Tag: machines

The Boy Mechanic

Boy Mechanic 1

It’s difficult for me to describe the magic I felt the first time I came across an old volume of “The Boy Mechanic” at the house of a friend of the family. I was young, perhaps ten or eleven years old, and already had a knack for seeing how things worked. Even at that age, I loved making things (though I had very few resources and tools). And so then here, suddenly, was this big, heavy, thick old book that showed all manner of amazing things a handy “boy” could make.

Clearly the book was old. Some of the contraptions required access to barrel staves, buggy springs … things from an earlier time. Nonetheless, it was chock full of clever things you could make with ordinary hand tools, access to the sort of odds and ends of the time, and a lot of patience, free time, and some degree of skill.

Many of the projects looked fun. Some even looked dangerous!
Boy Mechanic

And, I soon discovered, the family also had additional volumes of “The Boy Mechanic” that were published afterward. They were just as thick and just as crammed with projects, and ideas. In fact, the first run of “The Boy Mechanic” included four volumes.

Unfortunately, for me, I was unable to borrow the books and had to content myself with poring over them when our family came over to visit. Because of the books age (already about seventy years old at that time) I was not able to find them in the library to check out.

Eventually, when I got older, I tracked down some of the volumes in used book stores and purchased them. Eventually too I found reprints of the first four volumes and purchased these as well. I also discovered that the original four volumes were not the last of “The Boy Mechanic” that had been created — new editions with new projects and crafts were printed sometime around the 50’s.

I will share some of the amazing things from these books in some of the postings that follow. Maybe, if these books are new to you, you can show them to someone young and creative in your life and perhaps they too will get some of the inspiration that I did.

In this day and age, it is unfortunate that the books specify a gender in the title. Maybe when you present the series to a young person you can simply describe the books as The Young Mechanic.

The original “The Boy Mechanic, Vol. I” was published in 1913 and so is well outside of copyright. For this reason it is easy enough to find a copy of the book online for free. Here is one such link:

https://archive.org/details/theboymechanicvo12655gut

And also “The Boy Mechanic, Vol. 2”:

https://archive.org/details/boymechanicbook200chic2

The Automobile Transmission

Especially with the popularity of cars with automatic transmissions, many drivers today may forget that there are complicated systems of gears that transmit power from the car’s engine to the car’s wheels. Drivers that can work a clutch and a stick shift are certainly aware of a cars gearing but may be clueless as to how it all goes together.

An educational film from 1936 shows how an automobile’s gearing is put together.

When the film begins, it describes the lever and its mechanical advantage. Soon however the subject turns to gears and the modern (for 1936) automotive transmission.

The gearbox they detail, which was standard at that time, is merely a three speed transmission (plus reverse) and yet it is already fairly complex. It boggles the mind what a modern seven speed gearbox must resemble.

I don’t believe it is the case any longer that public schools offer vocational classes. I remember in middle school (junior high) I took a wood shop class. I enjoyed that experience a great deal. They offered metal shop and automotive shop classes as well.

I imagine the following film might have been shown in an automotive class. It’s wonderful how it describes the problem and then the solution that differential gearing provides in a way most students can probably understand.

An educational look at how things work. More films like this, please.
(The actual education content begins about 1:55 into the film.)

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