I live near an Amish community. They are required to use lights on
their horse drawn buggies at night. They use 12V marine batteries
which last about 7 to 10 hours. Then they have the non-Amish
neighbors charge them, or use a gas generator. I was talking to one
of them and he said he would like to connect a car alternator to the
wheels. I told him that seems doable. That got me thinking. Wiring
a delco with built in regulator is easy. There are two problems.
1. Mounting it so a pulley can be connected to the wooden spoke wheel
hub. I can sort of see a means to attach a belt pulley, but the belt
would have to connect to a shaft or it would be outside too far.
2. Alternators will not charge until they reach a specific RPM. I
doubt the buggy wheels would reach that. This means a gear assembly
would be needed to increase the rpm. I also heard that some tractor
alternators charge at a lower RPM, so I have to check into that.
Anyone have any suggestions? What could I steal a simple gear unit
from? How do I attach a pulley to a wooden hub, spoke wheel? Has
anyone ever done anything like this?
I'm having fun with this project....
look into a generator as compared to an alternator , produces voltage at lower
rpms , years ago , cabooses on trains had a similar system
the wheels would turn a generator which would charge storage batteries
for 12 volt systems on the caboose ,
as far as mounting the drive gear or pulley , look into mounting a pulley
directly to the spokes with the center of the pulley , lining up with the
center of the drive wheel , then its a simple matter of mounting the gen or
alt , and using a belt ,
a fully loaded alternator will require a bit of horsepower to keep it turning
and you may actually find that it will produce so much drag as to actually
cause to drive whell to lock up once it fully enrgizes , thats why i suggest
using a generator ,
cant beleive a fully charged deep cycle would only last 8 hours in this
instance , unless they are using headlights also ,
7 to 10 hours. Then they have the non-Amishoneighbors charge them, or use a
gas generator. I was talking to oneeof them and he said he would like to
connect a car alternator to thetwheels. I told him that seems doable. That
got me thinking. Wiringba delco with built in regulator is easy. There are
two problems. in1. Mounting it so a pulley can be connected to the wooden
I expect they are. I agree with you that a generator is the way to go. They
were used for years on both cars and airplanes and will generate electricity
with virtually any movement at all. The reason the auto and aircraft industry
shifted to alternators was the more even output. A car with a generator would
darken its lights markedly at a red light whereas a car equipped with an
alternator would not.
You can get one at JC Whitney for as little as $84.
(Sorry for the long URL... alternately just go to http://jcwhitney.com and do a
search for "generator".
On Nov 8, 7:29 am, "Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com>
Leds are more efficient , my bicycle light of 5 red leds lasts 300
hours on 2 AA batteries. Getting enough rpm will be hard if the wheel
spins on the axle, you will need alot of gearing to get prm fast
enough to spin the generator. With Leds the battery will last many
I think LED lights are the way to go! Way less complex than a
generator, very low power use, life near forever, no extra drag for
horses to pull. simple straighforward change.
even if you have a generator you will still need a battery for non
LED should cost less too.
just go look at some current LED lanterns, WOW was my first thought.
If you REALLY want a generator get a small hand crank one the amish
kids can wind to keep the battery charged!
However, a permanent-magnet generator will charge a completely dead
battery. An alternator will not.
I don't think operating RPM is a big issue; as the top speed of a
horse and buggy is not that great. simply gear the alternator to be
running at its optimal RPM at "cruising speed."
On Thu, 08 Nov 2007 02:16:53 -0600, email@example.com wrote:
Attack the problem from the other end. Install LED lights. They will
draw about 90% less electricity. If you want to get really fancy, you
could find a spot on the buggy for a modest solar panel to keep the
I replaced all the navigation lights on my sailboat and the difference
in power consuption is astonishing. I also no longer have to be
winched up the mast to replace burnt out incandescent bulbs. The LED's
will outlast me and the boat.
I don't know much about the Amish, but I thought the idea was to avoid
modern technology? Couldn't they use lanterns as was done before electrical
lights were available?
Otherwise, I'd start with a switch to more efficient lighting so the
battery lasts longer.
I don't know if they still make them, but once upon a time you could get
lights for bicycles that were powered by a little generator that ran on the
top of the bike tire. Seems like it would be easy to adapt to a buggy.
Otherwise, maybe you could install a small gas powered generator? A hybrid
But it seems like it's getting away from the Amish ideals to me?
