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AUTOMATIC GEAR TRANSMISSION SYSTEM

1. INTRODUCTION

The transmission is a device that is connected to the back of the engine and sends the power from the engine to the drive wheels. An automobile engine runs at its best at a certain RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) range and it is the transmission's job to make sure that the power is delivered to the wheels while keeping the engine within that range. It does this through various gear combinations. In first gear, the engine turns much faster in relation to the drive wheels, while in high gear the engine is loafing even though the car may be going in excess of 70 MPH. In addition to the various forward gears, a transmission also has a neutral position, which disconnects the engine from the drive wheels, and reverse, which causes the drive wheels to turn in the opposite direction allowing you to back up. The most common transmission systems that have been used for the automotive industry are manual transmission, automatic transmission, semi-automatic transmission, and continuously-variable transmission (CVT). The first transmission invented was the manual transmission system. The driver needs to disengage the clutch to disconnect the power from the engine first, select the target gear, and engage the clutch again to perform the gear change. This will challenge a new driver. It always takes time for a new driver to get used to this skill. An automatic transmission uses a fluid-coupling torque converter to replace the clutch to avoid engaging/disengaging clutch during gear change. A completed gear set, called planetary gears, is used to perform gear ratio change instead of selecting gear manually. With the invention of the automatic transmission, a driver no
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longer needs to worry about gear selection during driving. It makes driving a car much easier, especially for a disabled or new driver. There are two big differences between an automatic transmission and a manual transmission: There is no clutch pedal in an automatic transmission car. There is no gear shift in an automatic transmission car. Once you put the transmission into dive everything else is automatic. Both the automatic transmission (plus its torque converter) and a manual transmission (with its clutch) accomplish exactly the same thing, but they do it in totally different ways. It turns out that the way an automatic transmission does it is absolutely amazing! In this article, we'll work our way through an automatic transmission. We'll start with the key to the whole system: planetary gear sets. Then we'll see how the transmission is put together, learn how the controls work and discuss some of the intricacies involved in controlling a transmission.

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2. PURPOSE OF AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION

Just like that of a manual transmission, the automatic transmission's primary job is to allow the engine to operate in its narrow range of speeds while providing a wide range of output speeds. Without a transmission, cars would be limited to one gear ratio, and that ratio would have to be selected to allow the car to travel at the desired top speed. If we want a top speed of 80 mph, then the gear ratio would be similar to third gear in most manual transmission cars. We probably never try driving a manual transmission car using only third gear. If we did, we quickly find out that we had almost no acceleration when starting out, and at high speeds, the engine would be screaming along near the red-line. A car like this would wear out very quickly and would be nearly undriveable. So the transmission uses gears to make more effective use of the engine's torque, and to keep the engine operating at an appropriate speed. When towing or hauling heavy objects, your vehicle's transmission can get hot enough to burn up the transmission fluid. In order to protect the transmission from serious damage, drivers who tow should buy vehicles equipped with transmission coolers. The key difference between a manual and an automatic transmission is that the manual transmission locks and unlocks different sets of gears to the output shaft to achieve the various gear ratios, while in an automatic transmission, the same set of gears produces all of the different gear ratios. The planetary gear set is the device that makes this possible in an automatic transmission. Let's take a look at how the planetary gear set works.

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3. PLANETARY GEAR SET

Figure 3.1. Simple Planetary Gear Set

Figure 3.2. Compound Planetary Gear Set

The automatic system for current automobiles uses a planetary gear set instead of the traditional manual transmission gear set. The planetary gear set contains three parts: Sun gear Planet gear and their carrier

Ring gear
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Based on this planetary set design, sun gear, planet carrier, and ring gear spin centrifugally. Normally an automatic transmission system has two planetary gear sets with different size of sun gears with their planet gears intermeshed. This design can generate four different gear ratios and one reverse gear. Each of these three components can be the input, the output or can be held stationary. Choosing which piece plays which role determines the gear ratio for the gear set.

