I picked this book up by chance at Frugal Muse on the west side of Madison, WI.  Sitting non-descript on the shelf, it projected the same aura as the other old engineering books in my collection and I felt compelled to examine it.

Surprisingly the book has a “cookbook” feel to it, in that it appears to be a collection of devices from various sources.  I have similar books which describe various mechanisms but they are much more “formal” than this one, for example spending many pages describing the teeth of one particular gear.  While these volumes have their place, a book like Machine Devices and Instrumentation is a refreshing change and appropriate for casual reading as well as researching the solution to a specific problem.

What I gain the most from reading a book like this (which seems to be targeted at a manufacturing/process audience) is applying the devices described to different contexts (for example, transportation).  Often there is a classic problem in one area which can be solved by applying solutions from another and in the case of this volume I found a particularly striking example of this (which I’ll go more into detail on in a later article).

Suffice to say this is a great little book for anyone interested in machines, in solving tricky mechanical problems in novel ways or just those interested in the beautiful and ingenious ways that these challenges were met before microcontrollers and servomechanisms became commonplace.

Machine Devices and Instrumentation
Nicholas Paul Chironis

(this book can occasionally be found onAmazon.com but you’ll probably have better luck at used book stores; my copy was $4.98)

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