Archive for the ‘Retro technology’ Category


The Great Laxey Wheel, Isle of Wight

The Laxey Wheel (also known as Lady Isabella) is the world’s largest working waterwheel, built in 1854 to pump water from the mine shafts, and now run as a tourist attraction.

Image and text from Lemon Tea & Earwig Biscuits

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The Dynasphere (sometimes misspelled Dynosphere) was a monowheel vehicle design patented in 1930 by J. A. (John Archibald) Purves (7 August 1870 – 4 November 1952) from Taunton, Somerset, UK. Purves’ idea for the vehicle was inspired by a sketch made by Leonardo da Vinci.


Two prototypes were initially built: a smaller electrical model, and one with a gasoline motor that attained either 2.5 or 6 horse power depending on the source consulted, using a two-cylinder air-cooled Douglas engine with a three speedgear box, also providing reverse. The Dynasphere model reached top speeds of 25–30 miles per hour (40–48 km/h). The gasoline-powered prototype was 10-foot (3.0 m) high and built of iron latticework that weighed 1,000 pounds (450 kg). The next generation version had ten outer hoops, covered with a leather lining, shaped to present a small profile to the ground.


The driver’s seat and the motor were part of one unit, mounted with wheels upon the interior rails of the outer hoop. The singular driving seat and motor unit, when powered forward, would thus try to "climb" up the spherical rails, which would cause the lattice cage to roll forward. Steering of the prototype was crude, requiring the driver to lean in the direction sought to travel, though Purves envisioned future models equipped with gears that would shift the inner housing without leaning, thus tipping the Dynasphere in the direction of travel. The later ten-hoop model had a steering wheel engaging such tipping gears, and was captured in a 1932 Pathé newsreel, in which the vehicle’s advantages are first described and then demonstrated at the Brooklands motor racing circuit. A novelty model was later constructed by Purves that could seat eight passengers, the "Dynasphere 8", made specifically for beach use.


Purves was optimistic about his invention’s prospects. As reported in a 1932 Popular Science magazine article, after a filmed test drive in 1932 on a beach in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, he stated that the Dynasphere "reduced locomotion to the simplest possible form, with consequent economy of power", and that it was "the high-speed vehicle of the future". An article in the February 1935 issue of Meccano Magazine noted that though the Dynasphere was only at an experimental stage, "it possesses so many advantages that we may eventually see gigantic wheels similar to that shown on our cover running along our highways in as large numbers as motor cars do to-day." According to the 2007 book Crazy Cars, one reason the Dynasphere did not succeed was that "while the [vehicle] could move along just fine, it was almost impossible to steer or brake." Another aspect of the vehicle that received criticism was the phenomenon of "gerbiling"—the tendency when accelerating or braking the vehicle for the independent housing holding the driver within the monowheel to spin within the moving structure.

Text from Wikipedia

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…… check how much good it will do you


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For centuries, doctors had been treating women for a wide variety of illnesses by performing what is now recognized as masturbation. The "pelvic massage" was especially common in the treatment of female hysteria in Great Britain during the Victorian Era, as the point of such manipulation was to cause "hysterical paroxysm" (orgasm) in the patient. However, not only did they regard the "vulvar stimulation" required as having nothing to do with sex, but reportedly found it time-consuming and hard work.

In 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first electric vibrator available for consumer retail sale as opposed to medical usage, making the vibrator the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified, after the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle, and toaster, and about a decade before the vacuum cleaner and electric iron. The home versions soon became extremely popular, with advertisements in periodicals such as Needlecraft, Woman’s Home Companion, Modern Priscilla, and the Sears, Roebuck catalogue. These disappeared in the 1920s, apparently because their appearance in pornography made it no longer tenable for mainstream society to avoid the sexual connotations of the devices.

Time-consuming and hard work my ass – Ted 😉

Image found on WeirdVintage – Text on Wikipedia

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Image found on SpaceQuest

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a1206_old electric

….. a bunch of society women have stolen Grandma Duck’s car.

Image found on Hagley Transportation Museum

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a1208_VW transporter - kleinbuss

Image found on Casa di Ricardo

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The advantage two-strokes had over four-strokes was that they completed their power cycle in half the time of a four stroke engine. This meant they could rev very fast, so ‘Das Kleine Wunder’ (the little marvel) was the perfect engine for DKW’s new range of motorcycles. 1928 was a bumper year for DKW. Thousands of motorcycles, all powered by their new engine, practically raced off their production line and year on year sales just keep increasing.