3.1 WORKING OF PLANETARY GEAR SETS


3.1.1 SIMPLE PLANETARY GEAR SETS

Any planetary gear set has three main components. The sun gear, the planet gears (and their carrier) and the ring gear. Any one of these three components can be locked in place, but more importantly, any one can be the input or the output drive. Locking any two of them at the same time will always produce a gear ratio. One of the planetary gear sets from our transmission has a ring gear with 72 teeth and a sun gear with 30 teeth. The following table shows how sending the input to one set of gear and locking another set can give a wide variety of gear ratios. INPUT
OUTPUT LOCKED GEARS CALCULATIONS GEAR RATIOS A SUN(S) PLANETCARRIER(C) RING(R) 1+R/S 3.4:1

PLANETCARRIER(C)

RING(R)

SUN(S)

1/(1+S/R)

0.71:1

SUN(S)

RING(R)

PLANETCARRIER(C)
Table 3.1 Gear Ratio

-R/S

-2.4:1

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Also, locking any two of the three components together will lock up the whole device at a 1:1 gear ratio. Notice that the first gear ratio listed above is a reduction -the output speed is slower than the input speed. The second is an overdrive -- the output speed is faster than the input speed. The last is a reduction again, but the output direction is reversed. There are several other ratios that can be gotten out of this planetary gear set, but these are the ones that are relevant to our automatic transmission.

3.1.2 COMPOUND PLANETARY GEAR SET

Figure3.3 Compound gear set

This automatic transmission uses a set of gears, called a compound planetary gear set, that looks like a single planetary gear set but actually behaves like two planetary gear sets combined. It has one ring gear that is always the output of the transmission, but it has two sun gears and two sets of planets. The meshing of the

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gears can be known with the help of the figure. Now lets see how the transmission works at different gear shift.

3.1.3 FIRST GEAR

In first gear, the smaller sun gear is driven clockwise by the turbine in the torque converter. The planet carrier tries to spin counterclockwise, but is held still by the one-way clutch (which only allows rotation in the clockwise direction) and the ring gear turns the output. This time we get the negative gear ratio as shown in table3.1. From this one may think that the output is given in opposite direction but in actual practice it is in same direction. The first set of planets engages the second set, and the second set turns the ring gear; this combination reverses the direction. Hence the gear ratio is positive. In this gear we get reduction.

3.1.4 SECOND GEAR

In second gear it acts like two planetary gearsets connected to each other with a common planet carrier. The first stage of the planet carrier actually uses the larger sun gear as the ring gear. So the first stage consists of the sun (the smaller sun gear), the planet carrier, and the ring (the larger sun gear). The input is the small sun gear; the ring gear (large sun gear) is held stationary by the band, and the output is the planet carrier. At the second stage, the planet carrier acts as the input for the second planetary gear set, the larger sun gear (which is held stationary) acts as the sun, and the ring gear acts as the output. In this gear also we get reduction.

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3.1.5 THIRD GEAR

In the third gear both sun gears turn in the same direction and the planet gears get locked because they can only spin in opposite directions. This locks the ring gear to the planets and causes everything to spin as a unit, producing a 1:1 ratio. This means that the input shaft and output shaft are rotating at same rpm.

3.1.6 OVERDRIVE

In this transmission, when overdrive is engaged, a shaft that is attached to the housing of the torque converter (which is bolted to the flywheel of the engine) is connected by clutch to the planet carrier. The small sun gear freewheels, and the larger sun gear is held by the overdrive band. In the overdrive the input comes from the converter housing. Because of this the output speed is more than the input speed to what we call an Overdrive.

3.1.7 REVERSE GEAR

Reverse is very similar to first gear, except that instead of the small sun gear being driven by the torque converter turbine, the bigger sun gear is driven, and the small one freewheels in the opposite direction. The planet carrier is held by the reverse band to the housing. The gear ratio in reverse is less than the first gear transmission.

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4. TORQUE CONVERTER

In manual gear transmission, engine is connected to the transmission by the way of clutch. But cars with an automatic transmission have no clutch that disconnects the transmission from the engine. Instead, they use an amazing device called a torque converter. A torque converter consists of four parts, a pump (impeller), turbine, stator, and transmission fluid. The pump is connected to the engine and transfer engine power to the transmission fluid. The fluid causes the turbine, which is connected to the output shaft, to spin. The stator is used to redirect fluid returning from the turbine before it hits the pump, again to increase the efficiency

