Retired engineer Zhu Musong in Fuyang, Anhui province, spent months learning computer-aided design so that he would no longer need pencils and rulers to invent things.
The 66-year-old used to work for a power station and a bus company as a skilled technician. He now owns 26 patents, with more than 20 further patent applications under review, reported local newspaper Yingzhou Evening News.
Most of his inventions relate to bikes, cars and household appliances, such as rice cookers and soybean milk machines, according to the patent database of State Intellectual Property Office.
"Many people think that innovation is difficult, but in my eyes, inventing things is a kind of entertainment that is worth continuing effort," said Zhu.
His earliest effort in invention was in 1994, although the result did not meet his expectations.
At that time, Zhu was working at a transportation company, when his colleagues told him it was hard for drivers to feel and notice flat tires in good time. He researched and used his own experience to design a tire alarm device that can monitor the condition of tires, and gained a patent.
Learning about the patent, many equipment manufacturers in both Fuyang and other regions came to him, hoping to transform the patent into a product.
"The technique was theoretically feasible, but I was not sure how it would work in practice," Zhe said.
The truth is, the system did not function well. In an experiment, the alarm even broke the client's tire, he recalled. Because of that failure,he gave up inventing for more than 10 years, but never stopped thinking of ideas.
After retirement, he had lots of free time and one day he went to a local patent agency for consultation. "Applying for a patent is not easy. Many people fail to patent anything after years of work," an agent told him.
However, these words stimulated his motivation to create some real invention, to turn his ideas into projects.
The first invention was a wireless magnetic gear box for bicycles that is controled by foot, not hand. The patent was granted in 2013.
Another patent is a bicycle that can move forward by pedaling either clockwise or counterclockwise, functioning as both a means of transportation and a way of exercise at the same time.
"The bicycle caught the eyes of passers-by when I rode it in the street," said Zhu. "Some even asked me where to buy one. I felt a strong sense of achievement at that time," he said.
Six of his patents have been transferred to companies, with the most expensive one, for a high-efficiency motor, sold at 100,000 yuan ($14,991).
"I took my patents to several trade fairs. Although many people showed interest, few of them bought them from me," Zhu said. "Anyway I'm not worried about that, because invention itself is fun to me."