Visitors are invited to provide information (substantiated where possible) as to the name and purpose of items displayed here. If you can shed further light on any of the unanswered questions simply email
Click on any of the images below to see a larger version.
Unknown instrument, possibly surveying related, dia 145mm, graduated in 360 degrees. In a fitted box, with possibly a part missing from the square box.
Branded "H.G.Thornton, Manchester" (a famous firm of surveying instrument makers).
Picture supplied by I K Pierre-Humbert of Drouin, Vic.
Feedback received: "No. 19 is a single arm protractor. These were usually used by surveyors, drafting whatever plan. This is a very nice example". Identified by Craig Gillingham.
No. 18 (and 16 and 17)
These images are of a gadget of unknown purpose, supplied by Alan Riley in Queensland. If anyone can shed some light on this item please contact the Webmaster.
Pete Jepson from Cheltenham provided this feedback: "This is a rotary Pricking Iron used by saddlers and harness makers. Leather to be stitched is passed under the wheel which 'pricks' spaced indentations in the piece which mark where the stitching awl pierces the leather with a diamond shaped hole for the harness needle. Pricking wheels can be had in multiple sizes. Small versions are used in dress making. Saddlers/ leatherworkers also use Pricking Irons, which comprise a solid flat steel bar with diamond shaped indentations cut into the lower edge. They look like a multiple leather hole punch, but using a pricking iron as a punch would draw much ire from a professional."
What is this?
This is a comparative Brinel hardness tester. A square bar of calibrated known harness is inserted in the square hole between the ball and the punch body. The ball is positioned on the component to be hardness tested and the tool is struck with a hammer the square test bar is removed and the hemispherical mark left on the test bar and the component are measured for diameter and the values are cross matched on a table to give the HBN number. These tools are still very common.
Thanks to Michael Slattery and Ian Speer for identifying this one.
What is this?
This is a tool for removing “W” pins (a type of spring clip used to secure the ball in a ball and socket connection between individual High Voltage insulator discs in a string – as seen on transmission towers).
Thanks to Matt Reynolds for identifying this one.
The item is a “Ring Cutter” Generally used in hospital emergency departments for safe removal of rings. Especially when there is swelling due to trauma. Hook piece slips between ring and finger, light pressure applied by thumb on plate. Rotate wheel until ring cut. Metal blade cannot cut finger. (Trevor Jones)
No. 11 (and 10)
Another Whatsit - this one marked "BONUM 2001". The pointed end looks like a short piece of star picket.
Feedback #1: "The Bonum 2001 is a general purpose scraper, the blade (star picket) should be located centrally in the head of the handle. It should be sharpened on a grinding wheel with final finishing on a flat stone to give a micro bevel. It works a treat with three cutting surfaces to be dulled before resharpening. I obtained mine from the deceased estate of a timber boat builder."(Gordon Lewins)
Cast iron Ox-bow pin.
Feedback: "This is an Ox-bow pin in the open position. It was used on the old wooden ox-bows to retain the 'U' shaped bow in the yoke." - Tom Partington USA.
The bottom image is a diagram of an Ox-bow (from the website: http://prairieoxdrovers.com/yokes.html)
No. 7 (and 6)
Some sort of gauge, from the electrical / electronics industry, going by the name 'EMF'.
Gerald Brookes provided:"EMF made welding rods (among other things). I was told, and it looks right, that these gauges would be used to measue a weld fillet in a 90 Deg join".
Grahame Collins responded: "The item pictured on your whatsits page is a welder's Fillet gauge. It is a unit still in use today to measure the fillet size of what you would call a Tee weld. Fillet weld size determines cost pricing on welded work of large proportions as well as distortion control.
The would have been imperial dimension units but later models would of course been in metric. The EMF brand was a British company manufacturing welders and electrodes and ancillary equipment."
No. 5 (and 4)
Tool marked 'Jacksons Patent, for nos 2 & 3 buttons' on one side and 'For D & E Button Plates' on the other.
Answer: "This is a wrench / key for adjusting the joining buttons on leather and other belting for belt driven machinery. Jacksons supplied this belting also."
No. 3 (and 1 and 2)
Interesting Gadget - but what exactly is it?
Feedback from Graham Clegg, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia:
"The item is a tool used to fit wire hook type belt fasteners to flat transmission belting. The hooks come on a paper card --in use the hooks fit into the brass divisions and are secured there by the loose pin. The belting is placed between the sharp pointed ends of the hooks and the hooks are squeezed shut in the jaws of a vyce, embedding the fastener hooks in the belt."
(Note: Whatsit numbering was originally related to images rather than items and some Whatsits have been consolidated resulting in numbering changes.)