Rowing Machine for the Whole Family (Jan, 1932)

Rowing Machine for the Whole Family

A ROWING machine is an especially efficient exerciser since it brings nearly all the muscles of the body into play. Moreover it provides very agreeable recreation.

Here is a home-made job that can be used by all members of the family and is designed for extreme simplicity of construction. No machine work whatever is required, and besides the wood for the framework nothing is needed beyond an old roller skate, a pair of stiff coil tension springs and two angle irons. Oarlocks with pins to go through the oars can be purchased from a mail order house for a very small sum; say 39 cents a pair.

Scrap lumber can be used for the frame, but if you are buying new material, get two-by-three’s, surfaced on all sides. First build the main frame of two parallel rails 12 inches apart and five feet long. These are tied together by one cross member at the rear end, and two at the front. The latter are 50 in. long and support the uprights for the oarlock and eyebolt to anchor spring, respectively. Brace these uprights with 1/2 in. by 1-1/2 in- pieces. Install the oarlock socket and bind the end of the post with a strip of galvanized sheet, brass or wire.

Plane the dummy oar from a piece of 2 in. by 2 in. yellow pine or similar material, tapering to about 1-1/4 in. at the end for the hand grip. Sandpaper smoothly. Drill the hole for the oarlock pin 23 in. from the end of the handgrip, and install an eyebolt six inches from the oarlock. A Spring of the required tension can be picked up in any junk yard; the writer found some from an iron cot to have sufficient tension for the job. Connect spring to oar with stout galvanized wire or cable.

Build up the seat with a 12 in. by 16 in. bottom and a back 5 in. high. The latter is braced with gussets of galvanized sheet, with the exposed edge beaded over. Two pieces 2 in. by 2-1/2 in. by 11 in. are nailed to the bottom to carry the skate roller. Drill holes for carriage bolts to serve as axles for the rollers, and these holes should be located so that the seat will be about an inch higher at the front than at back.

Now install the guide rails on the main frame. These should be of hardwood, 3/4 in. by 3/4 in. by 32 in. long, which permits ample travel to suit long as well as short members of the family gym class. Angle-irons attached under the seat slide along beneath the lower guide rail to prevent the seat leaving its track. There should be at least 1/8 in. clearance between the angle-iron and rail.

The machine is now ready for the oarsman. By providing interchangeable springs of varying tensions the apparatus can be adapted to the requirements of all users. A good paint job will greatly improve the appearance of the machine; we suggest yellow with black trimming, oars and seat to be varnished in natural wood.

  1. Stephen Edwards says: October 30, 20122:21 pm

    I wonder if in 1932 these would also be used for a month and then left in the basement, just like their modern equivalents.

  2. Hirudinea says: October 30, 20125:21 pm

    @ Stephen Edwards – Nah, since this would have been made by a carpenter it would have been used for a month then broken up to make something else.

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