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  #1  
Old 08-28-2012, 01:32 PM
Maniac Mechanic Maniac Mechanic is offline
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Default Powering tools without electricty

I have just begun to scratch the surface of this topic in my head. I have lots of big tools. For example, a metal lathe and a drill press. Both run off of electric motors as usual. It bothers me that I wouldn't be able to use them when the power goes out.

I know some people would say generator, but isn't it inefficient to make electricity to do mechanical work? Why not just directly link an engine to the pulleys?

Does anyone here have such a setup already? It would be a return to the old style overhead shaft and belt system.


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  #2  
Old 08-28-2012, 03:13 PM
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Lightbulb

I have heard of the old windmills using pulley systems to power tools.

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7544017_ge...windmills.html

There is still a loss using mechanical systems, and they are far more susceptible to wear.

Far more common were the mills that were run from water power.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcbeA...1&feature=fvwp
http://www.folkstreams.net/film,187
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:49 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
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My granddad was a blacksmith in a very small town in North Dakota. His shop was like walking into the 1900s. Coal forge with hand operated crank bellows, acetylene generator, overhead shafts and foot-wide belts and pulleys. Lots of hand- and foot-cranked tools.

The overhead shaft and pulleys were driven by what he called a "donkey," a single cylinder diesel engine that would run on about any fuel you could pour into a tank during ND winters. The engine was about as tall as I was as a boy, and bigger around than I could reach my arms. To start it, he'd turn a geared down crank that would spin a big flywheel, sometimes taking several minutes of cranking to get it going. When it did start, it would say, "pop-pop-pop." You could easily count the number of pops it was so slow, maybe firing once a second. After it warmed up a bit, he'd carefully engage a lever operated clutch that would start the overhead shaft turning.

As a 12 yo kid, when that thing was running, it was a magical place. Things turning and belts flopping and hissing.

So, yeah, what you're thinking of can be done. Just be aware that you'll need a bucketload of rocks to drive away all the kids that want to watch.
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:23 PM
bookwormom bookwormom is offline
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Grumble, I am getting nostalgic. my grandfather had a set up like that. One gasoline motor and every tool, the planers, bandsaw, bench saw had a big belt that went to a wheel.
My family made furniture, doors and windows and coffins.


;
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:32 PM
Maniac Mechanic Maniac Mechanic is offline
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Oh that sounds like an amazing shop! I currently work out of a 1 car garage and I don't think a nice big engine would fit. I need to clear/re-organize out some junk first.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:12 AM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
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I've thought about the same thing.

Some tools you could probably power with a treadle (?) like a sewing machine. Might have to build something yourself.

An old car engine (diesel might be a good choice if available - such as an old Rabbit or FS truck engine) could potentially be harnessed - if you kept the transmission, you'd have some degree of speed/torque control. But then you need fuel.

One of the things I've been kicking around in my brain is using solar power to heat a refrigerant and drive an a/c compressor. Not really sure how much power you could draw from it - compressors pull a fair amount of HP, so you could probably run a small machine and/or drive a generator to produce electricity (less efficient, but more flexible). Besides solar, you could use a similar setup to utilize any heat source, such as a wood fire or other fuel.

It's similar to steam, but with less of a danger of things going boom.

But steam's also an option.

There are a lot of directions you could go - much depends upon what heat/fuel/part sources you have (or plan to have) available.

This is my personal philosophy, but I think the future of homesteading is heat utilization rather than electricity utilization. It's (relatively) easy to convert heat to mechanical power, and you generally need heat for the homestead anyway. When you try to base everything on electricity, although it solves a lot of problems, it tends to introduce much inefficiency and complication. When you think about it, you really don't need electricity as much as you need heat and mechanical power.

Worse case, there's always livestock power too. It worked for many things in the past.
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:14 AM
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Lightbulb Have you considered AIR ?

Many places use air tools.
I used them where I worked. BIL uses them in his garage all the time.
A large tank, one compressor, enough hose or solid line.
Then power the compressor with whatever you had.
Solar could do that.
Power an electric compressor motor when the sun shines to fill the tank.
A gas engine powered generator to power the electric motor or a direct drive to compress air.
There are lots of air tools available. Perhaps less of a power loss than mechanical.

My current set up is a cheap set of tools like this:
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/c....aspx?a=550216
A small tank, and a 12v compressor: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-volt...sor-96068.html
If you had a compressor that is belt driven you could power it by many means. A bicycle, treadmill, or engine. Something to consider.
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumble View Post
As a 12 yo kid, when that thing was running, it was a magical place. Things turning and belts flopping and hissing.

So, yeah, what you're thinking of can be done. Just be aware that you'll need a bucketload of rocks to drive away all the kids that want to watch.
Yeah! THIS kid would be fascinated seeing that setup.
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  #9  
Old 08-29-2012, 12:38 PM
Maniac Mechanic Maniac Mechanic is offline
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I have always been a fan of engines for power.

A good old fashioned diesel will run on anything. There is always oil to be found and burned.

