Heath Robinsonesq #1

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

I must have been writing too many technical specs this week. Someone tells me the hamster that powers their web site’s dynamic front page has been fired and their thinking of hiring an elephant instead. They meant it as an offhand joke and I find myself contemplating the difficulties involve with my engineering hat (issued by the Heath Robinson School of Engineering) on.

The client is going to need a bigger under wheel pit for a start. Probably need to demolish a partition wall or two to take the new wider pit. Then their going to have to get the wheel in. They’ll need a hole in the external wall for it to come in through. Fortunately it can be fitted with doors so they can get their elephant in and out through as well.

The new wheels going to need a bigger spindle. Being total amateurs they assumed a hamster spindle would work for an elephant! The bearings will need upgrading and the structural supports for the bearings too. With all that extra weight they will need new foundations and to cope with the vibration effects it will need to be a floating foundation so you don’t damage the rest of the building once the wheel is in regular operation.

So that the storefront rotates at a similar speed to the old hamster wheel drive their going to have to put some gearing in between the spindle and the web site drive assembly. Elephants are good for power applications but they just don’t give the speed of a hamster. With all that spare power they might want to consider hooking up a generator to the wheel and powering the entire building by elephant too. They could get a giant hamster instead of an elephant and avoid the need for gearing but giant hamsters are expensive, dangerous and difficult to source. That’s why they are usually only used by web sites that need real high-end performance. They go through too many toilet roll innards for anything other than a major corporation to supply them cost effectively.

They will also need to put in a water supply so your new elephant doesn’t get thirsty. They were planning on bringing it water by hand like they did with the hamster. They will probably want a hoist for all the bags of peanuts too.

It will also be worth doing a cost benefit study of buying an elephant manure bagging plant so that they could sell the manure onto clients for use on their gardens.

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