How to Build a Windmill From a Bicycle Wheel

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Whether you want to generate your own clean electricity or simply desire a fun and easy craft project, a bicycle wheel and front fork can provide the basis for a simple yet effective homemade windmill. Turn an old wheel into an efficient spinning machine in a matter of minutes with a few minor additions to the wheel's existing spokes.

Things You'll Need

  • Bicycle wheel
  • Aluminum cans
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Bicycle front fork (or mounting device of your choice)
  • Find an old bike wheel. Aim for a properly trued wheel—that is, one with properly adjusted spokes, which will allow it to spin without wobbling. Although a wobbly wheel will still spin, the side-to-side wobbles created by improperly adjusted spokes will translate into wasted mechanical energy. If you don't own spoke wrenches or know how to true a wheel, a bike mechanic can do the job quickly and cheaply.

  • Create the blades, which will catch the wind and allow the windmill to spin on its own. For a quick (but environmentally friendly) material for the blades, raid your recycle bin for aluminum cans. Use your scissors or utility knife to cut the side of the can all the way around both the top and bottom rims to form a hollow cylinder, then cut a vertical slice all the way down the cylinder.

  • Mount one of your slit aluminum cylinders onto two adjacent spokes on the wheel: Wrap the cylinder around the two spokes near the rim of the wheel, then crease it over itself until you have fixed it tightly to the spokes. Repeat this process on alternating pairs of spokes all the way around the wheel. You should now have a complete circle of "blades" facing in the same direction at the angle to the rim created by the alternating pairs of spokes. Leave an aluminum-free space around the hub of the wheel, which will allow the wind to pass through your windmill once you mount it.

  • Mount your windmill. Use either an unused bicycle front fork or—if you have the tools, materials and inclination—build your own mount incorporating two long, flat pieces of metal with holes drilled into them to accommodate the wheel's axle and allow it to spin.

    Insert the two sides of the axle into the two arms of the fork or your homemade mount, then affix them with appropriately sized nuts. Now put your windmill out in the wind and watch it spin.

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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