I've been shopping this on horse and bike groups. I think it would be
cool to put a horse-sized treadmill on wheels and see how far and fast
a horse could propel it.
There has been a lot of skepticism from the horse and bike groups.
Horses powered stationary machines and ferry boats via treadmill prior
to the invention of the steam engine. Then technology took a different
The physics/engineering question:
I would think technology has advanced far enough in nearly 200 years
that a device could be built which would give a horse and driver a
large advantage over a horse on hoof or a human bicyclist.
Basic facts: a horse weighs around 1000 pounds and can produce several
horsepower, I don't know for how long. I would envision the horse
walking or trotting on the treadmill and gears upping the speed of the
wheels. Let's not worry about turning or braking just yet, or safety.
I would imagine 500 pounds or so for the device, and another 200 or so
for the driver. The horse could be harnessed to the device frame to
provide it something to pull against to generate more force on the
I don't own any horses. The first prototype I make may be dog- or
human- powered but even that is in the vaporware stage. Please feel
free to steal this idea. If you build it and can get Lance Armstrong
or Smarty Jones to race you for 10 or 100 miles, you will become rich
and famous (especially if you win).
True; but measurements have been done which show that the "nominal"
horse is only a poor approximation, and that real horses are actually
much more powerful. Lots of old measures turn out to be wrong, when
considered in terms of more modern and precise methods. My foot isn't
12 inches long, for example.
About a hundred years ago there was a rail car that ran from the
Southern Calfornia city of Chino up the hill (a few thousand feet up)
to San Antonio Heights.
It was pulled up the hill by a mule. At the top of the hill the mule
climbed on a platform on the front of the car and coasted back down.
A simple, yet elegant, low maintenance solution to the transportation
The story goes that when the system was retired the mule was sold to a
farmer and the mule would pull the plow one was across the field but
insist on being transported back.
As a completely useless bit of idle curiosity, maybe. But the
reason nobody has done it is that it's useless. Consider the
price of a horse. Consider the price of an engine that produces
a similar amount of power. Consider what it costs to feed, house,
care for, etc., the horse or the engine. Consider the amount of
fuel you would need to go for, say, 10 hours with a horse or a
motorcycle. Consider the care and attention such a monstrosity
would require. Useless to the point of danger.
"Michael" wrote in
message news:hJACc.385594$ email@example.com...
Somewhat more, actually. It is said that the horses which were
originally used to determine the mechanical equivalent of the horse
were rather weak horses.
Horses get bored. When they do, the devise games for themselves.
If you insist on putting them on a treadmill, you had better include
an entertainment center and watch for kickbacks.
Subtract a hundred and four for e-mail.
puppet firstname.lastname@example.org wrote in message
Engines don't reproduce themselves or help produce their own fuel on a
renewable, local, low-tech basis, which is why peasants often have
mules or oxen rather than those cheap engines which they would
rationally use if they wer smarter.
Somebody invented a way to keep food fresh in the desert for 2-3 days
rather than one by using a wet-sand-evaporation scheme to cool it a
bit. This has been a boon to people by cutting down the number of
trips to market they must make.
If something easy and cheap can be made that allows a peasant's animal
power to be used more efficiently (and that's another step from just
seeing if it could be done), then they and the animals would be better
So far, no animals have been harmed by this idea.
Dear Franz Heymann:
I'd rather believe more in poor mechanism design, that established 550 ft *
lb-f / sec. Lots of rope, block and tackle, wooden pulleys, animal fat for
a lubricant, a packed dirt surface (allowing little traction). You can set
up apparatus to get nearly anything out of an experiment you want, within
reason. Disallowing, or neglecting friction is another way to reduce
David A. Smith
Whoa. Quibble city here.
You want to quibble? He said _can_ produce several horsepower.
That's probably true also. What is the power output of a sprinting
Also, while your "nominal horse produces ... ONE horsepower" is
undefeatable, nothing in the coinage tells us how long this is
supposed to be sustainable.
Since humans are or can be impressive long distance runners, yet no
running human can catch a trained human on a bike, I see no reason why
similar gains in effeciency might not result from harnessing a horse
to a mechanism. It sounds like a circus trick, but it should work.
Oh ... so you're semi-serious?
I would point out one thing then: the efficiency gains of a bicyle
depend on paved roads. A peasant may be better off with a sure-footed
quadraped -- the natural all-terrain vehicle.
Since when is curiosity useless?
The fastest humans run about 22 mph for a very short distance, about
13 mph for 2 hours.
The fastest bicyclists (on a regular bike) go about 45 mph for a short
distance, about 30 mph for 2 hours.
A horse runs 35-40(?) mph for a short distance, I have no idea for
If a horse's power was put into frictionless (relative to feet hitting
ground)wheels, how fast could it go? Is there any way to reasonably
Hmmm... there have been replication experiments. For a short period,
a good horse can work at a rate greater than one HP.
But an attempt was made to run a team at one HP each for a full
shift. At least one died.
James Watt wanted no quibbling about the size of the horses in his
condensing engines. He apparently set the value about 50% high
compared with a team running a water pump.