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manual flour mill (maybe other things) attached to stationary bicycle

 
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I figure there has to be someone here who has done this.

we recently started grinding our own flour, but currently using a mill at a friends. from what I see all the electric units are a decent investment, I am leaning toward manual power, especially for things we use infrequently like this.

Hmmm, wouldn't it also be great if other things like mixers, blenders, butter churn, salad spinners and that sort of thing could be operated while pedaling, hands free to do other things as the mill or other device is mounted near the handlebar, driven most likely by a chain? I see a heavy flywheel would be a benefit, might take a bit to get spinning at full speed, but smoother once it gets going.

why run on the treadmill, paying for power or stationary bike, wasting energy when you could prepare your next meal?

When I have ideas like these, its hard to not envy the Amish lifestyle!

I found this article about it http://countrylivinggrainmills.com/index.php?action=articles&which=Bike.txt curious if anyone here could chime in!
 
steward
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I once saw a flour mill hooked up to the rear sprocket on a bike.  Kind of neat.  If it was me though, it would be on the deck, not in the kitchen.
 
              
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I run both my manual flour mill and my barley crushing grain mill (beer making) off a washing machine motor.

I got a free dead washing machine (98% of the time its not the motor that breaks, its the cheap controller/timer components so you have to keep buying new washing machines).

It saves landfill, carbon energy and waste by reusing and re-functioning manufactured items.

A set of wheels with belt groove and a belt and now I can grind at low RPMs and not over heat the grains and destroy the nutrients.

Easy as!
http://www.youtube.com/user/BrewerPete

Cheers,
PeterD
 
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Location: Northwest
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The intertubes have info about some folks in Oregon (where else?) going around to festivals using pedal power to operate a blender. They sell the smoothies. People can pedal power their own smoothie.

You can store the power in a battery, too.

I use a Vitamix to make flour. It is the only electrical appliance I can't live without, so I will have to figure out something. The computer is the other thing, so I know I will never be going totally without electricity, much as I like remote camping. Hopefully this will be the year I get me some pedal power! There is a ton of info out there, and some ready made set-ups for the tech-challenged with excess cash.
 
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See: http://www.mayapedal.org/machines.html

and more generally:
Understanding Pedal Power:
http://www.cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/VITA/PEDALPWR/EN/PEDALPWR.HTM

and Pedal Power in Work, Leisure, and Transportation:
http://www.cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/JF/424/19-424.pdf
 
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and for your gear reduction needs...lawn mower transmissions are great...drive em with a belt or belt chain, and leave yourself the option of changing belts and driving it with an electric motor...preferably one scavenged from an appliance...
 
Robert Fairchild
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Roller chain is the most efficient (least friction/power loss) power transmission mechanism. (That's why it's the choice for bicycles)
See:
http://www.gizmology.net/sprockets.htm

Bicycle chain is sort of an odd size #41. You can salvage lots of bicycle sprockets and chains and cranks and pedals.

If you want to go new (surplus) and use other sizes try:
https://www.surpluscenter.com/powerTrans.asp?catname=powerTrans
 
pollinator
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMeQsSJG0ts&feature=related

This is a homebuilt DIY mill that can be easily adapted to bike power.
 
pollinator
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kFVHwyuGKA

I had similar plans, until my wife sent the exercise bike to GoodWill without asking.... It was a good one with a cast iron flywheel wheel and everything.
 
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In Episode 5 of Victorian Farm 6 part BBC TV production they show a bicycle powered sheep shearer that the patron of the original estate contrived to make the job easier than hand cranking. You can see the episodes online but it was interesting to see a turn of the century bike powered equipment... he did break a sweat but clearly so much more efficient than hand crank and smoother operation vs pauses at top of crank wheel.

 
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I bought a Country Living mill and mounted it to an exercise bike / ten speed hybrid. I scavenged a stationary exercise bike and a ten speed bike from the county dump, chopped'em up and rewelded them together with the ten speed hub in front. I removed the rim and spokes and bolted a 4 in. V-groove pulley to hub. The mill is attached to a bracket in front of the handle bars so I can feed the mill as I pedal. A V-belt goes from the ten speed hub to the pulley on the mill. I never hooked up the front derailer ( now the rear), so it has five speeds. Low gears for a pastry flour grind, high gears for cracked grain like polenta. It works great. Burns carbs while ya grind them.
 
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I have a Country Living Mill and many other tools and appliances that are non-electric. I enjoy working with my hands, and yes, I'm a bit of a throwback. I enjoy doing the small bit of manual labor to see the process through whether it be hand-quilting, soap-making, milking my goats, or kitchen duties. For the small amount of time needed to grind my grain for bread, hand-whisk my eggs, make cheeses by hand, knead bread dough, or even pull the little string in my manual "cuisinart", my focus is on the process that I am doing "by hand".