Figure 4.1 Torque Converter

When the vehicle speed is slow, the turbine spins more slowly than the pump. However, when the vehicle moves at high speed, the turbine spins at the same speed as the pump. Therefore, for modern care, a lock up will occur between pump and turbine when the vehicle is at high speed in fourth gear, which makes the torque converter work more efficiently. The turbine is bowl shaped and contains a number of vanes. They are mounted face-to-face but there is no physical contact between them. When you press the accelerator you increase the speed of the impeller, which forces the gearbox oil through the vanes of the turbine, making it rotate. An increase or decrease in torque has the same effect as changing to a higher or lower gear.
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5. CLUTCHES AND BANDS IN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION

In the automatic transmission, when overdrive is engaged, a shaft that is attached to the housing of the torque converter (which is bolted to the flywheel of the engine) is connected by clutch to the planet carrier. The small sun gear freewheels, and the larger sun gear is held by the overdrive band. Nothing is connected to the turbine; the only input comes from the converter housing. To get the transmission into overdrive, lots of things have to be connected and disconnected by clutches and bands. The planet carrier gets connected to the torque converter housing by a clutch. The small sun gets disconnected from the turbine by a clutch so that it can freewheel. The big sun gear is held to the housing by a band so that it could not rotate. Each gear shift triggers a series of events like these, with different clutches and bands engaging and disengaging. Let's take a look at a band.

5.1 BAND SYSTEM

In this transmission there are two bands. The bands in a transmission are, literally, steel bands that wrap around sections of the gear train and connect to the housing. Bands are actuated by cylinder or pivot connected to a small hydraulic piston in the gearbox housing. The actuator piston actually sits in a small cylinder inside the hydraulic distributor which is built into the gearbox case. When the piston is pushed down, it tightens the band and clamps the ring gear into place, locking it to the gearbox case. The band is connected to an actuator piston by way of a lever link. The piston pushes the lever link to force the band to lock the gear. The image below
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shows how a band might work

Figure 5.1 Band System

5.2 CLUTCH SYSTEM

Figure 5.2 Clutch System

The clutches are a little more complex and are used to perform functions such as locking the sun gears to the turbine or input shaft. Automatic transmission clutches are a lot like the motorbike basket clutches mentioned higher up the page. They
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consist of a series of pressure and friction plates with splines on the inside and outside. These are compressed by hydraulic fluid fed through channels in the various shafts to a clutch piston. Clutch springs make sure the clutch piston releases when hydraulic pressure is reduced.

Figure 5.3 Clutch Plates

The figure 5.3 shows the alternating layers of clutch friction material and steel plates. The friction material is splined on the inside, where it locks to one of the gears. The steel plate is splined on the outside, where it locks to the clutch housing. These clutch plates are also replaced when the transmission is rebuilt.

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6. THE AUTOMATIC GEARBOX HYDRAULIC SYSTEM

After getting the idea about the planetary gear system and other related components one question arises that how can the band and clutches perform the lock function to select the right gear automatically? The locking functions of clutches and bands can be performed with the help of hydraulic system as shown in figure 6.1.

Figure 6.1 Hydraulic System

Both the band and clutch piston are pressurized by the hydraulic system. The part connecting the band or clutches to the hydraulic system is called the shift valve, while the one connecting the hydraulic system to the output shaft is called the governor. The governor is a centrifugal sensor with a spring loaded valve. The faster the governor spins, the more the valve opens. The more the valve opens, the more the fluid goes through and the higher the pressure applied on the shift valve. Therefore, each band and clutch can be pushed to lock the gear based on a specific spin speed detected by the governor from the output shaft. For modern cars, an electronic controlled (computer controlled) solenoid pack is used to detect throttle position, vehicle speed, engine speed etc., and to automatically choose the best gear for a moving vehicle.
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6.1 PUMP

Automatic transmissions have a neat pump, called a gear pump. The pump is usually located in the cover of the transmission. It draws fluid from a sump in the bottom of the transmission and feeds it to the hydraulic system. It also feeds the transmission cooler and the torque converter. The inner gear of the pump hooks up to the housing of the torque converter, so it spins at the same speed as the engine. The outer gear is turned by the inner gear, and as the gears rotate, fluid is drawn up from the sump on one side of the crescent and forced out into the hydraulic system on the other side.

