Gooch’s Aeripedis, or Pedomotive Carriage
(To the Editor) Sir.—If you think the following worthy of a place in your valuable Journal I shall feel much obliged for its insertion. I trust that the machine may be found so far practicable as to become useful to some of your readers; for notwithstanding the great number of vehicles of a similar description that have been constructed at various periods, by different individuals, some with great ingenuity and mechanical skill, yet, on the other hand, many have been imitated with an utter disregard of mechanical principles; and all or most of which I have seen, or had drawings of, seem to come under one general term—a useless toy. Now should mine, either by the amateur or the mechanical practitioner, be considered to fall under the same title, of course I must bear the rub; but, Mr. Editor, I must say I have made this hobby one of my peculiar hobbies for more than twenty years. I first tried the common velocipede, or dandy horse, condemned it, and tried again and again, upon different mechanical principles, the treadle, the winch, the crank, and the hand lever. They have all come under my repeated trials, and all by me are equally condemned. And that a carriage of any kind, moved by machinery, let its combinations be ever so simple, and its propelling power is to be put in action by muscular energy, either by the feet or arms, must be attended eventually with fatigue of body; for not only the weight of the machine to be moved, perhaps from 80 to l00lbs., but also the weight of the driver himself, which is from 140 to 150 lbs. more, is to be moved by muscular action alone. All this is seldom considered by the amateur in his pleasing dreams of rail-road speed with his new carriage. His machine is at length completed, and brought out, ‘To take a quiet ride in some green lane’ -and, to his great mortification, his plan is tried, and is ‘found wanting.’ The first inquiry is, ‘What is amiss?’ Some crank, some lever, some unfortunate wheel is not rightly applied; it must be altered, it must be modified; and so it is, till at last it is laid aside, perhaps hurled headlong into a garret or lumber-room, as waste material, the result of the inventor’s folly. I have seen several, not only of my own, but also of others, come to a similar fate.
As I have said above, I have examined a great variety of plans, but the inventors have so often forgotten that man is to be the power applied, who is certainly a progressive animal, but at the same time is but a walking animal; and I fear he can never become anything else by his own exertion. I do, therefore, consider that the nearer we can come to the natural movement of man, to aid his progress, the nearer we shall come to the proper method. I have accordingly invented a Walking Machine, of which the following is a description :— It consists of a strong but light double frame, A A, A A, mounted on three light wheels, BBB, with a seat and travelling box, D E; C C are two handles (see Fig. 2,) by which the pedestrian is to lead and guide the machine. The uprights of these handles turn in a socket or hole in the frame, and on the lower extremity have arms fixed, (FF) about 3 inches long; to these the connecting rods are jointed as at GG, HH, and KK. The axis of the fore wheel (J) slides or ranges in a groove at the lower extremity of the frame A A and by turning these handles either to the right or the left, the machine may be managed with the greatest nicety. G G is the connecting bar under the fore cross piece of the frame, shown by the dotted lines, and moves on a pin as at I and keeps the fore wheel in its proper position. L is a small foot-step to rest the foot on when riding.
I think I before stated, that there are several machines in Norwich, and I think there are at least five on this same principle, which seems to be the most useful. Four of us, the other day, went on a journey from Norwich to Cromer and back again the same day, which from my house at Lakenham is a distance of 47 miles. We were not tired; one of the party is but seventeen years of age, I am upwards of sixty, the other two are middle-aged men. We now contemplate another journey of 56 miles, as soon as there comes some rain to cool the roads, and I have no doubt but we shall accomplish it in a day with but little difficulty; as about seven years ago I had one of these machines in which I travelled 61 miles in a day, and was not more tired than I should have been in walking 20 miles. The reason is this: the pedestrian, whilst walking, places himself inside the frame, leans forward on the two handles, and is assisted on his way by the motion of the machine, which carries him nine or ten feet at every stride. We can walk up a hill, or an inclined road, at about four miles per hour, without much exertion; move on a level road at five miles per hour; and go down hill at ten or twelve miles per hour; and riding at the same time; so as to average about six or seven miles per hour, with much ease. G. R. Gooch.
(The Magazine of science, and schools of art, Volume 4, 1843, pp. 121-2)