Motorcycle production peaked at 55,000 in 1937 making DKW the largest and most successful motorcycle company in the world.

Text and image from Project Heinkel

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Marion Steaming on Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the largest expanse of freshwater in the British Isles. The loch is 22½ miles long, its greatest breadth near the southern extremity is about 5 miles and its greatest depth 623 feet. The River Falloch enters Loch Lomond from Glen Falloch at the head of the loch and the River Endrick near Balmaha in the south-east. At Balloch which is situated on the southern shore, the River Leven connects the loch to the Firth of Clyde. The Loch Lomond steamers apart from the second-hand P.S. Princess Patricia and P.S. Queen Mary, were built at various shipyards on the upper and lower Clyde and, with the exception of P.S. Maid of the Loch which was dismantled and re-assembled because of its large size, were either sailed or hauled up the River Leven to enter the loch.

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Loch Lomond Steamer Prince of Wales in Loch Lomond Company Colours

The first steamer appeared on Loch Lomond in 1818 just a few years after Henry Bell’s pioneering steamship The Comet was launched in 1812. David Napier inspired by Bell’s Comet built the Marion, a 60 ft. wooden steamer, and plied the loch carrying tourists. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs were made popular by the works of Sir Walter Scott such as his novel Rob Roy and his narrative poem Lady of the Lake published in 1810. A few years later a group of businessmen established The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company buying a rival steamer, The Lady of the Lake. Competition was fierce with a succession of companies being formed and new and bigger steamers capitalising on the newly emerging tourist trade. With the arrival of the railways in Balloch in July 1850, the steamers connected with the passenger trains making Loch Lomond accessible for many people.

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An early 20th century holiday snap with a note on back:
“Photo taken on a Loch Lomond steamer. On camp stool my dear wife, with Grace and Wilfred on either side.”

Cruising remained popular and The Loch Lomond Steam Boat Company was eventually taken over by the North British Steam Packet Company. Through a succession of acquisitions and nationalisation of the railways, the last steamer, Maid of the Loch, transferred to Caledonian MacBrayne and was withdrawn from service in 1981. Maid of the Loch, the last conventional paddle steamer to be built in Great Britain has been in the ownership of The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a registered charity, since 1996 and is undergoing renovation with the aim of returning the Maid to steam operation in 2013.

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Maid of the Loch at Balloch pier


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Year Remarks
1917 May 21: Launched
1918 Apr. 29: sailed from Birkenhead on her maiden voyage to New York
1918 Laid up in New York until she sailed for Kristiania (Oslo) on Sept. 11
1918 Oct. 5: departed Kristiania for her fist voyage on the Kristiania – Bergen – New York service
1918 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York
1919 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York  
1920 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York
1921 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York  
1922 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York
1923 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – New York  
1924 Converted from coal to oil fuel and her accommodation altered to carry cabin and 3rd class passengers only
1924 Kristiania – Kristiansand – Stavanger – Bergen – Halifax – New York
1925 Oslo – Stavanger – Bergen – Halifax – New York
1930 Refitted to 147-cabin, 207-tourist and 820-3rd class and her tonnage increased to 13,156 tons
1937 Modernized, fitted with shorter funnels
1939 Dec. 9: commenced her last crossing from New York to Bergen and Oslo, where she was laid up
1940 Sept. 20: Requisitioned by Deutche Kriegsmarine – became a troop depot ship until August 1945
1945 August: became a troopship, used between Norway and New York
1946 Refitted to accommodate 122-1st, 222-cabin and 335-tourist class passengers
1946 May 31: departed on her first sailing on the Oslo – Bergen – New York service after the WW2
1953 Dec. 9: rudder carried away in rough weather mid-Atlantic, escorted to Bergen, first by the NAL cargo ship Lyngenfjord which had to give up, then by British tug Turmoil, she was able to maneuver by the use of her twin screws
1956 Refitted to carry 66-1st, 184-cabin and 402-tourist class passengers
and her tonnage increased to 14,015 tons
1963 Nov. 18: Last voyage in NAL service Oslo – Copenhagen – Stavanger – New York (dep 3rd Dec) – Bergen – Oslo
1964 Scrapped at Hong Kong by Patt, Manfield & Co. Ltd.
The information listed above is not the complete record of the ship. The information was collected from a multitude of sources, and new information
will be added as it emerges

