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Novel laundry machine
I like this design for a clothes-washer, which doesn't depend on running water or electricity. An extremely simple machine, that claims to also double as a Q Drum (although I might not use it for potable water after doing laundry in it).

I bet it will be a jumping-off point for designs that make use of salvaged materials.

(via BongBoing.net)
Wow - Cool!  Now where's the 'spin dry' tool?  Or does it loose the water as you wash/run? 
I assumed any draining/drying would be a separate function, because it takes significant force to spin dry effectively.

I think a centrifuge 6 or 8 feet across, built of bamboo, would work great on hand power. Done right, it would also be a sprinkler system, and once you've spun everything dry, it would serve as one of these.
Oh, Joel a perfect answer.  I want one of both! 

The main benefit I see in this design is it's use indoors during the winter.  Jog all over your house, loose weight, clean clothes and avoid the slushy mess!

How about a Bike-Pedal system to spin out the clothes?

BTW - have you seen the Pockets of the Future video on washing clothes in plastic tubs?  Very low-tech, but practical in the demonstration of a lost art

Thanks Joel, I always enjoy your posts.
I want one!  Or rather to make one out of a barrel.  What about paddles on the inside?
a nice fellow shared an interesting idea with me once: use ropes and pulleys and the movement of conifers in the wind to agitate a laundry washing machine.  don't know that it ever got tried, but the idea seems solid.  taken further, if a ratchet is added to the system, a large mass could be hoisted into the air by wind and used for mechanical power as it descends.  think of it like the weights that power clocks with pendulums.

this washing machine ball is clever.  I wonder how well it works.  making one out of a plastic drum shouldn't be too difficult, except for building a good waterproof lid.
We just so happen to have some barrels (craigslist!) with these cool metal fastener things that encircle the lid and squish it down tight.  Were used for shampoo ingredients....they're a non-food usage item. 

marina phillips wrote:What about paddles on the inside?

Paddles inside might be good. Another idea would be a half-gallon milk jug full of air with the laundry wrapped around it, so as it rolls it presses against the upper part of the container.

This would work better if the inside walls were, e.g., hexagonal, to ensure the jug would flip over more often, but any inside surface that held onto the laundry OK would work in this scheme, even just a few thin lines of silicone caulk (if it could be made to stick to the tub...some experimentation may be in order).

Jami McBride wrote:How about a Bike-Pedal system to spin out the clothes?

BTW - have you seen the Pockets of the Future video on washing clothes in plastic tubs?  Very low-tech, but practical in the demonstration of a lost art. 

Thanks Joel, I always enjoy your posts.

You're welcome! It's really gratifying to share, especially when it's appreciated!

I hadn't seen that. I should probably check it out.

I probably wouldn't build a pedal system here...a treadle, at most, but my first thought was something even simpler. Since it doesn't take sustained power to spin dry, and real force is only needed to get it up to speed, I think a socket slightly eccentric from the axis would probably be enough, if there were a handle with a pointed plastic end to spin it with, like so:
[Thumbnail for laundry_spinner.PNG]
looks like some pretty lacy clothes you've got in there, Joel.  hot.  design seems reasonable, too.  I think I might lean more toward small paddles running the length of the drum on the perimeter, just for ease of construction.

spin cycles: I think the big problem is going to be balance.  washing machines have big chunks of mass in them to prevent them from bouncing around or scooting across the floor, and that doesn't always work.  my grandma's got an old wringer in her barn.  don't know if it still works.  I know a lot of fingers have been lost in those things, but maybe that's a simpler solution than trying to jury rig something to spin fast enough.
Yea, they sell those ringers at Lehman's, and they do seem to work well.  That is what they used on the Pockets of the Future washing video.

I have a front loading washing machine and it does have paddles running on the wall of the drum as described.  Doesn't seem like this ball has them as far as I can tell.

Features self-reliance equipment and non-electric supplies. Includes personal care items, appliances, water pumps, toys and natural goods.
a 5 gallon bucket plus a lid with a rubber gasket
cost at Home Depot, <$4

put in your shirt, a teaspoon of detergent, half a gallon of hot water.
jam on the lid, swish it around
as the hot water warms up the air, the pressure inside increases, giving a boost to the laundry.

Theres a video on youtube somewhere with a guy demonstrating the idea on a pair of soiled jeans, works fine.

I use one of the buckets for my lunch every day, the lids don't hold up to the pounding.  I'm glad they are only a buck.  I suspect a Gamma Seal lid would perform admirably.

The five gallon bucket method would work well with a single pair of jeans.  If you're trying to wash all your laundry by hand (as we do in the summer) seems it would take a lot of time and energy. 

We practice a sort of "do nothing" laundry-ing.  Fill our big washtub near a tree with clothes and water and a bit of biodegradeable soap, then use one of those antique metal plunger things to get everthing all mixed around, and then walk away.  Come back in a few hours and plunge again.  Then walk away again.  After three or four plunge/soak sessions we rinse with a similar pattern.  It takes most of the day to do a washtub load, but there's very little total time and effort involved and stuff gets pretty dang clean.  It seriously does take a whole lot of physical effort to manually agitate clothing for a full 30 minute wash cycle. 

And....about twice in the summer we take everything to the laundry mat and get stuff really really clean again. 

I like the tree movement idea...but would that damage the trees involved over time?  I want to figure out a truly do nothing method that works well.  Barrel experiments will commence shortly. 

My partner's mom, back in the 70s, used to fill barrels in the back of the pick up with laundry and then drive around on bumpy dirt roads for awhile...

I like the tree movement idea...but would that damage the trees involved over time?

use a big lag screw with an eye.  shouldn't do much damage.  a branch breaking off would leave a much bigger wound, and that rarely kills a tree.  of course, if the tree falls down you could lose a load of laundry in spectacular fashion.  I'm imagining a buck with somebody's knickers hanging off his antlers.

marina phillips wrote:
My partner's mom, back in the 70s, used to fill barrels in the back of the pick up with laundry and then drive around on bumpy dirt roads for awhile...

Ha ha - that's a great story....
I don't know if it's cost effective now days with the cost of gas and ware on one's vehicle, but a great story none the less. 

This wouldn't work for everyone, but I wonder how difficult it would be to build a devise that could be agitated by a dog, goat, donkey or horse walking in a circle with a harness?
Or build some kind of rolly thing like this ball, and harness it up on a dog - and go for a walk?

On another thread we were talking about training dogs to pull carts, and then walk with packs.... so why can't they be trained to spend 15 minutes walking in a circle, have a break and then another 15 - poof clean clothes ready for the rinse (walking animal) cycle.

I wish I was the construction type, because this would be a great experimental project 
Leah was asking about heavy duty barrings in another thread, I bet this set up would need several.

A turbulent stream could do the job of sloshing it about, as long as the ball will float.  Tie it to a rope, throw it in the rapids, come back when its done.
Also in Lehman's is the WonderWash, which is just the ready-made version of the barrel setup you described, Ken. I think it has the addition of a plunger, which might or might not be an improvement.
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