Archive for December 4th, 2010

left to my own devices

December 4th, 2010

I arrived home last night from my trip to Rochester to find that the power had been out for 48 hours. It hadn’t come back on by this morning. After cooking breakfast on the woodstove and fetching in water from the brook to flush the toilet, I couldn’t quite relax into the silent and technology-free day that stretched ahead of me. Instead of reading or drawing, I became completely obsessed with figuring out how to harness our handy emergency crankable flashlight/radio (available at Holly’s store! excellent holiday gift for the apocalyptically inclined!) to the bicycle trainer which was already set up in the living room.

In Rochester on Thursday, Holly and I went to the High Falls Visitor Center and saw this cool exhibit of old machines—triphammers and lathes and flour mills—that were powered by the 90 foot waterfalls on the Genesee River.

Surely there was some way similar way that I could transmit the power of my bike. I found a dowel, and drilled a hole in it—using a hand-powered auger intended for tapping maple trees. Then I put a long nail through that, and stuck it through a convenient slot in the bottom of the pedal. The nail could rotate freely in the hole I’d made in the dowel. Then I wired the dowel to the crank handle. The tricky part was to make the dowel the exact same length as the pedal crank, and then to make sure the centers of each crank were at the same height.

I hadn’t allowed quite enough room for my bike shoe, though, so when I actually put my foot on the pedal, the whole thing kinda fell apart. Fortunately the electricity came back on at that point, or I would probably still be fussing with it. With a few refinements, I think it could actually work!