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1904-1917 Lambert Friction Drive

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Throughout the entire production time of the Union and Lambert automobiles, a friction change gear and single or dual chain drive to a live axle was used as a final drive to the rear wheels. The change gear mechanism used by the John W. Lambert in his early 1900s automobiles was considered to be very unusual.

Most American Automobiles used a transmission and shaft drive. The Gearless Transmission Co. produced a direct drive friction transmission prior to 1906 in Glen Falls, NY.

It is unknown just how many American Automobiles used a friction drive set up but it is believed to be in small numbers. Here is how the Friction Drive worked!

Power is transmitted from the engine flywheel through three studs set into its web to a three armed spider, holes in the arms of which are brushed with hard fiber and provide a sliding fit on the studs. Keyed into the hub of the spider is a shaft connecting the engine with the driving friction disc.

Gas Engines, Steam Engines and Electric Motors
1909 Lambert Friction Drive

A sleeve capable of being shifted endwise by a ratchet retained foot pedal provides the rear journal of this shaft, which is so mounted within it that relative end motion is not permitted between the two. Since the aluminum faced driving friction disc is keyed to the rear end of this shaft, it is seen that operation of the pedal moves the shaft and disc bodily toward or away from the driven disc and thus provides a clutching or declutching action as the case may be. Between the driving disc and the rear end of the rotating sliding journal box is placed a ball thrust bearing 17 3/4 inches in diameter composed of 51 1/2 inch balls operating between two hardened and ground steel disc.

Gas Engines, Steam Engines and Electric Motors
1909 Lambert Friction Drive Location

The driving disc rotates with the engine shaft in a vertical plane transverse to the length of the car and engages by the above mechanism with the paper built periphery of the driven disc of the same diameter and mounted on a shaft journaled across the car. The paper rim of the driven disc together with the aluminum facing of the driving disc affords as nearly positive engagement as may be had in this type of change gear. The driven disc or wheel is feathered on four keys set into a large diameter tubular shaft carried at its outer ends on Hyatt rollers. Hyatt rollers are also used in the shifting journal just forward of the driver.

Toward the right of the center of the car a spark pinion is mounted on this tubular shaft and drives the enclosed live rear axle shaft through a spur differential by single or double chain. A long side lever working over a ratchet quadrant connects by link with a bell crank, one end of which is forked and engaging with a shifting ring in a grove in the bars of the driven wheel. This serves to shift it toward or away from the center of the driver, thus securing changes of speed and when shifted across the center of the driver a change in rotative direction.

Gas Engines, Steam Engines and Electric Motors 1909 Renolds Silent Chain
The image to left is the popular early 1900s Silent Renolds chain which drove the rear live axle. The chain was 1 1/2 inch in width and was used on most of the later model Lambert automobiles.

The chain was silent eliminating one of the most objectionable features of the chain drive. The rear sprocket had a double flanged wheel. The chain and sprocket had an oil tight and dust proof steel housing

Gas Engines, Steam Engines and Electric Motors
1909 Lambert Touring Car

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