I know generally people don’t like the idea of “gateway drugs” for children, but if instead of a high the result was visceral engineering knowledge and if instead of drugs we were talking about Legos, then I think we’d all be happy to supply our kids with drugs. Which, remember, in this analogy, are Legos. Are we all clear here? A fantastic example of why I’m saying this is this video, made by Brick Technology, of a five-speed manual gearbox, made entirely out of Legos (well, mostly using pieces from the more engineering-focused Technik line). If you’ve ever had trouble visualizing how a manual transmission works (don’t be ashamed, there’s a lot going on in there) then I suspect you’ll find this helpful.
As you watch this, there’s a lot worth noting here: First, I appreciate the minimal presentation and the clever, almost rhythmic editing. Second, this transmission is built accurately, but laying on its side compared to how most automotive transmissions are. c
But, really, that barely matters, because this provides such a fantastic visualization of what exactly is going on inside a manual transmission. Also, the person in this video builds a whole dyno setup!
I feel like Lego is one of those toys that has a special place in the automotive world, partially because of videos like this, and Lego’s unique ability to emulate these sorts of complex mechanical systems on a kitchen table and without coating everything in a layer of grease.
Here, look how handy this video is for visualizing the path of rotational motion through the geartrain for each gear:
This video even offers a great visual demonstration of how reverse works, and I think seeing how the shift linkage itself works is really helpful for understanding why the motions of that gearshift feel the way they do.
Plus, this is all just strangely soothing to sit and watch. So, that’s what I suggest you do: Just take a moment and lose yourself in the clicks and sniks and snaps and whirring of gears. I bet it’s therapeutic, somehow.