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Amish Buggy Goes Solar

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 04:37:07 CDT
By: IPR's Sean Powers

Amish Buggy Goes Solar Travelling through Amish country, you've probably noticed a horse drawn carriage. One Sullivan resident has transformed the traditional buggy by giving it a touch of solar power.
IPR's Sean Powers went for a ride in the horseless carriage:

"Flip the switch on, and it's ready to go. It's got a reverse. Got a break. A working break (nat of break) I've got turn signals.
(nat of buggy accelerating...keep nat under of moving buggy)
Larry Yoder's buggy has four solar panels attached to the roof, which pull in sunlight to power a motor. It goes about eight miles an hour in reverse and 14 forward. Because this is green technology, Yoder chose green seats.
"Early one morning I thought I got this buggy, and I've got access to some solar panels. Why not make it solar powered? As far as I know, it's the world's first Amish solar powered buggy."
Yoder is not Amish, but used to own an Amish-style restaurant, where customers could sit in an authentic buggy. A couple of years ago after the restaurant closed, he upgraded the buggy with solar power - an idea he got after noticing the Amish using solar energy to power lights on their carriages.
"I'm not really targeting them to change their ways to eliminate a horse or nothing like that. That's not my intent."
Though, Yoder says he thinks it could catch on in the Amish community in the next five to ten years. Even though they're not buying it, he says some Amish business owners did help him build it. But there are others communities interested.
"Welcome to Arthur, Illinois. My name is Stella, and I'm going to be your guide here today. As we travel out through the country side, I'm going to be sharing with you a lot of different things about the Amish lifestyle and culture." (keep Eads' voice under VO)
That's Stella Eads. She gives more than a hundred tours each year to people from all over the world, who are interested in Arthur's Amish community. When I met her, she was talking with visitors aboard a bus from Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Now, it's one thing to show people around Arthur and talk about the history of the Amish, but Eads wants to make the tour much more authentic. Enter Larry Yoder's buggy.
"Well, I just envision having it here, close to the shop, and then whenever people want to go out on a tour, just take them out and show them around and give them a true Amish experience, as close as we can get without the horse."
(nat of buggy)
Back in the horseless buggy, Larry Yoder says he'd like to make it faster, so that he can ride it more than a thousand miles away to Sarasota, Florida.
"That's where we go in the winter time. As you can hear going down the road it's got a little wind to it. I got a G-P-S. I mounted a G-P-S. I've got cruise control. You push... (nat of buggie rattling loudly) ...push the button and it holds that speed."
Before I say goodbye to Yoder, I take a peek in his garage to look at some of his other solar powered prototypes. There's a carriage that doesn't look anything like the one from earlier. It has two 5 1/2 foot giant wheels with L-E-D lights mounted on the spokes, a seat for two people, and a tractor engine.
"Ok, You tell me how fast you want to go. I'll slowly take it up."
(nat of buggy accelerating)
This buggy goes eight miles per hour, but it seems much faster if you're spinning around in circles...
WHOA! HAHA! Do you ever get sick doing this?
YODER: "Not really?"
I think you've had some practice."
"I've had a lot of practice.
Oh boy.
"Don't try walking right now."
I'm going to pass out right now.
Yoder is still perfecting his solar powered buggy, and he says he'd like to make it widely available soon.

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