Monday, 31 August 2009

one wheeled skateboards and tanks

Crikey, you really must see this! April 1st 1980-something I remember a hoax in one of the broadsheets about a one wheeled stretcher which had a gyroscopic balancing device, allowing it to motor up or down mountains without falling over, while carrying a patient. Like all great hoaxes, it was feasible because there was enough credible science included....

Meanwhile, way back in the 50s and 60s, this chap was adjusting the centre of gravity to achieve something which Dave Southall had been working on before he found these films, a one wheeled skateboard principle...a tractor which hurtles along with no hint of a wobble.


Who knows, if the principle had been turned inside out, this 1930s tank might have been possible...even without the stabilisers.


Been reading Dr Southall's website and think I have finally found my guru!


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Steampunk and monowheels

A year or two ago I got interested in Steampunk after reading an article about this aestheic cult in Rolling Stone. I spotted this steampunk concept cartoon today on Google when looking for monocycles, after seeing a Scrapyard Challenge repeat on TV this afternoon.
I want one. The trickiest thing about making one has to be the bending of steel into a perfect circle; not a job for an amateur working in his shed! Then I discovered the blog of someone, Dr Southall, who has done just that...or rather he built one in his shed, but employed a tube bending company to do the tricky bit. So that is the solution!

The resident expert on the Scrapyard Challenge was an American, Kerry Mclean, who builds monocycles and rides them very expertly....inspiring stuff! He proves that in can be done.

Funnily enough, I designed a hubless wheeled trolley in 1992, when I was doing my degree, and that was inspired by black and white films of this 1932 contraption, which is more like a hamster wheel than a monowheel.

I really like the simplicity of Southall's Ring of Fire. It is superbly uncomplicated...and SMALL. And I like the look of the machine which appears to have inspired it,
the Bressen of 1969

I really must one day have a go at designing and making a monowheel.
They look such fun

De-Cluttering and deals with neighbours

Lily has gone! She was taken away by Dez Stringer, who has been working on my J Type as part payment. Dez is a restorer and mechanic - in the real sense of the word; not just someone who replaces parts, but someone who repairs things. I have watched him work, while I have been his gopher and general dog's body, and from the depth of his knowledge I'd have imagined he was in his early thirties, but it transpired he is only 24!

I met Dez first at the Felixstowe Run a couple of years ago, and he realized who I was when he came to look at Lily, having seen her mentioned on a forum contributed to by a friend of a friend from work.

It was sort of sad to see Lily go but I really felt philosophical. I have got my money's worth out of her. The time was right. She needs to go to someone who can give her the attention she needs now...and I need to thin down on my projects. Life can feel cluttered when you have too much on.

Paul, my neighbour, whose garage I have been renting to work on my J Type, has been admiring my Lambretta Chopper, parked in the corner...and we have done a deal. He gets the scooter and I get 60 weeks' rent, power and access to the garage.
I have had my chassis in the garage for a little while but haven't been going in and out. Yesterday I built an easily opened gate through my immediate neighbour, Greta's garden fence to Paul's garden, where previously I had to move a heavy fence panel. The weight of the panel and concerns about their rabbit getting out acted as a deterrent to just popping in. Now I can go to my project whenever I want.

Greta and I had a chat yesterday and she is happy with the prospect of another year or two of me going across her garden, on the understanding that I will replace her garden fence panels.

All very satisfying.

A good day.....though twelve hours solid in my workshop...welding, constructing a metal gate and progress on my roof-rack and painting wheel plates etc left me with a back painfully in spasm!

But a feeling of satisfaction with progress, all the same.