In an effort to brace some cantilevered axles, I have found an ulterior use for the Vex clutch. Here is an excerpt from our design notebook:
In my efforts to find a way to brace the cantilevered axles in my transmission, I came to an ulterior use of the plastic overdrive clutch Vex sells. To understand my solution, one must first understand the way the Vex clutch works.
The clutch consists of seven parts: major housing, minor housing, compression spring, geared o-ring, geared axle holder, two posts. The major housing connects to one axle. The minor housing mates into the major housing. These housing components are secured together with two posts on either side. Inside the minor housing rests the geared axle holder, which features a slot for an axle and upward facing gear teeth. Above this lies the geared o-ring, an o-ring shaped part with downward facing gear teeth and two plastic keys jutting out of either side, both of which interface with the major housing. The gear teeth on these two components mesh. Above these two components is the spring, which forces these components into each other, increasing the stability of their mesh. On the outside of the assembly, two posts enter the major housing, pass through the minor housing, and exit the major housing, acting as keys to keep the assembly together. When the clutch makes a “clicking” noise, the gear teeth on the o-ring and the gear teeth on the axle holder pass over each other and slightly round off, before being forced back into a mesh by the spring above them.
I have modified the Vex clutch to change its behavior. Instead of “giving way” when too much rotational force is applied, the clutch now allows free rotation of both engaged axles. I have done this by flipping the o-ring so its downward facing gear teeth now face upwards, by shortening the compression spring, and by lubricating all the internals. Now, when two engaged axles rotation with different speeds, the axle holder’s gear teeth rub on the back of the o-ring, and the o-ring’s gear teeth rub against nothing. The compression spring has been left in to provide structural support for the axle holder (to stop it from rotating along both axes perpendicular to the axis along which an axle falls).
This modification will allow me to brace the cantilevered axles in my transmission because it allows me to connect them in such a way that they can rotate freely while still being connected.
Has anybody else has the same thought? I find this to be quite useful for applications of securing axles which may turn at different speeds relative to one another.