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Category Archives: Forest City Gear

Congratulations BMW Oracle Racing on The America’s Cup Victory!

—–Original Message—–

From: Tim Daro (Bernard & Company)
Sent: Mon 15/02/2010 14:47
To: Jon W (BMW Oracle Racing
Cc: Fred Young (Forest City Gear); Wendy Young (Forest City Gear); Nicole Zermatten (Bernard & Company); Wendy McCormick (Bernard & Company)
Subject: Congratulations!

We all welcomed the news of your success in winning the Cup.
And the story on Forest City Gear is popping up all over the trade press, here in the States.
Good news, all around!
Thanks for your help, Jon.  Enjoy the victory.

—–Original Message—–

From: Jon W (BMW Oracle Racing)
Sent: Mon 15/02/2010 14:47
To: Tim Daro (Bernard & Company)
Cc: Fred Young (Forest City Gear); Wendy Young (Forest City Gear); Nicole Zermatten (Bernard & Company); Wendy McCormick (Bernard & Company)
Subject: Congratulations!

Hi guys,

I don’t think we could’ve written a better script!  The victory will carry the article a bit further for you I’m sure.  It was incredible to pick up the America’s Cup last night.  I’ve been chasing it for more than 10 years!

Bye for now.

Check out our press release on FCG and BMW Oracle teaming up.

Go to our Facebook page to see more pictures of the BMW Oracle.

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Steps to take for avoidance of imperfections in the aesthetics and surface integrity of gearworks

Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear recently disseminated the following tips to its employees and would like to share these ideas with the gearmaking community, as well as users and assemblers of gearworks.  This information is provided for reference only and any further questions or comments should be directed to author Fred Young, CEO of Forest City Gear.  He welcomes all feedback.

BY: Fred Young, CEO

TO: All Forest City Gear Employees

Recently and historically, we have had issues with gears that suffered from the above conditions, after heat treat. These issues can also appear during hot and humid times, as well. We previously had a sand/vapor blast unit that was used to clean off debris and contamination from gears, prior to further processing.

My suggestions for future handling, based on experience and a reading of the current technology, include the following:

  1. We should change the routings to include a hand blasting (not tumble blasting) by our heat treaters.
  2. We should stipulate the further provision to our vendors that this is initiated only for cosmetic cleaning purposes and that they are enjoined from too extensive a blasting, which could cause dimensional changes or damage to our parts.
  3. We are looking for a uniform and clean surface on all areas that are not ground and this would include gear root diameters, where appropriate. If we do not have high confidence in the individual heat treaters to perform this critical task, we should try to use the Comco blast unit we have in-house or investigate the purchase of a unit similar to the old one we had. I know that the main objections to that equipment were the excessive dust and grit surrounding it and the extra processing time required. However, the returns we have experienced from time to time over these issues demand that we take some aggressive preventative steps. Please note that this is not limited to parts that are only heat treated.
  4. When we use our ultrasonic cleaner or parts washers with soap and hot water, water spots and/or soap contamination may be objectionable to some very particular and discerning customers. Changing of the final cleaning solution may be necessary, in such cases.
  5. If it is feasible, we should use any of the currently available vacuum heat treating processes to assist us in maintaining cleanliness and an optimally professional visual appearance, which can help minimize objections by outside inspectors.

I welcome all your suggestions to further our desire for achieving “Excellence without Exception.” (This is the company motto at Forest City Gear.)  I think that if all hands are on the lookout to address the corrosion, discoloration, contamination and pitting issues and address corrective procedures prior to further processing-gear grinding, cylindrical grinding or other machine operations- this will help minimize our overall cost.  It is very difficult to address these issues after grinding has occurred, as you all know.

The September/October (2009) issue of Gear Technology had an article starting on page 60 entitled, “Gear Corrosion During the Manufacturing Process,” which focused on issues of pitting caused by corrosion, which can be very serious and ultimately lead to gear failure in operation.

While the article discussed the REM Chemical process of isotropic superfinishing in particular, much of the information is germane to the points above and will contribute to your understanding and resolution of these problems.  I encourage you to read it. The watchword at Forest City Gear is that all of us are responsible to be on the lookout and take steps to prevent this situation from future occurrence, to the greatest degree possible. It will be prudent to gather some examples and point out exactly what we are trying to prevent from going out the door, by reviewing it with all hobbing/secondary, shaping and grinding department personnel, at the earliest opportunity.

For more information on this announcement, please contact: FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. Web:  www.forestcitygear.com

Editor Note:  Please send any publication-generated inquiries from this article to Wendy Young at Forest City Gear, wyoung@forestcitygear.com.  Thanks much.