It's not so much an avoidance of "modern technology", it's more of
an avoidance of depending on outside resources. Electricity isn't
as much of an issue as being connected to the grid is. Tho, it
depends on "which" Amish you're talking about. There are different
levels of interpretation, and different levels of willingness to
adapt to the modern world.
Eg: they won't have a car. But most won't turn down a ride in one
if it's going somewhere they need to go, and some aren't shy about
asking for a ride ;-)
Eg: many Amish in the US came from Canada (south west Ontario) when
Canada imposed refrigeration requirements on dairy production. When the
corresponding US states imposed refrigeration, some Amish moved either
to states that didn't require it, or to Mexico. Others adapted and
stayed where they are. Most Amish, for example, refuse to have a
telephone. But as an example of "modern compromise", some will have an
outdoor phone for calls pertaining to their dairy operation.
My wife and her sister bed-and-breakfasted with Pennsylvania
Amish farm families, and recounted the amusing incident where
the Amish family's teenage daughter had to stand outside in the rain
at the "dairy phone" to talk to one of her friends.
I thought of bicycle generators (car-size alternators or generators
will sometimes present too much load to the available horse power ;-)
However, I don't think they'd be terribly effective long-term
solutions. They'd always be diddling with them. Something
simple and mostly maintenance free is better.
Perhaps LED lights and a smallish solar panel. Should allow them
to use smaller/cheaper batteries too.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
On Nov 8, 10:37 am, firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris Lewis) wrote:
Sounds like a good community to have a way station with a few solar
panels and a few group owned batteries on charge, swap out your
discharged battery for a charged one along the way. Wouldn't need to
be any bigger than an outhouse.
Amish communitees are very well spread out. They're not towns,
they're farming regions with a mixture of Amish and non-Amish
farmers. In many cases the non-Amish outnumber the Amish
by a substantial margin.
In order to be useful, "way stations" would have to be impractically
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
I found it amusing when we visited amish country in Indiana. We went to
their modern type general store that has gas lights and sunpipes and
skylights. So far so good. Then, all around the perimeter of the store
are modern refrigerator cases. What runs them??? A/C power made from
inverters off a bank of about 100 car batteries being charged by the
thermoking reefer unit out on the semi trailer. I goes out to look. Upon
this thermoking unit are 6, Yes count them SIX, high output General motors
style alternators to charge this bank of batteries. A huge 500 gallon
diesel tank stands near by to feed this fuel monster. Now how is that being
disconnected from society??? It's rediculous to burn all that diesel when
all he'd have to do it hook up to the electricty.
Nobody said it has to be entirely logical. Or at least to us.
Most religions have a number of things in them that seem more than
a trifle inconsistent or counter-productive or varies in surprising
ways from one place to another. Or at least to outsiders who don't
understand what the point of the whole thing is.
This will demystify it considerably:
There are many things to admire in their way of life. We could all
do with a little less advertising for example. I just don't like some
of the other facets...
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
On Thu, 08 Nov 2007 15:37:04 -0000, email@example.com (Chris
You are pretty much correct about the more modern Amish. My neighbors
do have an outdoor phone in a small shed and are connected to an
answering service. Some of them have small electric generators and
will power up a standard trouble light when they shoe their horses
after dark. Their local sawmill is a huge diesel powered engine with
shafts and pulleys all over the place to power different devices.
They can drive a tractor, but not own one. They can not drive a car,
but can ride in them, and often do. I give them rides quite often. I
charge their batteries too. They are nice people. I find their
"rules" a little strange at times, but I accept them for what they
are. For example, they can not be hooked to the "grid" (electric
service), but they can use most anything electric if it connects to a
generator. My neighbor even has an electric razor and shaves in the
barn when his generator is running, which is used to run an air
compressor connected to a 500gallon LP tank. That air is used to pull
water from their community well. They have indoor plumbing, but only
cold water. They have to heat it on an outdoor wood burner, or on
their kitchen wood stove. They use gasoline or LP for their generator
or compressor, but can not have an LP cook stove or furnace. They can
smoke cigars, but not cigarettes.
You get the picture......
Like I said, they are nice people, but do things in strange ways.
Yet, who am I to say. At least they dont have an electric bill, and
the whole community shares the phone bill, and that is a good thing.
Therefore, an alternator or solar panels would be acceptable in THIS
community, but not others.
I enjoy their company and they love to come over and watch movies with
me. Of course a few of their younger kids have found ways to hide
portable DVD players which they power off their 12V battery until dad
finds out why the battery is dead......
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