Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 833786

Cards 10
Topics Block and Tackle, Building Loads, Drag, Gear Ratio, Net Force, Principle of Moments, Screw, Second-Class Lever, Specific Gravity, Wedge

Study Guide

Block and Tackle

Two or more pulleys used together constitute a block and tackle which, unlike a fixed pulley, does impart mechanical advantage as a function of the number of pulleys that make up the arrangement. So, for example, a block and tackle with three pulleys would have a mechanical advantage of three.

Building Loads

Dead load is the weight of the building and materials, live load is additional weight due to occupancy or use, snow load is the weight of accumulated snow on a structure and wind load is the force of wind pressures against structure surfaces.


Drag is friction that opposes movement through a fluid like liquid or air. The amount of drag depends on the shape and speed of the object with slower objects experiencing less drag than faster objects and more aerodynamic objects experiencing less drag than those with a large leading surface area.

Gear Ratio

The mechanical advantage (amount of change in speed or torque) of connected gears is proportional to the number of teeth each gear has. Called gear ratio, it's the ratio of the number of teeth on the larger gear to the number of teeth on the smaller gear. For example, a gear with 12 teeth connected to a gear with 9 teeth would have a gear ratio of 4:3.

Net Force

In mechanics, multiple forces are often acting on a particular object and, taken together, produce the net force acting on that object. Like force, net force is a vector quantity in that it has magnitude and direction.

Principle of Moments

When a system is stable or balanced (equilibrium) all forces acting on the system cancel each other out. In the case of torque, equilibrium means that the sum of the anticlockwise moments about a center of rotation equal the sum of the clockwise moments.


A screw is an inclined plane wrapped in ridges (threads) around a cylinder. The distance between these ridges defines the pitch of the screw and this distance is how far the screw advances when it is turned once. The mechanical advantage of a screw is its circumference divided by the pitch.

Second-Class Lever

A second-class lever is used to increase force on an object in the same direction as the force is applied. This lever requires a smaller force to lift a larger load but the force must be applied over a greater distance. The fulcrum is placed at one end of the lever and mechanical advantage increases as the object being lifted is moved closer to the fulcrum or the length of the lever is increased. An example of a second-class lever is a wheelbarrow.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of equal volumes of a substance and water and is measured by a hyrdometer.


The wedge is a moving inclined plane that is used to lift, hold, or break apart an object. A wedge converts force applied to its blunt end into force perpendicular to its inclined surface. In contrast to a stationary plane where force is applied to the object being moved, with a wedge the object is stationary and the force is being applied to the plane. Examples of a wedge include knives and chisels.