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Thread: Can anyone identify this instrument?

  1. #1
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    Can anyone identify this instrument?

    I inherited this from my father, when he passed a few years ago, but he had owned if for as long as I remember. I recall him bringing it out to show quite a few people, from several different fields of expertise, and yet still, I really have no idea to what it actually is. Having worked for many years with fine measuring instruments, I would say it is definitely well crafted, but that's the sum of my knowledge about it.



    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y28...M0887Small.jpg


    It opens and moves in quite a few ways, and if anyone would like to see it in those positions, I can get pictures taken of it. Google of every word and number gave me a link to a very old Ebay auction, where apparently someone else had one for sale.

    I have gotten, over the years, at least 3 answers to "exactly" what it is. When I go to check, I find out that my sources were less than dependable. Hopefully, given the scope of experience and fields of expertise covered on this board, someone may know.

    TJ

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    Prototype Starship Enterprise?

  3. #3
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    Wow, that's a thing of beauty. I love stuff like that, even though I couldn't tell you what it is. I do notice that the scale, at 1:25000, is very small, so probably something to do with mapping or land surveying. Would you be able to post a bit larger picture? I can't make out all the writing, although it appears to be a German maker. I would also be very interested in seeing pictures of the motions.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Somewhat of a wild guess.....German Ship/Sub Navigation instrument...possibly to calculate torpedo firing solutions. Definitly looks like a shipboard type instrument to me. Thats where I would begin my search but it could be just a cartographers tool of some sort.

  5. #5
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    I will get some better pictures, of more views, later today.

    TJ

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJMac View Post
    ... I have gotten, over the years, at least 3 answers to "exactly" what it is. When I go to check, I find out that my sources were less than dependable. Hopefully, given the scope of experience and fields of expertise covered on this board, someone may know. ...
    Here's the manufacturer's website: http://www.haff.com/

    Why not just send them an email and ask. They should know.

    They seem to make percision drafting equipment, for architects, land surveyors, etc.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynjack1 View Post
    ... German Ship/Sub Navigation instrument...possibly to calculate torpedo firing solutions. ...
    Errr, this may come as a complete surprise to you, but not everything built in Germany has to do with submarines and torpedos, even if the History Channel may lead you to believe otherwise.

  8. #8
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    Kleindoofy, Thank you for the link to the maker. I believe at one time in the past, I had tried to contact them, with no success. I have sent them another Email.

    For what its worth, there are absolutely NO military type markings of any sort, on either the instrument, or the black leather case it is stored in.

    TJ

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kleindoofy View Post
    Errr, this may come as a complete surprise to you, but not everything built in Germany has to do with submarines and torpedos, even if the History Channel may lead you to believe otherwise.
    No offense intended but I have spent a little time on plotting boards and it seemed credible to be a plotting tool of some sort, as a former Naval Officer myself I took it a step too far, but that is why I said it was a "wild guess".

  10. #10
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    It doesn't have to be for the German navy. It could be for bombers or artillery.

  11. #11
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    It looks like an older version of this planimeter, Gebrüder Haff's company produced mathematical and drawing instruments.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    It doesn't have to be for the German navy. It could be for bombers or artillery.


    Errr, this may come as a complete surprise to you, but not everything built in Germany has to do with the military, even if the History Channel may lead you to believe otherwise.

    Instruments for technical draftsmen can be used for anything.

    People, get a grip.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrissy View Post
    It looks like an older version of this planimeter, Gebrüder Haff's company produced mathematical and drawing instruments.
    A planimeter was my first thought before I looked at the picture, but the instrument doesn't look all that much like one to me. Looking at the Haff catalog was quite interesting and brought back memories. I've still got my compasses, dividers, and the like from the days before CAD. I never had any of the quality they appear to sell, however. It's surprising they are still in that line of business as there isn't much manual drawing done in industry any more.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    ... It's surprising they are still in that line of business as there isn't much manual drawing done in industry any more.
    This page of the website isn't in the English version, but it says that using their experience if fine mechanics, they've shifted the greater portion of their business to producing percision machine and instrument parts for other firms. Since those parts would be made per individual customer order, they can't really put them on the website as products.

  15. #15
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    Based on this post in a collector's forum, it would appear to be a WWII anti-aircraft range indicator (or calculator). Online images to match the description are elusive so far.
    Brett's the name. Peters Creek is the place.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Based on this post in a collector's forum, it would appear to be a WWII anti-aircraft range indicator (or calculator).
    And to satisfy kleindoofy: It could be used to determine the range of commercial or civilian aircraft too! :P

    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Online images to match the description are elusive so far.
    Google Images is having lots of trouble loading pages, at least on this PC. First page loads fine, the rest remain blanks. Anyway, I've tried many search keys to do with navigation, sea, map, drawing, drafting, vintage, etc, but haven't seen anything that looked even remotely like TJMac's pic. Why do I bother mentioning it? Because someone else might have better ideas for search keys. Good find, Brett, regardless of whether it turns out to be the thing.
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  17. #17
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    It looks to me a lot like the head on one of these: http://www.draftingfurniture.com/lis...2/100539th.jpg. Those are, of course, drafting machines. What what your father's line of work? May help pin it down if he was, say, a cartographer.
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    May help pin it down if he was, say, a cartographer.
    There are markings that say 25,000, and national land surveys apparently are often done at 1/25,000 scale, so that seems like a pretty good clue as to what it is.
    As above, so below

  19. #19
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    Whatever it is, it's just bloody beautiful.

