Ethan Schlussler of Sandpoint, Idaho built a treehouse 30 feet in the air. When he realized how tiresome it would be to climb a ladder that high every time he wanted to hang out in his treehouse, he knew there had to be a better way.
Schlussler, 22, came up with an idea to build an elevator powered by his bicycle to carry him up to his treehouse. When he came up with the idea, Schlussler knew he had to make it a reality because “It would be so incredibly fun and whimsical”. The treehouse builder would never put any plans on paper, he would just spend hours designing the elevator in his head, figuring out how to stabilize it, attach it, and configure the gear ratios.
Schlussler had to modify the bike to turn it into an elevator by cutting and welding pieces of scrap metal to the frame for attachment points and pulleys. His first attempt to use the elevator was futile, as the gear ratios were too high, making it impossible for him to peddle up to the tree at all. After changing the gear ratio and adding a pulley into the system, his dream of a bicycle elevator came true.
A counterweight made from an old water heater tank is what makes the elevator work. If someone other than Schlussler takes the elevator, water can be added or taken away from the tank to adjust for the different weight. The whole design and build process took him about one week. He is still putting the finishing touches on the tree house and hopes one day who could live in it full time.