the wheels turn

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the wheels are turning

Things have begun developing, unfolding, or progressing. If you're going to act, you have to do it now, but once the wheels are turning, there is no going back. A: "What's the status of our new deployment strategy?" B: "The wheels are turning, we're just waiting for some feedback on how well it's being received."
See also: turning, wheel

the wheels turn

Progress is being or continues to be made. Typically used in conjunction with verbs like "continue" or "keep." We need to keep the wheels turning with this project or we're not going to make the January deadline. Despite the turmoil in the studio, the wheels continued to turn, and the film eventually saw the light of day 15 years after it first started development.
See also: turn, wheel
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the wheels turn

If you say that the wheels turn in a process or situation, you mean that progress is made. The wheels continue to turn on plans to convert the building into a bookstore. Note: You can also say that someone or something keeps the wheels turning to mean that they cause progress to be made. It is the small entrepreneurs of this country that keep the wheels of commerce turning.
See also: turn, wheel
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in classic literature ?
The half-dozen who were peering at the chain were still among the wheels, like sheep; the wheels turned so suddenly that they were lucky to save their skins and bones; they had very little else to save, or they might not have been so fortunate.
The wheels turned to the right and locked and then it spun," the Daily Telegraph quoted her as saying.
Birmingham buses welcomed aboard a different type of conductor yesterday as the wheels turned round to the strains of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
At the end of each roller, solid wooden wheels were then placed to lift the sledge off the ground, and the wheels turned freely.