Monday, April 17, 2017

Hand drills from cricket stumps

Street cricket was rampant in my younger days.  All kids were on the streets after school in the evenings playing various games and sports.  With the boys, cricket was the most popular, played across the road using the 'foot path' and the house compounds on either either side where 'stumps'.  'Stumps' were drawn on compound walls using with green leaves plucked from one of the thick shrubs in a nearby house!  But when we needed to play along the length of the 'foot path', we used stumps.  'Traffic' was not a word we used in those days as only a few wheeled machines plied the roads!

The house opposite ours was "Liver House", that had 4 doctors, an engineer, two dancers and an army Captain [Srikantaiah].  Eswar, Shivaram and Udaya had outgrown their cricket playing days  and the stumps they had played with had no use. So they had given it to me.  They used to have metal points at the bottom and brass rings at the top to withstand the impact when the stump is driven into the earth, similar to the chisel handles of carpenters.  Stumps were like this:

They were of great use on several occasions, a boon.  They were an integral part of our tennis ball cricket.  For matches with other teams we went to the fields nearby but played in front of our houses on the streets in the evenings.   In 1978-9 I joined a team called "Combined XI" in the next street, Gita Road.  The wooden stumps were not required anymore what with street cricket also becoming less. 

In 1975-76 there was a carpenter engaged to make windows etc. for an extra room my father built to the old house.  I had been curiously watching his skills, techniques and how he used his tools, some of them he had made himself.  My interest in such things was recognized by my father.  I had a chisel a mallet of my uncle and my father got me second hand chisels, a planer and a measuring tape from a tenant's friend who did not require them anymore. I did not have the tool to drill holes.  These stumps came handy.  I cut them up and made my own drilling tool, copying from that carpenter.  I had also made a planer in wood which was crude. 

Junked iron rods and bicycle spokes were tried for the drilling bits.  The drill driver has a rope which goes around the 'cylindrical'.  

I made different widths of bit-tips. I had also seen how he sharpened the tips.  I had bought a flat file from Salar Masood & Sons, Ashoka Road. 

I have used them with great success for my several carpentry works and repairs. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Golf club display

My grandfather, besides his law profession, was a renown 'all-round sportsman'.  Way back in the 1930s and 40s he used to play a sport that few people played, golf.  The Mysore Maharajas encouraged sports also in a big way.  Mysore Sports Club was formed in the early 1930s.  It had a golf course [now separate as Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Golf Club].

My grandfather's golf kit was of lovely red-brown leather, which in my younger days was lying around in a corner.  He had stopped playing it in the 60s. In the kit were a few woods and a few irons, some of them with wooden shafts [Web grab image].  In the smaller compartments were tees and used Dunlop golf balls, old and damaged. In the mid 1980s, we tried to sell the kit through an uncle [Dixit] in Bengaluru as he was a member of the Bowring Club. But after keeping it for 2-3 years he returned saying he was not able to sell. 

In 1990-91, we found that my friend and street mate 'Raju' was into golf in KGF where he was working [in BEML].  We gave it to him offering to quote his own price.  From the Rs.1,000/ he gave, we had booked our first telephone.  Before we gave the kit, I kept the weak and broken clubs [3 in number] with me as a memory.  I had also lost [regret now] the tees and golf balls, but carefully saved the golf ball tins [pictured here].
In recent times, I converted one wooden club into a desktop paper weight cum note holder. Another weak wood club gives company to my grandfather's walking sticks.  

The broken iron club now finds itself on display, sparked by an idea that flashed in my mind two days ago and implemented the next day following some light carpentry work. Proper grooves to hold the two objects. The golf ball is from recent times. 

See pictures: 

Holder stand is ready.

This is a "No.10 iron" club, hand forged. They imported several items from England.  Interestingly, the wooden club above left has an imprint "Spencer & Co, Madras"!

Display ready. 

