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Wonder Wheel Is Bit Hit At Parades
"Everyone who sees it in a parade wonders what makes it tick," says Willard Miene, Postville, Iowa, who builta "Wonder Wheel" by sandwiching a plexiglass bubble between. two big flotation tires.
Miene built the "Wonder Wheel" almost entirely from used parts. The 66-in. high, 43-in. wide flotation tires are driven by a48-volt electric golf cart motor mounted under the driver's seat. The motor, powered by four batteries, turns a 3-speed transmission and differential which Miene also removed from the golf cart. Inside the bubble cab is a CB radio, AM-FM radio, electric fan, and ice water-cooled air conditioner. Outside, a flashing red light, electric air horn, antenna for a fake cellular phone, and a pair of American flags sport things up.
"I built it because I like parades and wanted something different to show," says Miene. "When people first see me rolling by they wonder what it is and then start taking pictures. There's just enough room for me to sit inside the bubble, but because the plexiglass is tinted people can see me only when I turn straight toward them. A pair of mirrors outside the bubble allow me to see the pavement ahead of each wheel.
A 66-in. dia. round steel plate bolts to the inside sidewall of each big tire. A 2 ft. long, 5-in. dia. length of steel tubing welds to the center of each steel plate. They slide over either end of a 4 1/2-in. dia., 4-ft. long fixed "axle" that makes aU-turn under the driver's seat. A 6-in. wide steel band is welded to the perimeter of each of the round steel plates. An 8-in. dia. 4-in. wide rubber wheel, driven by the golf-cart transmission, runs inside each band, driving the machine by friction. Miene fastened tire tread to the outside surface of the steel bands. A small rubber tire in front of the bubble cab keeps it from turning over as the wheels turn.
"The transmission has three forward and three reverse speeds," says Miene. "To turn right I pull on the right brake lever and to turn left I pull on the left. To stop, I remove my foot from the throttle pedal and pull back on both brake levers. Each tire weighs 800 lbs. so the entire machine weighs al-most a ton. I use toggle switches to regulate voltage from the motor when I need more power for going up steep hills."
Miene fashioned his own air conditioning system by mounting an 8-gal. cooler full of crushed iceinside the machine. A 12-volt submersible pump inside the cooler circulates water through a 3/8-in. plastic hose that runs tQ a heater core ('removed from an old combine) inside the cab. An electric fan circulates the cool air. Water is recirculated back to the cooler. "It works surprisingly well," says Miene. "During one parade the outside temperature was 103 degrees, but inside my bubble it was a comfortable 71 degrees. The pump can run two to three hours before all the ice is melted."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Willard Miene, P. 0. Box 23, Luana, Iowa 52156 (ph 319 864-3750).

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #6