Back Yard in Motion
Narberth, PA

The Squir-Rel-A-Tor

The Squir-Rel-A-Tor

The Squir-Rel-A-Tor

The Squir-Rel-A-Tor is an aluminum and stainless steel fabrication consisting of three large moving wheels. Its principal function is for the entertainment of squirrels and those watching them play.

The largest wheel, the drive wheel, is 8’ in diameter and mounted on a horizontal shaft which is free to rotate in a 360 degree horizontal plane. It is fitted with thirty-two fan blades which orient the assembly perpendicular to the air current and cause this wheel to rotate in a vertical plane.

Two cage wheels are each 6’ in diameter, each free to rotate, and are mounted on opposite ends of a shaft. The center of this shaft pivots on bearings allowing unlimited shaft rotation. That bearing assembly is contained in another shaft that is at 45 degrees to the perpendicular. And that 45 degree shaft is connected to yet another shaft that is dead perpendicular and fitted with fitted bearings to allow 360 degree rotation. The overall purpose of the assembly is to allow movement of the two cage wheels anywhere they are driven to go.

Squirrels drive the wheels. Peanuts in the shell are the motivators.

Because they are equals, both wheels should maintain a level position above the ground. But if fact any slight variation such as one having fewer peanuts than the other will result in one wheel being higher off the ground than the other. (In its highest position, the ‘top’ wheel is seventeen feet off the ground.) When the ‘top’ wheel loses a few peanuts, the assembly rotates and the top wheel becomes the bottom wheel.

Rotation of each cage wheel is caused by the squirrel chasing a peanut. One wheel rotates in the direction opposite to the other wheel. Each wheel has one opening, one fuel chamber and one fence. The placement of the fence in relation to the fuel chamber requires the squirrel to go in one direction to reach a peanut in one wheel. But on the other wheel, the squirrel has to go the other way. Now, just when the very smart squirrel recognizes that it must go clockwise in the ‘top’ wheel to get a peanut, the top wheel rolls to become the bottom wheel and the squirrel must now go counterclockwise for the reward. You’re confused? How must the squirrel be taking it? The squirrel, the wheels, the entire assembly spinning in the innumerable planes.

Very thin stainless steel cables attached to the hubs and rims with special-design swages provide the ethereal, seemingly flying-in-air concept to this work.

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