  20. #20
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    ^ I have to concur with you. It is an impressive specimen, showing un-paralleled workmanship.

  21. #21
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    I'm sure it's not the head off of a drafting machine. Having spent a gazillion hours using one, I know they are just marked in degrees.

    The left part of the device looks like a circular slide rule of some sort, and the right side arms look like they are from a caliper, complete with the fine adjusting wheel. Does one of the arms move when the part of the circular portion is rotated? This would suggest a variable relationship between the two arms based on angle dialed in on the circular part, but I'm really speculating. It would be nice to get more detailed pictures of it in different configurations to see how the scales vary and then speculate on what the inputs were and how the results were determined.

    It vaguely reminds me of a mechanical flight computer that I used in planning and during cross country flights in an earlier life:


  22. #22
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    The company, Haff, seems to specialise in drawing tools so I would agree with the people who say this is likely a mapping tool of some sort. I might do some digging, purely out of interest... 'tis is a thing of beauty, whatever it is.


  23. #23
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    Could you link a bigger version? I'd like to see what the units are on the circle. My current suspicion is something to do with projection, maybe the circle shows degrees and it converts lengths in a specific projection depending on latitude?

  24. #24
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    Could the Scientific Instrument Society help?
    http://www.sis.org.uk/contact/welcome

    Or, this SIS member, whose online collection includes nothing like it:
    http://www.mathsinstruments.me.uk/index.html

    The Science Museum, London, has an extansive gallery that may help http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/onli...m_objects.aspx but they say specificly that they won't answewer questions. May be worth a try to seek further paces like SIS.

    Thinking laterally, Diagram 3.30 on this page: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/li...-3-1_2/Ch3.htm looks very like the instument.
    Chillingly, it calculates radiation dose downwind of a nuclear explosion.

    John

  25. #25
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    Ahh, wild speculation is so much fun!

    Maybe it was brought to Roswell by the aliens! (Everybody knows they loved to put fake company names on things.)

    Well, I did the most obvious thing and just called the company. The sales manager said she didn't know what it was; it's too old for her. She said the boss will probably know, but he's away this week. I'll call again next week.

    Until then, we can think up all sorts of crazy things and end up looking pretty silly when we get the answer.

    Thank heavens this isn't one of those sites where people jump to absurd conclusions based on lacking or flimsy evidence. No, this is BAUT, the self-proclaimed Vatican City of scientific methodology, careful research, and rational thinking. We're supposedly all smart like.

  26. #26
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    I thought the point of a discussion forum, particularly ones marked as babbling, were to discuss things. No one here has said, "Oh, it's definitely this!" or "I has to be that!" They've offered opinions, based on various findings no less, as to what it might be. Which, if I'm not mistaken, was what a this thread was about.

    Thank heavens this isn't one of those sites where people jump to absurd conclusions based on lacking or flimsy evidence. No, this is BAUT, the self-proclaimed Vatican City of scientific methodology, careful research, and rational thinking. We're supposedly all smart like.
    You'd be hard pressed to find a scientist that's never offered an opinion or best-guess on anything. And this forum would be very boring if all thread's were just "What is this item." [Two weeks later] "It's a kilosciloplotascope." And I, for one, don't appreciate the thinly veiled accusation that anyone who has offered an opinion is stupid.

  27. #27
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  28. #28
    Just want to chime in that this thread reminds me of the old The Far Side panel in which mobsters threaten a victim with an unidentifiable "Mr. Thingy".

  29. #29
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    @Fazor

    Excuse me if it sounded wrong, but it's just exasperating when every piece of equipment manufactured in Germany prior to May 1945 is immediately and more or less exclusively associated with shooting torpedos from submarines, dropping bombs from airplanes, tracing and shooting down aircraft, and more of the same.

    Even if it's a surveyor's tool or a map plotting or reading device (which it probably is, a planimeter), in many internet opinions it will of course have been used to plan tank warefare, build Luftwaffe airstrips, and what have you.

    This is a form of prejudice and shouldn't be on BAUT. Maybe it is a piece of old military paraphernalia, but would that be the first thing to jump into peoples minds if it was from, say, Spain?

  30. #30
    If it was from Spain, we'd be arguing whether it was used by the Republicans or the Nationalists.

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