Gears

We at Houston Gear design, engineer many kinds of gear solutions. Below is a list of what we can do to serve you. We look forward to being your gearing solution.

A gear or cogwheel is a rotating machine part having cut teeth, or cogs, which mesh with another toothed part to transmit torque, in most cases with teeth on the one gear being of identical shape, and often also with that shape on the other gear. Two or more gears working in tandem are called a transmission and can produce a mechanical advantage through a gear ratio and thus may be considered a simple machine. Geared devices can change the speed, torque, and direction of a power source. The most common situation is for a gear to mesh with another gear; however, a gear can also mesh with a non-rotating toothed part, called a rack, thereby producing translation instead of rotation.

The gears in a transmission are analogous to the wheels in a crossed belt pulley system. An advantage of gears is that the teeth of a gear prevent slippage.

When two gears mesh, and one gear is bigger than the other (even though the size of the teeth must match), a mechanical advantage is produced, with the rotational speeds and the torques of the two gears differing in an inverse relationship.

In transmissions with multiple gear ratios—such as bicycles, motorcycles, and cars—the term gear, as in first gear, refers to a gear ratio rather than an actual physical gear. The term describes similar devices, even when the gear ratio is continuous rather than discrete, or when the device does not actually contain gears, as in a continuously variable transmission.
Helical or "dry fixed" gears offer a refinement over spur gears. The leading edges of the teeth are not parallel to the axis of rotation, but are set at an angle. Since the gear is curved, this angling causes the tooth shape to be a segment of a helix. Helical gears can be meshed in parallel or crossed orientations. The former refers to when the shafts are parallel to each other; this is the most common orientation. In the latter, the shafts are non-parallel, and in this configuration the gears are sometimes known as "skew gears".

The angled teeth engage more gradually than do spur gear teeth, causing them to run more smoothly and quietly. With parallel helical gears, each pair of teeth first make contact at a single point at one side of the gear wheel; a moving curve of contact then grows gradually across the tooth face to a maximum then recedes until the teeth break contact at a single point on the opposite side. In skew gears, teeth suddenly meet at a line contact across their entire width causing stress and noise. Skew gears make a characteristic whine at high speeds. Whereas spur gears are used for low speed applications and those situations where noise control is not a problem, the use of helical gears is indicated when the application involves high speeds, large power transmission, or where noise abatement is important. The speed is considered to be high when the pitch line velocity exceeds 25 m/s.

A disadvantage of helical gears is a resultant thrust along the axis of the gear, which needs to be accommodated by appropriate thrust bearings, and a greater degree of sliding friction between the meshing teeth, often addressed with additives in the lubricant.
 
Double helical gears, or herringbone gears, overcome the problem of axial thrust presented by "single" helical gears, by having two sets of teeth that are set in a V shape. A double helical gear can be thought of as two mirrored helical gears joined together. This arrangement cancels out the net axial thrust, since each half of the gear thrusts in the opposite direction resulting in a net axial force of zero. This arrangement can remove the need for thrust bearings. However, double helical gears are more difficult to manufacture due to their more complicated shape.

For both possible rotational directions, there exist two possible arrangements for the oppositely-oriented helical gears or gear faces. One arrangement is stable, and the other is unstable. In a stable orientation, the helical gear faces are oriented so that each axial force is directed toward the center of the gear. In an unstable orientation, both axial forces are directed away from the center of the gear. In both arrangements, the total (or net) axial force on each gear is zero when the gears are aligned correctly. If the gears become misaligned in the axial direction, the unstable arrangement generates a net force that may lead to disassembly of the gear train, while the stable arrangement generates a net corrective force. If the direction of rotation is reversed, the direction of the axial thrusts is also reversed, so a stable configuration becomes unstable, and vice versa.

