The Amish alternator
An Amish acquaintance in Lebanon County, PA has kindly passed on a link to a Lancaster Sunday News story I’d missed from a couple of weeks back.
Demonstrating that unceasing Amish innovative drive, it seems the folks at Stoltzfus Coach Supply have hitched up a new buggy alternator (no longer online) device to keep running lights juiced.
The alternator solves two issues–the danger of a battery going dead while on the road, as well as reducing the need for battery recharging, necessary about once a week for typical usage.
Stoltzfus Coach, located in Lebanon County (home of a Lancaster daughter settlement of a half-dozen church districts) has taken up distribution of the new alternators–factory-made in China–to area buggy shops. General manager Reuben Lantz states that the imported product “exceeds our expectations on quality.”
As it happens, I’ve been hearing similar things from Amish furniture manufacturers on surprisingly high-quality Chinese-made tables and chairs.
Seems like despite the occasional container-load of lead-paint Barbies, Chinese product quality could be on the upswing.
What does the future hold for Amish tech? According to Lantz–electric brakes. As Lantz tells it, it could be one of the next projects on the drawing board.
So it’s likely the already well-wired Amish buggy will continue its electrification–assuming aforementioned brakes pass muster with the church, that is.
For bicycles, the best such generator is the Schmidt SON. Period. You can read about them at http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.asp
Shimano makes some pretty good hub generators, too. They cost less and produce a little more drag. My Schmidt produces so little drag that I sometimes don’t even notice that I’ve left the light on for 60 miles.
The Schmidt generators, at least, are made for different size wheels, but I don’t know about buggy wheels.
Schmidt also makes an excellent light, the E6, that is engineered to put all of its energy right where you need it. I’d think buggies would have similar requirements to bicycles in that regard.
I got mine 5 years ago, but there have been some advances in generator-driven light technology since then, so I can’t say quite so confidently that the Schmidt E6 is the best way to go for everyone.
People who’ve seen me on the road often comment on how visible I am to other traffic. I like that. I haven’t done a lot of night-time riding in Amish country, but I’ve done some.
As was already mentioned, the buggy alternator is a good idea serving both convenience and safety. It’s kind of sad but not the least bit alarming that they are being made in China. Just about everything is anymore. Almost all of the furniture manufacturing plants in North Carolina have been closed or turned into warehouses and are now distribution centers for Chinese made products. The vast majority of wood furniture made by “American” furniture companies(even higher-end companies like Drexel, Ethan Allen and Thomasville) is made in China these days.
Just to clarify, I don’t mean it’s sad this Amish company is turning to China to make this product for them. It’s sad that the “powers that be” in our nation have turned to China to manufacture so much of our goods.