It is difficult, to imagine a world without the motorcar. Back in the 1700s, some of the very first cars were powered by stream engines. When German engineer Karl Benz drove a motorcar tricycle I 1885 and fellow Germans Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach converted a horse down carriage into a four wheeled motorcar in august 1886, none of them could have imagined the effects of their invention. Benz recognized the great potential of petrol as a fuel. His three wheeled car had a top speed of just ten miles (16 km) per hour with its four-stroke, one cylinder engine. After receiving his patent in January 1886, he began selling the Benz Velo, but the public doubted its reliability. Benz’s wife Bertha had a brilliant idea to advertise the new car. In 1886 she took it on a 60 mile (100 km) trip from Mannheim to near Stuttgart. Despite having to push the car up hills, the success of the journey proved to a skeptical public that this was a reliable mode of transport.
Daimler and Maybach did not produce commercially feasible cars until 1889. Initially the German inventions did not meet with much demand, and it was French companies like Panhard at Levassor that redesigned and popularized the automobile. In 1926 Benz’s company merged to form the Daimler Benz company. Benz had left his company in 906 and, remarkably, he and Daimler never met. Due to higher incomes and cheaper, mass produced cars, the United States led in terms of motorization for much of the twentieth century. This kind of movement has, however, come at a cost. Some 25 million people are estimation to have died in car accidents worldwide during the twentieth century. Climate changing exhaust gases and suburban sprawl are but two more of the consequences of a heavy reliance on the automobile.
Invention of the clutch
Almost all historians agree that clutch was developed in Germany in the 1880s. Daimler met Maybach while they were working for Nikolaus Otto, the inventor of the internal combustion engine. In 1882 the two set up their own company, and from 1885 to 1886 they built a four-wheeled vehicle with a petrol engine and multiple gears. The gears were external, however, and engaged by winding belts over pulleys to drive each selected gear. In 1889, they developed a closed four- speed gearbox and a friction clutch to powers the gears, this car was the first to be marketed by the Daimler motor campy in 1890. Without a clutch, if the car engine is running the wheels keep turning. For the car to stop without stalling, the wheels and engine must be separated by a clutch. A friction clutch consists of a flywheel mounted to engine side. The clutch originates from the drive shaft and is a large metal plate covered with a frictional material. When the flywheel and clutch make contract, power is then transmitted to the wheels.
Gears in Motorcars
Karl Benz was the first to add a second gear to his machine and also invented the gear shift to transfer between the two. The suggestion for this additional gear came from Benz’s wife, Bertha, who drove the three-wheeled Motorwagen 65 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim – the first long distance automobile trip. The gears allow the engine to the maintained at its most efficient rpm while altering the relative speed of the drive shaft to the wheels. Gears originally required double clutching, where the clutch had to be depressed to disengage the first gear from the drive shaft, and then released to allow the correct rpm for the new gear to be selected. The clutch was then pressed again to engage the drives shaft with the new gear. Modern cars use synchronized which use friction to match the speeds of the new gear and he shaft before the teeth of the gears engage, meaning that the clutch only needs to be presses once.
“One thing I feel most passionately about: love of invention will never die” – Karl Benz