Stable double helical gears can be directly interchanged with spur gears without any need for different bearings.
Splines are ridges or teeth on a drive shaft that mesh with grooves in a mating piece and transfer torque to it, maintaining the angular correspondence between them. For instance, a gear mounted on a shaft might use a male spline on the shaft that matches the female spline on the gear. The splines on the pictured drive shaft match with the female splines in the center of the clutch plate, while the smooth tip of the axle is supported in the pilot bearing in the flywheel. An alternative to splines is a keyway and key, though splines provide a longer fatigue life.
We specialize in gear box reengineering and restoration for all industries.
Worm gears resemble screws. A worm gear is usually meshed with a spur gear or a helical gear, which is called the gear, wheel, or worm wheel.

Worm-and-gear sets are a simple and compact way to achieve a high torque, low speed gear ratio. For example, helical gears are normally limited to gear ratios of less than 10:1 while worm-and-gear sets vary from 10:1 to 500:1. A disadvantage is the potential for considerable sliding action, leading to low efficiency.

A worm gear is a species of helical gear, but its helix angle is usually somewhat large (close to 90 degrees) and its body is usually fairly long in the axial direction. These attributes give it screw like qualities. The distinction between a worm and a helical gear is that least one tooth persists for a full rotation around the helix. If this occurs, it is a 'worm'; if not, it is a 'helical gear'. A worm may have as few as one tooth. If that tooth persists for several turns around the helix, the worm appears, superficially, to have more than one tooth, but what one in fact sees is the same tooth reappearing at intervals along the length of the worm. The usual screw nomenclature applies: a one-toothed worm is called single thread or single start; a worm with more than one tooth is called multiple thread or multiple start. The helix angle of a worm is not usually specified. Instead, the lead angle, which is equal to 90 degrees minus the helix angle, is given.

In a worm-and-gear set, the worm can always drive the gear. However, if the gear attempts to drive the worm, it may or may not succeed. Particularly if the lead angle is small, the gear's teeth may simply lock against the worm's teeth, because the force component circumferential to the worm is not sufficient to overcome friction.

Worm-and-gear sets that do lock are called self locking, which can be used to advantage, as for instance when it is desired to set the position of a mechanism by turning the worm and then have the mechanism hold that position. An example is the machine head found on some types of stringed instruments.

If the gear in a worm-and-gear set is an ordinary helical gear only a single point of contact is achieved. If medium to high power transmission is desired, the tooth shape of the gear is modified to achieve more intimate contact by making both gears partially envelop each other. This is done by making both concave and joining them at a saddle point; this is called a cone-drive or "Double enveloping"

Worm gears can be right or left-handed, following the long-established practice for screw threads.
 
A sprocket or sprocket-wheel is a profiled wheel with teeth, cogs, or even sprockets that mesh with a chain, track or other perforated or indented material. The name 'sprocket' applies generally to any wheel upon which are radial projections that engage a chain passing over it. It is distinguished from a gear in that sprockets are never meshed together directly, and differs from a pulley in that sprockets have teeth and pulleys are smooth.

Sprockets are used in bicycles, motorcycles, cars, tracked vehicles, and other machinery either to transmit rotary motion between two shafts where gears are unsuitable or to impart linear motion to a track, tape etc. Perhaps the most common form of sprocket may be found in the bicycle, in which the pedal shaft carries a large sprocket-wheel, which drives a chain, which, in turn, drives a small sprocket on the axle of the rear wheel. Early automobiles were also largely driven by sprocket and chain mechanism, a practice largely copied from bicycles.

Sprockets are of various designs, a maximum of efficiency being claimed for each by its originator. Sprockets typically do not have a flange. Some sprockets used with timing belts have flanges to keep the timing belt centered. Sprockets and chains are also used for power transmission from one shaft to another where slippage is not admissible, sprocket chains being used instead of belts or ropes and sprocket-wheels instead of pulleys. They can be run at high speed and some forms of chain are so constructed as to be noiseless even at high speed.
A ratchet is a mechanical device that allows continuous linear or rotary motion in only one direction while preventing motion in the opposite direction. Ratchets are widely used in machinery and tools. Though something of a misnomer, "ratchet" is also often used to refer to ratcheting socket wrenches, a common tool with a ratcheting handle.
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