Reduction drives are used in engines of all kinds, to increase the amount of torque per revolution of a shaft: the gearbox of any car is a ubiquitous example of a reduction drive. Common household uses are washing machines, food blenders and window-winders.
Planetary reduction drives are typically attached between the shaft of the variable capacitor and the tuning knob of any radio, to allow fine adjustments of the tuning capacitor with smooth movements of the knob. Planetary drives are used in this situation to avoid "backlash", which makes tuning easier. If the capacitor drive has backlash, when one attempts to tune in a station, the tuning knob will feel sloppy and it will be hard to perform small adjustments. Gear-drives can be made to have no backlash by using split gears and spring tension but the shaft bearings have to be very precise.
Reduction gear in light aircraft
|Rotax 582 pusher installation on a Quad City Challenger II|
Piston-engined light aircraft may have direct-drive to the propeller or may use a reduction drive. The advantages of direct-drive are simplicity, lightness and reliability, but a direct-drive engine may never achieve full output, as the propeller might exceed its maximum permissible rpm. For instance, a direct-drive aero engine (such as the Jabiru 2200) has a nominal maximum output of 64 kW (85 bhp) at 3,300 RPM, but if the propeller cannot exceed 2,600 rpm, the maximum output would be only about 70 bhp. By contrast, a Rotax 912 has an engine capacity of only 56% of the Jabiru 2200, but its reduction gear (of 1 : 2.273 or 1 : 2.43) allows the full output of 80 bhp to be exploited. The Midwest twin-rotor wankel engine has an eccentric shaft that spins up to 7,800 rpm, so a 2.96:1 reduction gear is used.
Aero-engine reduction gears are typically of the gear type, but smaller two-stroke engines such as the Rotax 582 use belt drive with toothed belts, which is a cheap and lightweight option with built-in damping of power surges.