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draft animal machines

 
Wyatt Smith
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I believe draft animals can successfully be used to turn a rotary machine such as a mill or water pump, and to work all day without constant human supervision.

I wonder if a simple rotary machine could be used for other purposes such as:

1.  Generating electricity
2.  Pumping water into elevated storage tanks
4.  Pumping air into compressed air tanks

Compressed air motors are an under appreciated technology.  There are a few Amish groups who permit air motors but not fossil fuel or the electric grid.  They can run all sorts of farm machinery with those air motors.

I think it would be a cool permaculture idea to transfer energy from a draft animal to a portable chain saw.
 
Emil Spoerri
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None of them can work all day. An ox can do more work for longer than anything else I am pretty sure though.
 
                                
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I thought all chainsaws were portable. 
I suppose you might mean an electric one? Maybe re-chargeable 18V hooked to the electric generator>to the ox. Hmmm....might work.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Compressing air wastes a lot of energy. Feel a bicycle pump as it's being used if you don't believe me.

Storage batteries might not be as bad, but still waste a fair amount of energy.

I think draft animals could run a sawmill, but out in the field it may be wiser to use a well-sharpened hand saw with a narrow kerf (the sort often used in Japan). These can be very quick. Less energy is applied to the job than internal combustion would, but the gain in efficiency almost makes up for this.

Mangudai wrote:I believe draft animals can successfully be used to turn a rotary machine such as a mill or water pump, and to work all day without constant human supervision.


That brought to mind a scene from late in Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, where horses are being used to turn a machine in a basement, and a mythical horse just barely survives that treatment. I think muscle power is only sustainable if it's used in pulses, with appropriate rest in between, rather than the continuous operations that make the most sense for expensive machines.

Emile Spore wrote:
None of them can work all day. An ox can do more work for longer than anything else I am pretty sure though.


I think humans are actually the best able to operate continuously, based on our abilities as endurance runners. In fact, I think we evolved that capacity by running prey animals to death, probably long before we developed speech. A group of hunters could single out an aurochs, for example, and it might outrun them the first few dozen times, but they would only need to outrun it once.
 
Brice Moss
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:

I think humans are actually the best able to operate continuously, based on our abilities as endurance runners. In fact, I think we evolved that capacity by running prey animals to death, probably long before we developed speech. A group of hunters could single out an aurochs, for example, and it might outrun them the first few dozen times, but they would only need to outrun it once.


dogs/wolfs have us beat hands down in endurance for much the same reason nothing powered by an animal matches the daily milage of a good dogsled team, in fact i suspect dog carts and or dogs trained to assist bicycles may become important for high speed transport someday
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mangudai wrote:


2.  Pumping water into elevated storage tanks



In the novel "McTeague" (1899) a greyhound in a hamster-wheel type contraption is used to pump water into the tank on an apartment building.

The greyhound is actuated by throwing rocks at it.   
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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brice Moss wrote:dogs/wolfs have us beat hands down in endurance for much the same reason nothing powered by an animal matches the daily milage of a good dogsled team, in fact i suspect dog carts and or dogs trained to assist bicycles may become important for high speed transport someday


Hm...comparing the Badwater ultramarathon to the Iditarod and rounding up by a couple hours to get whole days, a human can run 135 miles in one day, a sled team can cover 1,161 miles in 9 days, meaning a human is about 5% faster.  Maybe not a significant difference.

Of course, sled teams have to travel over heavy snow, and tend to stop once in a while for food/rest, so it isn't such a fair comparison. I've heard from quite a few runners that when they run with a leash, the dog drags them the first mile, and they drag the dog the rest of the way.
 
Brice Moss
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Interesting but I don't thinly the humans could keep that pace for 9 days I do know that back when I rode 30+  miles a day I could count on my dog to pull me for a bit if I got to sore to handle the last hill and he was only half malmute I got him because he was't up to snuff for the sled teams
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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brice Moss wrote:Interesting but I don't thinly the humans could keep that pace for 9 days


I know five days without stopping is routine in some races. This method was established by Cliff Young, a potato farmer, in his first competitive race and his 61st year...he kept a slower pace, though, less than a hundred miles a day.

Part of the point I am making, though, is that a person's labor can accomplish a lot. Food enough for a large number of working dogs probably isn't justified by the benefit of running your machines a few hours longer. It also takes a lot of foresight to apply a dog's effort efficiently, sustainably, and humanely. I don't think it's wise to bank on Iditerod or ultramarathon effort, let alone continuous unsupervised operation.

I think there are good reasons that other draft animals have out-competed dogs in so many instances; the plains Indians are a particularly salient example.
 
Wyatt Smith
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Most farmers I know don't have enough time.  Whereas most horses I know only work once in a blue moon.  If it's possible to get an animal to work a four hour shift without supervision, this would definitely be worth it.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Excellent point.

I think it might also be a good idea even if supervision is necessary, because the person supervising the animal doesn't need to have much strength or skill, especially if they have help before & after that four hour shift.
 
tel jetson
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I think humans are actually the best able to operate continuously, based on our abilities as endurance runners. In fact, I think we evolved that capacity by running prey animals to death, probably long before we developed speech. A group of hunters could single out an aurochs, for example, and it might outrun them the first few dozen times, but they would only need to outrun it once.


have you listened to (or read) the Scott Carrier story about his and his brother's attempt to run down antelope?
 
                        
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It surely depends on the rate at which you expect the animal to work. Other than endurance racers, clearly a race horse is done at the end of several minutes, until given time to recover. However, working (as opposed to hobby) horses in other situations are still often most definitely required to work more than 4 hours a day. I once spent a 12 hour day on horseback in rough bush looking for stray range cattle and for sure my horse was in better shape at the end of it than I was.  I think if you compare the average animal to the average human the animals come out much better in terms of endurance than people do. Part of the problem is the people know WHY they are doing what they are doing, animals are likely to stop when it makes no sense to them to continue. (thus the rocks in the above comment).

For sure some people would be able to run down some animals over days but that involves some means to provide food and water to the person which the animal is denied time to get for themselves. Most large grazing animals such as horses require a fair amount of time to eat  unless provided with concentrates such as grain as well as hay. A group of hunters can alternate so as to keep the animal on the move. Pack predators know this technique  and use it as well.  It has less to do with the capacity to work as it has to do with the ability to go without food water or rest. People trying to escape a situation have also been run down by other people, so I'm not sure this example means much in terms of the capacity for work.



 
                        
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I once had an old agriculture textbook ( if I remember it was an early edition of Morrisons Feeds and Feeding or some such title) which said they did a study and came to these conclusions: taking everything into consideration, as long as fuel prices stayed below 50cents  per gallon, farming with tractors was more efficient. However, if fuel went above that, then farming with horses was more cost effective.  I'm not sure exactly how that works out in terms of today's currency but I'm pretty sure the equivilent  would still take us way over the 50 cents per gallon.
 
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