Early Inventors

Автор: Maks Янв 19, 2021

The inventive minds of several nations pictured the feasibility of designing and building a conveyance that could be peddled to move people from one place to another.

Two of the very earliest such contraptions were brought to fruition in Russia. One was the “self-propelled carriage» of Leonty Shamshurenkov; the other was Ivan Kulibin’s samokatka or “drive-itself.”

In 1752 Shamshurenkov worked assiduously on his carriage for five and a half months in St. Petersburg, until he felt by the end of October that it was ready. The Senate appointed a commission to test the invention and see how successfully it moved. Unfortunately, no description of the initial test drive has remained extant and nothing is known of the vehicle’s design.

Ivan Kulibin, also from St. Petersburg, built a three-wheel version, which he called a samokatka, about forty years later in 1791. The cycle was propelled by a servant to do the peddling, half sitting and half standing on the footboard, with his feet inserted into the peddle-shoes. The steering wheel approximated the kind used to steer ships and was connected by a control rod to the front wheel, which pointed in the direction the conveyance would move.

The power was exerted by the two large-diameter rear wheels, which were controlled by a gearbox, itself a quite original and elaborately designed three-speed transmission. Another innovative part of the design was a horizontal flywheel that eliminated jerkiness from the thrusts of the feet on the pedals. A ratchet gear between the pedals and the flywheel made it possible to idle in a neutral gear. With two passengers and a servant to steer and peddle, the samokatka weighed approximately half a metric tonne but could reach a speed of ten kilometres per hour.

An amazingly creative inventor called Ephim Artamonov had a workshop in Nizhny Tagil. Arta-monov, who curiously enough was a serf and therefore must have devised things for his master, constructed a number of clever inventions. Among them was the world’s first two-wheel bicycle, a watermill pump for siphoning water from river vessels and a primitive kind of steam-powered automobile.

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