Definitions

planet-gear

Sun and planet gear

[suhn-uhn-plan-it]
The sun and planet gear (also called the planet and sun gear) was a method of converting reciprocal motion to rotary motion and utilised a reciprocating steam engine. It was likely invented by the Scottish engineer William Murdoch, an employee of Boulton and Watt, but was patented by James Watt in October 1781. It played an important part in the development of devices for rotative motion in the Industrial Revolution.

Operation

The sun and planet gear converted the vertical motion of a beam, driven by a steam engine, into circular motion using a 'planet', a cogwheel fixed at the end of the pumping rod (connected to the beam) of the engine. With the motion of the beam, this revolved around, and turned, the 'sun', a larger rotating cog which turned the drive shaft, thus generating rotary motion. An interesting feature of this arrangement, when compared to that of a simple crank, is that when both sun and planet have the same number of teeth, the drive shaft completes two revolutions for each stroke of the beam instead of one.

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