Power Wagon
(304) 544-4093

... Hominid not included ...
Sept. 20, 2008

Power Outage Partially Closes Marshall, Pullman
Gasless Power Wagon New Option for Blackouts, Brownouts, Mobile Electricity


Tony Rutherford Reporter

Huntington, WV (HNN) – Marshall University canceled classes Friday, Sept. 19 due to a power outage which blackened most of the campus. According to Appalachian Power, a failed splice in an underground substation caused the outage.

 Drinko Library, the Robert C Byrd Biotechnology Science Center and portions of Old Main remained open as they have backup generators.

The failure also impacted businesses at Pullman Square, where Five Guys and Starbucks had closed for the day. Empire Books had a check back at 5 p.m. sign on the door.

But all could have been open if they had the battery generator Power Wagon which debuted at the St. Joseph Grade School Carnival. Paul Wilks, the inventor of the gasless generator, has built a battery powered device which recharges by merely turning the wheels.

Charging from the torque of wheels rolling, the device runs lights, air conditioning, refrigerators, and even inflatable slides.

The noiseless device charges its batteries by attaching the trailer to the back of a vehicle --- or for that matter a horse and wagon.”It rolls itself,” explained Wilks, adding that it can provide power in remote settings, at construction sites, for emergency situations, or as a gasless alternative to power your home or office. 0A

Wilks, who once drove a truck, has been working on the invention about seven years. The idea came from seeing the wheels of trucks turn.” I started piecing it together seven or eight years ago. I did not know if I could make it work.” He envisioned capturing that energy as a substitute for gas.

Currently, only his family members and a judge have been utilizing the Power Wagon.

A federal judge approached Wilks three years ago after becoming dissatisfied with the noise and fumes of gas a generator on his boat.

“He had a generator on his boat and his family got sick,” Wilks explained. A friend steered the judge to Wilks invention. “I think what you got there should be on my boat,” Wilks said paraphrasing the jurist. “This is going on the third season and it’s still running his boat. He loves it. As soon as he got it put together, he got rid of his generator.”

John Howard, manager of M & M Inflatables, Ironton, Ohio, ecstatically stated, “I’ve never seen anything like it before. We could take this places without electricity. It would be great for festivals; it’s not very loud. You can’t hear it run. It saves on gas; it would pay for itself in about a year’s time with us.” Speaking about a power failure a few w eeks ago in and around Newport/Covington, Ky., Wilks told Howard that the Power Wagon could have operated during the black out. Grinning, he said that his house would have been the only one with lights.

On lookers expressed amazement as the device powered machines at the St. Joe carnival. One individual foresaw the device as having a wide variety of military uses (such as providing power in Iraq) or as an asset for THEMA, which faces powerless disasters. Pointing to a set of generator powered lights which the carnival would utilize after dark, Wilks explained “you could put a light system on this that could light up just as much as those.”

Wilks indicated that a group of West Virginia University engineers have given a &nbs p;thumbs up for the invention, for which a patent application is pending. “They said it needed to be on the market now,” the inventor said of the WVU examination of the gasless generator.

Asked often whether a car could be built to run on it, he grinned and shrugged favorably. But, that project would be too large for him. Still, many of those marveling at the device aptly described it as “the wave for the future.”

Wilks can be contacted at (304) 544-4093. He will soon have a website at:

US Patent Application 2007051542

Trailer with Integral Axle-Mounted Generator and Battery Charger

Classification:  - international: B60K1/00; B60K1/00; - European: B60L11/18L6
Abstract --  A working surface incorporates a means for transferring mechanical energy produced by a rotating member of the working surface so that the energy rotates a shaft attached to an alternator that charges a bank of 12 V batteries. The alternator is responsible for converting the mechanical energy being input by the rotating shaft to electrical energy that is fed to the batteries. The batteries transfer the energy into an inverter for use depending upon the required amount. Thereby, backup electrical power may be generated and stored, taking advantage of excess horsepower at cruise provided by a vehicle as well as better utilizing travel time. Additionally, the added cost of ownership and noise of a portable power generator is avoided.

