengage from the
flywheel. The flywheel keeps spinning on the end of the engine crank but it no longer
drives the gearbox because the clutch plates aren't pressed up against it.
As you start to release the clutch pedal, pressure is released on the throw-out bearing
and the diaphragm springs begin to push the pressure plate back against the back of the
clutch plates, in turn pushing them against the flywheel again. Springs inside the clutch
plate absorb the initial shock of the clutch touching the flywheel and as you take your
foot off the clutch pedal completely, the clutch is firmly pressed against it. The friction
material on the clutch plate is what grips the back of the flywheel and causes the input
shaft of the gearbox to spin at the same speed.
Burning your clutch
You might have heard people using the term 'burning your clutch'. This is when you hold
the clutch pedal in a position such that the clutch plate is not totally engaged against the
back of the flywheel. At this point, the flywheel is spinning and brushing past the friction
material which heats it up in much the same was as brake pads heat up when pressed
against a spinning brake rotor (see the Brake Bible). Do this for long enough and you'll
smell it because you're burning off the friction material. This can also happen
unintentionally if you rest your foot on the clutch pedal in the course of normal driving.
That slight pressure can be just enough to release the diaphragm spring enough for the
clutch to occasionally lose grip and burn.
A slipping clutch
The other term you might have heard is a 'slipping clutch'. This is a clutch that has a
mechanical problem. Either the diaphragm spring has weakened and can't apply enough
pressure, or more likely the friction material is wearing down on the clutch plates. In
either case, the clutch is not properly engaging against the flywheel and under heavy
load, like accelerating in a high gear or up a hill, the clutch will disengage slightly and
spin at a different rate to the flywheel. You'll feel this as a loss of power, or you'll see it
as the revs in the engine go up but you don't accelerate. Do this for long enough and
you'll end up with the above - a burned out clutch.


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more: http://www.carbibles.com/transmission_bible.html#ixzz39h4bPEz1