Vehicle: Car: Exercise
Pedal Powered Car Creeper   (+12)  [vote for, against]
Emergency Pedal Power for On Road, Dead cars

These days, seems like no one is going to help move a dead car (er, SUV) to the nearest parking spot unless they're operating a tow truck and charging at least $75. I find it faintly amusing when I see a lot of people stuck in a traffic jam that wouldn't exist if they'd just think to get their butts out of their cars long enough to give that dead car a push.

Since such is the case, a means for one person to move a car is needed. The Car Creeper device allows one to inch a car along with bicycle style pedaling. At one end is a sprocketed gear assembly with a ratio of 100 revolutions of the sprocket per revolution of the wheel to which it is attached via the 4 or 5 (or 6 or more?) bolts that hold the wheel rim on the car. Then a bike chain runs from there to an idler sprocket assembly that mounts in a door window frame and passes the chain thru and down to foot pedals which can be conveniently set on the floor for pedaling from the seat. This could be rigged for the drivers side, but I think the passenger side would work better. Braking action as in any child's bike can be built in, or the emergency brake can be used from the passenger seat if the handle is between the front seats.

Also need some kind of weight bearing or slipping mechanism so that if one wants to rest a moment on an uphill pedal, the great potential energy of the car does not become kinetic and rip the idler out and also peel the pedals off the floor and whip them across your face on the way out the window.

Store in the trunk next to the spare tire until needed.
-- ThotMouser, Jul 26 2002

I would have found this useful awhile ago; spent $50 for a tow (and almost an hour waiting for it) which literally needed to move my car less than half a mile. What was particularly maddening was that I wouldn't have needed a tow if someone hadn't cut in front of me, since I would have had enough kinetic energy to crest the hill I was on (the repair shop was near the bottom of the other side).

Actually, I might have been able to push the car to the top of the hill except that I couldn't push and steer simultaneously without being beside it (which, because of traffic, was not an option).
-- supercat, Jul 26 2002

Have an Energy Croissant
-- thumbwax, Jul 26 2002

you could just put the car in gear and move it on the starter motor- unless of course your batteries / ignition are knackered.

It's a good idea, but I think there could be better ways of doing it- maybe an electric winch powered by a backup battery or something.
-- timo, Jul 26 2002

Have a hatch that opens beneath the driver (and passengers) so that they can use 'Flintstone' power! (I seem to remember the 'Anthill Mob' use this technique in the Wacky Races as well.)
-- Jinbish, Jul 26 2002

What about steering? Most modern cars with power steering are all but impossible to steer when the engine is stopped.
Otherwise, a great idea - particularly if you combine the original and [timo]'s idea: pedals charge the battery, starter-like motor connected direct to the final drive and leave the car in neutral.
-- grob, Jul 26 2002

Like you said at the beginning, why not just get out and push? If your car dies, put it in neutral to keep you going as far as you can, and keep the steering straight to keep from going into traffic as you're pushing. Then get out and push! None of this should be too hard unless you own a monster SUV (yet another reason to get a smaller car!).
-- Bert6322, Jul 26 2002

//If your car dies, put it in neutral to keep you going as far as you can, and keep the steering straight to keep from going into traffic as you're pushing.//

I've pushed cars on occasion. It's not really all that hard. The difficulty, though, is that safely pushing a car requires either pushing from the driver's side (so as to be next to eh controls) when going on level ground or a mild upgrade. If one is on or approaching a downgrade, it's necessary to have someone seated in the car to operate the steering and brakes. Even if it's likely that the "driver" won't have to do anything, pushing a car near the top of a hill without someone inside who can stop it is a recipe for disaster.
-- supercat, Jul 27 2002

Restore us, oh Lord, the hand-cranked generator. Preferably in the front of the car.

Actually, an expandable and highly heat-dissipating sail-shaped poly bag that had solar cells on it could trap the engine's expanding steam and inflate. Then, your internal guideance winch that doubles as a hand-cranked generator could be used to draw the sail in opposition to the monster rigs roaring past you at 85mph. You'd have an escorted fling up the old turnpike until you are mandatorily sucked onto the first exit you come to.
-- reensure, Jul 27 2002

I like this and have given due pastry but I wonder: why not have a trap door in the bottom of the car that opens up so that you can do as the Flintstones do? That way you could steer the car as you move it forward, and not have to install bike chain type things and the like.
-- polartomato, Jul 28 2002

How about using a gasoline powered string trimmer, with an attackment containing the clutch/gears that connects to the wheel. The other end could clamp into the driver side door, keeping the trigger where the driver can reach it through the window. The exhaust fumes would be anoying so it would be nice if you could close the window and either have it on constantly or have a remote control throttle, perhaps a string through the window.
-- tolly3, Jul 28 2002

We did that one before (but it's gone now).
-- DrCurry, Jul 29 2002

Sounds do-able in the form of a hydraulically actuated motor or ratcheting mechanism. Power would be supplied by pumping a pedal on the drivers side next to the brake pedal. A one way ratcheting device would be a must for safe hill climbing.

When not in use, the pedal stows flat on the floor board. In the case of a manual transmission, the clutch pedal could be engaged to this device when necessary.

This would keep you out of traffic, inside the vehicle with access to the steering wheel and brake pedal.
-- half, Jul 30 2002

You could always carry a sail and let any winds carry you to your chosen destination. Again the car would have to be quite light ...
-- Aristotle, Jul 30 2002

get a monster SUV and store a small car in the trunk!
-- dtstyle, Jul 31 2002

Thanks all. I finally put up an idea people like! (Ok, I'll stop patting myself on the back now.)

Broken power steering is not impossible to handle-- I've driven that way before. (Fortunately, the pulleys in that car happened to be arranged such that the power steering pump could be bypassed with a smaller belt.) I wouldn't be surprised if there are safety regulations requiring that vehicles still be steerable in the event of a power steering failure.

supercat, Bert: yes, pushing is easy-- if there's someone with you. This device is for when no help is handy, or you've got a steep enough climb that the help can't move the car.

As for the Flintstones idea and other things that require modification of the car, I was trying to think of something that could be used on standard cars. But maybe some trivial change that wouldn't cost the car companies could be made standard on all vehicles.

timo: I learned the starter trick (with manual transmission) doesn't always work. Some cars, such as the 1988 Ford Escort (grr) are wired (for our safety, sigh) so the starter will not crank if the car is in gear.

half: I like the hydraulics idea. Sounds better than bike chains. Could skip the idler in the window bit and just have a hydraulic line snaking out the window.
-- ThotMouser, Aug 01 2002

Hey, if you had pedals in every seat, they could be used in normal operation. Not a Tandem but a Multem or Polydem.
-- Loris, Aug 02 2002

polartomato: Jinbish already suggested 'Flintstone' power
-- elFernando, Nov 13 2002

Take your camel with you on the ride. That should solve the problem.
-- pashute, Nov 13 2002

ever heard of a "Twike"? Apparently they work.
-- slightly, Mar 06 2003

This would be good for those who want to bike for exercise, but their destination is too far to simply bike. They could power a battery with foot power, and save slightly on mileage.
-- jivetalkinrobot, Jul 29 2003

Man, I thought sure I +'d this the last time I saw it. Oh, well. I bun you now.
-- galukalock, Jul 29 2003

random, halfbakery