Friday, October 14, 2011


I always tell folks to head over to Mayberry's place for a good rant and some thinking material.

He recently wrote a bit about his forever hypothetical perfect boat (Craig, don't get your tits in an uproar, this is a common failing of all boat -loving types, we all love you anyway).  He spoke of a nice little boat and the desire for a little thirty horsepower engine to run it.

Now when you think about it, he is on the right track.  But I guess that, being the forever hypothetical perfect world guy that I am, I would approach the problem from a different angle.  In this light I will spend some time using him as an example while you, gentle readers, can use the idea should you wish to apply it to other pursuits.

Here's the deal, Mayberry is ratcheting down from a absurdly high level of motor power found on most boats here in America.  Maybe it would behoove him to look at this website to get an idea of how little engine is needed to make a huge difference.  He is doing the right thing in thinking small.  I think that mast and sails and very small engines are the way to approach things.

I took this picture over in Thailand back in 2005.  I was driving around the countryside in Phetchabun province and I had stopped over at one of the little stores to stretch my legs and drink a couple of Singha before I went back to the hotel.  The place where I stopped was the middle of farm country.  The harvest was going on and they were hauling stuff everywhere.  I stayed way too long drinking beers and watching the "water buffalos" hauling stray and sugar cane up and down the road.  It is a good memory.

But the "water buffalos" hauled a lot of stuff.  The little five and ten horsepower engines were more than capable of hauling damn big loads.  I would guess that they got yield pretty damn similar to those here in the west for a tenth the energy inputs.  These Thai farmers weren't air conditioned, and there were more of them on the job, but the yields were astonishing.

I don't think that  I think that if you want to get by in the not so distant future, you had better start looking hard at the energy inputs going into your ventures.  The way we have been doing are so overpowered and so ingrained, it will take a radical re-evaluation of our energy use requirements, as well as our desires.


russell1200 said...

I realize that the comparison is not perfect (the workload is idealized) but a 5 horsepower is supposed to be able to do the "work" of five horses. That is a lot of horses pulling that cart.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

While I'd love a wood gas powered ten horse steam engine, or a little Sterling engine, I've got to deal with what's already out there at this moment. Additionally, my extremely limited resources dictate what I can or can't do. Granted, Those Thai farmers managed, but their "overhead" is much lower than mine. I'm stuck with three most completely "Americanized" females, and it's a constant (failed) struggle trying to enlighten them as to the realities of today, much less the probabilities of tomorrow.

But I thank you for the linkage, and I particularly enjoyed the website you linked as well. I am a sucker for old tech machinery. Triple expansion steam engines are things of beauty in my eye, and those small engines you linked to would be wonderful in a small fishing boat. I ain't in no hurry, not like the average brainwashed ding dong today. Slow and steady wins the race. Good post, thank you.