Photos by Larry Edsall
According to the dictionary I keep within handy reach of the laptop computer that sits atop my desk, a wheel is “a circular frame or disk arranged to revolve on an axle and used to facilitate the motion of a vehicle…”
Wheels have been around for a long time. Even Fred Flintstone used them.
During the Renaissance, the wheel was defined as one of the six simple machines. The others were the lever, the pulley, the screw, the inclined plane and the wedge. Combine two or more of those simple machines, perhaps adding teeth around the edge of a wheel, and you can build some not-so-simple machines Perhaps even an automobile.
“Don’t reinvent the wheel,” we hear all the time. However, no one seems to have minded the ongoing improvement to the wheel, and not only from its construction from wood to steel to aluminum to magnesium and most recently to carbon fiber, but from making wheels and the tires that circumference them more efficient, thus allowing us to travel further on less fuel.
But we’d rather enjoy what wheels do — carry us down the road — than ponder their engineering and evolution.
We also enjoy looking at wheels on classic cars, especially when we take time to get up close and examine some of their fascinating details.