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Two-Story Tricycle Always Attracts A Big Crowd

A mammoth solar-powered tricycle made by Bob Schneeveis of Palo Alto, Calif., can carry up to 12 adults or 27 delighted children. It's always a big hit at parades and shows.
  Thunder Thief, as Schneeveis calls it, travels about 10 mph and can cover 20 miles of pavement on one day's worth of sun. "The front wheel is 10 ft. in dia. and each back wheel is just over 5 ft. dia.," Schneeveis says. "My head is 14 1/2 ft. off the ground when I'm driving, so I can look over people's roofs when going down the street. The driver's seat is a saddle from a horse, and it has cable steering."
  A ladder leads up through the floor of the first level, which is a plastic tub sitting in a steel frame. Inside the tub is a couch.
  A large cargo container between the two back wheels gives weight for stability, carrying water and a large ni-cad battery pack which is charged by the 8 by 8-ft. solar panel mounted at the back of the tub.
  This solar panel provides 600 watts of electrical energy. The 40-volt system has 140 amp-hrs.
  "There's an electronic speed control connected to a motor that drives the front wheel by a V-belt," he explains.  
  Schneeveis says when people see him approaching they're amazed by the size and then as it passes, they're shocked that it's solar-powered.
  The 2-story tricycle took Schneeveis a year to complete. Recently, he sold it for $20,000, roughly the value of his materials, he says. Rob Cunningham of Vancouver, B.C., Canada is the new owner.

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4