A Brief History of Car Suspension Systems for Those Interested in Auto Mechanic Training
When you think of an automotive suspension system, you might think of flashy hydraulics designed to boost the height of low-riding cars. But suspension systems are more than quirky ways to make your car hop along — they’re essential auto components that allow us to travel without sustaining injury or damaging our vehicles. Without them, our cars would not be able to navigate even relatively smooth terrains safely and effectively, much less bumpy, uneven routes.
If you are interested in a career as an auto mechanic, becoming familiar with suspension systems is incredibly important. Not only that, but suspension systems have a surprisingly rich and lengthy history. Keep reading to find out more.
Suspension Systems in Early Civilizations
Those in auto careers might be surprised to learn that the idea of a vehicular suspension system is one that’s been around for a very long time. Historians have found proof of suspension technology existing as far back as 61,000 years ago, where bows used principles similar to tension springs without the coils in order to launch arrows. In around 1300BC in ancient Egypt, chariots, catapults, and weapons also used an early form of suspension technology.
When the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen was dug up by archeologists in 1922, his personal chariots were also discovered. These chariots, thousands of years old, contained complex suspension technology that used springs and shock absorbers.
The Coil Spring & Hooke’s Law
One of the most important people in the history of suspension systems was Robert Hooke, a 17th-century experimental scientist and philosopher. In 1678, he discovered a principle that would drastically change suspension technologies. Called Hooke’s Law, it explains that an elastic body under stress changes shape proportional to the applied stress over a range.
This principle led to the creation of the coil spring, seriously enhancing the efficiency of suspension technologies. The first coil spring was patented by R. Tradwell in 1763, and would eventually replace the leaf spring, a suspension technology that needed a lot more regular maintainence.
The Industrial Revolution & 20th Century Innovation
Despite the patent, coil springs wouldn’t begin to be integrated into manufacturing for a hundred years. They first appeared in a commercial armchair in 1857. The industrial revolution enabled quicker and more efficient production, and making steel products like the coil spring became much easier.
Still, it wasn’t until 1906 that they would appear in automobiles. Created by the Brush brothers, the Brush Two-Seat Runabout was the first car fitted with front coil springs and shock absorbers on a flexible axle. Despite their efforts, the auto industry continued to mostly use leaf springs until 1934, when General Motors began to integrate coil spring front suspension. The Brush blend of spring coils and shock absorbers are still found in the cars of today.
The Future of Suspension Innovation for Those Considering Auto Mechanic Training
Education doesn’t end after your auto mechanic training, and keeping up with the changing nature of auto technology is important throughout your career. Cars are always evolving, and suspension systems are no exception.
It might be hard to believe that the coil spring could ever be replaced by a technology even more efficient, but that’s probably what people thought about leaf springs at the turn of the 19th century. Maybe suspension systems will look completely different a hundred years from now?
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