I can't figure out why someone wants to take a simple process that is manual and "off grid", then add the 'multi-tasking' factor to it while also mechanically altering the 'by hand' slower method. Isn't part of the purpose of voluntary simplicity and hand work about using your own hands, not mechanizing the process with an add-on feature? It takes mere minutes to grind the necessary grain for a few loaves of bread. Adding a bicycle to the process is an energy substitute, sure, but in doing so the grain is no longer ground by hand but by additional mechanisms. I just don't get it.....
 
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Suggestions for low cost mills that you have personal positive experience with please!?
 
R Scott
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Lynn Woodard wrote:I have a Country Living Mill and many other tools and appliances that are non-electric. I enjoy working with my hands, and yes, I'm a bit of a throwback. I enjoy doing the small bit of manual labor to see the process through whether it be hand-quilting, soap-making, milking my goats, or kitchen duties. For the small amount of time needed to grind my grain for bread, hand-whisk my eggs, make cheeses by hand, knead bread dough, or even pull the little string in my manual "cuisinart", my focus is on the process that I am doing "by hand".

I can't figure out why someone wants to take a simple process that is manual and "off grid", then add the 'multi-tasking' factor to it while also mechanically altering the 'by hand' slower method. Isn't part of the purpose of voluntary simplicity and hand work about using your own hands, not mechanizing the process with an add-on feature? It takes mere minutes to grind the necessary grain for a few loaves of bread. Adding a bicycle to the process is an energy substitute, sure, but in doing so the grain is no longer ground by hand but by additional mechanisms. I just don't get it.....



A small bit to know how to do it or a loaf of bread once a week is one thing; bread for a family of 6-12 is quite another-that is not sustainable.
 
Lynn Woodard
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R Scott wrote:A small bit to know how to do it or a loaf of bread once a week is one thing; bread for a family of 6-12 is quite another-that is not sustainable.



What's not sustainable, the large family or making bread for them? Do you understand the term "sustainable"?
 
R Scott
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Lynn Woodard wrote:

R Scott wrote:A small bit to know how to do it or a loaf of bread once a week is one thing; bread for a family of 6-12 is quite another-that is not sustainable.



What's not sustainable, the large family or making bread for them? Do you understand the term "sustainable"?



I was tongue-in-cheek referencing this thread: https://permies.com/t/2549/permaculture/sustainable-means-barely-staying-ahead

The key to making a large family work is getting the kids to WORK. I have two, maybe three, kids that can turn a flour mill by hand--and they are more needed for other chores on the homestead. But I have 6 kids that can pedal one.
 
Lloyd George
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I was hoping you were joking....

Some folks have time to burn...it takes me 20 minutes total time involved to make a couple loaves of bread..if I were to grind hte flour for that by hand...double the time, at least...

A point about the kids...and yeah...ten minute grinding flour is alot better than 20 when the chickens need feeding and moving, the goats need a herd walk, pigs need slopping, somebody needs to hose down that poor horse and groom him from all this heat...and then there is a still the last batch of wheat to be threshed and winnowed....it is always something..
 
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R Scott wrote:

Lynn Woodard wrote:

R Scott wrote:A small bit to know how to do it or a loaf of bread once a week is one thing; bread for a family of 6-12 is quite another-that is not sustainable.



What's not sustainable, the large family or making bread for them? Do you understand the term "sustainable"?



I was tongue-in-cheek referencing this thread: https://permies.com/t/2549/permaculture/sustainable-means-barely-staying-ahead

The key to making a large family work is getting the kids to WORK. I have two, maybe three, kids that can turn a flour mill by hand--and they are more needed for other chores on the homestead. But I have 6 kids that can pedal one.

I said the same thong to my wife but she doesnt laugh. You might be better anyway by enslave a cow or something else to grind you flour and maybe charge your batteries
 
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Lloyd George wrote:and then there is a still the last batch of wheat to be threshed and winnowed....it is always something..



Grain threshing and winnowing you say?

 
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Check out this video. It covers many different pedal power machines. Including a manual flour mill.

 
gardener
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This is the best use I have seen for an exercise machine ....... I know it isn't  producing food but it is promoting good health and cooperation.

https://youtu.be/qhejwuDLr24
 
pollinator
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So I have an idea, but not sure how to make it work. I have an old Singer treadle base, with no machine. I want to make it so the treadle can pump water from say one of those 3 gallon water jug up to a sink on top of the treadle base. This will be for my restroom in my sewing studio, where there will be no running water. I'm planning on having a composting toilet. Any ideas?
 