I have to start scanning craigslist for old engines.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:49 AM
whitehairedidiot Female whitehairedidiot is offline
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We're a fan of a public tv show: The Wainwright's Shop.

This guy even hand-makes some of his own tools for working wood, by hand. While not quite the same thing as machine shop tools, that you guys are talking about... still useful. I think he's been on TV quite some years, now.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:06 PM
TickFarmer TickFarmer is offline
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Wood or coal powered steam engine kinda comes to mind as a long term solution. Not all of them ran on railroad tracks.
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:11 PM
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Default engine

At one time "stationary engines" were on a lot of farms. They had different attachments to shell corn, chop stalks, whatever. You brought the work to the engine, then came good tractors where you could run stuff off a belt and took the tractor to the work.
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:08 PM
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There are a limited number of ways to get mechanical power without electricity, but there ARE several, as others have mentioned. For use in a grid-down situation, the choices get narrower. Gasoline and diesel fuel are pumped with electric motors, and refineries use a lot of electricity, so you would need yourown fuel supply to run an IC engine. Then, you get to deal with the long term problems of service parts.

Any mechanical engine depends on a long supply and service chain, starting with iron mines and progressing through the manufacturing and delivery pipelines. So, it all depends on HOW LONG a power outage you are preparing for.

For up to several weeks, you could reasonably store enough fuel to use a generator for limited periods. That is a LOT easier than retrofitting to use a lineshaft, and most likely, is more efficient because mechanical drivetrains gobble a lot of power, with V belts and roller chains being the most efficient.

For a year or two of no electricity, a diesel engine and mechanical drives starts to make some sense to me. Diesel fuel stores pretty well, and is calorie-dense, meaning you get more fuel value for the space it takes, compared to gasoline and LP gas. Small diesels can be started without a battery, as can some gasoline engines with magnetos. A hidden underground diesel tank is hard to steal.

Stationary engines are typically installed outdoors or in an open shed, to keep the noise and exhaust out of the work building. Lineshafts used to be run through walls because the hole is smaller than if you try to run a belt through a wall. Lineshaft clutches are still available, per my Amish friends. They have a lot of shops run entirely on diesel engines and lineshafts--furniture and cabinet shops, machine shops, buggy mfg., pallet mills, and more that I have seen and repaired as needed.

Mechanical drives need a fair amount of maintenance, but not terrible. Parts wear out and need to have stocked spares, especially belts, clutches, and bearings.

Welding is a special case. Generator type arc welders run on gasoline (mostly unless it is huge), or diesel engines. I have a Miller 200 amp stick machine with a 16 HP Onan gas engine that will run all day on 5 gallons of gas, and that is a LOT of welding. My 100 amp Lincoln MIG machine wants a 20 amp, 120 volt outlet. Most small gasoline generators will do that easily, and have power left for other things.

Acetylene is almost never mentioned as a welding process now, but it works admirably, although slower than stick welding. Acetylene and oxygen tanks are expensive to buy, and don't last very long, compared to storing gasoline for a generator. I plan to save the torch for cutting, and use the coal forge for heating.


Forge welding can be done, but not easily with today's materials, compared to the original wrought iron. Most any apprentice could forge weld wrought iron, but it takes a skilled person to weld hot rolled steel. I use the forge for heating and forging, and do the welding with the other processes.

Take a look at the wide variety of hand and crank powered tools out there. Lever shears are faster than a bandsaw, but limited to the size of work. Lever punches are available, but costly. I have a couple crank powered drill presses, restored antiques that work very nicely. They were originally post mounted in a blacksmith shop, but I made plate bases and 2" pipe columns to mount them so they can be moved like any drill press. (Every Amishman that comes in my shop wants to buy them.) Here's an original one: http://vintagemachinery.org/photoind...il.aspx?id=492

I have 2 old 22" diameter natural grindstones that I need to mount on bearings and be powered with foot pedals. By using ball bearing pillow blocks, they work quite easily, and they grind COOL with a water drip on the stone. Turn the stone AWAY from you, lest you get a lap full of water spray! Use an old bicycle fender to limit the water spray in the shop. Like this: http://www.americanartifacts.com/smma/advert/ay332.htm

There are still a few small crank grinders that use a 4" to 6" diameter modern grinding wheel, but they are getting scarce and usually need to be bored and bushed to get the shafts to run right. This kind has a clamp that allows mounting on the edge of a workbench, for sharpening drill bits, chisels, plane irons and the like. Here's one: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/ar...ranked-grinder

The idea is to solve this problem one item at a time, because there are answers out there.

Last edited by patience; 09-11-2012 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:39 PM
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If one has access to water power, that is the primo answer IMHO for a PAW shop.

Windmills work, when wind is more or less reliable, say, in the Great Plains using a Dutch style windmill for high torque to run a lineshaft. The Dutch powered grain mill with those, and mostly pumped a lot of ocean water out of their fields. The crown of those mills rotated to stay into the wind, IIRC. I'm thinking 12 foot to 24 foot diameter sails turning a half ton truck rear differential, and some old truck driveshafts taking that power to ground level. Have to furl the sails in a strong wind, though.

