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This mechanism converts rotational motion into oscillating motion with a quick return. The switching works through the use of a partially toothed gear that first engages the top row of teeth on the rocker arm and then engages the bottom teeth on the arm thereby reversing the motion. Such mechanisms were used frequently by Leonardo da Vinci in his designs for machines for textile production.
The University of Karlsruhe models were created by Professor Ferdinand Redtenbacher (1809-1863). Among his students were Karl Benz and Franz Reuleaux. It is now clear that many of the Reuleaux models in Berlin were based on the designs of his former professor in Karlsruhe.