A sprag clutch
is a one-way freewheel
thumb|Freewheel mechanismIn mechanical or automotive engineering, a freewheel or overrunning clutch is a device in a transmission that disengages the driveshaft from the driven shaft when the driven shaft rotates faster than the driveshaft...
clutch. It resembles a roller bearing, but instead of cylindrical rollers, non-revolving asymmetric figure-of-eight shaped sprags
are used. When the unit rotates in one direction the rollers slip or free-wheel, but when a torque is applied in the opposite direction, the rollers tilt slightly, producing a wedging action and binding because of friction. The sprags are spring-loaded so that they lock with very little backlash
In mechanical engineering, backlash, sometimes called lash or play, is clearance between mating components, sometimes described as the amount of lost motion due to clearance or slackness when movement is reversed and contact is re-established...
A sprag clutch is used in some automatic transmission
An automatic transmission is one type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually...
s as a method of allowing the transmission to smoothly change gears under load. Various models of General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...
Turbo-Hydramatic is the registered tradename of a family of automatic transmissions developed and produced by General Motors. These transmissions mate a three-element torque converter to a Simpson planetary geartrain, providing three forward speeds plus reverse.The Turbo-Hydramatic series was...
gearbox have used this system.
A sprag clutch is used in most older automatic transmissions and some newer ones for shifts which require the synchronized engagement of one clutch with the disengagement of another. Using an overrunning clutch instead of a hydraulically actuated one makes this synchronization automatic. The sprag clutch simply "lets go" once the reaction force it provides is no longer needed.
In a Simpson gearset, common to many automatics, this happens on the 1-2 shift, and reverses on the 2-1 downshift. The 2-3 shift is done by engaging a single clutch, and nothing is released. Some newer electronically controlled transmissions make "clutch to clutch" shifts, without any sprags.
This can also be used exclusively in first gear (transmission shift lever in D, but auto valve body or management selecting 1st) on some autos. That way it will automatically provide forward drive, but will not
provide any engine braking. This is done not so much to avoid engine braking per se, but rather to allow a low throttle opening 2-1 downshift as a car decelerates, to avoid a loud (and potentially abrupt) and unnerving jolt as a result of the downshift. On transmissions so equipped, manual selection of 1st gear typically engages an additional band that grips the same section as the one way clutch would engage, and thus allows for engine braking
Engine braking is where the retarding forces within an engine are used to slow a vehicle down, as opposed to using an external braking mechanism, for example friction brakes or magnetic brakes....
A sprag clutch is used in many helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...
designs to transfer power from the engine to the main rotor. In the event of an engine failure, the sprag clutch allows the main rotor to continue rotating faster than the engines so that the helicopter can enter autorotation
Autorotation is the state of flight where the main rotor system of a helicopter is being turned by the action of air moving up through the rotor rather than engine power driving the rotor...
A sprag clutch is used in the electric starter motors of modern motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...
engines to replace the Bendix gear
A Bendix drive is a type of engagement mechanism used in starter motors of internal combustion engines. The device allows the pinion gear of the starter motor to engage or disengage the flywheel of the engine automatically when the starter is powered or when the engine fires, respectively...
common to automobile starters.
Many modern sport and racing bikes use sprag clutches in the primary drive between the engine and transmission. This prevents the rear wheel from losing traction during rapid downshifts when the engine speed is not matched to road speed. If a sprag clutch is not present, much greater care is required when downshifting because losing rear wheel traction can cause dangerous highside accidents.
Overrunning occurs when two or more motors can be used to drive the same machine, including through the same shaft. A typical setup is as follows. The service drive, or prime mover, provides a combination of high speed and high power for normal operation. The secondary drive, or pony drive, can be run at low speed and low power, usually to position the conveyor for maintenance.
The overrunning clutch allows the secondary drive to remain stationary during normal high speed operation of the conveyor drive.
An indexing motion provides for accuracy in the drive system. A link is installed between the prime mover and one race of the sprag clutch. The reciprocating motion of the prime mover is converted to an indexing movement on the other race of the sprag clutch.
Backstopping prevents a loaded inclined conveyor from running back when the drive system is stopped. The outer race of the sprag clutch is fixed to the machine frame, usually via a torque arm. The inner race rotates freely in the forward direction of the conveyor drive. When the machine tries to run backward, the sprag clutch prevents this motion. In this application the sprag clutch is often called a "backstop" or "holdback".
Hoist load brake
A hoist load brake is used as a secondary brake to prevent industrial hoists from catastrophically dropping their loads in the event of mechanical failure.
Sprag clutches may be oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....
The term grease is used to describe semisolid lubricants. Although the word grease is also used to describe rendered fat of animals, in the context of lubrication, grease typically applies to a material consisting of a soap emulsified with mineral or vegetable oil...
lubricated. Most sprag clutch manufacturers do not allow the use of lubricants containing extreme pressure additives.