The backside. Simple clips to hold them in place. They are earthquake resistant! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gapanathi's Whistle and more

Living opposite our house on Devaparthiva Road, was one humble Iyer family.  Ramaswamy Iyer and his wife had five children. The third one was Ganapathi, a boy slightly elder to me.  He was a very talented chap and my nemesis in many games we used to play against each other.  How we used to play several games and created little toys with innocuous materials can cause wonderment today, in the world of iPads, cell phones, laptops.

The Iyer family lived in the [rented] house seen with a green door at the back. Our tenant enters our premise.  Photo may be from 2001 or so. The houses have undergone facelift since the 60s. We no longer live in this street. The Iyer family left in the early 70s. The opposite row of houses had a common wall between them!

Ganapathi was an expert player in tops.  His played with a narrow design top.  His rope was unique.  It was short and stout, which he himself had made it using other threads.  The length was so short that he would wind it in a jiffy, spin and lift it into the hand circling with the rope while still spinning. His swiftness coupled with the shortness of this rope ensured he spun the top a lot earlier than the opponent and hence end up with a win.  I would be still winding my long rope [bought from Shetty's shop on Sayyaji Road.] with Ganapathi watching me with a teasing look!  Sometimes the tip of my rope would tangle with the pivot nail and this would please him. In another game, the loser would keep his top on the ground in a drawn circle.  Others had to hit this top with theirs and spun their top in one action to dislodge it out of the drawn circle.  Ganapathi's aim was incredible and he seldom missed the target top.  His top's pivot nail was stout and sharp, meant to damage and even break the opponent's top!  He would hit very hard and deface it with deep nail marks. He was so accurate in his aim.  It was agonizing to see my defaced top but Ganapathi derived great pleasure! He ALWAYS won. He was an undoubted hero of the street.

A top from those days, cracked by time and not by Ganapathi. This is nearly how his top was like.

The big top on the right is not mine. It is a mysterious top which came rolling to our door one afternoon in the early 70s and I know not from where it came.  There appeared to be no one in the street playing! 

Only a few of these marbles are from those times, the roughened ones. 

Playing marbles, Ganapathi was very nearly invincible with his laser-sharp aim.  He played with his right hand while I was comfortable with my left [middle finger]. He stocked an enviable number of marbles he won in 4-5 beverage tin fulls!  It was testimony to his amazing skills.  He would proudly show the tin fulls when I went to his house.  When he poured the marbles out to show, the very sound of so many marbles was music!  I wanted to win like him, but it was impossible with boys like Ganapathi!  I would buy marbles, new and shiny, ten marbles for ten paisa at Shetty's shop on Sayyaji Rao Road. Ganapathi used to win most of them!  He was dynamic, elder, experienced, bold and talented.  He did not cheat, but he loved teasing.

Win he would in the little games with marbles for which matchbox labels were kept at stake. He had bundles of them to show!  All the boys lost to him.

At Gulli-danda game, the side in which he was in usually won.  In the absence of a Carrom board, he wrote the board with chalk on the floor of his house.  His sisters would join the game. It was quite a funny feeling with no 'rebounds' possible!  He was good at drawing and he used to show me his sketch book which was stitched from left over pages of old note books. I am sure he would have made that book too.

 There was a game for which we collected empty cigarette packs, folded and piled, kept in a circle and took turns to disperse out of the circle with the striker - a flat piece of stone - to win. Ganapathi would hit the target unerringly and grab all at stake kept in the circle!  Seldom did he miss.  At the game of Lagori also he was very good.

Ganapathi was adept in whistling with the fingers in different styles.  He would also make a few types with ordinary things like some bamboo pieces and bicycle tube rubber.  He had made a beautiful slingshot with which he would hit the target, usually some fruit or for fun with such aim that was truly astonishing.

Among the many other little things like those,  the one thing I still admire was his ingenuity in making a 'pea whistle'.  A real pea whistle would be like this, used by army officers, the police and sports masters.

