Horse treadmills and powers are alive and well
A Percheron waits patiently in the early morning sun to begin the daily chores.
In today’s world one might think that horse powers are ancient technology, but ’t ain’t necessarily so!
Athens Mfg., a Mennonite-owned company in Liberty, Ky., has developed a line of tread horse powers marketed primarily to the Amish community, most of whose members don’t connect to commercial power lines because of their religious beliefs and who commonly have plenty of horse flesh available.
Athens has put together a demonstration that the company shows at draft horse events. It’s a mock-up of a farm home set up to show all the household chores that can be done by horsepower. An Athens single-horse treadmill is set up at the side of the house with the driveshaft going first to a refrigeration unit set up on the porch. Insulated pipes from the refrigeration unit run through the wall into the kitchen/pantry area where they are attached to a large Coleman chest cooler serving as an ice chest. A thermometer on the chest cooler shows an internal temperature of 24 degrees.
One might think that it would keep a horse busy on the treadmill all day long to keep the freezer chest cold, but not so. According to Matthew Weaver at Athens, it takes about two hours every other day, provided the weather isn’t extremely hot and the freezer isn’t opened and closed multiple times. Of course, the thermometer on the chest allows one to monitor the internal temperature so the thing can be run if necessary.
The driveshaft is extended from the refrigeration unit across the porch to a couple of pulleys. A belt from one pulley runs through the wall into the kitchen/pantry area where it powers a grinder that can be used to grind coffee beans or make flour from wheat and corn. Another belt runs a shaft through a wall into the laundry room where it powers a wringer-type clothes washing machine. The shaft could also be used to power a churn, a meat grinder or an ice cream maker.
Outside the home, a one-horse tread power can be hooked to an air compressor from which air-powered tools can be run – for example, an air-powered Bosch radial arm saw operated on the air from this compressor, and I’ve seen a woodshop set-up with a circular saw, jointer, planer and band saw, all direct driven by the shaft from a two-horse tread power. A tread power could provide power for a water pump and pressure tank to furnish running water to a home, run a log splitter, or run a 12-volt generator to recharge the storage batteries used to run the lights in Amish buggies. At the barn, a tread power can be used to run an elevator that raises hay bales into the barn loft. FC
For more on animal treadmills and powers, read Powered by Animal Tread Power from the April 2011 issue of Farm Collector.