Abart Gear and Machine

Jan. 1, 2010
Mystery solved

A few months ago, we presented the mystery of Abart Machine and Gear Co., featured (left) in a 1959 issue of this magazine. The operation was acquired by Cleveland Gear Co. in 1984. Some of Abart's designs are cited in later patents, and Abart's CEO Robert Bergmann later became president of the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA).

Courtesy of Joe D. Franklin, Jr., current president of the AGMA (www.agma.org) we have obtained a bit more information on Abart, as well as Bergmann. According to Franklin's AGMA records, Bergmann decided to sell Abart in late 1983. Cleveland Gear Co. Inc. (then of steel-company holder Vesper Corp.) and Abart both continued production for some time after the merger, until the Abart name was discontinued.

More significantly, the impact of Abart and Bergmann's work lives on in the U.S. gear industry — and the legacy of leadership continues.

Don Borden on Bergmann

Don Borden, former VP of Engineering at Falk Gear remembers: “Bergmann and I were aquainted during our Army days, when we were both drafted and assigned to the Chemical Center in Edgewood, Md. Later, in the 1980s, I got to know Bergmann at the Gear Research Institute, and then during work on a Gear Rating committee; Bob's specialty was worm gearing, from his days leading Abart.

“International Harvester's Dale Breen founded the Gear Research Institute. Our objective there was to promote cooperative research, and connect engineers interested in similar designs. You see, innovation always requires a bit of ‘generic’ research. Say that someone develops a new design: Well, it must be compared to old designs before production. Old designs may be available to anybody, but their precise performance characteristics may not be. So at the Institute, designers met, put up a certain amount of money, and then we would run common-interest investigatory projects for them.”

Borden is now president of his own consultancy, D.L. Borden Inc., in Brookfield, Wis. For more information, visit agma.org/membership/consultant-list.

“Bergmann was an all-around great guy and gear industry leader,” says Ron Bullock, Chairman of Bison Gear & Engineering Corp., St. Charles, Ill. “He always had a positive demeanor and a twinkle in his eye.”

After he sold Abart to Cleveland Gear, we developed a friendship as he led an effort to launch pre-competitive, cooperative research among members of the American Gear Manufacturers Association.”

The team put together a number of successful companies that worked together on worm gear research in an effort coordinated by the Gear Research Institute (GRI), a cooperative venture of the AGMA and ASME.

“Bob worked with Dale Breen and Don Borden (see below) in establishing GRI in its own facility in Lisle, Ill.,” continues Bullock, “with a solid base of research results that still benefit our industry.” GRI later moved to Northwestern University and currently resides in Penn State's Applied Research Laboratories.

“Later, when I was putting together an advisory board for my own company, Bob was one of the first I contacted and he served for two years on our board. All in all, he left a constructive legacy for the gear industry in America,” concludes Bullock.

Today, IMS Gear (imsgear.com) manufactures metal and plastic gear sets and specializes in optimized tooth and face contact ratios and modifications designed to outperform standard AGMA and DIN designs.

Reader input

Motion System Design reader Robert Thomson emails us from Bartlett, Ill. “I personally don't know a whole lot about the history of Abart Gear and Machine but I do know they manufactured many parts for RCA and Brenkert theatre-projector companies; in fact, some of their gears and designs are still running in projectors today,” says Thomson. As a thank you for his input, we've sent Thomson a copy of The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking.

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