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March 9, 2007

Chain Reaction Device: Breakfast Machine

John Sweet's columns in the old Scout magazine were filled with all manner of improbable device. Here is a typical example from 1953 with the description from the magazine:

"John Tomkins of the 105th Manchester Troop has perfected another of those admirable devices for getting the Patrol off to a flying start in the morning. You will notice a strong family resemblance to other screwball gadgets which have appeared from time to time in this column, but it has one or two new and endearing features.

What happens, apparently, is this:

The sand in the container A runs out slowly through the hole in the bottom during the long watches of the night, so that, with the coming of dawn, the counter-weight drops and the match on the end strikes itself neatly on the box and touches off the paraffin wick fuse, which lights the fire.

The fire, gently fanned by the morning breeze, burns through the string above it and allows the sapling spring to come into operation. This swings the billycan of water over the fire. At the same time the match on the other end of the rod sweeps past the second matchbox and is struck. This touches off the firework, and the sound of the explosion awakens the peacefully sleeping Patrol."

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