Saturday, March 25, 2017

Heart of Lubbock Community Garden Pedal-Powered Pump Update

Last weekend there was a little time to do some upgrades and re-install the pump. It's now (a little) easier to pedal, the pump is more securely mounted, and the belt has stopped slipping.

I am a little concerned about the pump we chose. It's still very hard to turn, especially when it has water in it. I am hoping that it will loosen up with use. If not, everything else is good, so it will just be a matter of finding a better pump and swapping it out.

The bigger sprocket helped a lot. It's one that's normally sold to use with those nasty little gas motors that people mount to bicycles. (It was in our bike boneyard.) It made it necessary to lengthen the chain. Our first attempt at brackets allowed too much movement, so we swapped those for some flat right-angle brackets and stud hangers - much sturdier.

And then there was the slipping belt to fix. We needed to make the bicycle rim into a better pulley to cradle and grip the drive belt. After a few other botched attempts, we came up with the idea to put an inverted belt into the channel to make a place for the original belt. Yep, one of those underwhelming MH eureka moments happened.

Semi-instant pulley!

Well, that's it for now. We'll see if the pump loosens up. Right now it pumps a gallon for every five seconds of pedaling, but a minute will wear a pedaler out. Still, we are getting closer!

May your garden love water you harvested yourself and may all of your pedaling be fruitful.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fossil Free Friday: Fun Electric Conversions on Ebay and Craigslist

Yep, it's me being lazy again, but there is some fun stuff to check out this week. Enjoy:

Fiero!!!! Ebay

Check it out - a Fiero that runs! (And it's electric!)

All the deets
 BMW Ebay

The 2002 BMW is my favorite BMW
(and this one is electric)

BMW deets

VW Beetles
Slug Bug Red (Ebay)

Slug Bug Orange (Dallas Craigslist)

Isuzu Pickup
Electric Pickup! (Austin Craigslist)

These are not conversions, but I thought you might want to see them:

Zero Motorcycle (Dallas Craigslist)
Green Citicars on Ebay: Tennessee and Alabama
May you find something out there that helps you get off the gas, clean up the air, and grin everywhere you go!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

For Lubbock folks who want to fight climate change

Mark your calendars!

March 29, 6-8pm

Yes, I am excited! The local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby is having its first meeting of the year. Here is what I wrote about the CCL back in November (before US environmental policies all went to hell in a handbasket):

Citizen's Climate Lobby

I support the CCL because I am a cynic and the CCL offers me a different type of hope. The CCL is a multi-partisan approach to helping us reduce our carbon while supporting the economy and offering (financial) hope to all citizens. Their approach is not one that expects altruism to save our environment. They are offering a sensible approach that is based on a carbon tax and dividend (while making life better for all).

I really hope to see you there!

May we all work together to protect our earth and all those that live upon it.

Fossil Free (Almost) Friday: Back to the Big Electric Mini Bikes

Luna, Super 73, and now Moke - If you're in the market for a Maxi-Mini and have $2000 to $5000 to spend, you are very much in luck these days.

Have you heard about the Moke?

The Moke is the latest of the big minis, and it speaks Spanish. It hails from Barcelona. The Moke is currently finishing up a very successful Indiegogo campaign and they are selling a version for $1990 if you want to pick it up in Spain or $2490 plus shipping if you want it shipped. (There was a $1799 version, but that window has already closed.) After the campaign closes, the price will be 40% more.

The Moke has a rear hub motor and can be had in 250-watt, 500-watt, and 1000-watt versions.

It has a really big seat and some cargo-hauling capabilities.

The Moke seems a really cool machine, but by the time you can get it over here, you're probably better off buying a made-in-California Super 73 (or a Banana -  keep reading.)

After checking the Moke out, I hopped over to the Super 73 site to see if anything new is going on. Sure enough, there were two new, fancier, and more expensive models...

Holy (S)Moke, Batman! That's a $4500 maxi-mini!
(It has an extra battery, lights, and knobby tires.)

But there was also a model missing -  the $1600 Super 73 Scout:

Yep, it was completely gone (or so I thought.)

Learn more about the MIA Scout here: Follow-up on the Big Electric MiniBike
(If you look at the bottom of the Super 73 Adventure page, a little Scout lingers there.)
Not seeing the budget-model Scout broke my heart a little. This is Mesquite Hugger where we love bikes that are attainable for those on a tighter budget. RIP Scout.
What was that about a Banana?
The other Maxi-Mini out there is the Luna Banana.
This is the 1000-watt version
(with lots of upgrade options)

This is the Super Banana 3000-watt Bad Mamma Jamma!
The Zero-watt Luna Banana (pedal-only)

If you're like me, you're probably thinking, Hey Self, I wonder if we could build one ourself for even less money. It's that kind of thinking that keeps me (and Grizz) in all kinds of trouble, so let's trudge on and see what kind of trouble we can get started.