The Stavangerfjord was 12 977 tons gross, 9 814 under deck and 7 527 net.
Poop 21 feet long, Bridge and Forecastle on Shelter deck 464 feet long, two funnels, two masts, 2 steel decks & steel shelter deck sheathed in wood, 3rd deck in No. 1, 2 & 3 holds, cruiser stern, 10 cemented bulkheads, cellular double bottom 480 feet long, 1,580 tons, Deep Tank, aft 80 tons, Forward Peak Tank 179 tons, Aft Peak Tank 197 tons, flat keel. She was fitted with electric light & wireless.
Propulsion: quadruple expansion engines with 8 cylinders of 26 1/2, 37 1/2, 53 & 76 inches diameter each pair, stroke 54 inches, operating at 220 p.s.i.; 1 567 nominal horsepower, 8 single ended boilers, 32 corrugated furnaces, grate surface 630 sq. ft., heating surface 24 640 sq. ft., forced draught. Twin screws and a speed of 16 knots. The engine was built by the same company as the hull.
Master: Captain K.S. Irgens, appointed to the shipping line in 1913 and to the ship in 1918.
Call sign: MSJR. There was accommodation for 88-1st, 318-2nd and 820-3rd class passengers.


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a1131_mariner 2_02‘Music of spheres’ hails Venus fly-by

The unmanned US spacecraft, Mariner 2, has taken the first-ever scan from space of the planet Venus. The mission took the spacecraft closer to Venus than any had ever been. Radio contact was established at about 19:00 GMT, heard in the form of strange chord-like sounds at the Goldstone tracking station in California.

As the sounds were picked up at Goldstone for the first time, Dr William Pickering of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, "Listen to the music of the spheres."

Long-distance signal

The scan lasted a little over 40 minutes, seeking heat and microwave emissions breaking through the cloud cover around the planet. The continuing signal transmitted a wealth of information across 36 million miles (58 million km) of space. The readings will now be analysed to see if they indicate some form of life on Venus.

James Webb, Nasa administrator, called the 110-day flight an unqualified success. He said Mariner’s observation systems were working perfectly.

"More may be added to Man’s knowledge of the planet Venus than has been gained in all the thousands of years of recorded history," James Webb, Nasa administrator

Never before has a radio signal successfully been transmitted over such a distance.

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The success of the mission is all the more remarkable as it had to overcome continual setbacks. The most recent was this morning when the electronic commander on board failed twice to trigger the radiometers on board the spacecraft.

Finally at 13:41 GMT Mariner 2 verified the radio signal had been received and acted on. Other problems included the loss of the craft’s direction control nearly two weeks into the mission, possibly due to a collision with a small object.

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Then at the end of October, one solar panel failed, turning off scientific instruments for a week. The panel failed again at the beginning of last month, but by then Mariner 2 was close enough to the Sun for one panel to supply enough power.

There was further tension during the past week when the space capsule began overheating in temperatures which turned out to be far higher than allowed for by scientists. In the event, however, instruments continued to function despite the heat.

In Context

After the results of the Mariner 2 scan were analysed, the first picture emerged of the atmosphere on Venus. They revealed that the planet rotates in the opposite direction to the Earth – only one other planet in the Solar System, Uranus, does this – and has high surface temperatures.

They also showed an atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide, continuous cloud cover and no detectable magnetic field.

Despite many attempts, no more data was received from Venus until the Soviet Venera 4 in 1967. More Venera probes and landers in the years that followed, as well as two Nasa probes known as Pioneer Venus, increased knowledge of the hostile conditions on the planet.

Then in 1989, Nasa launched the Magellan mission, the most ambitious and successful exploration of Venus to date.

Between 1990 and 1994 the spacecraft orbited Venus and successfully mapped the majority of its surface, before plunging into the atmosphere and disintegrating under the massive pressures.

A further mission to the planet was undertaken by the European Space Agency. Known as the Venus Express, it launched in November 2005 and began sending back its first pictures in April 2006.

Text from BBC’s OnThisDay

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a1080_the cyprus alarm clock

Imagine having to tell your boss you’re late for work just because you farted in your sleep 😉

Image found on break.com

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a1071_ss bourgogne

Transatlantic steamer La Bourgogne entering the port of Le Havre, France, ca. 1895

Image found on AdventuresOfTheBlackgang

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Found on heinkelscooter

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Images found on Aphid Pinterest albums

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Whether you’re planning on going green in your workshop or prefer working with traditional hand tools, here’s some old plans for a pedal driven lathe.



