1 EAGLETON NOTES: SID 25 A Penny Farthing Diversion

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Sunday, 12 April 2020

SID 25 A Penny Farthing Diversion

Sometime last year I sent a card to a friend in New Zealand. He is an engineer and a cyclist and he and his wife both have electric bikes. During Art Deco Weekend in Napier one usually sees some penny farthing bikes being ridden. So the card I sent had this picture with a challenge to electrify a penny farthing. Over the next four ot five exchanges of letters I received his suggestions.

This morning I woke to a golden orb shining out of a bright blue sky. "What happened to the horrible weather forecast?" I thought. Ah well. Two hours later at 9 o'clock there wasn't even a hill opposite to be seen through the rain and mist. It's blowing a hoolie too. C'est la vie.

Anyway to provide a little light relief I decided to share the modified penny farthings with you. I, for one, won't be in the garden today.







39 comments:

  1. Seemed a pretty scary idea till I came to the version with the lawn mower. Some stability introduced at the same time as limiting where you could go. I suppose the lawn mower could be exchanged for a little tray on wheels to put the shopping in? Hm. A bit bland. Though I like to play boringly safe really and would quite like some kind of steps for dismounting too. Perhaps since it's now an electric penny-farthing the steps could be in the form of an escalator?

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    1. Hello, Lucy, good to see you. I think if I were to try a penny farthing I'd want stabilisers. Like you, I like to play safe and a penny farthing ride in one's mid 70s isn't quite safe enough for me. I like your escalator idea.

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  2. Ouch. That top photo looks extremely uncomfortable.

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    1. JayCee, I think uncomfortable is an understatement.

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  3. I like the picture of the lady on the penny farthing. I guess she had her legs spread like that for stability. She probably had to practise spreading her legs before mounting the vehicle. Practice makes perfect.

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    1. YP, I rather thought that the first picture might attract your attention. You don't see many like that on country lanes. The feet would get caught in the hedgerows.

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  4. The penny farthing...the penny leading the smaller coin, the farthing. I had to look it up since I didn't know why they called it that.
    Now, will I remember it?
    The weather here has been gorgeous...until today and it is rainy and we are promised high winds and chance of tornadoes in early hours of the morning. Oh well! Take care.

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    1. You got it in one, Kay. I'm sure that you will remember. Just find a song about one and you'll remember it for ever. You could try this song.

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    2. I may never forgive you for that video, GB... AND he got the wheels mixed up! He's calling the penny the "little wheel"... and the fake southern singing accent is - um - bewildering at best, and horrific at worst.

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  5. We're in for a few colder days, too, after we have had the most gorgeous weather for more than a week now, with temps as warm as it sometimes is in July.
    If there should be some rain, I'd be happy - if you look at the fields around here, the soil is so dry any passing tractor causes a huge cloud of dust.

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    1. Meike, you are having a much better time than we are. The wind is so strong here a lot of the time you certainly would not want to be riding any sort of bike.

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  6. They must've had to use a ladder just to get up onto it, wonder if it was uncomfortable to ride.

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    1. Amy, I have seen people mount them without an aid but generally they get on from a platform of some sort just like a horse mounting block. I cant imagine they are comfortable.

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  7. Can never figure out how they ride a penny farthing.

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  8. I particularly like No 3; the Wind-Assisted bike. However it might take as much energy making the fan turn, as help produced from the extra forward force. It reminds me of the quandary of running in the rain!

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    1. Cro, the conundrum of running or walking n the rain is far more up my street than riding a penny farthing.

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  9. These are great. Insanity on a level I can only aspire to.

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  10. I like the last one, it's more practical.

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    1. A lady after my own heart, Jules. Practical every time. Well, almost. Er, perhaps sometimes anyway.

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  11. The last design has two wheels on the back and therefore is a Penny halfpenny machine.
    I have fogotten how we used to say and spell ha'penny. Lesley

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    1. Lesley, I'm sure that you've got it right. It's like dozen. I asked a young lady in a shop for half a dozen recently. She looked at me and said "Is that 10 then?" She would not even have seen a ha'penny in all probability.

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  12. I wouldn't know about penny farthings. All I do know that the first time I did ride a boy's bike (can anyone explain to me what that rod is for that divides a bike's two sides, absent on a "lady" bike? Anyway, for traffic reasons, I had to break hard (back on the peddle)and promptly came off the saddle to be hit between the legs without further ado. I was only ten or eleven or so; so made of steel. Boy oh boy. I didn't cry, I didn't let on, but I sure hurt as hell.

    U

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    1. Ursula, the crossbar as it is called was the original way bikes were made I think. I believe it was removed for ladies bikes because it wasn't possible to ride in a skirt and it was indecorous for a lady to have the swing her leg over the saddle to mount. Believe me when a man comes off the saddle and hits the crossbar it is no less painful particularly if anything gets crushed.

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  13. I can't ride one either but Jeremy Guscott did one at at the Manchester Velodrome car park https://boxesbellows.blogspot.com/2007/04/old-snap.html

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    1. Andrea, the strange thing about the penny farthing he is riding is that it looks quite small. From that allusion I assume that he is actually quite tall. When I have been next to someone on a penny farthing they always seemed to a rather dangerous distance from the ground.

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  14. Another life mystery to smile about.

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  15. Regarding the photo of the woman in the first photo - her dismount inspired the old drinking tune "Pop Goes the Beaver."

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    1. Marcheline, I heard of Pop Goes The Weasel but not Pop Goes The Beaver. Unfortunately Google doesn't help much either.

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  16. God! I couldn't even get on a regular bike these days...not a chance with a penny farthing! lol An accident without fail waiting to happen!

    Take good care, Graham... :)

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    1. Lee, I tried to get onto my bike recently and was less than impressed by my performance. I thought I was quite fit and agile still but discovered that I was not quite as agile as I used to be when it comes to cycling.

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  17. I must always have lacked imagination - and obviously still do. All my life, whenever I see one of those, which I've only ever done once, or a photo, all I think is "Why?" If someone was smart enough to come up with the idea why weren't they smart enough to make it usable? Thanks for the entertainment though.

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    1. Pauline you made me wonder why anyone would invent a penny farthing bike so I Wiki'd it.

      The penny-farthing, also known as a high wheel, high wheeler and ordinary, was the first machine to be called a "bicycle". It was popular in the 1870s and 1880s, with its large front wheel providing high speeds (owing to it travelling a large distance for every rotation of the legs) and comfort (the large wheel provides greater shock absorption). It became obsolete from the late 1880s with the development of modern bicycles, which provided similar speed amplification via chain-driven gear trains and comfort through pneumatic tyres, and were marketed in comparison to penny-farthings as "safety bicycles" because of the reduced danger of falling and the reduced height to fall from.[

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  18. I like the humour in the drawings, the cheeky kiwi and the "feet" with shoes! The one i'd most like to ride is the three wheeler!

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    1. Kylie, the author of the drawings does have a great sense of humour and it comes through pretty well in the ideas and drawings.

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