This seems strange that it would develop this play when it is only one peice of metal. I had a similar feeling with the cotter pin cranks on my first unicycle.
My first unicycle was a crappy 20", which was bright red with cottered cranks, a nasty hard seat, and a seatpost that was too short for me. The seat was discouraging to learn on, and eventually I strapped some padding on there. I painted the frame metallic blue and the plastic rim black. My friend’s dad welded an extra seatpost onto the end of the existing seatpost, allowing me to ride at my favoured seat height. I got some Oddessy Triple Trap pedals on it for extra grip, but they had the wrong size thread, so I replaced the pedal axles with some from other pedals. I went through heaps of cotter-pins on the cranks, and they continually worked themselves loose until the axle got worn. I tried having a friend (an incompetent female) weld the cranks on, but the welds kept breaking. I declared the unicycle dead and moved on to bigger and better wheels.
Talk about a blast from the past! I had one of those Sears & Roebuck 20" unis also - your description was spot on, right down to the play in the cranks and that gosh-awful seat. After about a year on that I got a 20" no-name from Montgomery Wards with cottered cranks and a better seat. Amazing what you will put up with when you don't know that there's anything better. (Of course, now that I've got a 24"/3" Bedford Muni I [I]do[/I] have the best!!)
I learned on a Pashley 26" MUni with 170mm cranks. After shredding the lugs I bought a road tire for it. After I had a real hard time learning stomach-on-seat with the long cranks, I bought a 20" Miyata freestyle.
Troxel. Eww. 16" hard plastic tire. One-piece, tricycle-style crank (as described by others here). Seat padding made of a think piece of plastic, with air gaps between it and the metal base.
The biggest problem with this POS, after the too-wide, too-short cranks, was the fact that when you sat on it, the wheel was very resistant to turning. It was a super-hard uni to learn on.
I worked with it over the course of a few months in 1976 or so. I was able to ride it straight, but when I tried to make a turn the bearing holders would pivot (on the single bolt on each side), and the tire would stop up against the fork. What crap. Unable to fix this problem, I stopped riding it.
Three years later I “finished” learning to ride on a Schwinn Giraffe. This took 45 minutes. Obviously not counting the mount.
Though there is some controversy. Al Hemminger tells me this isn’t my original one, but a similar one he found for me way back in the early 80s. I don’t remember. In any case, this one still retains both pedals, but it does have that 1" or more of play in the so-called “drivetrain.” It’s not the one-piece crank, it’s how it’s connected to the rest of the wheel that’s at fault.
I only had it for about 4 months before i sold it, i only did some small drops on it…one to two feet, i upgraded when i realized i either needed to upgrade to have 2 unicycles, or I’d have one and a half!
Not sure what type of uni I learned on but I recall ita s being similar to the Troxel John Foss mentioned and photo linked. A little 16" hard rubber tire and a trashed seat cover so it was replaced with a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting. My butt hurts just thinking about that seat!
It was a piece of junk, but… it was my friend’s uni and it was free. We both learned to ride it and then got better unis. He got a Schwinn and I got a Columbia (I think it was a Columbia). Boy I wish I had both of those uni’s now. That was back in the 60’s.
I wouldn’t exactly say that. Notice the three-year gap in my learning process!
But during the time I was trying to ride my Troxel POS, I had a chance to ride a neighbor’s 24" Schwinn. On my first try I went about 10 times farther than I’d ever gone on the Troxel. I only rode it once, but I knew there was something better out there.
I don’t remember if I ever asked my parents to buy me one. The Troxel was a loaner from my next door neighbor. Apparently he knew something about it I had to figure out the hard way. My parents might have bought me one, but then again they may have waited until Christmas or something. They never ended up buying me any; my entire collection was self-bought, or gifts from others. The gifts were usually garage sale rejects, but one was a brand new first-year Semcycle with radial spokes, and a backup Schwinn Giraffe (unrestored).
My brother had a Sears model that looked a lot like the Troxel that John posted. Hard seat and all. I think I remember the Sears model having a hard rubber tire too but I’m not sure. It came with metal poles.
I started learning with the Sears model but was a little too short at the time. When my brother got a Schwinn 24" and quite riding it, I pulled it out and learned on that. It had cottered cranks that developed at least 2 inches of play and several bald spots on the tire. That was after hundreds, many hundreds of miles. I kept stuffing pieces of sheet metal in the cranks in a fruitless attempt to reduce the amount of play.
I got a Schwinn Giraffe soon after than I also put hundreds of miles on and yet another Schwinn 24" after I got in The Marine Corps. My brother threw the old 24" out or I would have just taken it back…