I am accessing the feasibility of using a gear rack and pinion gear to move a moderately heavy object. I have never used gear track for a larger project so I don't have an intuitive basis for judging the fitness of gear rack for this application. To set aside the factors of velocity and acceleration let me ask the question this way :

What approximate size gear rack and pinion gear would be needed to vertically suspend a 2000 pound weight?

Alternatively, how much weight could be reliably suspended with a 1" wide 6 tooth per inch gear rack?

  • $\begingroup$ Racks and pinions are used in some countries to get trains up steep slopes, and the ones I saw in a museum were 5" wide with 1/2" tooth depth approx - but size will be dependant on the material and its strength. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


The life time of gears (which a rack and pinion mechanism basically is) is limited by teeth failure, wear, and pitting. So the answer to your question not only depends on the force acting on the rack, but also the required lifetime, lubrication, geometry of the gear and rack, and material combination. Meaning that while your rack might hold this force for an hour, it might fail after some weeks.

There are several books and guidelines out there about the dimension process of gear pairs. Just use them since they apply to you problem as well. The difference between a gear pair and a rack an pinion mechanism is that one of your gears has an infinite pitch diameter.

To get an estimate, I would recommend you to search for rack and pinion with your favorite search engine and look in supplier's catalogs. Some of them report maximum force.


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