Hello, and welcome to my site! My name is Paul Elkins. I live with my wife Mary in Washington state USA.
My Father and Uncle were great influences on my way of thinking, with my Father always tinkering with cars and my Uncle building machinery from scratch. Both these men showed me what was possible with a bit of imagination, calculation, patience, determination and a few handy tools.
As a youth I was always drawing some sort of doodle art, but eventually my father introduced me to his world of wrenches and sockets. Like a lot of ten year old boys I had a desire to build my very own Soap box Derby. When my father gave me the OK, that’s when my art doodles turned into derby designs. My father purchased a set of used derby wheels and axles. We even cut out a plywood base for the body, but then mandatory overtime at my father’s job took priority and that’s as far as it went. I remember sitting on the garage floor on my derby plywood base, imagining being the first to cross the finish line in the final heat at Akron Ohio…
It was 1970 at a car show that I spotted my first custom recumbent bicycle perched in a corner all by it’s lonesome. I was quite frankly blown away, and immediately started drawing my own version, or versions should I say. Hundreds of sketches were made, years went by, and it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I made my first recumbent bike in my high school metal shop class. (Aaah the days when schools were more funded…) Like the soap box derby it was never quite finished, but at least I could sit on it and roll down a hill. Progress.
When I turned twenty I became fixated on a front wheel drive reverse steer recumbent bike I’d seen in a Popular Mechanics article, so it must work, right? Many drawings and many years later I successfully completed my version of this novel weight saving idea (shorter chain, less weight) and was ready for my first test run. It took two hours of scraped knees, and wrenched muscles before I got two feet on the pedals and made a short snake-like run. Success! Soon I was commuting to work with this odd bike. Years later I got married and made a more traditional recumbent bike and was pleased with the outcome. A marriage later I made another…
At age thirty nine (after my second divorce) I had a hankering to build a boat of some sort. The first two were made with inner tubes, but when paddling they just spun in circles. I studied a few kayak and canoe design books and eventually came up with my own design. I named it Liberty. (I was in need of liberation). It was a kayak at first, then a mast and spinnaker sail was added, then a small trolling motor. I liked the little trolling motor, but wanted to go faster and be able to attack the waves, so another boat was built. I named this one Little Miss Sally. I’ve logged hundreds of hours of lake boating with these two boats. They even took a 45 mph fall when my car rack one day decided to take flight. The next day both boats were in the water, with little damage.
Later, I went to my first Burningman Art festival. I created and brought along a three wheeled Briggs and Stratton motorized trike to get around on the vast Playa. After a week of total sensory overload, I was hooked. The next year I made a clever fold-up kitchen galley for our camp. The simplicity and compactness of this kitchen inspired the design of a stealth camper I made under the canopy of my little Toyota truck. I toured the country with this set-up, including my Liberty boat on top, for seven weeks. This also influenced the compact design of my ‘Post Apocalyptic bicycle camper’ that I built for Burningman a few years later.
I made the bike camper out of a material called ‘fluted plastic’. Later I discovered all sorts of uses of this wonderful material. I’ve made kayaks, boats, shelters, vehicle covers, even a back pack with this versatile cheap material.
Any how, as time went by I thought some people might like to see what I’ve made, so I created the ‘High Mileage Trikes’ blog. Ultra efficient vehicles is yet another of my fascinations. Eventually as more ideas were hatched and prototypes made, the content outgrew the capacity of the blog, so this website was created.
Afterwards, I started making videos of my latest ideas. For filming I use a simple camera and use ‘IMovie’ on my Mac computer to create and edit each video. I love the editing process. Normally I spend an hour of editing for each minute of footage. A bit obsessive I know, but most people appreciate the time spent. Numerous plan requests led me to making build plans for some of my more popular ideas. Check out what’s available by accessing the ‘Plans’ tab. Making plans is a time consuming affair, but now that I’m retired I plan to make up more. What started as showing just my ideas on this site has now branched off into showing what other people have made based on my plans. To access these check out the ‘Your Creations’ tab.
So far I’ve kept this website advertisement free. I want this to remain an inspiration stop or a reference point if you will for ideas. You will see adverts on my videos though. The money from these and my plan sales generally go back into purchasing supplies for future projects (and makes for peace and harmony at home, if you know what I mean…)
I believe in the writings of Michael Newton. And for everyday encounters with people I try to remember this profound saying; ‘Do unto others as they would do unto you.’ I don’t always apply this, like when I encounter some old fart on a Sunday drive, but when I breath and think of this verse, I calm down. Compassion is not always in my nature, but when I practice it I get a smile on my face and I feel like a better person.
I’m a Libtard to some, a liberal to others. Not a complete liberal, as I feel conservatives do make some valid points, occasionally. More importantly, I’m definitely not happy with how Corporations have weaseled their way into the political arena, much like religion did in the past. I feel it’s time to re-boot! Probably not in my lifetime. Sad.
I’m a minimalist of sort. I don’t always walk the talk but I do see the value in this way of thinking. I believe in the American dream. I believe this is still a great country compared to most, in personal freedom and personal potential. What I don’t like is seeing the demise of small businesses. What I see now is cookie cutter strip malls with Mega corporate big-box one-stop football field size minimum wage employee stores saying pre scripted feel good words as you enter, with fully stocked shelves of cheap over packaged made to break junk manufactured and imported from American owned third world country sweat shops. Funny how after the horrific event of 911 our President got on the air waves and reminded us all to keep shopping. Really? Unfortunately, keeping us consuming is what keeps our economy from collapsing. Contrast that to a common vacation, which might be a drive to a small quaint town with unique shops and restaurants. We even have TV shows now that explore ‘unique’ places to eat in America and abroad. The popularity of Pinterest is another good example of how people are seeking ways to make things unique, yet simple.
Unique ideas have always been my passion, and making things simple is just a no brainer.
I encourage you to mill about. There’s lots to see here. Click on a tab, scroll and click on any photo you see for more detail. Most of my ideas have a video link at the top of the page where I often show scenes of me making, using, or explaining said item, most of the time.
I also want to give a HUGE Thanks to my wife Mary for her patience, support and understand. She’s a keeper! Love her to bits!