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laureth's avatar

Where can I find plans for more innovative bicycle-powered gadgets like these?

Asked by laureth (27128points) December 24th, 2011

A bicycle is an energy-saving way to power a simple machine and get some exercise at the same time. Recently I’ve become aware of inventions using bicycle-like power inputs for such diverse tasks as washing clothes and a milling grain.

I’m impressed with this concept, and once I acquire a few acres, I might rig up some other human-powered machines. Have you ever done this? Or do you know of other machines that can be made to run this way? Thanks!

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

The clever son of a friend of mine is doing just that at his organic farm in Portland, Me.

Scroll down and read about his ingenious “water system” set up without electricity.

“Ram pumps: a neat device invented in the late 1700’s that uses the inertia of a water hammer to pressurize an air tank, which pushes water up hill. No external power sources is needed other than the falling water. Going old school here, like, centuries ago old school.”

He is a lovely guy and would be thrilled to have another interested person as a contact.

Here’s the topic of his Master’s thesis at U. Vt.

The spatial effects of road use intensity on forest plant communities and soil chemistry : does the road less traveled by, make all the difference [MS] Plant and Soil Science

laureth's avatar

Thanks for that! It’s exactly the sort of thing that I’ve enjoyed reading lately.

gailcalled's avatar

@laureth: He’s not alone. There are flourishing new communities doing similar projects. How close are you to acquiring some land?

laureth's avatar

We’ve been looking at actual real estate for about six months now, but it’s hard to find a plot that fits all of our needs (the right size, the right zoning, the right distance commute from work, and the right price). When we do find them, they tend to sell quickly (as in, posted for sale on Thursday, we see the listing Friday, we drive to see it on Saturday, call the broker Sunday, and on Monday we hear that it sold). If we find one that fits our needs that isn’t sold out from under us, though, we’re ready to put in an offer.

gailcalled's avatar

@laureth: Can you prime the broker to call you first before listing it on the MLS? I should think any realtor worth his or her salt would be slathering to find something for a real prospective buyer?

Before he lists it, he picks up the phone and calls you. Doesn’t that sound like a plan?

laureth's avatar

We had a buyer’s agent. He was inept at email (which might have cost us the one I was talking about), and he was unwilling to put in our low starting bid on a different property. We talked to another buyer’s agent, who told us that properties in our price range (which we’d been looking at for six months) don’t exist. So we’ve been doing most of the looking ourselves. If we knew which broker would be the next one in town to list such a property, we’d be all over that – but there are so many.

gailcalled's avatar

In my really rural area, a lot of real estate deals are done at the post office by gossip.

Have you tried using Craig’s list?

IAC, it is a worthy goal.

laureth's avatar

Would that our area were like yours! :) But yes, we look at Craig’s list, various real estate agencies, HUD, foreclosures, USDA, and many others. It’s become a part-time job for Mr. Laureth, who is a bit obsessed. The biggest problem is that we work in a nice town with high-value property, and it’s hard to find relatively inexpensive land without going 45 minutes out. We’d prefer the commute to be half an hour or less.

gailcalled's avatar

Mr. Bluebellfarm, now that he has his MA, is the stay-at-home person who is working on his farm projects, as you read about. He is also the primary domestic and enjoys cooking and tidying the nest.

Ms. Bluebellfarm ( they became officially engaged to be married as of three weeks ago) just passed the ME. bar exam and is the bread winner. She is currently working for a judge in the Maine Supreme Court.

They had this plan set up five years ago; they both went to graduate school in Vt. (U. VT in Burlington and Vermont Law School in South Royalton). They lived half-way between his grad school and hers. Then they sold their little house and moved to Portland. Talk about being organized.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’ll never forget watching Ed Begley making his toast each morning by using his bicycle rigged to a storage battery. Pretty clever.

His program, Living With Ed aired for three seasons on Planet Green. You can check out the PG website as well as
an interview with him on a website called

He has lots of tips for all this type of stuff on his own website as well.

He also has lots of good links for all the various ways in which other folks are using pedal power on his personal website.

Lots of good stuff in the ENVIRONMENTAL section.

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