Monday, November 20, 2006

Ways to Entertain Yourself

Popular Mechanics offers a fun little book (for boys and girls alike, in spite of the title) called The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build but there's also a 1913 version available for free here, although in the older version, as the transcriber points out:

Another class of projects illustrate the caviler [sic] attitude toward environment and health in 1913. These projects involve items such as gunpowder, acetylene, hydrogen, lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, cadmium, potassium sulfate, potassium cyanide, potassium ferrocyanide, copper sulfate, and hydrochloric acid. Several involve the construction of hazardous electrical devices. Please view these as snapshots of culture and attitude, not as suggestions for contemporary activity.

Still, there are also some very fun and potentially useful projects, including a secret door lock, an igloo, kites and boomerangs, your own backyard merry-go-round, scores of sleight-of-hand magic tricks, a toboggan, and a homemade butter churn, about which the contributor says:

Many people living in a small town or in the suburbs of a city own one cow that supplies the family table with milk and cream. Sometimes the cream will accumulate, but not in sufficient quantities to be made into butter in a large churn. A fruit jar usually takes the place of a churn and the work is exceedingly hard, the jar being shaken so the cream will beat against the ends in the process of butter-making. The accompanying sketch shows clearly how one boy rigged up a device having a driving wheel which is turned with a crank, and a driven wheel attached to an axle having a crank on the inner end. This crank is connected to a swinging cradle with a wire pitman of such a size as to slightly bend or spring at each end of the stroke. The cradle is made with a cleat fastened to each end, between which is placed the fruit jar, partially filled with cream. The jar is wedged in between the cleats and the churning effected by turning the crank. --Contributed by Geo. E. Badger, Mayger, Oregon.

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