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Do the old Samsonite gears (above) work with current Technic gears (below)

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LEGO bricks tend to be backward compatible with older bricks, but since I don't own any Samsonite gears I cannot tell.

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Image credits belong to Technicopedia –  Ambo100 Nov 24 '11 at 15:18
    
I loved the samsonite gears - they were much better for flexible geartrains. The photos are bringing back great memories –  Rory Alsop Nov 25 '11 at 11:05
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This confuses old LEGO gears (positions 1, 3 and 5 with red in the center) with Samsonite gears (the uniformly colored ones in positions 2, 4, 6 and 7). I don't think they even mesh, but as I don't have Samsonite gears I can't check. –  starblue Nov 25 '11 at 16:41
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As @starblue says, there were actually 2 types of gears made in the 1970s. This page provides more info: miniland.nl/Historie/legoautos/samsonite/… –  Kramii Nov 25 '11 at 19:09
    
@Kramii: Oh, wow. It looks like the actual Samsonite gears required a technic pin or something similar. Any ideas on what I should call these gears? –  Ambo100 Nov 25 '11 at 19:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The first gear wheels, or cog wheels, were designed by Knud Kristiansen around 1964 or 65; the original Danish design patent was filed on March 1, 1965.

Under licence by LEGO, Samsonite manufactured and sold these gears in the USA from 1965-1972, and in Canada from 1965-74. The gears had studs on the top and tubes on the bottom. They could be made turnable by fixing them to wheels with studs or turntables. These gears were never available in European sets.

Samsonite Gears

A different type of gear, incompatible with Samsonite gears, was produced by LEGO in Europe between 1970 and 1975. Although the gears themselves are incompatible with technic gears, the axles that held them in place had the same cross-section as the axles for technic gears. This means that mechanisms can be constructed that use both types of gears.

Interestingly, the gears had a small circular spring in them to help them grip the axle. If I remember correctly, the ends of the axle had a groove that aligned with this spring, making the gears a slightly more stable fit at the ends of the axles than in the middle.

European Gears

Modern Technic LEGO was then introduced in 1977.

Sources:

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They are not compatible, the teeth are completely different.

Notice that the red old gear has 9 teeth and is the same size1 as a current 24-teeth, as illustrated by below:

Size comparison of 9-teeth samsonite gear with regular 24-teeth gear

The axle hole however is compatible, so you could have a construction using both types.

1. Actually, the distance between axles to have two of these red gears mesh is the same as the one required for two 24-teeth ones (60 ldu).

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Wow, Considering that's the smallest Samsonite gear, the rest must be huge. –  Ambo100 Nov 24 '11 at 20:10
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I had some; the large of the yellow ones were about 3" wide or so. I don't have one on hand to measure so I can't be more specific than that. –  ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Nov 24 '11 at 22:22
    
The visible holes are spaced like studs on plates, so the largest red one is larger than a 2x10 brick. –  Joubarc Nov 25 '11 at 4:59
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The red gear on the left is not a Samsonite gear. It is a European gear from the 1970s. This was different from the Samsonite ones (and incompatible with them). –  Kramii Nov 25 '11 at 19:07
    
@ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells They are not that big, the red, blue and yellow LEGO ones have an outer radius of 2, 3 and 4 studs, respectively. This translates to diameters of 32, 48 and 64mm (actually 2.7mm less so they can move freely). –  starblue Nov 25 '11 at 20:58

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