6.2 GOVERNOR

The governor is a clever valve that tells the transmission how fast the car is going. It is connected to the output, so the faster the car moves, the faster the governor spins. Inside the governor is a spring loaded valve that opens in proportion to how fast the governor is spinning -- the faster the governor spins, the more the valve opens. Fluid from the pump is fed to the governor through the output shaft. The faster the car goes, the more the governor valve opens and the higher the pressure of the fluid it lets through. In case of the electronic controlled transmission its a centrifugal sensor connected into the hydraulic circuit. It allows the pressure of the hydraulic circuit to rise, which then applies more pressure to different components and lets the gearbox shift up at the right speeds. All this information is then fed to ECU (Electronic Control Unit) which indicate in which gear we would like to be in.

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7. GEAR SELECTION POSITIONS

Figure 7.1 Gear Selection Position

As shown in the figure 7.1 the following positions are provided in the automatic transmission cars for gear shifting: P - PARK must never be engaged whilst the vehicle is in motion as it locks the transmission and prevents the car from moving. R - REVERSE N - NEUTRAL D - AUTOMATIC DRIVE using all forward gears and a configuration of 1, 2 , 3 and 4 for manual selection, or a symbol such as a plus or minus sign for upward or downward manual changes. For normal driving the lever can remain in D and allow the transmission to make automatic adjustments according to road speed, engine loading and acceleration position.

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8. COMPARISON BETWEEN AUTOMATIC AND MANUAL GEAR TRANSMISSION

Automatic transmissions require less skill to operate. To operate an automatic transmission, the driver only has to place the gearshift into the desired position before driving the vehicle. Manual transmissions require a driver to learn how to operate the clutch, accelerator and break pedals in a coordinated manner. Manual transmissions also require the driver to learn how to shift the transmission into the proper gears at the proper times. Manual transmissions are more difficult to operate on hills when a vehicle is starting from a dead stop as the vehicle will tend to roll backwards until the clutch is engaged.

Automatic transmissions are more convenient to operate than manual transmissions. Manual transmissions require constant attention from the driver as the vehicle is operated while a vehicle with an automatic transmission can simply be placed into gear and driven.

Vehicles equipped with manual transmissions may move unexpectedly if the vehicle is started while the transmission is in gear. Automatic transmissions have safety switches which will not allow the vehicle to start unless the gear selector is placed in the park position.

Automatic transmissions reduce the chances of engine and gearbox damage caused by driver errors and excessive engine speeds that can occur with a manual transmission.

Automatic transmission cars are more suitable for heavy traffic road as the gear shifting occurs automatically. While the manual transmission is proved to

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be unsuitable for crowded road as it is not comfortable to change the gears continuously. For Fuel Efficiency conscious, Manual makes an ideal choice over an Automatic gearbox due to its less consumption of fuel. However, nowadays with the rapid increase in technology, the gap of fuel efficiency is being gradually filled between manual and automatic gearbox. The initial and maintenance cost of automatic gear transmission system is higher than the manual transmission system, so it is less economic. In automatic transmission system some amount of power is consumed by the torque converter, hydraulic system and other components. Hence the total power received by the vehicle is less in case of automatic transmission as compared to manual one. The components of automatic transmission system are heavier than the manual transmission components. So it affects the efficiency.

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9. CONCLUSION

It can be predicted that with the progress of new technology that Automatic Transmission System will replace due to its comfortable drive and smooth gear shift. But still it needs an improvement in the sense of fuel efficiency, economy and fast acceleration. The torque converter and the hydraulic system must be improved in future due to its low efficiency power transfer. If these improvements are achieved in future then soon our dream car will come to action.

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REFFERENCES

Automotive Transmissions: Efficiently Transferring Power from Engine to Wheels, By Chao-Hsu Yao.

Newly Developed Six-Speed Automatic Transmission, by Yoshihiro OHASHI* Kenichi TAKAHASHI* Tadashi HIRAOKA* Akira MINO** Toshiki OHARA*** Akihiro TONE

How Automatic Transmissions Work, by Karim Nice. Automatic transmission basics, by Toyota Technical Training. Presentation of the AL4 automatic transmission, by Cietroen Technical Training.

Automatic Transmissions: What Makes Them Work, By Scott Memmer. The Advanced Planetary Gear Set For Automatic Gear Transmission, by www.tpaper.blospot.com

How Automatic Transmission Works? HowStuffWorks, Inc. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmission3.htm http://magiclopedia.com/books/tiptronic-automatic-gear-transmission.html http://www.wikihow.com/Drive-a-Car-With-an-Automatic-Transmission http://www.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmission12.htm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-CHoFUdsfk&feature=related

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