So, I started plugging along on the LunaCycle website and came up with a few lower dollar options.
The lowest dollar option - $1450 plus shipping (which came out to $115 for my house)

The drawbacks to this setup? The battery is only 36 volts (you can upgrade to 48 volts for $80 more) and you will need to pay someone to lace the motor up for you (or wait for Luna to get the $275 1000-watt already laced in a rim version back in stock, which would lower the price $25 too.) 

If you're not a fan of hub motors, you can spend a little more and go mid-drive:

This 48-volt setup would give you pretty similar performance to the other mid-drives we've already looked at.

This 52-volt setup will let you go a little faster, but not quite as far. (By the way, if you're over at Luna, be sure to check out the Rhino, what a cool amount of craziness!)

So, where would I start?

Me, I'm a glutton for punishment. I'd start over at GoKarts USA with this little jewel: 

Okay, not really. If I were in the market, I'd pick up one of these:

They are offering free shipping on the Radwagon of my dreams right now, and I'm afraid I'll look like a dork on a minibike! (Instead of looking like a dork on a cargo bike.)

Regardless of how dorky you look, I hope you find the low-carbon runabout that makes you smile, saves you money, and treads oh-so-much lighter!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Lubbock on a Bike: An electric bike and a 5-day commute

 I love it when a bike comes together!
(You may recognize the components as the same ones from most of my other electric bike builds.)
Last August, on that day when people are nice enough to celebrate the fact that I am older, my lovely wife bought me a folding Prodeco Genesis 500 frame - I have a very cool wife! So, I have spent the time since then gathering parts to turn it back into a bicycle. Last weekend I managed to get it all together, and I rode it to work on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. (Woohoo! Success!) Tuesday I rode the non-electric bike. (Woohoo! More success!)

Yep, it's the same frame as the Prodeco Phantom, but a lot shinier.
Yep, for me, that's two accomplishments: a bike built and a perfect week of bike commuting (or a week of non-gas-powered commute.) By the time I get home I will have ridden 50 miles on the bike for the week and 6 miles on the truck. Okay, so they're not huge accomplishments, but lately there haven't been many, so I choose to celebrate these.
Wednesday Morning - 50th and Utica
Spring Break Sidebar - Nope, I did not hang out topless on a beach this week (not a pretty sight!) but I did get a preview of this summer's bike commuter nirvana - no school traffic made the rides much less hectic and I got to take advantage of a couple of bike routes that take me past schools where the traffic is normally rather manic. And it's been nice!
Thursday Morning Fog - 36th St
Electric Bike Sidebar - for those of you who want details, the e-bike is a 250 watt 36-volt setup with no throttle - it's pedal assist only. Yes, it is completely foldable. No, it's not really powerful enough to haul me and my stuff to work, but I help it out (a lot!) with aggressive pedaling. My average speeds are up about 2 mph over non-electric riding and my commute times are down 4-5 minutes. The bike is a 7-speed, but I use 4th gear most of the time. Once in a while I use third or fifth, but fourth-only would be just fine. I am learning a rhythm for riding this thing. It's a pretty laid-back machine. If you're in a hurry - too bad, Bubba! You pedal and it goes steadily. Windy days are a little easier. Inclines are a little easier. I still get home a little winded, but I recover much more quickly.
Hiding under the stairs two flights up
May you find yourself enjoying a low-carbon commute as much as I have enjoyed this week!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Heart of Lubbock Community Garden Exercycle Water Pump Update

[How is that title for a mouth full of crunchy goodness?]
While it's not the square peg in a round hole syndrome, it's close. The pulley arrived in the mail Tuesday. I excitedly ripped the package open and ran to the garage to check for fit. So the shaft appears to be roughly 0.752", the pulley has a hole that's more like 0.748".

Ugh. It's the little things, or the slightly-too-little things that count.

So, I did what I do well when the going gets tough. I went to have coffee with Grizz. We examined the problem, and I found a solution. I handed the pump and pulley to Grizz and said, "Please fix this." (You should all be fortunate enough to have a Grizz to drink coffee with.)

This is Grizz fixing the problem.

Grizz fixed the problem!

This is my specialized exerbike fork spreader in action

The first belt was too short.
The second belt (pictured) was too long.
The third belt (62") was just right. 

Here's the maiden voyage - it pumps water well, but it's super hard to pedal and the belt slips a bit.
(Back to the drawing board, the bike boneyard, and the hardware store.)
Sheila wasn't too impressed by the pump, but she did like the compost pile and the greenhouse.
(You know how hard it is to impress a shepherd-princess.)
We are so close to having this thing up and pumping in our favorite community garden!
May your projects not need too many revisions or trips to the v-belt store, and may you live healthy and well in your community.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

It matters, Snagit! (Eco Role Model-ism)

 I've been seeing that one article more often lately. It's that article that says it really doesn't matter what a single individual does at home to save the world. You can't make any impact whatsoever by riding a bike or using a rain barrel or bothering to recycle. The article always says that we have to change laws, governments, economic systems, and the role of business in shaping our environmental survival - that we have to get political in order to make a difference. And snagit, I know it's (mostly) true.

