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Transportation Fails!

Posted by: Annika Darling @ July 18, 2014, 2:49 p.m.

 The Human Hamster Wheel: An Electric Car From the 1930's

If the Dynoshpere – a crazy circular singal tire car invented in the 1930’s – had taken off, we’d all be living in a rodent-esque wheel-running world. Kind of cool, right?

Eh…maybe not so much.

While the monowheel is an interesting concept and inventors have tinkered with it for..well, forever, the design has many innate flaws -- much to do with stability.

The Dynosphere was invented in 1932 by JH Purves. The design was clunky, to say the least, but had its perks. It differed from the other monowheel designs in that it was wide enough to stand up by itself, without the need for continuous balancing. The outside of the wheel was part of the surface of a sphere. Also, some of the models ran on gas, but the single-person model was electric, which offered this giant hamster wheel greater fuel economy -- or so they claimed. Dr Purves also claimed that the use of one wheel instead of four gave great economy of power. However, Dr Purves was known for his eccentricities.

Despite these great selling points, the 1000-pound Dynosphere was a lot to wrap one’s mind around. For starters: it wasn’t practical! The cage design would have been made it extremely trying to navigate, and from the looks of it, it wouldn’t be incredibly comfortable to drive in the rain. To top it off, in order to turn the driver would have to lean their body out of the machine and pray they didn’t tip over.

The project was abandoned soon after an incident at the Brooklands racing track where the Dynosphere was reported to have knocked someone over – most likely due to its troublesome steering.

And that was it. The Dynosphere was moved to the trash bin, and readily became a one of the funniest transportation fails in history.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone recently, however, dug the idea out of the trash magnifying the goofieness with: South Park's "It" vehicle.


There is a 17-second sequence of the Brean Sands outing on YouTube.

There is a 1:43 Pathe news reel of the Brooklands outing on YouTube, in which we learn that the big Purves we wheel was nicknamed "Jumbo". The steering mechanism (tilting the wheel with respect to the stationary assembly inside it) is nicely demonstrated.

 ~Dr. Purves himself, holding the 5-seater model Dynosphere.

 ~Two Dynoshpere models side-by-side. The smaller of the two is the electric version.

~This is the inventors son (although he looks like a quirky madman himself)...doing that awkward lean-to-turn routine.


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