Saturday, December 4, 2010

Watt Straight-Line Mechanism

Watt's linkage (also known as the parallel linkage) is a type of mechanical linkage invented by James Watt to constrain the movement of a steam engine piston in a straight line. The idea of its genesis using links is contained in a letter he wrote to Matthew Boulton in June 1784.
"I have got a glimpse of a method of causing a piston rod to move up and down perpendicularly by only fixing it to a piece of iron upon the beam, without chains or perpendicular guides [...] and one of the most ingenious simple pieces of mechanics I have invented."
This linkage does not generate a true straight line motion, and indeed Watt did not claim it did so.

Watt's straight-line mechanism is used in the rear axle of some car suspensions. It intends to prevent relative sideways motion between the axle and body of the car. Watt’s linkage approximates a vertical straight line motion more closely, and does so while locating the center of the axle rather than toward one side of the vehicle.

It consists of two horizontal rods of equal length mounted at each side of the chassis. In between these two rods, a short vertical bar is connected. The center of this short vertical rod – the point which is constrained in a straight line motion - is mounted to the center of the axle. All pivoting points are free to rotate in a vertical plane.

Here is the video of Watt straight-line mechanism in Solid Edge ST 2D model.

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