Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers - What the fraud?

This ad for "Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers" was found in the May 1963 issue of "On the Q.T." magazine. In case you're somehow unaware of the enduring sociological legacy of On the Q.T. magazine, here's a couple of sample covers from the same year:

So, hard-hitting investigative journalism, of course. On the Q.T. may have been completely justified in calling itself "The CLASS Magazine In Its Field" in the same way one might be able to honestly say "This here is the handsomest maggot in this dead varmint carcass." The qualifier "in its field" isn't flattering.

Within it's pages, as you may expect, fascinating writing abounds, but our attention was particularly drawn to a full-page ad for "Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers". Here's an advertising pro tip. Hyphenate words that your readers may be too ignorant to pronounce all in one breath. They'll appreciate you simplifying all that fancy tech talk regarding second-grade scien-tific prin-ci-ples. Anyway, here's the ad:

Click it to big it, baby.
The biggest text in the ad. "LIKE GETTING FREE TIRES" grabs the attention of your ideal consumer - those who feel cheated when they need to spend money on normal automotive wear items. "There's got to be a better way!"

There is! If you mount two eight-inch "gyroscopes" on your front wheels of your mushy boat car, you will enjoy the following benefits:

-Your car will ride more safely and smoothly by preventing the front wheels from deflecting to one side or the other on bumps. (Vaguely possible, but not with these things.)
-The front wheels will resist bumps. (Not possible.)
-Parts on the steering rack will not wear out. (Sort of, but not really.)
-The tires will last much longer. (Sort of plausible, if the previous claim is true, which it probably isn't.)

So what are these things? They look like rings with two crescent-shaped weights in them, and what look to be three adjustable bolt cups that can slide around the rings a little bit, allowing for different lug spacings. They look they're about eight inches in diameter, and can't weigh more than a couple of pounds each.

There is even a picture of a lucky motorist bolting some Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers to his wheel. You remove a few lug nuts, put the stabilizers on, and reinstall the lug nuts.

The ad relies upon you having no experience playing with a gyroscope gyro-scope. If you have, you'll recall that the gyroscopic effect pretty much resists rotation only against the plane of the spinning rotor. The gyroscope doesn't care about sliding up and down, or left and right.

The claims about smoothing out bumps can't be true. The gyroscopic effect of the rings will resist sudden steering inputs only, and will freely move up and down with the actuation of the suspension. Granted, in the case of pretty much every domestic car in 1963, steering and handling was vague at best, and could be accurately described as "swimmy". Sudden bumps could easily yank the steering wheel around.

Not to mention the fact that, the less a gyroscope's rotor weighs, the faster it has to spin in order for it's gyroscopic effect to be felt. You'd probably need to exceed the maximum possible speed of the vehicle before Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers could begin to work their magic, and by then the tires would probably have flown apart from the centrifugal force of their rotation.

If the Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers did impart any gyroscopic effect to the front wheels, they might keep the steering rack from changing direction suddenly over stutter-bumps. If that were the case, it might extend the life of the components of the steering rack, like the tie rod ends and various bushings.

However, none of this stuff matters, because the Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers are tiny compared to the diameter of the wheel. Also, their mass (and subsequent gyroscopic influence) is nothing compared to the combined mass of the wheel and tire (about seventy pounds) which have their own natural gyroscopic effect due to their rotation as the vehicle travels. Any gyroscopic benefit of the product, if it were to spin fast enough - which it can't - would be vanishngly small, relative to the wheel's own gyroscopic effect. In order to do anything, the Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers' size and weight would have to be greater than that of the car's wheel, and that would introduce problems like being unable to steer the car, and the car's suspension and steering components being subjected to stresses several times greater than their designed capacity.

So, the Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers can't possibly have the intended effect. If anything, they might interfere with the lug nuts holding the wheel on. So, at the very least, if you were to buy some Gyro-Scopic Stabilizers, you might get to enjoy a scientific demonstration of your wheel's natural gyroscopic effect as it rolls happily away from you while you're driving, having been freed of your vehicle's tyranny by your new Gyro-Scopic Stabiliers. It would have been easier to just pay attention in grammar school science class.


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