Mechanics course | Online Home Study

Learn about Mechanics

This course provides an understanding of machines. As such it forms a foundation for understanding the scope and nature of machines; possibilities for achieving more efficient work outcomes with machines; how to make better choices of what machine to use for what job, and how to manage and maintain machinery you use.

Machines include obvious things such as cars and garden equipment; but also machinery used in factories, offices and other workplaces, and machines used to make life easier in our houses, from kitchen appliances to vacuum cleaners. A kitchen food processor is a machine, and are cars and robots. This course is relevant to all of these things.

When you better understand machines, you have a greater capacity to work not only with machinery; but in any industry. 


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Engines and Motors

    • Introduction
    • Power Sources
    • Engines
    • Steam Engine
    • Petrol
    • Engine Operating Cycle
    • Engine parts
    • Four stroke Ignition Engine Cycle
    • Two Stroke Ignition Engine Cycle
    • Electric motors
    • Parts of an electric motor
    • AC and DC motors
    • Induction and Synchronous motors
    • Applied tasks – Changing a wheel, Mending a puncture
  2. Engine Characteristics

    • Measurements and mechanical principles
    • Force, Load, Pressure
    • Atmospheric pressure, Absolute pressure
    • Force of gravity, Centre of gravity, Specific gravity
    • Density, Vacuum, Volumetric efficiency
    • Work, Power, Energy
    • Pistons – motion, bore, piston displacement
    • Compression ratio
    • Engine efficiency
    • Features of electric motors
    • Applied tasks – spark plugs
  3. Machines and their parts

    • Parts of a machine
    • Engine systems
    • Lubrication system
    • Cooling system
    • Fuel system
    • Transmission -gearbox, clutch, transmission, drive shaft, PTO
    • Power source
    • Ignition system – distributor, Coil pack
    • Other machines
  4. Drive Mechanisms -Transmissions, Gears, Belts

    • Introduction
    • Cog drive machinery
    • Belt drive machinery
    • Transmission drive machinery
    • The transmission system
    • Clutch
    • Gearbox
    • Differential unit
    • Applied tasks – replacing drive belts
  5. Managing Deterioration

    • Splash feed lubrication system
    • Pressure system
    • Combination pressure and splash
    • Oil contamination
    • Cooling system – air cooling, water cooling
    • Lubrication – oil viscosity
    • Types of filter systems
    • Materials deterioration
    • Properties of materials – metals, non ferrous alloys
    • Seals
    • Applied tasks: servicing filters
  6. Optimising Function and Longevity

    • Adjustments
    • Controlling power
    • Carburettors – float system, number of barrels, injectors
    • Lubrication
    • Exhaust systems
    • Catalytic converter
    • Muffler
    • Extractor
    • Turbocharger
    • Intercooling, waste gate, blow off valves, twin vs single turbo, boost controller
    • Superchargers
    • Applied tasks – servicing a carburettor
  7. Brake Systems

    • Introduction
    • Drum versus disc brake
    • Drum brakes and shoe pad
    • Disc brakes
    • Pneumatic, Hydraulic and Electric Brakes
    • ABS – Anti lock brake system
    • Regenerative braking
    • Applied tasks – servicing brakes
    • Jacking up a vehicle
    • Changing disc brakes
    • Changing drum brakes
    • Motor bike and push bike brakes
  8. The Mechanics Workshop

    • Tool maintenance
    • Work bench
    • Vices and clamps
    • Lifts, ramps, jacks, ladders
    • Tightening pullers
    • Pulleys
    • Winches
    • Generators, battery chargers
    • Cleaning equipment
    • Grinders, shapening equipment
    • Work pits, hoists
    • Measuring equipment
    • Hand tools
    • Spanners and Allen keys
    • Pliers & grips
    • Screwdrivers
    • Files
    • Cutting equipment
    • Hammers, chisels, punches
    • Tap and die cutters
    • Lubrication equipment
    • Power tools – Drills, saws
    • Soldering and welding

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school’s tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain how different types of engines and motors work.
  • Describe the features that differentiate the quality and work capacity of engines; one from another.
  • Describe the scope and nature of components of a machine.
  • Explain different ways of converting the movement of energy to perform useful work tasks.
  • Describe how machinery can deteriorate over time, and responses to both prevent and repair deterioration.
  • Explain how engines and motors have their power output regulated.
  • Explain the mechanisms used to slow or stop any form of motion by applying force.
  • Describe machinery workshop tools and equipment, and explain their safe and appropriate use in maintaining and repairing machinery.

Mechanics is the study of machines. A machine is made up of multiple parts, it is designed to take movement or force, and translate that ‘energy’ to perform a specific task.

The scope and nature of machines is far beyond the scope of what anyone could study in even a lifetime; but most of the concepts and applications hare common principles.  As you study this course and different parts of different machines, your understanding and perhaps even intuition to work with any machinery will develop. You will gradually develop a better capacity to look at, evaluate and understand any sort of machine: how it works, the functions each component performs, and what responses are appropriate to maintain or repair function when things go wrong.  

  1. The first part of a machine is the power source (e.g. an engine, motor or even man power.
  2. The second part of a machine is the part that catches and translates energy from the power source.

Machines have become so much a part of modern life that we can easily take them for granted. Most people don’t even give a second thought to how the machines they use are functioning; that is until they stop functioning.

Learning more about mechanics can enable you to do so much more with machines though, from using them more appropriately and safely to maintaining and repairing them when required. 

Some machinery is relatively simple and easier to learn about, but other machines can be much more complex and will require far more learning and experience to properly understand.

This course lays a foundation for understanding and working with all machines, each lesson building upon what you learnt in the previous ones, gradually expanding your awareness and understanding of how and where engines can be used to power machines, and how different types of machines function.