Sunday, September 29, 2013

A wheelbarrow full of money

Tony Robinson has a new series of humorous history books for kids. They're quite British and some of the jokes and references don't translate to American English or culture, but I got a set for Marty and for me. Marty knew about this story.

He knew of money carried in wheelbarrows. He didn't know whether a wheelbarrow was ever stolen. :-) I went to look and found photographs (whether posed or candid, I don't know).

With an image search, I came up with lots of images of money-filled wheelbarrows, but general art. Except for the one above, I don't think any were of German money between the wars.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Zealand, Tribute to the Suffragettes

Andrea Downs Quenneville sent this. It was posted to facebook by a "A Mighty Girl," a catalog of books for girls.

Here's another angle that shows the wheelbarrow better. Does it hold a petition? Clarification is invited! I'm not finding the date of creation of the memorial, nor the artist's name.

Images should link to their original pages.

If someone knows the story of the creation of the sculpture... Colleen Prieto found info! The sculptor was Margriet Windhausen. It was dedicated in 1993, and the wheelbarrow is full of a big petition with over 30,000 names.
The campaign produced three major petitions in 1891, 1892 and 1893. The 1893 petition with 31,872 signatures was the largest ever gathered in Australasia.

Italian, rusty with a big rock and a cactus

Cath Goudouchaouri wote:
a wheelbarrow for you, photo taken in South Italy (Peschici, Gargano, Provincia di Bari)

I asked if the cactus was in the wheelbarrow or on the other side of it. Cath said it was in it. "The plant is called figuier de barbarie in french... (latin name : Opuntia ficus-indica : - you can eat the fruit but carefully : it has a very prickly skin !"

So, in English, prickly pear.

This is a good time to bring out a photo I took a couple of years ago in Austin. This one didn't seem to be planted, or art. The wheelbarrow's handles were broken, and I suspect it had been sitting there since a yard cleanup years ago, in which little cactus had been thrown in there to get rid of it.

It was out in the back with junk, but had turned itself to art, gradually, over the years.

That second cactus might not be prickly pear, and if anyone wants to ID the cactus, that would be great! Austin, downtown where the art studio tour was.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kingdom (TV wheelbarrow)

From a Stephen Fry series called "Kingdom" (UK series on ITV a few years ago):
(Just taken off the TV at my house; sorry.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fourth day of rain, Albuquerque

I didn't notice until later, but I like the way one handle lines up with the tree and the other is framed outside the tree.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wheelbarrows, Greek philosophy, ergonomics

Answer to what simple machines make up a wheelbarrow: the lever and the wheel and axle (according to ehow, anyway).
Wheelbarrows carry more goods from place to place using less force than a person could carry them. In fact, a person would have to make several trips to carry the items by hand. With the help of the wheelbarrow's two simple machines---the lever and the wheel and axle---people can save time during the process of hauling.
I think there might be more to mention in the way of ergonomics, and in traditional details that create more functionality than is at first apparent.

All over the internet is "wheelbarrows were invented by the Chinese," but I don't think it's valid. Their "wheelbarrow" (what English speakers called a wheelbarrow) is a whole different thing, and though it can do some things European wheelbarrows can't, theirs can't do some of what is quite normal for our little short-distance, imperfect wheelbarrows.

Thinking of what ours are used for might give some ideas for what I'm thinking of in way of features gathered and improved over hundreds of years.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Take-home, open-book no-time-limit test on Wheelbarrows.

Q: What Simple Machines Make a Wheelbarrow?

"Simple machine" is a concept at the intersection of physics, history, philosophy and art. So are wheelbarrows!

I'm not telling the answer until tomorrow, so maybe think about it, do all the looking-up you want to, and consider other conveyances and tools and contraptions for gardening and construction—cousins of wheelbarrows, maybe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Electrician's Wheelbarrow

Photo by Alex Polikowsky, Olmstead County Free Fair, Minnesota, July 2013:

So in a place where there where wheelbarrows at just about every livestock stall and corner, even the electrician has a wheelbarrow for what look like neon lights.

