The assignment was to design and build a utilitarian object. Having already run the gamut of chairs, bookshelves, and drawing boards, I decided to design and build something that would reflect my metaphysical attitude and provide a bit more of a challenge. Two hundred dollars and six hundred hours later, I have a two-passenger, folding, three-wheel electric vehicle. The specifications are approximately as follows: length: 101 inches; width: 54.5 inches; width folded: 26 inches; curb weight: 200 pounds; propulsion: 2.25-hp, 24-volt DC motor; power source: two 12-volt storage batteries. Driving and steering is by the front bicycle wheel with a standard three-speed hub. Power transmission is through a thirty-to-one reduction gearbox to sprocket and chain. Motor control is by a foot-operated on-off switch· and a hand-operated series-parallel switch providing either twelve or twenty-four volts to the motor and resulting in six forward speeds. The extreme maneuverability of the tricycle arrangement makes reverse unnecessary. The drive wheel is free when the motor is off and the resulting ability to coast, as in bicycling, extends the vehicle's range. Brakes are mechanical, to the rear wheels. Testing indicates a possible range of sixty to one hundred miles between charges and a top speed of twenty to thirty miles per hour.
A Gentle Vehicle: Electric Car
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