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Dog Power Treadmill

A small animal power for use with a dog, sheep or goat. The 10 3/4" wide wood treads ride on 10" end pulleys and 2 sets of four 8" diameter rollers. The rear of the track frame can be easily raised or lowered by means of a lever operating a ratchet mechanism. The angle of the track is adjusted for the weight of the animal and the work required. The power available from a treadmill is dependent on the weight of the animal and the angle of the tread, not on the strength of the animal. The dog simply climbs the tread to maintain his position and gravity does the work. A hand lever actuates a brake to stop the machine when the dog is getting on or off. The brake pad rubs on the face of the 25" iron flywheel. Devices such as barrel churns, early washing machines, cream separators, and even lathes and light duty woodworking machines could be powered directly off a belt pulley on the front shaft.

The front of the machine is marked in large letters "Harder Manufacturing Co., Cobleskill, N.Y.". The side slats have traces of the original decoration and the treadmill frame lettering reads "ADJUSTING TRACK" and "Patented June 28, 1881".

While Minard Harder, of Cobleskill, patented a threshing machine in 1863 and manufactured horse powers and threshers and grain fans, this machine was not his invention. It was patented in 1881 by Nicholas Potter, of Troy, PA. Potter's popular "Enterprise" dog treadmill made in Troy was identical to this machine. An example of the Enterprise dog power demonstrated by an unwilling Bear. That example had a replacement flywheel from a corn sheller and was missing its walking beam. Otherwise it appeared identical to this machine.

The machine is 66" long and 60" high. The machine is in good working order.I have replaced three oak treads, and several oak interlocking guide blocks. I've also replaced the brake lever and pad. The oak pad has a leather face that works as well as the original iron pad. The purpose of the brake is only to hold the tread in place while the dog gets on or off, not to slow the machine. The wooden walking beam churn power is not present. I haven't reproduced this since most users aren't interested in making butter, however, this beam can be seen in the previous Harder dog power which has been sold. The bottom of the 4 legs have some damage from sitting on a damp floor. One has been repaired and the other three are solid enough for the machine to rest firmly on a level floor.

Approximately 20 lbs downward weight is required to start the tread moving and 10 lbs to keep it moving. This is a rough measurement obtained by pressing downward on a bathroom scale placed on the tread. When powering the Young wood lathe, approximately 40 lbs is required to start the tread and 20 lbs to keep it going. Tugging on the flywheel will easily start the treadmill if a very light dog is used.

the adjustable track and stencilling

front view with flywheel and round or V pulley.

track adjustment mechanism

the replacement brake lever

A dog powered wood lathe Note the slotted wood bar bolted to the lathe table and extending to the treadmill frame to maintain the correct belt tension. The treadle linkage is removed while the lathe is belt powered.


Early advertising and background info

a dog power working the Davis swing churn

Dog power illustrated in Thomas's 1854 book, Farm Implements and Farm Machinery

Dog and sheep power advertisement in The Country Gentleman, 1898.

Emery's dog and sheep power in the 1863 Illustrated Annual Register of Rural Affairs

Potter's 1881 patent for this dog power

Animal treadmill article from American Artifacts issue 59, Winter 2003

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Contact: Richard Van Vleck - Email: richard@americanartifacts.com

© 2006, American Artifacts, Taneytown, Maryland.