Pedal Power

I’ve been reading a little bit today about pedal power being used as an electrical and mechanical power source.  It’s actually a little sad that this area of technology hasn’t advanced significantly in a hundred years.  All the major leaps we’ve made and we left pedal power behind.

There are a handful of people dedicated to innovating and finding practical uses for pedal power in a modern world.  They’ve come up with some pretty cool stuff, remarkably similar to old human powered machines our great-great-grandparents might have used.

Click the picture to go to gizmag.com and read more about this design, called R2B2, by German designer Christoph Thetard.

Maybe I’ll write a post sometime about some of the human power tools in use and under development.

One Man’s Trash…

Yesterday was the annual Route 11 Yard Crawl, so named because we could have crawled through peoples’ yards faster than we drove down Route 11.  Hundreds of yard sales were set up along the 50 mile stretch, selling everything from antique froes to Michael Jackson cassettes.

We set out with a full tank of gas and a pocket full of twenties after dropping the kids off with Bethany’s mom.  The Yard Crawl is serious business and no place for children!  Along the way we picked up a nice washing machine, a hand cranked food slicer, a handful of files, and some “kitchen stuff.”  All for under $50.

The washing machine has replaced the old free washing machine that didn’t get things clean any more.  The old machine will become the new chicken plucker, once my rubber plucker fingers arrive.  I’ll be detailing the construction of that project in a later post.

I tested the food slicer this morning by slicing a roast to make jerky.  It worked well, although I can certainly see why the electric models are more popular.  It’s a job for three hands.  We’ll see how my jerky turns out after being marinated in the contents of three bottles pulled at random from the fridge and a dozen or so spices picked blindly from the cabinet.

I always wished I had a better set of files but wasn’t willing to pay the typical prices for them.  Yesterday I bought 8 Nicholson files for $3 from some people who had no idea what they were worth.  Now I have a fairly complete set to work with and no excuse for dull tools.

We looked at a meat grinder for $65, but didn’t buy it, thinking we could find it cheaper online.  Boy were we wrong!  We’re kicking ourselves now for missing that chance.  That led to pricing grinders and packaging supplies and we realized that we could break even by grinding beef ourselves for just one year instead of paying to have it ground.  We’ll most likely end up paying the extra money to buy one now that we’ve started thinking about it.

We don’t have anything against electricity and power tools, but we try to keep in mind that there’s no promise of always having a consistent power supply.  I started thinking today about modifying an old exercise bike to power some things like a meat grinder, food slicer, grain mill, and bench grinder, then remembered the old bike that has been sitting in front of the Old Mill next door, where everything is for sale – for a price.  I walked down to look, and what do you know, the bike was gone.  It won’t be as simple as I had hoped, but I’ll scrounge one up somewhere.