What a Tool!

After moving back to Michigan nearly eleven years ago, my father-in-law introduced me to the fun of going to auctions.    In particular, we like to go to auctions that have lots of tools and machinery, which, in Southeast Michigan, are plentiful.  As a result, we’ve bought our share of what are known as box lots, which are literally boxes full of things that really aren’t worth trying to sell individually–miscellaneous fasteners, hand tools, fishing reel parts, lead weights, and left-threaded bipolar frobulators.  My father-in-law is so devoted to auctions, he’ll sometimes bid on these things just to keep the sale moving.  Most of the time, the items are fairly mundane, but occasionally we get something that is either beautiful, mysterious, or sometimes both!  Rather than keep them secreted away until someone buys them at my estate auction, I’m going to share them (virtually) here in what I hope will be an irregular series.  In each installment, I (or others–guest tools are welcome!) will share a couple of tools that are either aesthetically pleasing examples of bygone industrial design or non-obvious in their purpose and/or use.  The goals are to share the beauty of these tools, have some fun, and maybe learn something too.

To kick it off, I’m sharing a couple of recent finds.  First off: goggles.  The goggles shown here are fairly uncomfortable (and they could use a good cleaning), but I love them because they’re just so wonderfully archaic!  The aluminum frames and glass lenses suggest a manufacture date in the 1940’s, but that’s just a guess.  The levers on the sides appear to allow the lenses to be removed for replacement (or cleaning), though I haven’t been able to get them to move; there is a bit of corrosion on them and I’m afraid I’ll break them if I push them too hard.  The leather strap on the bridge allows for a bit of adjustment; the buckle is thoughtfully placed so that it is facing outward, rather than pressing against the bridge of the nose.  The padding around the eyes is some kind of plastic or rubber which may have been pliable at some point but is now rather brittle.  The cheap staples that hold the pads on is a little incongruous with the overall quality of the goggles, making me wonder if perhaps they’re an after-market mod.  Given that the lenses are glass (and seemingly not impact-resistant), I’m guessing that these were probably meant to be used for welding.  What do you think?

My other recent find is less showy, but it makes up for it with a bit of mystery.  The “5 Minute Vulcanizer” clearly has something to do with rubber, but I don’t know how it might have been used.  Perhaps it was used for patching the sidewalls of tires that appeared on cars like the Model T?  Or, perhaps its rustiness is fooling me into thinking it’s older than it really is.  Please register your educated opinions, observations and wild guesses in the comments!  And, if you want a larger picture, click on either photo to see it in its full 4000 x 3000 resolution.

Until next time….

Arduino meetup Thursday 12/8. Featured: The Chronotune’s guts

We’re kicking off i3 Detroit’s new Arduino meetup series with a show-and-tell project that’s near and dear to our hearts: The Chronotune, (as previously covered all over the freakin’ place).

For those following along at home: The Chronotune’s user interface is a rotary encoder, read by the Arduino. Year is indicated on 7-segment displays, and audio files are handled by a uMP3 board. (That’s what we had sitting around. If we had it to do again, we’d use an mp3 shield.) The speaker is driven by an LM386. The dial is moved by a stepper motor from an inkjet printer, with an EasyDriver.

Anyone tinkering with the Arduino experimenter’s platform is welcome to attend, as are those who are curious but don’t know where to begin. We’ll also have a look at the Arduino-LabVIEW bundle recently offered by Sparkfun. Things get under-way this Thursday (12/8) at 7pm.