pedal powered tractor

I'm no designer but here's an idea I've been stewing on for some time. I've hunted but not found any designs for a pedal powered tractor. The very early tractors were very large;could to lots of work; but they only had 2 or 3 horsepower. They ran so slow you could count the piston strokes. The designs were simple and they were work horses. Our new high horse powered gas tools often cann't do nearly as much. The old machines used heavy flywheels; slow to start but they kept on rolling. With the improvements we've made in bike gearing systems why not make a pedal powered tractor that could do serious work with that same heavy flywheel technology?

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solarbobky7 years ago
One alternative that was developed by Rodale many years ago, with other versions by others since, is a stationary pedal powered winch to pull small implements. It is moved along the edge of the garden and reels in the implement with a steel cable. Use Planet Jr type wheel hoe or small garden tractor implements.
jtobako10 years ago
Here's a japanise catalog of human powered items, including a fork lift.

AAAaand the google version.
jtobako10 years ago
A human only produces about 1/4 horsepower and a tractor requires a constant source of power. Flywheels are good to even out applied power-if the load is intermittent or needs a higher starting torque but otherwise runs easily, then you can store enough in a flywheel to use a smaller power source. When the load is consistently larger than the power source can handle, a flywheel won't help-it just can't keep up. Old tractors (up to WWII or so) were traction engines and portable power-they ran slow ONLY when idling, they ran much faster under load (I grew up with one). An old tractor/equipment combo could handle a 10 foot wide swath where the new(est) equipment can handle 7 to 10 times that (and at greater speed). It's cheaper to have a machine sit with an engine in it for most of a year than have to worry about a single engine fitting multiple pieces of equipment-and if the single power source tractor breaks down, ALL activity stops. And last, how many people do you know are willing to do a marathon EVERY day, year after year? There is a reason that animals were used, and were replaced by machines-human power is a lot of WORK.
Michael Fletcher (author)  jtobako10 years ago
I think your points about the difficulty of the work load are valid for our culture which is not accustomed to physically working that hard but there still remain many cultures in the world that do work that hard everyday. Look for photos of the small farmers in Asia, Africa or Indonisia. The use pedal power to move the quantities of goods that in our culture we'd insist on having a pickup truck for. They pedal power in tandem to pump irrigate their fields. For many of them an oxen or work animal is an not an affordable luxury and the sort of modern machinery we take for granted is totally out of the picture. It is for these that I wonder if our engineering couldn't come up with a very cheap but more efficient use of human power.
Actually if there's people already pumping water electricity could be made by adding water spun generators in the flow and add generators to the cycling setup making electricity to be used for other work... like building stuff with powered tools... or electric processing machines for grains and stuff, generally add functions and outputs to prexisting items for minimal input cost, so the guys doing the work are doing very little extra work for a good return
Now I know why I can't explain-you don't understand physics at all. Here's a hint-anyone who claims perpetual motion is lying.
No you've completely misatken what i've said here, I'm talking about taking extra work from things being done, not some kind of perpetual motion, just generating power from the already working pedal power bit and is by some chance there was a point where the water flow was sufficient it may aswell do an extra job while it's going down hill or whatever (unless it's always going uphill) By the way I actually take in all sciences pretty easily at GCSE I got my half assed double A in double award science (wanted to to all three seperate but school had no option) When I said minimal input cost I'm talking about making the absolute most of whats there without increasing the input by much... You do realise I was never really arguing so much as saying that there are possibilities, sure that human powered tractor could do plowing but it has merits, surely you can understand that?
And you should have noticed that I was very careful to limit my lack of power arguments to jobs that require large amounts of (physics) work, not transport (overcoming inertia, for the most part). If you look at Michael Fletcher's post, he specifically said that they don't have the money to use anything except human power-where are they going to get the money for generators and power tools? Second part, human power is very low power-you get very careful not to 'waste' any power. For instance, the human power pumps mentioned only lift the water a few inches over the edge of the irrigation canal and into a secondary canal that waters the plants (if I'm remembering the images correctly). The builders know very well that there is no 'extra' power available.
I'm giving up, I don't think you understand hypothesising very well.
I generally skip to the "what problems are we going to encounter" stage not in a 'we can't do it' but 'how can we get around it' way. If you want to be serious about a human tractor, you have to rethink farming in a lot of ways-most of which eliminate the need for a tractor...
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