It's pretty easy to walk away from those articles beaten down.

You don't remember a bike in that scene?

But there's another side to it.

While an individual's singular actions really don't make a trackable difference in the environment, an individual's singular actions can make a very trackable difference in social circles. And we are absolutely social.

A Negative Example

[It's about to get ugly here.] If you don't believe it, look at climate change denial. The proof is in. Everywhere that people live (and in several places where people don't live) the proof of man-made climate change is visible to everyday people who just pay attention. We don't even need scientists to tell us that we are doing major damage. (But we definitely need scientists to help us understand it better and to learn how to deal with, adapt to, and confront it.) Yet, a large and powerful social voice in our country has made it socially unacceptable to believe in climate change. It's a case of Social vs. Science, and we are social creatures.

On a More Positive Note

We need to be recycling, composting, riding bikes, driving electric, avoiding plastic, eating local, and everything else that does make a super super tiny impact because we are social creatures, because each of us is a role model. (In the same vein, we should all be kind to others.) By doing positive things, we make it socially acceptable for those around us to do positive things.

I've been at this a little while now, and once in a while I sit back and am a little shocked at the number of people who have watched and listened to my actions and words. While not all of Lubbock has sold their cars and bought electric cargo bikes, two have now bought plug-in cars and several others plan for their next car to have a plug in. Recycling amongst my co-workers is up about 3000% and growing. My gearhead buddies all want a Tesla. My little brother goes around shaming people for driving gas-powered vehicles. (We are really working on that tact thing with him.) And snagit all to Midland - Grizz rides a Sondors now. And the roots just keep spreading.

Is my little social circle saving the world?

Absolutely not. But this little group is paying more attention. And they are starting to notice news articles about the EPA and the climate. And they ask me more and more questions. And they are seeking news from different sources rather than trusting social media for their news. And I've seen a few of them getting politically active.

So, here's my answer to those articles:

It matters. The more we do, the more people notice. So, get out there and recycle proudly. Tell people why you have reusable bags and what is so damn cool about driving a plug-in hybrid. Do the right thing AND talk about it. Be an eco-dork proudly (but not obnoxiously).

I guess it's time for me to quit writing, go home, and start making ECO-DORK t-shirts!

May you live very well and encourage others to do the same.

PS. The CCL lives in Lubbock again! Watch this space for details!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

So, what's it like to own a Nissan Leaf electric car?

Yep, MH is at it with the Nissan Leaf again!
Okay, this isn't a full post so much as a see-what-I've-been-saying post that uses somebody else's article to make the point.
That somebody else is Sami Grover writing for Treehugger.
So, if you're looking for a little first-hand testimonial on what it's like to own a very inexpensive car that costs very, very, very little to operate and almost nothing to maintain, this article may interest you.
May you find yourself owning a very inexpensive car that costs very, very, very little to operate and almost nothing to maintain while treading extremely lightly on this earth that we call home.
PS. In case you want to see a few other MH articles that tell a little about Leaf(s):
(There are more, but I am working on being merciful or gracious or something like that.)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ebay Electric Cars: Elevated OddBall and a Beauty Queen

Ebay did not disappoint this week!

Elevator Company Goes Postal

I didn't know this until this week, but Otis, the world's oldest and largest elevator manufacturer, had a brief foray into electric vehicles. They made postal trucks. And it'll shock you, but I want one! This one showed up on Ebay this week (and glided away without a single bid):

What do you get when you cross an elevator with a Citicar? The Otis!

Lovely number 300!

15 mile warning and 1 mile warning - nice!

Do you think the passenger felt cheated?

An alternator - hmmm...

I don't think that a Radwagon will fit in there.

Not quite.
(Maybe it'll fit on the Radwagon.)

Maybe a RadMini would be a better choice in this case.

In case you're bummed that you missed the auction, Here's the Otis on another site where you may get your second chance at this odd and compelling way to think inside the box:

Now on to the really good stuff! A Vanguard-Sebring Citicar

As I write this, the bid is at $2100, reserve is not met, and there's 12 hours to go.


Sigh again.

Okay, this one is a beauty. This Citicar is the nicest I have seen. The owner went to a great deal of trouble to restore this car to a point where it's probably nicer than it was new. Yep. This thing is awesome.

It still looks tiny in front of a tiny house!

A quick trip to southern Michigan with a small trailer!

Something new, something blue...

The bare bones

Learn all about it!

Learn even more about it here: It gets a little scary approaching 50mph!

May your dream Electric Vehicle be available soon, even if it's less dorky than my dream Electric Vehicle! Who knew that low-carbon cars could be so much fun? (Me)