A brodie knob (alternate spelling brody knob) is a knob that attaches to the steering wheel of an automobile or other vehicle or equipment with a steering wheel. Other names for this knob include: suicide, necker, granny, knuckle buster, and wheel spinner.
Design and use
The device is a small, independently rotating knob (similar to a U.S. classic door knob) facing the driver that is securely mounted on the outside rim of a steering wheel. The protruding knob is an aftermarket accessory. The free rotation is intended to help make steering with one hand less difficult or faster. The Brodie name is a reference to Steve Brodie and was meant to describe all manner of reckless stunts. The device is often called a "suicide knob" because it is useless and even interferes in controlling the wheel during an emergency. Brodie knobs are also known as "necker knobs", because they allow steering with one hand while necking with the passenger. It is also called a "knuckle buster" because of the disadvantage posed by the knob when letting go of the steering wheel after going around a corner, the wheel spins rapidly and the knob can hit the user's knuckle, forearm, or elbow. If the driver is wearing a long sleeve shirt, the protruding accessory on the rim of the steering wheel can also become caught in the sleeve's open cut by the button. Other names include "granny knob" and "wheel spinner."
Brodie knobs had limited popularity on trucks and tractors before the advent of power steering. Their main use today is still in trucks, particularly semi trucks where they allow simultaneous steering and operation of the radio or gearshift. They are also used on forklifts, riding lawnmowers, and ice resurfacers, where frequent sharp turning is required. The knob is also standard equipment in most modern farm and commercial tractors, its main purpose being to ease single-hand steering while the driver operates other controls with his/her other hand or is traveling in reverse.
Some boats are equipped with a helm featuring a stainless-steel wheel with a brodie knob. The use of a suicide knob to make faster turns may cause passengers to be thrown over the gunwale during docking maneuvers.
Brodie knobs are legal on private vehicles in most U.S. states.
U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration regulations restrict use of auxiliary devices for specific construction vehicles. OSHA prohibits modification of industrial equipment without the approval of the equipment manufacturer.
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