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Thread: What is this tool?

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    Jon
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    What is this tool?

    Inspired by Philip Davies's popular recent What are these tools? post, I dug up a few nice mystery tool photographs from around the net.

    Does anyone know - what is this tool?




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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Although it looks a lot like a flintlock tinder lighter, I believe it's a gunpowder tester.

    The curved arm is lifted and a charge of powder to be tested is placed in the small container so revealed. When the flintlock fires, this powder is ignited and its force blows the curved arm upward. Said arm is attached to the ratchet which rotates with it and catches the arm at its greatest angle. Thus the angle of the arm is a measure of the power of the powder under test.

    Pressing the pivoted ratchet pawl behind the frizzen allows the curved arm to snap back into the rest position shown.

    Am I correct?
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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Second one down from the top here...

    Auction Items | For The Love Of Contemporary

    is similar but of slightly different design.
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    Jon
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    Good call. I've got to start finding more difficult ones.

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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Good call. I've got to start finding more difficult ones.
    Just type

    what is this tool

    into Google images and you'll get tons of really weird tools, many of which are yet to be identified.
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    Jon
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    Will do; I have a decent bookmark collection so far. Many of them are very rudimentary hand tools, but there are a few nice picks. Also some modern tools whose purpose is difficult to ascertain.

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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Try, if possible, to avoid the tools whose use is fairly obvious but its uniqueness lies in the very specific application in which it is used. A good example of what I mean is the wrench used for the pentagonal valve nut on the top of a fire hydrant. Its use is obvious - it's a wrench - but it's only used by firemen. There are literally thousands of special pupose tools that fall into this category, especially automotive and firearm tools.

    The powder tester was an excellent choice. An intricate antique with good clues to its era (a flintlock mechanism and the pistol handle style) but obscure enough to demand some thought. Plus, it had an exposed mechanism so it was possible to analyze its operation from the photograph.

    When I was a kid (in the later Jurassic) television still had some shows with content. One was a program put on by the Philadelphia museum of natural history. Objects would be brought up from the museum's storage cellars and offered to a panel of experts whose job it was to determine the age, location and use of the object. I loved that show and learned a lot from it. My own grandchilder, raised in cotton wool by their yuppie parents, can't recognize or describe the use of a chisel. It makes me glad that I'm not going to be around to see how it all turns out.
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    PJs
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    I truly enjoy this type of exercise and agree with Marv that this is an excellent example (although he solved it in an hour or less). Mr. Pete on YT has a series similar with tools and some are still in limbo as to what they are.

    I had a couple of pics that I can't find now of a device I found at the hardware store which also has surplus military stuff, mostly Swiss. It had a most beautifully made screw system for back and forth motion but had no clue what it did. I'll keep looking for the pics as no one at the store knew and all us old timers didn't have a clue either.
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    Jon
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    Agreed. Same concept with all of the different kind of antique shovels; there's minimal intellectual satisfaction in being able to differentiate between a gravedigger's shovel and a coal mucker's shovel.

    I really liked the game show Liar's Club. They would feature unusual antiques, and a panel of celebrities would offer an explanation of the antique. All of the celebrities were blatantly lying, except one. You got to see interesting objects, and you got exposure to how difficult it is to determine who is telling the truth.

    I'm not sure how to reconcile the problem with the youngest generation today. At first I thought that the internet would solve a lot of issues, because people would be exposed to a huge variety of worldviews. Now I see that people can sit at a keyboard, with every viewpoint in the world literally at their fingertips, and still fall prey to various cognitive biases that prevent them from seeking out different opinions.

    Here's an example of a more modern mystery tool:


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    PJs
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    A high impact leather punch?
    ‘‘Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’’
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