When I was in wood shop in 7th grade, we had to make a grasshopper with wheels. Its legs were attached to the back set of wheels and were supposed to go up and down (similar mechanism to a steam engine) as the wheel turned. The teacher didn’t put any gap between the leg and the wheel edges, so they rubbed. The wheel wouldn’t turn and the leg wouldn’t jump. I added a 1/4-in gap and mine was the only one that worked in the class. I got a “B” because I didn’t follow the spec sheet.
I’m a refugee from academia and have started the Low Tech Institute. We’re in southern Wisconsin, just south of Madison in a town called Cooksville. Or we will be in mid-April when we move into our permanent location. We’ll have lots of projects going on, both research and educational: a big garden, animals, bees, orchard, learning workshops, and experimental designs. We’re retrofitting our 1852 house with an experimental solar heating system of my own design and build. We do most stuff using elbow grease as “peak elbow grease” is farther off than “peak oil.”
If you’re ever in the area. Stop by. We can have dinner that will include either fish from the nearby Badfish River, venison from last winter’s hunt, or one of our chickens. Oh, and lots of stuff from the garden. Seriously.