U.S. Current Class:  180/65.1
U.S. Class at Publication:  180/065.1
Intern'l Class:  B60K 1/00 20060101 B60K001/00



[0001] The present application claims the benefit of commonly-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/709,281, "Trailer with Integral Axle-Mounted Generator and Battery Charger" to Wilks, filed Aug. 18, 2005, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.


[0002] The present invention relates to electrical power generation and storage devices for portable or emergency use. While portable electrical generators are quite useful for emergency situations or austere environments, such generators tend to be inconvenient with regard to maintenance, transport, duration, and reliability. Consequently, a significant need exists for a more convenient and cheaper method of providing back-up electrical power.

[0003] Various kinds of portable generators exist in the current market. The uses for these generators range from home use to industrial use. Conventional portable generators comprise an engine and an alternator driven by the engine to produce electricity. Specifically, the spark-ignited combustion engine produces mechanical drive to rotate a crankshaft. The crankshaft, connected with a revolving shaft of the generator, will produce electrical current by converting the mechanical power produced by the engine into electrical energy. The mechanical energy drives the crankshaft to rotate electrically conductive elements within a magnetic field. The rotation of the electrically conductive elements around the field produces electric energy capable of being used or stored.

[0004] A more desirable form of energy storage is extremely valuable as a result of the continual rise of fuel prices, the concern for the environment, and the decline of the amount of fossil fuels. A portable power source that can produce electrical energy by converting mechanical energy would help reduce the cost of energy, protect the environment, and provide a reliable, convenient source of energy. The traditional portable electric generators consume gasoline to produce the mechanical drive necessary to rotate the electrically conductive elements. By contrast, using a rotating axle coupled with a gear system or other means would provide the necessary mechanical drive to produce electrical energy as opposed to wasting other energy sources and utilizing a portion of the power of a vehicle that would otherwise be unused.

[0005] A more efficient approach as stated earlier would be to use a mechanical drive system already being used, such as the wheel axle of a towed vehicle or a drive system of a car, to effectuate the rotation of the shaft of an alternator. This rotation of the shaft by means including but not limited to gears, pulleys, and transmissions will produce electric power capable of being stored within a single battery or a series of batteries. The power may then be converted by an inverter from direct current to alternating current as desired by the user.


[0006] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention, and, together with the general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description of the embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.

[0007] FIG. 1 depicts an isometric view of a towable work surface incorporating a wheel-driven electrical power generation and storage system consistent with aspects of the present invention with an inverter box stowed on a forward portion of the work surface.

[0008] FIG. 2 depicts an aft isometric view of the towable work surface of FIG. 1 hitched to a vehicle with the inverter box mounted on a top surface of the towable work surface.

[0009] FIG. 3 depicts an aft view in elevation of an axle portion of the towable work surface of FIG. 1.

[0010] FIG. 4 depicts a top diagrammatic view of the towable work surface incorporating the wheel drive electrical power generation and storage system of FIG. 1.


[0011] Referring now to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals indicate the same elements throughout the views, FIGS. 1-4 show the apparatus comprising a towable working surface depicted as a single-axle trailer 10 that advantageously incorporates a wheel-driven electrical power generation and storage system 12 such that when being pulled by a vehicle 14, a driver may monitor an emergency power supply status display 16 attached to a dashboard 18. A wired or wireless connection 20 back to a trailer portion 22 of the system 12 communicates whether the wheel speed is within an optimum range for power generation and a level of stored charge of the system 12.

[0012] The trailer portion includes a generally known trailer 24 that has a lower deck 26 upon which a plurality of electrical power storage components (e.g., chemical batteries) 28 are supported. A table portion 30 is mounted overtop of the lower deck 26 to encompass the batteries 28 and to provide a work surface 32 so that the trailer portion 22 may serve additional purposes rather than merely generating and storing electrical power. In particular, an inverter box 34 may be stowed on a front hitch portion 36 of the trailer 24 as in FIG. 2 or on a mid section receptacle 38 as depicted in FIG. 1 to provide a weather protected container for an inverter 40 (FIG. 4) that converts the charge to an alternating current (e.g., single phase 110 V) that may power tools or household appliances when emergency or portable power is required.

