An idler-wheel is wheel which serves only to transmit rotation from one shaft to another, in applications where it is undesirable to connect them directly. For example, connecting a motor to the platter of a phonograph, or the crankshaft-to-camshaft gear train of an automobile.
An idler gear is a gear wheel that is inserted between two or more other gear wheels. The purpose of an idler gear can be two-fold. Firstly, the idler gear will change the direction of rotation of the output shaft. Secondly, an idler gear can assist to reduce the size of the input/output gears whilst maintaining the spacing of the shafts.