Amish Buggy Uses Solar Power


Her husband isn’t holding his breath on that one but has already had serious interest from non-Amish fellow entrepreneurs who are eying a stretched horseless carriage as a unique wedding vehicle. Yoder is also in demand to make guest appearances in parades and has driven it as far as Arthur, seven miles away from his home base near Sullivan, where he is president of the family firm Yoder Farm Drainage.

The drainage business sprang from running a family farm, and Yoder says his self-taught inventive streak is a natural byproduct of having to do your own repairs and making things work in the agricultural life.

“Everything you do on the farm is pretty much trial and error,” he explains. “And if something doesn’t work, you try something else and you work on it until it works.”

His lively mind also likes to wander the inventive far frontiers of the art of the possible, however, which explains his forays into mechanical flights of fancy like the horseless buggy.

There were several prototypes before the big one, and these early models look very different: Think of a two-seater lawn swing with big wagon wheels at each end. They use earlier versions of the solar-charged battery-motor system and a lever steering arrangement (from a zero turn mower) lets them revolve on a dime. The wheels are independently powered, and Yoder can make the wagons spin in place at speeds that will tempt a passenger’s eaten breakfast to reverse rapidly via their throat.

“You know what’s surprising?” he asks as he gyrates one of the two-wheelers like a centrifuge. “Ladies get on here, girls, and they want a thrill, and they always want to go with the speed wide open.”

Yoder has ambitious dreams of taking his multi-passenger buggy for a spin across country and, with the pace of solar panel technology heating up and getting steadily better, a buggy drive to Florida is definitely on his to do list. In the meantime, the prolific inventor is working on getting some kind of license plate for his horseless carriage, although categorizing it has proved a tough one for local law enforcement.

“I’ve talked to the police about it, and they look at it and say, ‘Well, it’s sort of a buggy, but you don’t have a horse,’ ” recalls Yoder. “I just tell them ‘Oh, my horse? It ran away.’ ”

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Posted by on Sep 3rd, 2013 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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