Decades before CVTs, a couple of Georges in Chicago built something similar with the Marble-Swift – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

At first glance, a 1903 Marble-Swift looks like pretty much every other entry in the early Brass Era race to create an affordable car for the masses: upright, chain-driven, replete with levers and fittings that look like they came out of a blacksmith’s shop. Peer under the simple, carriage-derived body, however, and you’ll find a piece of technology that, in an updated form, has become a fixture in modern cars.Continuously variable transmissions, as opposed to geared transmissions, use any one of several means to transmit power from a car’s engine to its driveline via an infinite range of gears rather than via a limited number of gears. While modern vehicles use CVTs more as a fuel-saving device, early automotive pioneers saw gearless transmissions as a means for simplifying their cars. Without the need for cut-gear transmissions, friction-drive transmissions could be made cheaper and, theoretically, offer not only the same functionality but also the ability to travel any speed in reverse.Or, at least, that’s how George W. Marble saw it. Marble spent a lot of time thinking about gearless transmissions, as we see in his numerous patents devoted to the topic (71723571788174477680442180762790611810150491038918among many others). Rather than the belts or other conveyances used in modern CVTs, he decided to go with a friction-drive setup, as best illustrated by the patent he applied for in November 1902 (732647, granted in June 1903

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Categories: 1903, Marble-Swift

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