July 9, 2012 in Innovation
The previous post on inventions set me thinking. Maybe Chris or another of the engineers reading the blog can help me with this. This was invented by my father around 1954, I believe it is called a ” skaapvoet.” He was a roads inspector in Pietersburg (now Polokwante). My earliest memories as a boy of 4 / 5 years old was how he came home from work in the evenings with a packet of placticine. After evening meal when the table was cleared (there were no separate ” studies” in those days!) newspapers were spread out and I had to soften the placticine and mold them into round balls for my father to begin shaping his ideas in clay. One of those was this. Today I see many of these were there are roadworks, of course professionally manufactured. In those days the surface was compacted by manual labourers (black in those days), with crowbars. The provincial roads department in Pietersburg had a well equipped workshop and my father had the crowbars’ head removed, sockets manufactured and as you can see in the photograph the heads of the crowbars were fitted into the sockets which were cemented into the concrete cylinder. I know enough of inventions to be surprised if this was not invented before this in the USA, for instance. Maybe he had seen something like this during his service in North Africa during World War II. However, I would love find out what the history if this implement is. My father was obsessed by labour saving equipment. In those days of course not a very popular idea – manual labour was freely available and cheap. I can remember how a couple of years later he went to provincial headquarters in Pretoria with all his inventions documented and returned (financially) empty handed – obviously because he had invented this and others while an employee of the provincial government. That these inventions helped him to be promoted to positions beyond which his matric qualification warranted is of course also true.