Popular Science (Feb. 1924)
"Amazing New Car Has No Gears" by Newton Burke
A marvelous new type of automobile is now running through the streets of Paris. In appearance it resembles the thousands of small cars that throng the French capital. And yet this car is capable of performing such remarkable feats that it has aroused the intense interest of automotive engineers in all parts of the world.
The car has no transmission of the conventional type. There are no gears and no gear shift lever. Automatically and without attention on the part of the driver, it adjusts itself to the load, so that in any kind of a test or demonstration the driver has nothing to do except steer and press on the throttle with his foot until the desired results are obtained, whether he is towing a 5-ton truck up a steep hill or traveling at high speeds on an open country road. George Constantinesco, well-known automobile engineer, has perfected in this new gearless car a transmission along radically new lines.
If you ever have tried to push a stalled automobile along a road or to shove a heavy motor boat away from a dock you know how hard it is to get a heavy object into motion and how relatively easy it is to keep it going once you have it started. You have also found that it takes a lot more energy to get it started quickly than if you take your rime with the job.
The ease with which an object can be set in motion if you do the job at slow speed, and the extra effort required when you try to speed up the operation, is taken advantage of in the new gearless automobile. How this is accomplished is shown in the simplified drawing of the most important parts. It shows what happens when the crank is rotated by the engine.
When the motor is started and un slowly and the automobile is stationary, the weight of the car keeps the drive shaft on which the ratchet wheel is mounted from turning, and the motion of the rotating crank is transmitted to the inertia wheel, which consequently oscillates back and forth. When the driver steps on the throttle the motor starts to speed up, and if the inertia wheel weighed practically nothing it would oscillate back and forth at increased speed. But the inertia wheel is made heavy and consequently it offers resistance to being oscillated back and forth with any great amount of speed.
This resistance tends to hold the differential lever attached to it from making the full motion imparted through the connecting rod by the crank and forces the other end of the lever to move back and forth slightly when the increase in speed first starts, and more rapidly as the engine develops more power. Note that the ratchets are so arranged that the ratchet wheel is turned in the same direction both on the forward and and backward motion of the link operating through the drive rods. At high speed the inertia wheel remains practically stationary and all of the motion is transmitted directly to the rear wheels.
The drawing, of course, does not show the parts as they actually are arranged in the automobile. For the sake of clearness the parts have been spread out and simplified. The ratchet wheel, for instance, really consists of a pair of over-running clutches that accomplish the same result without lost motion. Of course this mechanism can drive the car only in the forward direction, and consequently a reverse gear is fitted to facilitate backing the car around in the garage and to make turns on the road.
The control of the new car is much more simple than any of the standard automobiles. There being no clutch or gear shift lever, the driver does not have to worry about changing speeds. When he wants to stop he takes his foot off the throttle and puts on the brake. The motor slows down and the small amount of energy still being generated is used to rock the inertia wheel back and forth.
When he wants to start he throws off the brake and steps on the throttle and the car starts up without a jerk, automatically increasing speed until a balance is obtained between the speed of the car and the amount of power developed by the motor.
Hills present no difficulties. The car simply slows down in proportion to the steepness of the hill. Consequently it will climb any hill as long as the rear wheels can obtain traction. Weird results can be accomplished by the remarkable infinite ratio transmission. If the back wheels are block with heavy logs when the car is standing and the driver steps on the throttle, the wheels rise up over the obstacle with a slow and gradual movement that suggests the running and jumping figures seen by a slow motion camera. It also enables a light demonstrator car fitted with a low-powered motor to tow a loaded 5-ton truck up a steep hill without laboring.
This simplified diagram shows how the gearless transmission passes the power from the motor to the drive shaft in proportion to the motor speed and the load. As the crank runs faster, the weight of the inertia wheel resists this speeding up process, and the other end of the differential lever starts to move back and forward, rotating the drive shaft by means of the ratchet wheel.
Source: www.fluid.power.net ---
His Torque Converter and Other Inventions
George Constantinesco was born in Romania and arrived in London in November 1910. By 1913 he had already applied for eighteen British Patents related to improvements in internal combustion engines and their ancillaries such as carburettors, fuels and transmission elements as well as early patents on methods of transmitting power by pulsating waves of energy through liquids. He formulated the Theory of Sonics --- the science dealing with the transmission of power by periodic forces and motions through liquids, solids and gases. He discovered that these phenomena had their analogies not only with the properties of sound waves and the laws of harmony, but also with AC electrical circuits. Prototypes of rock drills working on the percussion system and polyphase rotary systems were already being demonstrated by 1913. The most important application of his theory of sonics was a "synchroniser gear" which allowed to fire a machine gun through the aircraft propeller. This gear was employed on all allied aircraft during WWI and on some aicraft during WWII. After WWI Constantinesco had an idea for a low cost "peoples' car'' which would travel 100 km miles on 2.5 litres of petrol at the most commonly used road speeds of 50 to 70 km per hour. He considered that this performance and low cost could be achieved by using a cheap 500 cc single cylinder two stroke air cooled engine together with his unique Torque Converter transmission which would eliminate the conventional gear box and clutch. Experience in this field could then be applied to the transmission of much higher powers in heavy vehicles such as railway locomotives. The c