PR agency contact: Tim Daro Bernard & Company 847-934-4500 tdaro@bernardandcompany.com


Date:  January 26, 2010

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Critical winch crown gears to be used by BMW ORACLE Racing on their state-of-the-art trimaran in the America’s Cup match on February 8, 2010 in Valencia, Spain

The winches on a racing yacht are critical items of equipment.  Speed, reliability and weight are important factors when determining which winch packages will be installed on a racing yacht.

Forest City Gear supplied crown gears and splines of special high-strength, lightweight and corrosion-resistant titanium for use in the engine & winch system of the new BMW ORACLE Racing trimaran.  BMW ORACLE Racing is currently competing in the prestigious America’s Cup event in Valencia.

Made from Ti-6-4, a popular alloy often found in aerospace applications, this material is extremely durable and was determined ideal for this project by the Alpha Engineering Consulting designers, customer of Forest City Gear.  The process used to manufacture these gears and their corresponding spline components was hobbing and shaping, respectively.  The crown radius was the point of main concern, owing to the extreme stress and motion present when such gears are in use.

As Jon Williams, a member of BMW ORACLE Racing’s shore team explained, “During the build-up to the previous America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, we undertook development of our own transmission components for the winch systems on our yachts.  After careful study, we had determined this was a critical area for improveing our performance on the water.”  BMW ORACLE Racing was looking to reduce mass and increase in mechanical efficiency of the gear and spline assembly.  A prototype project proved successful and the team undertook a complete redesign of the gearboxes for their USA87 and USA98 yachts.   These new gearboxes were manufactured in New Zealand and used by BMW ORACLE Racing in the America’s Cup.

The current edition of the America’s Cup sees different rules than previous Cup programs.  Under these rules, all equipment for the yachts must be constructed in the country the team represents.  In the case of BMW  ORACLE Racing, who races under the flag of the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, California, this means all equipment must be made in the USA.

Williams continues, “The construction of our trimaran was a formidable project and it was clear we needed to utilize group of vendors with specialist skill and expertise.  Our project called for a fairly wide selection of gears, splines and driveshaft components, some of which were non-standard sizes.  Two vendors we selected to produce these components were Arrow Gear and Forest City Gear”.

For Forest City Gear, Jared Lyford and Tom Christenson ran the project.  The gearbox casings and other associated parts were manufactured by RB Enterprises of Everett, Washington.  For Arrow Gear, Joe Arvin ran the project to deliver the bevel gears.  Final assembly of the gearboxes and their installation occurred at BMW ORACLE Racing’s structural R&D facility in Anacortes, Washington.

At the conclusion of five weeks intensive testing on the waters off Seattle, WA & San Diego, CA, the gearboxes were removed for inspection.  The results were impressive: the gears were only showing the first signs of polishing on flanks.  They looked new!!  It was concluded that the gears were a significant improvement on the New Zealand sourced gears used by BMW ORALCE Racing in their previous America’s Cup program.

Williams concludes, “Arrow Gear & Forest City Gear have provided the team with a quality product.  We would use them again.”

For more information on this announcement, please contact: FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. Web:  www.forestcitygear.com

Check out the BMW Oracle photo gallery on our facebook page


Date:  February 5, 2010

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Crowning: A Cheap Fix for Noise Reduction and Misalignment Problems and Applications On Gears

Noisy gear trains have been a common problem for gear designers for a long time. With the demands for smaller gearboxes transmitting more power at higher rpm and incumbent demands for greater efficiency, gear engineers are always searching for new ways to reduce vibration and limit noise, without increasing costs.

Some popular solutions to the noisy gear problem include enlarging the pinion to reduce undercut, using Phenolic, Delrin or other noise-absorbing products, where possible, or changing to a helical gear train.  Other methods include tightening specifications to insure greater gear quality or redesigning the acoustical absorption characteristics of the gearbox.  Occasionally, experimentation with gear ratios can limit harmonic frequency amplification, which otherwise can cause a gearbox to amplify noise like a finely tuned stereo system.  The engineer can also study material and hardness requirements, so that modifications may be made to minimize heat treatment distortion or possibly eliminate the need for heat treatment entirely.

Particular attention must also be paid to gear geometry to insure maximum contact.

Another approach to the gear noise problem that yields good results is crowning or barreling of the teeth. This technique involves changing the chordal thickness of the tooth along its axis. This modification eliminates end bearing by offering a contact bearing in the center of the gear.

