By: Loren McDonald (Mechanical Engineering, ’20)

Of all the groups, drivetrain is probably the most ahead in terms of manufacturing. Charlie held the first of our design reviews in the fall, and from the responses he received at his meeting, he was able to improve and finalize several of his designs months ago. As I explained in the previous newsletter, Charlie is implementing a new tensioning system that uses rotational motion and a turnbuckle to tension our drivetrain system. Currently, he has manufactured all the necessary parts for this system, and his group is just waiting to attach them to the car.

The most recent manufacturing for the drivetrain has been the gears for our transmission. Thanks to our sponsor, Rochester Gear, we have been able to have these gears manufacturing to good tolerances. In the near future, another sponsor, Gleason, will be hobbing (adding teeth) to the gear. Once the teeth are added to the gears, Charlie and his group will be ready to assemble our gearbox.

Also, as a team, we’d like to address some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve had about our power transmission system.

  1. Does your car have a shifting transmission, and if so, how many gears does it have?
    1. We do not have shifting capability in our transmission in favor of being able to manufacture a much lighter transmission system. That being said, our team uses a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that uses a system of springs, weights, and pulleys to produce a range of gear reductions. When tuned, this allows our car to be operating at peak efficiency at all times
  2. Does your car have a reverse gear?
    1. Every year at least someone questions whether to add a reverse gear to our car. While some Baja teams have reverse gears, we have decided to not include one in favor of weight savings. Also, in many cases in this competition, if you have to reverse, you’ve already made a mistake and will be putting up a bad time. Since you get two chances at every event, we decided a reverse gear was not worth the weight.

Besides that, the only other thing Charlie’s group will be working on is breaking in the engine. As soon as we can get a weekend here in Rochester that isn’t freezing cold, we’ll be setting it up and getting it ready to power our finished vehicle.