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April 5, 2012

The Medd Auto-Tent-Door-Closer and D.C. Ingratiator: A Chain Reaction Machine

Like previous chain reaction devices on this blog (the fish harvester and breakfast machine), this contraption was featured in John Sweet's Scoutward Bound column in THE SCOUT magazine. Two quick points before I show his drawing and description: firstly, John Sweet wrote the classic Scout Pioneering,  my favourite book on pioneering. Secondly, if you've ever tried to build a chain reaction device like this, you'll know it's pretty tricky. This eight step reaction took 90 minutes to set up.

From page 729 of the 1953  THE SCOUT annual:
"Senior Scout H. Medd has designed a new precision gadget which is not only most ingenious in itself but also reveals a deep insight into the psychology of such people as Scoutmasters and District Commissioners.
We all know, says Medd, how important it is to keep the Scouter or D.C. in good temper in camp, especially when competitions are under way and everything depends upon the mood in which the examiners wake up in the morning. Many Patrol Leaders, in such circumstances, pin their faith to that early morning cuppa; but what is the good, asks Medd, of  offering a D.C. a cup of tea when he has probably spent a restless and disturbed night?
As everyone knows there are different grades and "depths" of  sleep, and the sort we must ensure for our Scouters and Commissioners is that deep, dreamless variety which reaches right down into the sub-conscious and is spoken of so highly in the advertisements for malted milk.
The "Medd Auto-Tent-Door-Closer and D.C. Ingratiator" achieves the same result quite painlessly. What happens is this:
Rain falls during the night and runs down the trough into the billy-can, thereby upsetting the balance of the guillotine and bringing the razor-sharp knife into operation. This releases the spring-sapling and unties the super slip-reef on the door curtains. At the same time the vibration on the sapling rings the warning bell to let everyone in camp know rain is falling. The D.C. awakes, hears the groans of less fortunate fellow-campers as they stagger out to deal with the situation, and goes peacefully to sleep again."

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