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The only project like it, i have built was a generator. The derivatives of machinery basically millworks, the pedal cycles are my favorite. Taking the bicycle and re applying the technology to millworks again is great stuff. People invested huge efforts into bicycle technology yeilding amazing quality parts of every type and the butter churn.... not so much.

The sites with pedal car, pedal trike and mountan bike build/hack parts supply, etc. have all the parts one would need to put together a superb machine. I would like an electric pedal car. Its been an interest for some time and some things apply to any pedal powered utility machines.

Driveline and adaptor availability off the shelf.

Solutions available as examples in light fabrication and diy sourcing and design.... aka Hack, including electric assist, which translates well to charging or direct electric. I have had great success over the years with adapting when building bikes and electric cycles. with minimal, and im talking hacksaw and tech screw minimal, no real fabrication aside from bracketry and refit. Adaption will go a long way, leaving bought or special made or modified outsource help to a minimum.
There are lots of legos available for this, from junkpile to obscure catalog, so its exciting!

Power delivery by foot pedal crank in a seated position reduces fatigue and increases leverage and output over time, makes even positive displacement pumps doable.

Pedal truck with a PTO shaft available for farm gear would be sweet!
 
pollinator
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I like the theory of a bicycle for grinding flour or coffee or for any kitchen appliance, but I gotta share my experience.  I came across a DIY to convert a bike to charge a small (motorcycle) battery.  We used a car's alternator, and I don't know what all else, hooked up via a belt to the rear wheel rim.  We had a small automotive bulb that showed me when I was pedaling enough to make a charge.  

So far so good.

But the bicycle now is sitting outside on the porch, rusting, the battery dead, because it's such HARD WORK!  It isn't like riding a bicycle, it's like pedaling up the side of Mount Everest. This was just to charge one little battery -- I'm not sure how it would work to make a grinder's gears go around -- but I can tell you it was not something I was willing to do on a regular basis.  Or even on an irregular one.
2021_02-18_ViewFromTheDogDoor_LifStrandPhoto_IMG_1959.png
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Lif Strand wrote:I like the theory of a bicycle for grinding flour or coffee or for any kitchen appliance, but I gotta share my experience.  I came across a DIY to convert a bike to charge a small (motorcycle) battery.  We used a car's alternator, and I don't know what all else, hooked up via a belt to the rear wheel rim.  We had a small automotive bulb that showed me when I was pedaling enough to make a charge.  

So far so good.

But the bicycle now is sitting outside on the porch, rusting, the battery dead, because it's such HARD WORK!  It isn't like riding a bicycle, it's like pedaling up the side of Mount Everest. This was just to charge one little battery -- I'm not sure how it would work to make a grinder's gears go around -- but I can tell you it was not something I was willing to do on a regular basis.  Or even on an irregular one.



Gosh, Lif, that's too bad.  I don't know a lot about gears, but I think a person might use a geared bicycle, and a heavy fly wheel.  

I had a friend who built a bicycle powered "pump".  He had been in the peace corps, was back in the USA, and working on a degree in agriculture mechanics.  His idea was to use a piece of manilla rope to lift the water up out of the well.  He asked me to come try it out.  From the sprocket, the rope went down a few meters - into a simulated well of water-  He had not figured out the next step for the water, I guess it would be something the water would fall on, the rope coming up through a small hole, and back down again... and the water would run off the plate with rope holes, and a slope to a spout would provide a place for the water to be channeled ..  this was about 1972, the details are dim.

What is not dim, is that he got on the bike and pedaled fast and the rope just slipped through the water and lifted none.  When I tried it,I did not have the muscle to do a fast start, at a slower rate water clung to the rope, lots of water, it was very heavy!  No way I could pedal that fast,and in that case fast was a problem.

The point is, speed is everything.  The right speed, and gears are our friends.
 
pollinator
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A mechanical connection is more efficient but using a tredmill motor to drive a universal motor works great.
https://permies.com/t/111797/pedal-power-cleaner-durable-environmental

Many of these tasks can be accomplished with short bursts.
I think that is one place peddle power shines.
No battery required.

I think most osteriser blenders use universal motors so the faster you peddle the faster they run.
 
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Brian Henry wrote:In Episode 5 of Victorian Farm 6 part BBC TV production they show a bicycle powered sheep shearer that the patron of the original estate contrived to make the job easier than hand cranking. You can see the episodes online but it was interesting to see a turn of the century bike powered equipment... he did break a sweat but clearly so much more efficient than hand crank and smoother operation vs pauses at top of crank wheel.