[0013] With particular reference to FIG. 3, the system 12 includes a rotating member (axle) 42 turned by wheels 43, which is coupled to a transmission member 44 and rotates a shaft 46 attached to an alternator 13 positioned by a mount 50. The rotation of the shaft 46 forces the alternator 48 to produce electric power by rotating electrically conductive elements within a magnetic field. The electric power produced by the alternator 48 may then be sent to one or more batteries 28 and ultimately converted by the inverter 40 from direct current ("DC") to alternating current ("AC").

[0014] The rotating member 42 provides the force that drives the shaft 46 attached to the alternator 40. In the illustrated version, the rotating member 42 is a wheel axle. Additionally, the rotating member 42 could be an object converting wind forces opposing the movement of the working surface 1 to produce rotation of the shaft 15. Other rotating surfaces may be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. One such system could incorporate a drive shaft in the vehicle to produce the movement necessary of the inverter 13.

[0015] The means for transferring the drive produced by the rotating member 6 to rotate the shaft 46 attached to the alternator 13 may encompass a range of transmissions, gears, or any other system apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. In the illustrative version of FIG. 3, a ring 52 and pinion gear 54 of the axle 42 attached to the trailer 10 may be joined with a pulley system 56 to transfer the drive produced by the axle 42 to the shaft 46. A universal joint (not shown) that is typically attached to the pinion 9 is removed and replaced with the pulley system 56. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the pulley system 56 is depicted as a double v-belt comprising a rotating cylinder 58 connected to the pinion 54, a second rotating cylinder 60 and a belt 62. The rotation of cylinder 58 is driven by the pinion 54. The belt 62 attached to cylinder 58, rotates the second cylinder 58. Differing numbers of pulleys and gears may be used to accomplish the goal to produce the necessary means to transfer the force produced by the pinion 54 to the shaft 46. The pulley system 56 may advantageously serve as a ratio reducer or multiplier to maintain the shaft 46 within an optimum rotation range.

[0016] The alternator 48 converts the mechanical energy produced by the rotation of the shaft 46 into electrical energy. The availability of many different alternators 48 provides that alternators 48 may be substituted or varied depending upon their size and specifications. As seen in FIG. 3, the alternator 48 may be positioned adjacent to the v-belt pulley system 56. The alternator 48 should have a positive and negative terminal. The alternator 48 will then electrically connect to one or more batteries 28 to transfer and store the energy produced by the rotation of shaft 46.

[0017] While FIG. 4 represents a diagram of four batteries 28, there is no specific number of batteries required to operate the apparatus. The figures only illustrate one possible layout using four batteries 28. FIG. 4 represents one setup with wiring connections (battery cables) 64 for achieving the energy storage. Specifically, FIG. 4 depicts the use of four "8-D" batteries mounted on the trailer 10. Two #4 AWG watt battery cables 64 are attached to each battery 28. The alternator 48 should be wired to connect to a positive terminal of a battery 28. A ground wire should run from the alternator 48 to the remaining negative terminal of the battery 28. The type and number of batteries 28 will vary according to the application.

[0018] Positive and negative terminals of the series/parallel combination of batteries 28 connect to the inverter 40. The inverter 40 converts the direct current into alternating current ("AC"). The illustrative version is a 30 A. (110 AC) inverter 40 that provides AC through a 30 A outlet or surge protector up to a total of 30 A due to the 30 A inverter. Additionally, one may choose to install a voltage regulator 66 that regulates the current going out of the alternator 40 in order to avoid overcharging the batteries 28. The voltage regulator 66 would force the rotating member (axle) 42, a ring 52 and pinion rear end gear 54 as seen in FIG. 3, to obtain a certain speed before activating the alternator 40. If the desired speed is not met, the batteries 28 may not charge.

[0019] Finally, while the present invention has been illustrated by description of several embodiments and while the illustrative embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications may readily appear to those skilled in the art.

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