Guess who invented the roller-bearing chain?

Not the simple chain, like used for pulling a log. I’m talking about the type of chain used w/sprockets, like the modern bicycle chain or timing chain used in a car?


I’d have guessed somebody in ancient times would have invented a wooden version of this type of chain, like for drawbridges, etc.


This 1943 Mack FCSW mining dump truck used Chain Drive…


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Without looking yet, I’m going to guess the Dodge boys.

Well OK, I was a little off. I don’t remember what class it was in but we talked about all the the early designs of engines and so on that simply could not be produced without more modern machine tools. The ideas were all there but they just couldn’t make the stuff without casting, boring, lathes, foundries, etc.

Yep, it’s the Scientists who get all the fame and glory but it’s the hundreds of nameless Engineers who actually turn it into reality.

Looks like typical gm engineering drawings.

Up until… maybe… 10 years ago, I used to see a couple of really old Mack chain-drive trucks at a supplier of gravel, stone, and mulch. So far, I haven’t been able to find any photos of comparable ones for confirmation of their vintage, but–based on their appearance–I don’t think that they could have been any newer than the '30s.

I may be wrong but I think they were still had chain drive up till the late 40s and early 50s.

As a kid, one of our neighbors had a house moving business and he would park his equipment behind his house. I don’t know what year the big Mack was, maybe 40’s, but I distinctly remember the chain drive. Big heavy chain, like on farm equipment.


For more on this topic, Google will show you an interesting u-tube how bicycle chains are manufactured. Not as simple a design as you might think. For example there’s two kinds of the side links, inner & outer, and they are made different ways. The inner links have to be more robust b/c they come in direct contact w/the cogs. The outer links are more forgiving.

I put a million miles on my bike and had the original chain. My cassette was wasted but chain seemed ok. Tech said it was an illusion. So I replaced both. Actually I changed 1 front sprocket too.

The old chain may look ok, but it stretches with use, so the pitch change means it won’t mate up correctly with the new cogs. An old chain will usually skip with new cogs. Ask me how I know! … lol … I’ve had to replace chains and freewheels as a set many times over the years. Probably at least a dozen. The bike shop says to replace the front cogs too, but never needed to do that. I haven’t migrated to the new fangled free-hub technology with the cassettes yet, but been thinking about it. I had a motocross-style motorcycle years ago, drove that thing for thousands of miles over pretty rough terrain, never had to replace either the cogs or the chain for some reason.

Used to spend time boiling chain trying to free them up from rust. Then discovered how cheap and easy it is to simply buy new chain and fit it to length.

Google “chain driven trucks” and then Click on Images. I’m sure your memory will be refreshed. That is what I did and I was surprised that the photo of the '43 Mack came up and after I Clicked on it, I Clicked on “Visit” and Goggle linked me to the source. I originally thought chain driven vehicles never made it past '35 or so and that the rear end “pumpkin” with Differential and Planetary gears kind of took the world by storm…

I imagine the roller bearing chain has been in use so long it would be hard to pin it. @George_San_Jose1 nice article