I went and watched that episode immediately after reading this post. I was facinated at the entire setup!!  I shear my sheep by hand, then again I only have 4 to shear.  That bike powered contraption looked fun to use, but I will stick to my shears.  

Have yall ever seen the video of the guy who would ride around town while washing his clothes in a little tub that connected to the back wheel of his bike?  The clothes would agitate as he rode!
 
master pollinator
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Lif Strand wrote:I like the theory of a bicycle for grinding flour or coffee or for any kitchen appliance, but I gotta share my experience.  I came across a DIY to convert a bike to charge a small (motorcycle) battery.  We used a car's alternator, and I don't know what all else, hooked up via a belt to the rear wheel rim.  We had a small automotive bulb that showed me when I was pedaling enough to make a charge.  

So far so good.

But the bicycle now is sitting outside on the porch, rusting, the battery dead, because it's such HARD WORK!  It isn't like riding a bicycle, it's like pedaling up the side of Mount Everest. This was just to charge one little battery -- I'm not sure how it would work to make a grinder's gears go around -- but I can tell you it was not something I was willing to do on a regular basis.  Or even on an irregular one.


It's true that there are many inefficiencies in this setup (car alternators are Exhibit A). But consider: it would be a wonderful educational tool for school kids (and quite a few adults too). Few of us understand the "equivalent sweat equity" involved in, say, charging a cell phone. We don't have a muscle memory of the amount of effort that equates to the juice that silently and effortlessly comes out of the wall socket. If we did, it could be slightly revolutionary.
 
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Well, we have a country mill grinder, and used it a bit with the power arm, but, then I started looking at the vintage schwinn excercise bike that came with the house, so I bought a clothes dryer belt and hooked it up simply, bolted the grinder to a piece of pine, and measured out a spacer piece of pine board to have the weight of the bike keep the tension. There’s lots of complicated designs out there, but this was cheap. I can easily kill 4 cups of wheat in 25min, 6cups of flower made. For what it’s worth. I’ll probably improve on it. :)
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That is awesome, and these are some great ideas for me to come back to when I am better prepared. =D You guys are awesome!
 
pollinator
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We recently attached a manual flour mill to my bike. I just had to turn a pulley out of wood, attach it to our workbench, and then put my bike on the stationary bike converter. This saves on precious space and means I don't need to own a separate bike to my daily commuter. The belt used in this image is a section of worn out bike tyre tread--we'll be changing it up to an actual belt (found by the side of the road!) once I turn another pulley to fit on to the converter's axel directly.

Grinds flour 1.5-2x faster than using the hand crank, which is a great savings. We use it about once a week to grind enough to make our regular batch of sourdough bread.

Definitely recommend getting a bike converter if you're short on space and want to build fun bike-powered contraptions!
IMG_2195.JPG
Bicycle-powered grain mill
Bicycle-powered grain mill
mill.gif
In action!
In action!
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Love the bike powered mill! Just curious: do you think there is any risk of damage or excess wear to the mill itself? A cyclist can put out something like 1/3 hp, which is a whole lot more than a hand crank.
 
pollinator
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M Broussard wrote:

Grinds flour 1.5-2x faster than using the hand crank, which is a great savings.  




Do you ever notice your grinder overheating when you do this? The stones on my grinder get too hot to touch, just cranking it by hand. While pedaling would be easier, I'm concerned about the added heat.
 
M Broussard
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The nice thing about using a regular bike is that I can gear it down until I'm achieving the fastest safe speed for the mill. I have noticed that the steel faceplate sometimes is warm (when it's hand-cranked, it doesn't even get warm), but I've never gotten it to be hot, much less too hot to touch. This is for my mill specifically, which is solid stainless steel and dissipates heat quite readily, so your mileage may vary!

It could also be that I just don't have good upper body strength and am pretty slow at milling wheat by hand!
 
master gardener
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The neat thing about bicycles is: 1) already lots of versions out there - many rusting away - whose embodied energy could be put to use
2) many already come with a gear system, or are easily adaptable to one, so the issue of "over-heating" simple equipment can be managed either by running a second energy drain at the same time (battery charger on the side while milling grain as an example) if your operator is gung-ho, or simply playing something with a beat that will help the operator to take it a little easier.
3) if set up well, and depending on the machine, you can use your feet for power, while having both hands free.
4) there are so many ways to adapt them for comfort and posture - it can look and act like a regular bike, or it can be designed more like a recumbent bike with a larger seat and a decent back rest.

