Unexpected ways to change gear

Here’s a 12 speed ZF AS Tronic automated manual gearbox. The eagle eyed may notice that it doesn’t have anything near twelve gear sets, but that’s because it arranges things rather more efficiently. It has a two speed splitter at the front, a three speed main box and a two speed range change at the back giving, by a process of multiplication, 2 x 3 x 2 = 12 speeds. All perfectly normal. It’s an automated unit, something that is getting near universal on large trucks in much of the world (but not America yet) and often found on long distance buses as well. Same kind of thing as a Smart but with more gears, and despite what some claim they work well.

Here’s a train. It’s an IC3 as used by the Danish national railway company, DSB.

Yes, that rubbery surround at the front does make it look odd. It’s designed to seal the gap when you couple multiple units together.


When first built IC3s had an aircooled Deutz engine (Deutz always disliked water) and a ZF torque converter automatic gearbox under each unit.

In 2005 they were renovated and given watercooled Deutz engines and AS Tronic Rail automated gearboxes, thus creating some of the very few modern trains to have clutches and mechanical gearboxes.

Not many people know that.

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