The 914-Mile-Per Gallon Machine
By Jack Jenkins
It was 4:55 a.m., the time that our alarm radio does its early morning
thing. My consciousness was struggling when an announcer began intoning
something about "the most fuel-efficient machine in the world.
This marvelous machine gets 914 miles per gallon," he said.
Suddenly, I was very awake. Visions of replacing our 12 miles-to-the-gallon
van leaped into my sleep-shrouded head. I listened carefully. I
was both disappointed and delighted in the same instant. This magnificent
machine was nothing less than the human body.
I had to have more information, more documentation. I called long-distance
to the radio station to see if they could give me sources on the
story, but, alas, the very stuff that radio is made of (in an instant,
here- in an instant, gone) had taken its toll. They had erased the
tape and claimed no ability to retrieve the information.
Still the thought of such phenomenal efficiency plagued me. Here
we are inhabiting one of the most efficient machines ever devised
and yet we persist in surrounding ourselves with inefficient, energy-wasting
machines, expensive convenience appliances that literally encourage
the degeneration of the most magnificent machine ever placed on
earth- the human body. It's not fair to condemn all appliances.
If used correctly they can give us the time needed to accomplish
and create. But, like many blessings, mankind has a tendency to
overindulge, to take for granted. Often we forget where to draw
the line. If it's convenient, we overindulge. If it's pleasurable,
we sate ourselves. When we cross over this line of reason and restraint,
both the body and the mind suffer.
It may be a simple thing, but to me when I spend ten to thirteen
minutes grinding- by hand- our fresh whole wheat flour in the Country
Living Grain Mill, both my body and my mind benefit. I'm keeping
in tune this 914 miles-per-gallon machine. I could never use an
electric grain mill so beneficially. Mentally, what value? The sense
of pride I feel as I walk into the kitchen with two pans of beautiful,
fresh whole wheat flour and hand them to Ann, is inestimable. A
simple thing, perhaps. But often the simple things have the greatest
The Country Living Grain
Mill with Mounting Board and Exercycle
(The 914 Mile-Per-Gallon-Machine)
The mounting platform with a slotted 2 x 6 board
locks the exercycle into place, while making the tension of the
belt easily adjustable. The wing nuts and bolts in the slots make
it quick and easy to make all adjustments.
The feet of the exercycle should fit firmly against the 2x6 adjustable
2. The wing nut and bolt (located on either side of the
board) should be tightened down once proper belt tension is achieved.
3. Use a three or four inch pulley hub suitable for use
with a v-belt.
Creating your own 914 Mile
Per Gallon Machine
Unfortunately, since there is such a huge variety of exercycles
on the market, I don't have any specific plans describing how to
hook an exercycle up to the grain mill. There is no standard pulley
for the exercycle hub that I can recommend because most of the exercycle
brands have different flywheels and hubs. The exercycle (AVITA made
in Redmond, Washington) that I have hooked up to my Country Living
mill has been off the market for at least 15 years. I actually took
my exercycle flywheel to a machinist and had him mill a pulley to
fit the hub. It cost me $40 but I have been using it for almost
20 years now, so it has been well worth it.
I suggest that you look for an exercycle with a cast iron flywheel
and enough space between the frame and the flywheel to allow you
to bring a V-belt out from the hub. I saw an exercycle in a thrift
store a while ago for $8.50 (cheap). I guarantee that if you are
patient and look around you can find a very nice but inexpensive
cycle that will serve you well.
For the best ratio, it would be nice to put a three or four inch
pulley on the exercycle's flywheel hub. An off-the-shelf pulley
might work for you. You will have to drill holes through the pulley
and match them to holes drilled in the cast- iron flywheel. Self-tapping
metal screws will hold the pulley to the flywheel of the exercycle.
Some people have used a strong epoxy to bond the pulley on. Someone
suggested J. B. Weld - I haven't tried it, so I can't assure you
of success. Trouble is, all hubs are not created equal, so you may
have to have a machinist machine a pulley to fit the hub of the
cycle that you decide to get. Another alternative is to run your
V-belt around the outside diameter of the exercycle flywheel. The
ratio isn't efficient, but I know several folks who have done just
that and they seem satisfied.
I wish you well,