I am currently reading a book called "Fibershed" about how we need to change the unbelievable toxic way we produce clothing, and one of the pictures showed a bicycle-powered wool carding set up - perfect example of where having one's hands available to do one job while the legs did another, is an asset. This doesn't mean that there aren't situations where an experienced hand-carder couldn't compete, or that a much larger machine might be equally important, but so much of our daily life involves things which moved from a "human" scale to an "industrial" scale in the last 200 years that our environment is fast unable to cope with the fall-out from that.

Another example is the sewing machine - very small places have hand cranked machines that work, but now you've only got one hand free to manipulate the fabric. A step up is a treadle machine because both hands are free. However, I've seen how fast an industrial sewing machine moves, and I'm not sure a treadle could handle that. Could a bicycle? Could the machine be set up with some sort of "disconnect" switch, so again, the pedaling could continue at an even pace while the needle could stop briefly?

Mother Earth News said this: A treadle is actually a big pedal that one tips back and forth by applying pressure with both feet.  https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/foot-powered-sewing-machine-zmaz81jazraw/

Ultimately, I would love to see pedal operated equipment make "an intelligent emergence". We need a single bike set-up to be able to operate multiple machines as needed as easily as I connect different attachments to my stick blender. I don't see one size fitting all tasks, but I do think humans are smart enough to make a bunch of tasks fit a core design. A key component is that the tasks do need to be chosen wisely. As mentioned in many places here on permies - trying to replace all the things a typical human uses electricity for with them pedaling the most efficient bicycle possible, isn't possible. (Hubby did the calculations for keeping a typical freezer cold during a power outage and it would have taken 3 strong adults pedaling for most of the day! )

Just because an idea can't solve every problem, doesn't mean that we shouldn't/can't use it to solve the problems it can solve.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I love the idea of a geared bicycle as a power plant:  an asset to every household! As you say, adaptable to many functions, ready to supply varying power outputs…

Seems like part of why a freezer would take so much pedaling is because of the design of the freezer… modern freezers are designed to run on cheap energy!  
 
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I recall reading through the Low<-Tech Magazine archives about using a bicycle to power the pump for an air compressor, then using that compressed air to power a wide variety of tools. The power could be direct, or the compressed air could be stored and then transported to the work site (surely, via bicycle), connected to the tools to be used, and in any case powered as needed.

If I can track down the article, then I'll update here. This is a project that has me very intrigued, and I think with the right support system it's something that's realistic and approachable.
 
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Stephen B. Thomas wrote:I recall reading through the Low<-Tech Magazine archives about using a bicycle to power the pump for an air compressor, then using that compressed air to power a wide variety of tools. The power could be direct, or the compressed air could be stored and then transported to the work site (surely, via bicycle), connected to the tools to be used, and in any case powered as needed.

If I can track down the article, then I'll update here. This is a project that has me very intrigued, and I think with the right support system it's something that's realistic and approachable.


Yes please! This has the ability to separate "energy creation" from "energy use" and your example of power tools is a perfect example. I have relatively small hands even for my size, and a manual staple gun is a major struggle, as much because I simply can't get a good grip on it. When I discovered Hubby had an air staple gun, I was in heaven! But there's no way I could cycle and operate an air tool. Separating the two - filling the compressor tank by bike - then doing the work, even if I had to do so several times, would totally work for me. We've got a portable tank, but it may not be large enough to work long enough, and there are areas of my farm which aren't a reasonable distance for running power cords (you get a loss in the wire and that can cause "issues" - that's Hubby's area of expertise). This might give us a different option...
 
Thekla McDaniels
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And, using a bike to fill a compressed air tank gives me another idea, not too far off topic.  

My compressed air tank is small, a pancake type.  I think I would want a bigger and more EFFICIENT tank.  My tank wouldn’t run anything for long, the compressor runs continuously when a tool is in use.

Bigger tank, more pedaling.. maybe more loss, I don’t know about that part, but with a big tank, maybe we want more than one way to fill it.  Solar, wind, hydraulic ram, rocket stove fired steam plant…..  maybe I am throwing away the benefits of simplicity, but diverse input might be as valuable as diverse use, mightn’t it?
 
Stephen B. Thomas
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Here's the article from Low<-Tech Magazine that came to mind as I read this, and gave me the idea for a bicycle-powered air-compressor for multi-tool use:

https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/05/ditch-the-batteries-off-grid-compressed-air-energy-storage.html

It's also in Volume 2 of their print archives (which is where I originally read it).

It discusses CAES (compressed air energy storage), and that made me wonder of the possibility of a bicycle to add air to a tank so it could be used for various air-powered tools. If there was a way to directly use compressed air as the power source, instead of the back-and-forth conversions that required electricity, then there might be some use to this.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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