oct gadget

October 2013
By Jim Borland

Welcome to “Guess the Gadget” a monthly reader participation series. Here’s how it works: First examine the photo of the monthly “Gadget” and guess what it appears to be. You will find the answer under this photo but upside down. Lastly congratulate yourself on your cleverness or not.

We hope that this series will poke at your imagination and enhance your knowledge of historic and unusual objects no longer commonly used and raise appreciation of life as it used to be. Feel free to send photos of strange and unusual objects or gadgets for our review and possible presentation in future issues. Also, if our answer for “Guess the Gadget” is incomplete or inaccurate, please educate us.

“Ahhhh…late summer on Ocracoke and the weather is good and the tourists plentiful, how could it get any better?  Well here’s how, a new “gadget” to guess.  This one is tough but was used in water probably during the 18th century or earlier.  It does look like a rocket, but it isn’t.  What do you think?  I got it from Justin LeBlanc at The Ocracoke Coffee Company, who got it from his dad who may have inherited it,… who knows?

Answer:  “It is a mechanical speed log or meter or otherwise known as a taffrail log.  It operates on the same physical principles as a car’s odometer by towing a van or rotor from the stern (or taffrail) by a long line, thus the speed of the hull can be calculated using simple (?) mathematics. (reference to Wikipedia, chip log)  Interesting eh?”  Jim Borland, The Gadget Guy

Jim Borland is semi retired and has lived here full time with his wife since 2007.



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