Archive for the 'inventions' Category

Stone Quarry solution

Just inside the front door of my house is a picture I took in the garden of The Goat, a good hotel in Snowdonia where we were on holiday. It shows Ann pushing a swing on which are James and Linden. I would estimate the date to be about 1957. We had driven there in our Phantom 1 Rolls-Royce and met Henry Bristowe with his wife and son Richard who was about my son William’s age. We became friends. The Bristowes had come in their Bentley, which was Henry’s joy. They had come from Christow, not far from Exeter. Henry managed a stone quarry near Christow. He had a problem there and asked me if I could suggest a solution. Like all stone quarries the stone crusher fed a revolving drum divided into sections each of which has different sized holes in it allowing stones of the same size through into a funnel which takes them – via a belt – into the main hopper. When a contractor phones for some – say – ¾” stones it is important to know if the quarry can supply. It is important to know how full the ¾” hopper is and the only way the quarry owner could determine this was to send someone up to the hopper top to have a look. I thought of a better method which consisted of a bob-weight controlled by a loose belt driven by a geared-down electric motor with an eccentrically fixed pulley-wheel. If the motor is geared to, say, 1rpm the belt will tighten once every ½ minute and leave it slack for the rest of the minute. Tested on a model with a bucket of sand it was amusing to watch it working once every minute the bob weight would appear at the top of the sand and remain there until some more sand was added when it would quickly rise to the top again. If most of the sand was removed (contractor removing some of the hopper contents) then bob-weight would drop to the new level. A firm in Slough said they would market it, but I never followed it up. I expect a modern solution would be electronic. So all I have got left of this adventure is the picture of Ann and two of my children in their early years. I hope you enjoyed another facet of my unusual life, which is still continuing – but no more inventions I assure you!


Solar Coil Solar Panel

I designed this about 1975 and it was just in time for the wonderful summer of 1976 when we used them to heat our recently built 30’ x 15’ swimming pool and found they raised the temperature to well over 80º F. Sales went well. They were made in two sizes, approx 1 sq metre and the smaller ‘solar kettle’ which was often used on the roof in houses to augment their hot-water tank. They were water filled and required a pump for operation and they were expensive to make. But they came out top when compared with other solar panels available at the time.

Only one of my other ‘inventions’ made me any money. This way my strawberry frame which made it possible to grow about 24 plants on a ground area of 3ft x 2ft and they were bird-proof, slug proof and could be watered from the top. I have four of them on my patio today – some 35 years old and still in good order. I believe there would still be a good market for them today – perhaps made in plastic rather than the galvanised steel of the originals. They would appeal to suburban householders with limited garden space.

The Verdik Petrol Economiser

I invented this during one of the many cross-country flights with pupils which were part of my duties as an EFTS instructor. With the pupil doing most (or all) of the actual flying my mind had plenty of time to wander. In those days all cars had carburettors metering the petrol/air supply to the engine and the petrol jet would start to wear and so let through more petrol than the ideal 14/1 air/petrol mixture. One could buy an extra air control for £1 or so. This was only a rubber tube from the engine inlet manifold between the carburettor and engine and a tap fixed to the dashboard. As soon as the engine had warmed up one opened this tap just enough to improve the engine performance. The trouble with this method was that the tap must be closed every time one came to rest (traffic lights etc) or the engine would stop running. How to achieve this automatically? The answer came to me on one of these flights during which I was asking myself “What happens at tick-over that is different when the engine is running at 10 mph or more/” The answer is “the battery is being charged”. So a solenoid can do the work of opening and closing the extra air tube. Thus the Verdik Economiser came into life. It was given a good report by “The Motor” whose chief engineer was Laurence Pomeroy with whom I became friendly, and it was sold by a number of garages, Boon and Porter amongst them. But I never made any money out of it. I have no flair whatsoever for marketing anything. In any case carburettors were soon becoming out of date and alternators were replacing dynamos.


When the war was over I had an instinctive urge to get back to my Steinway but it was soon obvious that I needed several years of intensive piano practice if I was ever to realise my ambition to become a concert performer. Vernon Warner was still shedding pupils which he passed on to me and it would not be long before he arranged for me to take over his teaching at Stocks, the selective girls’ school near Tring. This took one full day a week and was very pleasant. But I needed to earn more and fate was about to step in and steer me in another direction.

An uncle in Birmingham, past-owner of the hardware emporium Frederick Jeavons, wrote to me to ask if I could design a rat-trap as the famous ‘Monarch’ which was no longer being made. I tried various designs and discovered that rats would only willingly enter a Trap where they could see an unobstructed way right through it. So was born the KLEERUN TRAP CO. I found a willing manufacturer in High Wycombe and it was not long before we were sending these traps in hundreds to FREDERICK JEAVONS to be marketed at 13/6d each. Jeavons required 50% marketing costs, to I was getting 6/9d cash making a reasonable profit. Then came government intervention! Wilson was now premier and he decreed that everything must be for export and my orders for steel wire were deflected to Canada. I could still get the steel but now had to order it via Canada and, of course, pay the extra cost of getting it here. This meant a price increase and the time soon came when the trap became too expensive. But fate was not yet finished with me! A famous burns surgeon was staying in Lane End when he spotted one of my rat traps. “That is the mesh I am looking for” he said. There was, he told me, no requirement in law to fit guards to electric fires and tiny children were often brought to him with terrible burns after gripping the glowing elements. He had managed to get a bill through parliament rectifying this and he asked if I could arrange to guard every LCC electric fire. This I did with the co-operation of the LCC who provided me with blue-prints of all their electric fires. This was followed by orders from several electricity boards and the works at High Wycombe were kept busy turning out guards by their thousands. (We call them ANN-D fireguards). This was followed up by the gas boards and soon these were added to the production line. We also made the BRADDEL guard for open fires with a considerable demand for it from a Belfast hospital. I knew this would soon finish as all manufacturers were now required to guard their own fires, but it was a profitable life while it lasted.