What is a manual gearbox: the manual gearbox is a multi-speed motor vehicle transmission system, where gear changes require the driver to manually select the gears by operating a gear stick and clutch with a foot pedal.
Manual gearbox parts: shafts
A manual gearbox has several shafts with various gears and other components attached to them. Most modern passenger cars use 'constant-mesh' transmissions consisting of three shafts: an input shaft, a countershaft (also called a layshaft) and an output shaft.
The input shaft is connected to the engine and spins at engine speed whenever the clutch is engaged. The countershaft has gears of various sizes, which are permanently meshed with the corresponding gear on the input shaft.
The gears on the output shaft are also permanently meshed with a corresponding gear on the countershaft, however, the output shaft gears are able to rotate independently of the output shaft itself (through the use of bearings located between the gears and the shaft).
Through the use of collars (operated using the shift rods), the speed of the output shaft becomes temporarily locked to the speed of the selected gear. Some transmission designs—such as in the Volvo 850 and S70—have two countershafts, both driving an output pinion meshing with the front-wheel-drive transaxle's ring gear. This allows for a narrower transmission since the length of each countershaft is halved compared with one that contains four gears and two shifters.
The fixed and free gears can be mounted on either the input or output shaft or both. For example, a five-speed transmission might have the first-to-second selectors on the countershaft, but the third-to-fourth selector and the fifth selector on the main shaft. This means that when the vehicle is stopped and idling in neutral with the clutch engaged and the input shaft spinning, the third-, fourth-, and fifth-gear pairs do not rotate.
When neutral is selected, none of the gears on the output shaft are locked to the shaft, allowing the input and output shafts to rotate independently. For reverse gear, an idler gear is used to reverse the direction in which the output shaft rotates. In many transmissions, the input and output shafts can be directly locked together (bypassing the countershaft) to create a 1:1 gear ratio which is referred to as direct-drive.
In a transmission for longitudinal engined vehicles (e.g. most rear-wheel-drive cars), it is common for the input shaft and output shaft to be located on the same axis, since this reduces the torsional forces to which the transmission casing must withstand. The assembly consisting of both the input and output shafts is referred to as the main shaft (although sometimes this term refers to just the input shaft or output shaft). Independent rotation of the input and output shafts is made possibly by one shaft being located inside the hollow bore of the other shaft, with a bearing located between the two shafts.
In a transmission for transverse engined vehicles (e.g., front-wheel-drive cars), there are usually only two shafts: input and countershaft (sometimes called input and output). The input shaft runs the whole length of the gearbox, and there is no separate input pinion. These transmissions also have an integral differential unit, which is connected via a pinion gear at the end of the counter/output shaft.
Manual gearbox parts: dog clutch
In a modern 'constant-mesh' manual transmission, the gear teeth are permanently in contact with each other, and dog clutches (sometimes called dog teeth) are used to select the gear ratio for the transmission. When the dog clutches for all gears are disengaged (i.e. when the transmission is in neutral), all of the gears are able to spin freely around the output shaft. When the driver selects a gear, the dog clutch for that gear is engaged (via the gear selector rods), locking the transmission's output shaft to a particular gear set. This means the output shaft rotates at the same speed as the selected gear, thus determining the gear ratio of the transmission.
The dog clutch is a sliding selector mechanism that sits around the output shaft. It has teeth to fit into the splines on the shaft, forcing that shaft to rotate at the same speed as the gear hub. However, the clutch can move back and forth on the shaft, to either engage or disengage the splines. This movement is controlled by a selector fork that is linked to the gear lever. The fork does not rotate, so it is attached to a collar bearing on the selector. The selector is typically symmetric: it slides between two gears and has a synchromesh and teeth on each side in order to lock either gear to the shaft. Unlike some other types of clutches (such as the foot-operated clutch of a manual-transmission car), a dog clutch provides non-slip coupling and is not suited to intentional slipping.
In order to provide smooth gearshifts without requiring the driver to manually match the engine revs for each gearshift, most modern passenger car transmissions use 'synchromesh' (also called 'synchronizer rings') on the forward gears. These devices automatically match the speed of the input shaft with that of the gear being selected, thus removing the need for the driver to use techniques such as double-clutching. The synchromesh transmission was invented in 1919 by Earl Avery Thompson and first used on production cars by Cadillac in 1928.
Manual gearbox parts: sycromesh
The need for synchromesh in a constant-mesh transmission is that the dog clutches require the input shaft speed to match that of the gear being selected; otherwise, the dog teeth will fail to engage and a loud grinding sound will be heard as they clatter together. Therefore, to speed up or slow down the input shaft as required, cone-shaped brass synchronizer rings are attached to each gear. When the driver moves the gearshift lever towards the next gear, these synchronizer rings press on the cone-shaped sleeve on the dog collar so that the friction forces can reduce the difference in rotational speeds. Once these speeds are equalized, the dog clutch can engage, and thus the new gear is now in use. In a modern gearbox, the action of all of these components is so smooth and fast it is hardly noticed. Many transmissions do not include synchromesh on the reverse gear (see Reverse gear section below).
The synchromesh system must also prevent the collar from bridging the locking rings while the speeds are still being synchronized. This is achieved through 'blocker rings' (also called 'baulk rings'). The synchro ring rotates slightly because of the frictional torque from the cone clutch. In this position, the dog clutch is prevented from engaging. Once the speeds are synchronized, friction on the blocker ring is relieved and the blocker ring twists slightly, bringing into alignment certain grooves or notches that allow the dog clutch to fall into the engagement.
Manual gearbox parts: reverse gear
Even in modern transmissions where all of the forward gears are in a constant-mesh configuration, often the reverse gear uses the older sliding-mesh ("crash box") configuration. This means that moving the gearshift lever into reverse results in gears moving to mesh together. Another unique aspect of the reverse gear is that it consists of two gears—an idler gear on the countershaft and another gear on the output shaft—and both of these are directly fixed to the shaft (i.e. they are always rotating at the same speed as the shaft). These gears are usually spur gears with straight-cut teeth which—unlike the helical teeth used for forward gear—results in a whining sound as the vehicle moves in reverse.
When reverse gear is selected, the idler gear is physically moved to mesh with the corresponding gears on the input and output shafts. To avoid grinding as the gears begin to the mesh, they need to be stationary. Since the input shaft is often still spinning due to momentum (even after the car has stopped), a mechanism is needed to stop the input shaft, such as using the synchronizer rings for 5th gear. However, some vehicles do employ a synchromesh system for the reverse gear, thus preventing possible crunching if reverse gear is selected while the input shaft is still spinning.
Most transmissions include a lockout mechanism to prevent reverse gear from being accidentally selected while the car is moving forwards. This can take the form of a collar underneath the gear knob which needs to be lifted or requiring extra force to push the gearshift lever into the plane of reverse gear.
edited by arrabbiata