Architecture

22 year old builds a human-powered bicycle "elevator"

22 year old builds a human-pow...
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
View 25 Images
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
1/25
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
2/25
Ethan Schlussler has built his very own human powered bicycle elevator as a means to get up to his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
3/25
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
4/25
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
An old water heater tank acts as the counterweight, which can be easily adjusted by adding or removing water (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
5/25
An old water heater tank acts as the counterweight, which can be easily adjusted by adding or removing water (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
6/25
Schlussler's treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
7/25
Schlussler hooked an old bicycle to a pulley system to create his "bicycle elevator" (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's hand-built treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
8/25
Schlussler's hand-built treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's hand-built treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
9/25
Schlussler's hand-built treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The treehouse is made from Western Red Cedar and harvested from the property where it is built (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
10/25
The treehouse is made from Western Red Cedar and harvested from the property where it is built (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's self-designed and built treehouse and bicycle elevator system (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
11/25
Schlussler's self-designed and built treehouse and bicycle elevator system (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's self-designed and built treehouse and bicycle elevator system (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
12/25
Schlussler's self-designed and built treehouse and bicycle elevator system (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
In the making of the self-designed and built treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
13/25
In the making of the self-designed and built treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
In the making of the self-designed and built treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
14/25
In the making of the self-designed and built treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler in action while building of his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
15/25
Schlussler in action while building of his treehouse (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
16/25
The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The treehouse deck (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
17/25
The treehouse deck (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The treehouse deck (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
18/25
The treehouse deck (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
19/25
The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Schlussler's treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
20/25
Schlussler's treehouse is 28 feet (8.5 meters) above the ground (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Making of the roof (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
21/25
Making of the roof (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
Making of the roof (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
22/25
Making of the roof (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
23/25
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
24/25
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
25/25
The roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
View gallery - 25 images

Ethan Schlussler, 22, from Sandpoint, Idaho has built his very own human powered elevator as a means to gain access to his recently constructed treehouse. Schlussler came up with the idea of converting an old bicycle and pulley system into an elevator when he was searching for a faster alternative to using a ladder to get up to his 28 foot (8.5 meter) high abode.

"The basic idea of using a bicycle to power the elevator came from a good friend," Schlussler tells Gizmag. "I was telling him that I wanted to build something more interesting, faster and easier than a ladder. We were just throwing around ideas when he suggested using a bicycle."

Starting out with his mom's old bicycle, Schlussler removed the tires to allow the cable to spool around the rear wheel, before adding a tube and pulley for the cable to run through. "I adjusted the gear ratio by cutting the large sprocket off the front and welding it to the rear, which also required the removal of both derailleurs and a new chain tensioning system," Schlussler says. "I welded on mounts in the front and rear for the attachment of the stabilizing/counterweight cables."

While making the bicycle elevator, Schlussler took advantage of re-using old scrap materials, including a broken chain from his snow blower, some old car parts, a segment of an old hand rail and an old water heater tank which he uses as a counterweight and can be easily adjusted by adding or removing water. "I did have to buy the pulleys and cable of course, all of which are far stronger than necessary," says Schlussler. "Each of the five support pulleys is rated for at least 525 pounds [238 kg] and each of the four strands of cable is rated for more than 1,500 pounds [680 kg]."

Schlussler's now tried-and-tested bicycle elevator takes him less than 60 seconds to pedal his way up to his self-designed and self-built treehouse. Made from Western Red Cedar and harvested from the property where the treehouse is built, the structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree. "The treehouse is held in place by the power of friction. There are five large clamps made of cable that supply the tensioning pressure to achieve the required friction," he says.

The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)
The structure is secured into place without the need to affix nails, bolts or screws into the tree (Photo: Ethan Schlussler)

Furthermore, the roofing is built from recycled sheets of metal reclaimed from an old barn, while the treehouse walls were assemble on the ground, complete with exterior siding and windows before being hoisted up to the treehouse using (in his words) "a block and tackle and some rock climbing gear."

"My tree house is still under construction, but nevertheless I sleep up there a few nights a week. Once it is complete, I intend to sleep there every night and move most of my stuff into it. It will not have a bathroom or kitchen at this point, though I may expand for such things in the future," says Schlussler. "For now it will have a bed, a dresser and possibly a coffee table and a chair or two, all of which I will build. For cooking and showering and such, I will have to go down to my mother's house a few hundred feet down the hill."

When giving advice to those considering building their very own bicycle elevator, Schlussler recommends taking a close look at all the important elements and components that he included with his design. "But don't limit your design by following mine too closely," says Schlussler. "Think about it a LOT, because at first it is difficult to imagine all the potential problems. Build everything stronger than necessary and most importantly have fun!"

The video below demonstrates the bicycle elevator in action and since filming it Schlussler has adjusted the treehouse entrance, making it easier for him to get off the bike and onto the treehouse deck.

Source: Ethan Schlussler via Make

Bicycle Powered Tree House Elevator

View gallery - 25 images
19 comments
BigGoofyGuy
I think this is cool and green. I would want something that is bicycle powered but more stable and have a less risk of falling off. Perhaps a small platform with guidelines to keep it from moving from side to side and/or less likey to tip.
Smit Nols
.... and whats more: It's not even controlled by and iPhone!
Julie Jones
I think this could be a launching point for the sweatpunk aesthetic
John Hogan
Cool comments :-) The ultimate idea might be a small platform with the pedal mechanism in the middle. Or, for the lazy among us, (me) a water and hose mechanism so you just hop on and use a tap on a hose that runs up to the water ballast tank. Let water fill it until you start to rise! Lazy AND awesome! Perfect combination. Maybe also a beer holder. I like drinking while admiring my handiwork.
nutcase
needs to be tandem, for when friends pop over
Les Stagg
In my humble opinion, you are making a simple problem much too complex. With a simple platform that is attached by rope or cable to a counterbalance weight, you can use the weight to help you pull yourself up with almost no effort. Look at how this was done in dumb waiters. Even vertically-opening windows have counterbalancing weights.
Dave B13
E.T. Phone home. Maybe add some ratchet or catch to hold bike if descent not controled by brake. Some means of preventing use my someone who has no idea how to use the thing safely. OSHA would puke no matter what you do. Pretty darn nice in my opinion.
Larry English
y not rope ladder?
f8lee
One wonders how the tree itself will fare with the friction mounted treehouse - since a tree's growth entails adding layers ("rings") each year is it possible that the bracket surrounding the trunk will eventually cause the tree to die? This is what happens to some trees in the Amazon jungle when vines essentially strangle them.
Buellrider
I really dig the Swiss Family Robinson vibe. He must not have a fear of heights. I have to agree with Les Stagg that the bicycle is unnecessary but it does have a kind of cool factor about it. What would be really neat is if he could build an entire house using the the neighboring trees as further supports. Why not actually live up there.