Click the symbol below to
download the plans
in pdf format


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Norsjö Shopper and Norsjö Partner, also called Forshaga Shopper, was a three-wheeled covered scooter manufactured by Norsjö Mechanical Workshop Ltd in Sweden between 1961 and 1994.


The Partner model came in 1961 and the vehicle was from the beginning called a "shopper". When it was updated in 1964 it also got the model name “Shopper”. The vehicle was marketed in 1964 as "shopping car for the housewife". The moped had a pipe frame construction dressed with plate and cover made ​​of a104652_shopper_02glass fibre reinforced plastic.  The moped was designed by Technology for everyone cartoonist Carl Eric Jöranson. The mopeds had dispensation from driver licenses and and with a stronger engine, 1.5 horsepower later with an exemption so they could be driven without a helmet.

According to the Swedish Traffic Authorities the exemption from helmet use was only valid if the moped was fitted with approved seat belt!

Ta104652_shopper_07he engine of the first years model was a fan-cooled 1 horsepower Husqvarna with manual gearbox and foot operated clutch and a mechanical gearshift. Some models with Husqvarna Engines was started from the seat with a hand lever, others with drawstring much like a lawn mower / brush cutter. The vehicle had three wheels and had disc brakes on all three 8-inch wheels. The weight was 74 kg.

The vehicle door was controlled by a handle mounted in the fiberglass hood which folds up when the driver was getting in and out of the vehicle.

The Husqvarna engines of 1.5 hp was eventually replaced by a Sachs Engines with automatic transmission was name Saxonette. They had a hand-operated lever that you could pull and push the moped till the engine fired and thus could still drive off  if the pull cord broke or if the engine was hard to start. This worked even on engines with an electric starter.


Eventually there was fitted an electric start option and the moped got a starting battery and an electrical 12 volts system instead of 6 volt, that was common on other mopeds.

1964 the cost of a new shopper was SEK 2,000 and 1988 cost the approximately SEK 24,000.


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1949_buick roadmaster rivierea_ill11

A closed coupe without the usual fixed centre roof pillar wasn’t exactly a new idea in 1949, and Buick wasn’t alone in fielding one that season. Even so, the first Riviera helped pioneer post-war America’s favourite body style, and that’s 1949_buick roadmaster rivierea_ill07why it’s long been judged a great car of the Forties.

The Roadmaster Riviera shares honours with the Cadillac Series 62 Coupe deVille and Oldsmobile’s Futuramic 98 Holiday as the first modern’ ‘hardtop-convertible." But contrary to popular belief, the concept did not, strictly speaking, originate at General Motors or in the years just after World War II. Dodge Brothers offered a true pillar-less coupe during World War I. Introduced in 1916, it was an all-steel three-passenger model with removable doorposts that located twin drop-down plate-glass windows on each side. Though this. novel feature was aimed mainly at easier entry I exit, it also made for a car that combined the superior sturdiness and weather protection of closed coachwork with the sort of "outdoors" feel found in open styles. This led a number of accessory makers to the idea of detachable "hard" tops, which became all the rage in the Twenties.

Most were made of steel and covered in glossy patent leather. Many were actually stronger than even the stoutest sedan roofs of the day.

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The Thirties saw increasing buyer preference for closed models with rollup windows. This prompted development of all-steel’ ‘Turret Top" construction, which made lift-off roofs unnecessary and hastened the demise of the 1949_buick roadmaster rivierea_ill04traditional roadster and touring car body types. Soon, engineers began finding ways to make roof pillars less obtrusive, and stylists began thinking about eliminating them altogether, especially the middle or "B" posts.

While some envisioned radical plastic "bubbletops," most designers harked back to the notion of a fixed-roof pillar-less coupe with an unbroken side window area that would simulate the look of a convertible with its top up and windows down.

One of them was Buick chief stylist Ned Nickles. Sometime around 1945, he devised a 3/8-scale hardtop model and showed it to division head Harlow Curtice and Buick manufacturing manager Edward T. Ragsdale. Both liked it. Ragsdale, who ultimately worked out the design’s production engineering, noted that his wife had favoured convertibles for their sporty looks, but never put the tops down to avoid mussing her hair. Curtice’s clout won corporate approval for the new body style, initially as a Buick exclusive. That, of course, was later changed.

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Buick chose the Riviera name to set the new hardtop apart from its other models. Billed as combining "the racy look of a convertible with the suave and solid comfort of a fine sedan:’ it debuted in the top-line Roadmaster series for 1949 at $3203, making it that year’s second costliest offering (after the woody wagon).

1949_buick roadmaster rivierea_ill10

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