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Unusual Antique Electrical Device I Can't Identify. Any Ideas ? (with pics)

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posted on May, 20 2008 @ 01:07 PM
I received this from a brother that said it belonged to our Grandfather, a man that passed away 25 years ago at the age of 92.

I've tried to look it up on Google and other sites but found nothing. So I bring it to you, the members of ATS, in hopes that someone can give me a clue as to what it is.

This first picture is a little blurry but the writing on the dial says:

The dial is marked with a zero at the top and gradated 20-40-60-80 on each side of the needle. The needle moves freely from side to side if you tip the box.

This second picture shows that the top can be removed by unscrewing the top ring. Inside is an insulated coil, some wire connected to two exterior brass threaded nuts that other wires could be attached to.
I also found a piece of mica just loose inside the box.

The entire box is made of a dark wood with brass screws holding it together and all other fittings are also brass. The interior wire looks to be copper.
No other markings are on the outside and there is no label or markings inside that I can see.

Any ideas folks ???

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 01:33 PM
reply to post by anxietydisorder

I'm just guessing, but it could be one of two things.

1. An old generator. If there's a magnetic inside the coil that can be spun, that would generate electricity, and fed through wiring to the two external brass nuts.

2. An old meter of some kind. Since the exterior nuts are brass (don't rust), it makes sense this would have been used in an outdoor setting to measure electrical voltage. Outside electricity is fed though the nuts to the coil. The coil, probably designed to control amps so that the meter isn't fried, conducts power to the meter for a reading.

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 02:00 PM
I'm leaning towards your suggestion in #2.
The inside coil is fixed in position and other than the needle there are no moving parts or a place to put a small crank to rotate the coil.

I'll watch the thread for other ideas, but what you say about it being able to measure voltage makes sense.

Do you think I should try hooking a battery to the side nuts and see if I get a reaction on the needle ?

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 02:35 PM

Originally posted by anxietydisorder
Do you think I should try hooking a battery to the side nuts and see if I get a reaction on the needle ?

Just off-hand, I'm voting no.

Do let us know how it turns out, though.

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 03:02 PM
Hey Anx..

you might find something here.

I've looked through some of might make a better match there.
pretty cool stuff!

posted on May, 21 2008 @ 05:44 AM

Originally posted by anxietydisorder
Do you think I should try hooking a battery to the side nuts and see if I get a reaction on the needle ?

I personally don't see how it could hurt hooking up a source of 6volts or less to the device, unless the wiring looks really rusted or rotted.

posted on May, 21 2008 @ 05:41 PM
Thanks for the link spacedoubt, some very interesting stuff but I couldn't find a match to the item I have.

I took the advice of Toromos to see if a battery would make any indication on the dial.

I hooked up a couple wires to the bolts and started with a small lithium battery and got nothing, and then still nothing but a small wiggle with a new AAA Energizer.
When I hooked up the Duracell AA I got a needle swing to about the 5 point on the dial, and then reversing the battery the needle swung the other way about the same amount.

Obviously it's some sort of very old DC volt meter.

I'm very curious just how old this thing is now. It's very well constructed and still in working condition it seems, though the hard insulation on the main wires from the coil are a bit cracked from age.

I think I'll do a bit more research on the manufacturer to see if I can find out anything about them, or at least some reference to that company.
Any other ideas or clues will be appreciated.


posted on May, 21 2008 @ 06:14 PM
I found a cool Book online.

The Electrical Engineer: An Illustrated Record and Review of Electrical Progress

It's here in PDF format:

page 15 references the Company. They were making dynamos in 1891.
This is also illustrated. I've just begun to look through it.

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