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Creativity and Ingenuity: Stepping off the path

 
gardener
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I had one of those fleeting thoughts this AM.  Before my time, my dad worked as a civilian engineer of some kind at the naval base in Pensacola, FL during WW2.  One of the souvenirs he kept from his job was a set of gears, carved from bamboo, taken from a Japanese submarine.  The older I get, the more amazed I am at what can be produced from wood (yes, I know bamboo is a grass).  Or to stretch the thought a little, I am amazed at how far a little ingenuity can take us when we are willing to let go of rigid thought patterns.
 
pollinator
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I bought a seeder last year so I could plant using my garden tractor. The seed plates are $40 a piece, and only available in a few sizes.

I dug out some scrap plywood that was the same thickness as the plates, cut out circles, and carved them to fit. One is already customized to fit the field peas I planted as a cover crop. 3 more are waiting for me to decide what seed to use them for.

$160 worth of seed plates, for a piece of scrap wood and some careful carving.

(Now you're inspiring me to think about wooden gears and all the things they could be used for)
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
(Now you're inspiring me to think about wooden gears and all the things they could be used for)



Weeeellll.... Here is a place to remove some of the guesswork How to make wooden gears. And you can purchase machinery plans here.
 
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Just ran across this before reading this thread:
Screenshot_20210225-172831_Facebook.jpg
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20210225-172831_Facebook.jpg]
 
Jordan Holland
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As far as transmitting much power, I think the grain of most wood might make two sides of the gear's teeth easy to snap off unless it is plywood. They used to use cog wheels which had easily replacable cogs rather than having to make a whole new gear when it became worn/damaged. Wood truly is one of the most remarkable substances on earth, we just take it for granted because it's always been around.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Jordan,

Of course, that is where I began kicking myself when I made the original post.  I was probably 5 or 6 years old when I saw the gears.  I had little idea as to what I was looking at (literally ... I went blind 2x in that period). My memory is more from what I was told than what I saw and understood. And, of course, those gears may have had to deal with very little torque. For example, various meters were analog at the time. To make a wooden gear for a clock would involve far less torque than a gear for a engine.  My main take away was my father marveling at the precise fit of the gears as well as the desperation that went into their design.  My father arrived at Pensacola in March of 1945. So the war was in its final year for Japan.
 
Jordan Holland
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John, they definitely did use wooden gears for various purposes. If those bamboo gears were of much size, they were likely laminated, and may have been surprisingly strong, and as you say, there are many low powered uses for gears. Wood can also make excellent bearings. Submarines also used lignum vitae bearings in at least the periscopes, if memory serves. I had an idea to make a huge, exposed gear wooden clock for a wall, powered by water. Maybe some day...
 
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