A second benefit of the crowning approach to gear cutting is the minimization of misalignment problems, caused by inaccurate machining of the casting, housing, shafting, gearboxes or bearing journals. Crowning can also reduce lead problems in the gears themselves, which causes the gears to wear unevenly and bind because of eccentricities and position errors.  Obviously, a gear with a center contact is less affected by discrepant manufacturing or design; furthermore, one can reduce the backlash requirements and allow the gears to wear in rather than wear out.

Shaving is a secondary gear finishing operation done after rough hobbing or shaping to create the desired crown. Crown shaving has long been a popular method, especially in manufacturing coarse pitch gears. With the recent evolution of gear equipment capable of crowning while cutting, the need for shaving just to achieve a crown has been eliminated.

Two variations of the crown shaving method will produce a gear to compensate for off-lead or misalignment conditions.

One approach produces a crown by rocking the table during the reciprocation of work and cutter. The degree of crown is readily changed by this method. The other approach is plunge feeding, which requires dressing the shaving cutter to the desired crown. Generally, it is faster to plunge feed, but the technique can subject the cutter to greater wear.  Of course, it is more difficult to change the crown, provided one starts with good quality gears.  Shaving improves the quality of profile and reduces error in the gear tooth, through the cutting and burnishing action of the cutters.

The crown form can be produced on gear teeth in several other ways. One method is to shape the gear by use of a crown cam in the shaper back-off mechanism. The proper radius of the gear is calculated by using the amount of crown on the flank and the pressure angle of the gear.  Unfortunately, the blocks, while not complex, tend to be expensive.

The advent of the latest generation of gear equipment has made two methods of crowning while hobbing popular. Both methods produce crowns by increasing and decreasing the center distance of cutter to workpiece. The first method utilizes physical copying of a template by a hydrocopying or mechanical following device. This allows taper hobbing or even the creation of sinusoidal wave forms, if desired. More recently, the second method, CNC hobbing, has become commonplace.

Depending on software limitations, CNC allows cutting gears in almost any desired form.  A disadvantage to this approach is the high cost of the equipment, though the payback has decreased considerably, in recent years.

New CNC shapers can cut a crown gear or spline without the need for buying a special crowning cam.  On our Gleason Pfauter P 300 ES, for example, we can crown by cutting a slight right and left hand helix angle along the face width of the part.  This leaves the root diameter straight.  We also have a Bourn & Koch Fellows MS 450 with a U-axis for controlling the back-off.  It can be programmed to move the cutter spindle in and out during the stroking cycle to crown the tooth by cutting deeper at the ends of the face width and more shallow at the high point of the crown.

Who is using this gear cutting technology today?

Users of heavily loaded gears have been using crowning for quite some time.  Another area ripe for the use of crowning is in the manufacturer of hydraulic wobble motors. Here, the application is strictly for misalignment problems rather than for noisereduction. An allied area involves heavily loaded pinions used in actuators for aircraft control surfaces. Generally speaking, it is more advantageous to crown the pinion because it makes more revolutions per minute and may generate more noise. In this case, it is of paramount importance to compensate for load deflection. Unfortunately, few companies in the United States have been applying this technology to commercial fine pitch gearing. However. the few manufacturers who have tried it are most pleased with the results. Some users have reported a 5x to 10x reduction in noise, accompanied by less vibration, wear and power draw.

Prime candidates for use of the crowning technique are the small fractional horsepower motor manufacturers or anyone dealing with spur or helical pinions that are susceptible to noise or misalignment. Because crowning on foreign gear hobbing equipment has been available for a greater length of time, this method has been developed to a greater extent in Europe.

American manufacturers would be wise to take advantage of the availability of this kind of technology. Exploration of crowning as a solution to noise and misalignment problems can produce a real competitive advantage for gear manufacturers and users alike.

Fred Young, CEO Forest City Gear Roscoe, Illinois

For more information, please contact Fred Young at: Forest City Gear 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073 fyoung@forestcitygear.com 866-623-2168

AUTHOR-Fred Young is the owner and CEO of Forest City Gear Co. in Roscoe, Illinois. He has worked for the company since the mid-1950s and assumed its management in 1968. He is a graduate of Rockford College, where he studied physics, mathematics and English literature.  Mr. Young is a leading authority on gear manufacturing.

Agency contact: Tim Daro Bernard & Company tdaro@bernardandcompany.com 847-934-4500

Editor note:  Mr. Young is available for interviews on this or other gear design and manufacturing issues.  Please contact agency to arrange. Also, any publication-generated leads from this article should be sent to Wendy Young at wyoung@forestcitygear.com.  Thanks!

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