A Cow-Powered Human Centrifuge

Spoiler alert: group of fun-loving French folks build an animal-or-human-powered merry-go-round that spins fast enough to fling all takers into the lake (YouTube, embedded below). Actually, that’s basically it. The surprise is ruined, but you probably want to check out the video anyway, because it looks like a ton of fun.

Granted, you may not have a well-stocked metal shop or a team of oxen up by the lake wherever you live, but there are certainly details in the video that will survive in translation. Basically, the team took the axle off of a junked car, attached it to a pole in the middle of the lake, made a large wooden drive wheel, and wrapped an infinite length of rope around it.

[Charles] from [Mad Cow] wrote us that there was about a 10:1 ratio between the drive wheel and the arms of the people-flinger. So if the cattle were pulling at 3 km/h, the human angular velocity was a brisk 30 km/h! Then it’s just a matter of convincing a team of cows, or a team of soccer players (?), to put their backs into it.

The [Mad Cow] crew seems to have more than their fair share of engineering dangerous fun up at their summer hideaway: check out their human crossbow that we featured a few years back.

46 thoughts on “A Cow-Powered Human Centrifuge

      1. I think you were right the first time. Seems like there’s a mechanism that releases the second rider once the first lets go, most likely to save the bearing from being wrenched to bits by such a suddenly unbalanced spinning mass.

        1. I dunno, that’d be complicated. I can’t see the video, but once one rider falls off, the energy from the oxen is only having to spin half the weight (approx), so perhaps a quick jerking increase in speed is what sends the other one falling off?

          1. I thought they were both holding the same rope and once one lets go the other slides outwards. That may be just me applying what I would do but it is hard to be sure. It does appear as though they use people that are approximately the same size.

          2. It looks like both handle ropes are attached to a middle rope with metal clips. The middle rope goes through some metal rings, looping around the middle ring. The loop around the middle ring provides some friction, but when one rider lets go, the other ride will pull on the middle rope outward until the opposite metal clip hits a ring, at which point it will stop abruptly, and the 2nd rider flies off.

  1. I’ve always thought the French have a special talent for enjoying life. I’d love to build or ride one of these contraptions! I wonder how difficult it is for just one or two people to pull the rope.

  2. I… I may have read the last word in the headline wrong initially. I was *very* confused, both as to mechanism and intent.

    Also: tangential velocity. Their radial velocity is zero until they fall off.

  3. Someone nearby had the remnants of an old oldsmobile on a platform in the middle of a farm pond. The rear axle was turned vertical and an arm was mounted to the brake drum. They were purported to use it for water skiing. While it looked like redneck engineering it was rumored to be a thing in Switzerland.

    1. Yup, Boy Howdy I’ll tell you whut, dang near every culture has rednecks with both the positive and negative connotations of the phrase. It’s like a gene that has propagated through all cultures. At the heart of being a Redneck is that you make your own solutions, you make your own fun and your real wealth is not found in a bank account.

      I have met Chinese rednecks, African Rednecks, white and black Oztrallian rednecks, Canadian Rednecks, Swiss Rednecks, Korean Rednecks, Mexican Rednecks… I reckon it’s also true that the negative connotations of the label “Redneck” play out to in reality around the world. But I look for the subset of Rednecks that remind me of Red Green of Possum Lodge fame and try to hang out with them. That’s my tribe no matter the skin color. With us there is rarely a dull moment. In fact some moments run the fine line between exhilaration and “Oh Lord what have I done?” terror. That’s when ya know yer living right.

  4. Kinda weird seeing this article just now. Just watched a video about the Underground Railroad and it showed some of the ways slaves were tortured when returned south. One way was a contraption like this, but obviously, they were tied to it and not able to let go. Resulting in separated shoulders, black outs, fractured vertebra, even death. Stark contrast to this post!

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