The Water pumper style windmills are not very torquey, so I wouldn't advise using them.

Last edited by patience; 09-11-2012 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:22 AM
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I agree with tickfarmer, if I could afford one and knew enough about them to not be terrified of them, stationary steam makes a lot of sense. For those reasons, I'm headed toward either diesel and the equipment necessary to press and make my own biodiesel or a gas motor fitted to run alcohol.

Another option, along the lines of what chrisser already said, is a really large Stirling engine, powered either by solar or wood. If I had machining capabilities and time to do the R&D, I'd really like to build a Stirling to power a generator.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:45 AM
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Just out of curiosity - anyone know what sort of HP range a small farm stationary engine would have been "back in the day"?


On a somewhat related note, I've been kicking around an idea in my head.

We have a 4x4 truck and a tractor down on our property. Both have their uses, but for just bopping around the property and doing miscellaneous chores, neither is really ideal. The tractor is slow and open, and the truck is big and heavy and ruts the property. Both have a higher center of gravity than I'd like.

Most of our neighbors have quads, and those seem to work, although they don't carry much unless you have a trailer, and they're open. Also, parts may be a problem long term since they all seem to be imported and small-run production.

Been thinking of building some sort of lightweight 4x4 utility vehicle - maybe based on a Suzuki Samurai or Cherokee drivetrain. Really trying to base it on common parts so I can source parts from a junkyard in the future if necessary. Not pretty, but with a reasonably weatherproof passenger area and some built-in hauling capacity. It would probably have a 4 cylinder engine (diesel, if I can find an appropriate donor), and I'm thinking that it would be great if I could somehow integrate an alternator converted to a stick welder, and possibly a small generator that would run off the engine. We don't have electricity on the property, so having a utility vehicle that provides power at a job site would be a big plus, and it would serve as a backup generator. Being able to weld on site would also be pretty handy.

It probably wouldn't be the most efficient setup, but it would offer a lot of flexibility. I imagine it could be rigged up to be a stationary engine of some sort too.

Still thrashing it all out in my brain though.
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:11 PM
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That would be a fun project!

Seems to me, though, that you might have other priorities for your time in building up a new homestead. For the cost of the parts, I think you could probably find alternatives, and at less cost, especially if used. For example, a motor-generator welder is one of the handiest things you can have out in the country. Or even a generator that will run off the PTO on your tractor, sized to power a small crackerbox welder. These are things you can put to use immediately, and don't require trips all over the place looking for parts and pieces.

But, what the heck! Your idea is more fun, go for it!
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:42 PM
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To be honest, my situation is kinda unique.

Our homestead is 4 hours away. Where we live now is in the city. Generally speaking, we can't get down to our place in the winter, or spring for that matter. Too much mud, and occassionally, snow.

So I have time up in Cleveland where I do what I can to prep for our trips down to WV.

Luckily, there's a Pull-A-Part a few miles down our street where I can get all sorts of automotive parts for dirt cheap.

In my situation, it makes a fair amount of sense to spend time up in Cleveland prepping/building something that can then be taken down to our place in WV, left down there, and used indefinitely. That's assuming I have enough time before things collapse to get everything I need staged down there...

I have a fair amount of things in my workshop in Cleveland that I can't take down to WV now, but would go down eventually. Like a generator and a welder. Eventually, when we move permanently, I'll have those things down there. In the interim, I plan on building this rig for WV, for occassional use when we're there. Then when I have my main tools in WV, it will be the backup welder, backup generator, etc.

Not an ideal situation, but it's the one we're in.

One thing working to our advantage is, in WV, you're allowed to have one "farm vehicle" that can be driven unlicensed on the county roads (subject to some restrictions). Wouldn't take much to make this little rig compliant with that so we could drive it around the "neighborhood" and, at least for now, local LEOs interpret the law quite broadly as long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself.

In a pinch, if we had to bug out, but our truck wasn't operational, we could drive one of the other cars down to our place. We wouldn't be able to get the car onto our property, but the little rig would get us in and out.
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:51 PM
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You left out the most important justification: It's a FUN project! <G>
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:10 PM
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Chrisser, I think we both have the same issues - the developing homestead is a ways way from the town place. My answer was to build a stretch of dependable driveway; clear, compact and then have a couple loads of baserock spread that I compacted using a water filled lawn roller.
Also, have you considered a small trailer with a pto driven generator that can be towed to the worksite with the tractor? Then, as a second item, a small tracked all terrain vehicle for the mud and rough ground?
I don't know much about them, but you might check to see if there is a trashed 'bob cat' type skid loader available cheap enough that you could rebuild into what you are thinking. The tracks fit over the wheels and float on soft ground better than the point loads of regular wheels.
Just ideas to mull over as you brainstorm solutions.
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