Samstag, 28. November 2015

Ancient pedalcars

Hello folks

Today I want to make a short journey into the world of antique pedalcars


When it comes to talking about the ancestors of my pedalcar project,
 the best known name is Charles Mochet.
He produced his Velocars in Paris between the late 20s and 40s of the last century.
Velocar advertisment from the 30s

Mochet Velocars at display

Two ancient photos of Velocars with their happy owners


Another well known name ist the Swedish Fantom.
Although never produced by a manufacturer, 
the Fantom became popular as a cheap plan for self builders.
More than 100.000 plans have been sold over the years, but just a handful of Fantom were built by skilled Swedes.

The two pics above showing a two seated Fantom recreation of the Fordonsmuseum in Arvika/Sweden 

This one seater was build by Claes Johannson, the author of the book Folkhemmets Farkoster, from which the photos were taken.


Ardex was another manufacturer of microcars.
During the German occupation of France in WW2 gasoline engines were forbidden, so Ardex changed the powerplants to electrical and human power.


This is my latest find.
Engineer Maurice A. Julien was formerly involved in the development of the famous 
Citroen Traction Avant. 

His pedalcar design, which he called the "Neocar" is in my taste the most sophistcated and elegant pedalcar of that era.
It featured also the then revolutionary front wheel drive and the whole body was made from aluminium.
It's supposed that just very few examples of this design were built, 
so informations about this fancy pedalcar are very rare.


One of my blog posts in 2014 was dedicated to a book written for self builders by Max Williams-Mourlot.
It contains a lot of plans, ranging from trailers and sidecars to small gasoline powered sportscars.
Among them were several plans for pedalcars with one or two seats.

Two different single seaters with rear steering:


A two seater with FWD:

Single seated velocar with front steering and rear wheel drive:

Sociable velocar with closest similarities to the Mochet models

All pages of this book can be found here.
Still, I have no knowledge of vehicles built to this plans.

Maybe somewhere there are still some forgotten old pictures, parts or dusty vehicles in old barns, waiting for their discovery.
Although there's a bare probability, I'm still dreaming about.

If you have informations in any form, I would appreciate to know from you.


Donnerstag, 19. November 2015

Slow progress

It is a long time now, since my last post.
The woodwork on the tail is finally done.
Now I will seal it in epoxy for proper protection of the wood, then sand and paint it.
Actual weight of the tail is 8kg.
With tailgate and backseat added, I assume to end up with 10kg, so I'm very close to my previous estimations.

I placed the pedalcar beside a middle class estate for size comparison

The open design of the rear gives a lot of possibilities.
Instead of a simple tailgate, I could build a pickup style trunk with more stowage space.
If I want more, an additional hardtop turns the pickup into a van.
All these parts should be exchangeable within minutes, so I'm able to get the most suitable car version just in time.

But now, the building of the front hood has started.


Dienstag, 18. August 2015

Tear drop tail for MK2

Hello folks

It's raining since days now.
I moved my temporary workshop to the 3rd floor under the roof  because working outside is impossible and the garage is cluttered with a Mk1 velocar, a Mk2 rolling chassis, a small boat under construction and a lot of other bicycles.
The new tail/trunk is 50% assembled now and luckily still small enough to get it downstairs without damage.
An hour ago the rain takes a break and so I quickly pulled the Mk2 chassis out of the garage and mounted the new tail onto it.

Alterations in comparison to the Mk1 version:
 I want the inner sides of the wheel wells flaring outside.
This reduces the wasted space for the wells and gives more room for the kids shoulders.
Furthermore, the rear end of the tail is 20cm/8inches narrower than the maximum width.
This gives a benefit, when cornering through bottlenecks or chicanes.
I got lot of scratches at the old body, because of the wide rear end of the tail.

I assume to end up with an tail weight of 10kg or less with all still missing parts.
The Mk1 part has a weight of 17kg.
Another racing bicycle in weight is saved...


Samstag, 8. August 2015

Velocar MK2 update


Since weeks I'm fiddling on the suspension parts.
It takes much longer than I suspected, three weeks now.
The velocar gets double wishbones (a-frames) at the front axle and swing arms for the rear wheels.
Suspension works with elastomere elements instead of steel springs, 
which saves almost 2kg in weight.

This picture was taken with most suspension components still missing, just for show

These are the mounts of the rear swing arms

And here finally with all a-frames, kingpins and frame mounts 

Double a-frame construction with elastomere dampers
The three-pieced tie rod was still in the works then

The lower frame mounts have to be enlarged, to spread the loads of the suspension better into the wooden frame.

The Ackermann geometry is finally working.
Did you know, the real inventor was Georg Lankensperger?

Rear swingarms with offset mounted spring elements
Both rear wheels are fitted with Nuvinci N360 hubs.

Next week the steering components and body work awaiting completion.


Montag, 8. Juni 2015

Maker Faire Hannover 2015


Last weekend we were in Hannover, to join this years MakerFaire and to show our velocar at the exhibition.
There were lots of interesing projects, much of electronics, computers, RC-drones, creative workshops for kids and not to forget steam punk.
This was our first event as exhibitors and we were surprised, how much attention our little vehicle has generated.
Maybe the reason was, that we offered free rides in the velocar.
Some of the people were waiting for more than half an hour, to get a ride of five minutes.
I had to explain the somewhat odd steering and braking system with the middle stick to each "pilot" what takes a lot of time.
Now I'm convinced a normal handlebar is better because it's self explaining and also better to control.
That will be a "tuning project" for the near future, 
And now here are some pics from the event:

 Saturday morning, shortly before opening

 bicycle art

Impressing cruiser bikes 
photo taken from

 Lots of people in our velocar

 Time machine from "Abakus"

 I learned, in Hannover exists a growing number of pedalcars.
 The blue pickup to the right is a great example, build by a guy named Kaiser
At least three more similar vehicles are existing in the local area, 
The green tricycle is a "Mambo", build by Hacker Space Bremen

 Mostly our velocar was driven by three or four persons

 Four guys from the next stand testing the velocar, it still holds together.
(I was a tiny bit in fear)
In the bacvkground you can see their exhibit, a motor trike build from a Fiat 126

And the offical record for the most persons in the velocar:
A family with four childs

A torpedo shaped time machine

The fire-breathing mech-dog LRRY

An official report from

After two days, an estimated number of 400 people have made a test drive in our little car and it's still in one piece.
I had to repair two minor defects, a weared out braking cable and a snapped chain, which was repaired within 10 minutes.
It was a great event and a lot of fun to meet and talk to so much people, both makers and visitors.
Surely I want to be a part of the next years event.