Saturday, February 2, 2008


I entered the Focus the Nation event as a way to get the boat out there and hopefully solicit participants. It was a great day! Lots of people loved it and signed up. Some seemed very reluctant to try but once I gave a demo and they heard the music on the tape they felt they could do it. Still need a lot more folks to sign up. If you are interested please send me an email at or and put ‘participant’ in the subject line. Please copy and paste this in the email and fill in. We will be in touch with you soon-thanks!


Please answer a few questions:

1. How many times a week do you exercise? ____
2. Do you have any health issues that may affect your ability to row for 15 min. consistently? Yes ___ No ___
3. Have you ever rowed before (machine or actual)?
Yes ____ No ____
4. How many 15 min. blocks of time can you commit to during the exhibition, March 24-28?
One Block ___ Two Blocks ___ Three Block ___Four Blocks ___

Here's some photos of the event.

Mr. Recycle rowing the boat.

Giving a demo

An excited participant!


All is not lost. Committee was still pleased with results but requested another couple meetings before the show. After talking with Tom Wykes (machinist extraordinaire) I had a friend come help me drill a hole through the hub, aluminum shaft and steel shaft to put in a pin. A temporary solution that helped immensely but there was still some slipping. We think it’s the sprockets. We now had power—too MUCH power and too much friction. With a load it was extremely difficult to row. We reconfigured the pulleys by removing one altogether. Still a little erratic but it ran the little tape deck I had attached. Gene saved the day! I was going to have a working boat in the event.

To much friction and too much power with this setup. Had to eliminate the second pulley and attached the generator to the small pulley of the 6:1.


Designing the framing was more challenging than I had imagined it would be. A few days later, late the night before my committee meeting, with frame finished, I tightened the belt and pulled the pull handle on the row machine. To my shock and horror, the mechanism failed. I examined where it was slipping—the inner aluminum shaft (not the main steel one) must’ve gotten worn. It was what kept the bicycle hub attached to the flywheel shaft. Disappointed that I couldn’t produce power to show the committee I went home and figured I wouldn’t be ready for the Focus the Nation event 2 days later.


The mechanism is also getting close to completion – and functioning. I finally purchased the generator. Dave and Sheila at Winstreampower were an amazing help. Dave looked over my design and gave suggestions for gearing. Sheila went beyond what any company owner would ever do to make sure I got the generator in time with all the right stuff plus more. For all you DIYers out there, I highly recommend you support this small company.

The initial setup.
Notice the intermediary
aluminum shaft that failed.

A decision on which generator to choose from had to be made as my design came in between the high rpm and the low rpm generator available. How do I make my creative choices work with what is mechanically possible? What am I willing to compromise and what won’t I compromise? After consulting with Byron about all the possible end results as well as what it would look like, I decided on the high rpm generator. Which meant I had to gear it up and went out to buy the right pulleys and belts. I worked out a 6:1 ratio then on a jack shaft added another 2.5:1 pulley.


The boat nears completion. Over the holidays I prepped it for the framing, sanding down the lap edges so the stems will be flush. No matter how much sanding (and there was a lot!) the stems needed much adjusting. The stem at the bow, because of the somewhat messy job I did, took quite a bit of work. I grinded, chiseled and sanded as much as I could and it will still need a cap.

A finished boat! All that's left to do is detailing,
the frame support for the row machine
and mechanism.

1 comment:

J.D. King said...

You are a dynamo!