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This gear can only handle a certain amount of torque. Above this torque the gear starts to slip internally. This pervents damaging the motor when the some part of the construction after the gear gets blocked. Lego uses these gears ofter in constructions where there is a end of stroke that blocked the motor from turning, for example a winch or other string ...
Yes, visually the simple smileys are the same now as in the past. The difference is in the stud. Some have a stud like what you have pictured above; with an open stud and others have a solid stud. Other than that, the face itself is exactly the same. You can three all three versions of the stud here (solid, recessed open and recessed blocked) here: ...
LEGO Scale (approximately 1:40) 1 stud = .318 in (~5/16 in) 3 studs = 0.95 in 4 studs = 1.27 in. 3.18 studs = 1 in. 11 studs = 3.5 in. 16 studs = 5.09 in. Dimensions = .96 cm ht x 3.2 cm length x 1.6 cm depth. To scale real world weight to 1 Minifigure (MF), multiply pounds (lbs) by 0.0067, tons by 13.33, and kilograms (kg) by 0.0147. ...
Another type of pullback motor has a detailed structural disassembly here: Picasa album. I think your motor should work mostly the same way, but I wasn't able to source such internal pictures.
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