Lubricated Meshing

Porsche delivers your 2017 911 Turbo fitted with a seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox. The 540 horsepowers (or 580 in the S model) are transferred via this piece of kit to all four wheels. The usual German electronic wizadry will keep you out of trouble, for the most part, although you can switch some elements off if you’re inclined toward adventure.

This transmission is as sweet a piece of hot machinery as you’ll find in everyday life. Perhaps the closest that you and I come to anything better is sitting next to a modern high bypass turbine engine out there on the wing. When you’re in your Boeing or Airbus, think of how reliable and beautiful these screaming powerhouses are. Unfortunately, modern education fails to adequately train us to understand how much of this kit works. Sigh.

Gearboxes like the one in the Porsche have relevance to less precise activity, say, like dating. A gearbox is a bunch of toothed cogs on shafts meshing and connecting via a clutch. As you select a new gear, the change of cog combinations varies the ratio between engine speed and wheel speed. The engineering marvel (and useful analogy) is the smoothness with which this is accomplished.

The word is complementarity. One matching gear exists for a particular engine speed and range of road speeds to keep everything working efficiently (if you want) or with power (if you alternatively want.)  Dating is an attempt to find someone for whom our strengths match their shortcomings and v/v. Better still, when these two ratios change – as they will over time – the ideal person changes right alongside us.

That’s where the transmission fluid adds value. Lubrication keeps the whole enterprise turning smoothly, maintains a nice temperature, and prevents metal-on-metal friction that can wear down all the working parts. Granted, finding your way to smooth interaction with the other cog is a big part of the challenge, but, hey, no-one said it would be easy.

There we have it. Good design, appropriate cogs, quality materials and a nice lube bath; there’s a recipe for at least the start of something good, if not anything as dramatic as 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds.

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