Here is a flash animation of a rack and pinion reciprocating mechanisms.
A rack and pinion is a pair of gears which convert rotational motion into linear motion. The circular pinion engages teeth on a flat bar - the rack. Rotational motion applied to the pinion will cause the rack to move to the side, up to the limit of its travel.
For example, in a rack railway, the rotation of a pinion mounted on a locomotive or a railcar engages a rack between the rails and pulls a train along a steep slope.
The rack and pinion arrangement is commonly found in the steering mechanism of cars or other wheeled, steered vehicles.
Note that in the animation shown, feed mechanism travels 4 times the length of the crank shaft (red).