Squarestock steel. Leg braces are bolted on, probably through the tray itself, all the way through. If I saw it in person, I would examine those covered handles. First guess, pipe shoved into the square stock, covered with rubber tips. I could be wrong. Maybe wood, shaped square, and then rounded.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roboteiros, in Angola

These images are from an article called "Roboteiros," at 

I found the article linked from No Tech Magazine:, which said
The contemporary design is similar to the Ancient Chinese vehicle, except it uses straight boards and a car tyre. 
The machine and the men pushing it are both called "roboteiros".

Friday, September 6, 2013

Squeaky Construction Worker

Tolo Toys:

You can click on that to go to the photo on their site,
and click sound files to hear his sounds.

They also have a nice looking toy wheelbarrow:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

One day 90 years ago...

This framed photo is for sale on Etsy. It's nice to see a photo of a child outside, not in a studio. A photo of a child with a wheelbarrow is even better! Maybe the wheelbarrow was new. I wish we could see the wheel better. The rest seems all to be of wood.

Here is the Etsy listing:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cedar Crest, New Mexico

Outside True Value Hardware, Cedar Crest, September 2, 2013. The first four are plastic, the smaller two were steel. The two largest ones have stronger "legs" and two wheels. The green and blue ones have tube steel handles. I like the curves toward the axle on the blue one. The green one has the axle fastened to the frame the same way the wooden-handled barrows do.

You can click the image to see a larger version.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chinese wheelbarrows

According to nameless people on the internet, the Chinese invented the wheelbarrow.  It doesn't seem at first glance that they made a great job of it.  Their wheel is big, and right in the middle, so needs to be covered up.   So it's kind of a big fender with two running boards.  There's a platform on either side, and maybe the "fender" is made of poles or slats so there are places to tie things.

I found an explanation on a page on sustainable transportation, that defends the design.

The Chinese Wheelbarrow

For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history. This is especially true in the East, where it became a universal means of transportation for both passengers and goods, even over long distances.

The Chinese wheelbarrow - which was driven by human labour, beasts of burden and wind power - was of a different design than its European counterpart. By placing a large wheel in the middle of the vehicle instead of a smaller wheel in front, one could easily carry three to six times as much weight than if using a European wheelbarrow.
Their source was "The Chinese Wheelbarrow" by Kris De Decker, and has this interesting bit (and a great deal more):
Compared to a two-wheeled cart or a four-wheeled wagon, a wheelbarrow was much cheaper to build because wheel construction was a labour-intensive job. Although the wheelbarrow required a road, a very narrow path (about as wide as the wheel) sufficed, and it could be bumpy. The two handles gave an intimacy of control that made the wheelbarrow very manoeuvrable.
There are two versions of the longer article, and each has a few photos the other doesn't have:

It was first in LowTech Magazine: reprinted it:

Kris De Decker's article is as much about the history of roads as of wheelbarrows, which is also fascinating.  Please read it if you're at all interested in the history of China or Europe, or at least look at the pictures on both of them.  There is a list of 21 sources on which the author drew there, too.  I learned a lot!

The European wheelbarrow is a whole different design and for a different purpose.  In the Chinese version, the wheel takes the place of a pack animal, and the shape of the frame reflects that.  All the weight is on the axle.   The European wheelbarrow is a version of a litter or a stretcher, or for workmen, a barrow designed to be carried by two people.  So the wheel goes between the two handles on one end, and the remaining person has the other two handles, and half the weight.

The article shows a Chinese wheelbarrow carrying two people, and says they could carry six.  Women were transported that way, and one of the photos above shows one who seems to have had bound feet. If there was only one passenger and the load had no counterweight, the article says the operator of the barrow would tilt the wheel so that it balanced that way.

European litters generally carried just one person.  There are images from a French history of the wheelbarrow that show (in line drawings) people being transported.  It's not as elegant or as dignified as  the Chinese setup, and doesn't look nearly as comfortable.  With a small wheel out front, in the European version, the "seating" isn't level.

So when articles say "the Chinese invented the wheelbarrow," they invented their wheelbarrow, not the  European version, which has a lowlier purpose and smaller capacity.

I looked up the author, Kris de Decker, after writing the above.  He owns "Low-tech Magazine."  It's full of other interesting technological history and ideas.