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In mechanical engineering, a clockwork is either a lightweight mechanical linkage, especially one involving multiple axles, or a complete mechanical device whose functioning relies on internal clockwork (in the preceding sense), especially where muscular effort is the sole source of operating power.

Often power for the device is stored within it via a winding device that applies mechanical stress to an energy-storage mechanism such as a spring, thus involving some form of escapement; in other cases, hand power may be utilized as it is applied. The use of wheels, whether linked by friction or gear teeth, to redirect motion or gain speed or torque, is typical; many clockworks have been constructed primarily to serve as visible or implicit tours de force of mechanical ingenuity in this area.

The most common examples are mechanical clocks - hence the name. Others include:

  • Toys - often as a simple mechanical motor, or to create automata.
  • Babbage's difference and analytical engines, and simpler mechanical calculators.
  • Astronomical models, such as orrerys whose history spans hundreds of years.
  • Music boxes, which were very popular during the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th.
  • Almost all phonographs built before the 1930s.
  • Low-powered electrical equipment, such as a radio, where an energy-storing spring accounting for much of the size and weight of the device spins a much smaller electric generator; such equipment is very popular in certain Third World situations where batteries and mains power (house current) may be scarce.

See also

Clockwork is also the name of a one-man band. See this external link

Last updated: 02-24-2005 14:47:11