1 Jan 2009
Update 9/10/09: The treadmill was fixed under warranty. One important point was that my walking belt had worn down – it was replaced as well, which significantly reduced friction and allows the motor to operate with far less strain. Now I lubricate the walking belt more frequently in order to keep the belt in good shape, and so far things seem to be working fine.
About a week ago the treadmill I use in my treadmill desk — a Nordic Track A2350 — wouldn’t start. The display turned on and read “1.0 mph” but there was no movement. Then I turned it up to a higher speed. Still nothing. Then some sparks came out of the motor, the treadmill went dead, and the circuit breaker on my surge protector shut it off.
My treadmill is toast. Good thing I have an excellent warranty.
But if I may generalize from my experience so far — this one that just died is my fourth replacement motor, IIRC — the average home treadmill isn’t set up for desk use. The motors aren’t geared to be efficient at 1 to 2 mph, or for many consecutive hours of use. Really, the treadmills are built for the most common use case: moderate activity for a couple of weeks followed by years in the garage.
I’ve already attempted to improve airflow and cool the motor using fans. Is there a practical way to effectively modify the gearing so 2mph isn’t such a heavy load? Are there other ways to keep an electric motor happy and cool?