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Antonio Boschi (1896-1988)
One of the first things I did when I bought my car was replace the rear flex plate - a joint that couples the driveshaft to the differential. It was the first time I had had any experience or knowledge of these types of joints. Here is a picture of one under my car. My car actually has two of them - the one you see below couples the transmission (on the left) to the driveshaft, and the there is one on the other end of the driveshaft which couples to the differential. The latter is the one I had replaced.
But it so happens that these are more ubiquitous than I ever imagined. For just the other day my Whirlpool washing machine stopped spinning, and wanting to save money I took it upon myself to fix it. So I took the washing machine apart, guided by this guy -
- and lo and behold, what did I find underneath? A Boschi joint!
I recognized it immediately. I was impressed - impressed that this
simple piece of technology is used in such a wide range of machinery -
from my 1979 Mercedes-Benz 300SD drivetrain to the motor on one of the
world's most popular washing machines. The picture above is the new one I had ordered from Amazon for $5. Below you can see the old one, in pieces, beneath the new one. Notice how all the plastic pins broke off inside the rubber plate, and the rubber holes are stretched out.
Basically, this device is used to transmit power from one rotating shaft to another. The reason it is such a wonderful invention is that the rubber disc joining the two shafts allows a slight "give" during acceleration (and remember from physics class - acceleration can be positive or negative, speeding up or slowing down). This prevents vibration and shock from harming the metal, or whatever material the rotating shafts happen to be made of. Being that it is made of rubber, it does wear out over time, and this is why they are so important to observe and inspect. If one does happen go out on my car, it could cause irreparable damage to the transmission or differential. And as I saw at home this week, if they go out on a washing machine, it just won't spin anymore. But luckily, the repair for the washing machine cost me only $5.05!
Here is the original 1955 patent for what has come to be known as the "Boschi Joint."
U.S. Patent 2708352
And here you can read more about the genius Antonio Boschi and his life. He became quite wealthy, and there is a museum of he and his wife's art collection in Milan, Italy.
Boschi Di Stefano Museum