<JohnGabree.com (Some) Writing>

"Pedal Power in Work, Leisure, and Transportation"
edited by James C. McCullagh (Rodale) and
"Electric Vehicles: Design and Build Your Own"
by Michael Hackleman (Earthwind/Peace Press)

Meanwhile, back here on the ground, a once-heralded technological milestone, the internal combustion engine -- inefficient, noisy, dirty -- is under attack by both the nuclear energy mavens and advocates of simpler means of generating power. Although record new car sales and clogged highways would seem to deny it, many observers believe the automobile as we know it is doomed. These two books offer simple alternatives.

"Pedal Power" is not just about propulsion, though it does cover peddle-driven airplanes, boats, lawn mowers and bicycles. It also provides plans for building and using a stationary bicycle to produce power for driving household appliances. Pedal power it is not new of course. One of the book's charms is that is illustrated with pictures of ancient foot powered devices such as saws, pumps and plows.

Muscle power may not be everyone's idea of technological achievement, however. Michael Hackleman's thorough, expert, simple and lighthearted volume, "Electric Vehicles," will enable readers not impressed with thigh power to design and build their own electric cars, trucks and bicycles. Such conveyances are quiet, clean and, if you don't require reservoirs of speed and don't travel long-distances, efficient. Hackleman makes it seem that almost anyone, certainly anyone with experience repairing conventional vehicles, could be on the road in a reasonably short time without spending too much money (Hackleman says a new electric vehicle will cost demonstrably less than a new internal combustion vehicle). (John Gabree, 1978)


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