Our genius Ganapathy made his own from real scrap. It was crude, but it worked... 'prrrreeeep... prrrrrreeeeeep'.  I tried to recall by trying to replicate the whistle 42-43 years since I saw Ganapathi's work.  I remember I had made one at that time also.  We needed an old wall calendar with its pages bound like this - with a thin tin strip.  In those days, this was the only type we had and the spring bound calendars had not arrived.

Unfold the tin strip and separate from the calendar paper. Just a length of about 4-5 inches is all that is required to make the whistle.

Flatten this portion, cut it.

Bend the piece like this.

I do not know how Ganapathi made this air-escape hole, but I punched the hole with a poker and flattened it. 

The 'mouth piece' which I had slightly rounded to blow air in was wrapped with paper to prevent air leakage from the sides.  Again, I cannot recall clearly how our genius used to make. I bent slightly at the hole for the blown air to enter the curved area that would house the 'whirring' seed.  The open sides were held closed by the thumb and another fingertip after putting the 'seed' in it.

Ganapathi used a star gooseberry seed but I found a Mirabilis jalapa plant seed [below] in my garden to serve the purpose.  

Ganapathi's whistle made a pleasing little 'prrrrreeeeep'. The seed had to be saved each time we removed the fingers from the whistle.  My latest project whistle produced 'Ssrrrssssrrrsssssss'.  Do not miss the 'r' that is the sound produced by the blown seed trapped in the gap, I need to adjust the angle of the air blow and I am sure to re-tune the true 'prrreeeeepp' some time.  
But then this is just for the idea how our genius Ganapathi did from things that one expected!  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bino-zoom for cheap camera

Thanks to my kind friend Thomas who used to lend me his Sony Mavica in 2002. This became the first digital camera I handled and this little experience helped me when another friend George gifted me a very basic camera, an Emprex, in 2006.  Not long after, another kind friend in the US presented me with a Fuji FinePix A120. 

This Emprex was the bridge between film camera and the digital era which was beginning around 2006, in India.  Obviously, quality of pictures from the Emprex were low.  There is not much one can expect from such a low priced gadget.  Here is one taken in 2006, market. 

Fuji was a slight promotion in quality. It gave good colour if not sharpness, but still it was worthy.  I had used it on my tour to Bhopal and several shots in my garden. 

The Emprex, with its 3 MP sensor and a very tiny lens, could never provide a sharp image, even with my innovative methods.  But I tried to squeeze the most out the Fuji using my own little innovations, both for taking long zoom shots and also close-ups for which, the camera was not at all equipped. It was a point and shoot camera. 

I had made a telescope in the 1970s from which I had taken the picture [ordinary film camera]of the hill top palace, miles away.  Here is the picture.

Thirty years later, I tried it with the Fuji with my 7x binocular. This is what I got.  The scratches above were for marking the area of the palace for printing only that portion.  The horizontal line is the electric cable.  B&W film negative.  Interestingly, in both photos, by coincidence, roof tiles are seen, but both different locations as we changed houses. The tree near that palace is still there. 

But still, my dream of having a zoom camera remained.  I was also trying close-ups using my own innovation from the lenses I had kept from the projector I had man-handled! Here are the lens holders I made for this close-up 'add-ons', 'hand-hold-ons' to be precise.  This was to get more magnification of the image.

I could hold one, two or three lenses in front of the camera lens, one in front of the other, in alignment. This helped, but did not give good results.  But I found my watch repairer's eye piece [seen above] to be of good use. I got vignettes on the edges using this but pictures were reasonably sharp.

Some images with the projector lens, no vignetting.

.A friend's tripod was with me for some days.  So I devised a frame to fix the binocular to it and keep the camera - the Fuji - in the exact position.  This helped alignment of the eye-piece and the camera lens.

I marked, cut and bent a stiff aluminium plate for this. I fixed the binocular to the tripod using a broken table lamp fixture.

Another gift came in the form of a Panasonic Lumix FZ8 which had amazing macro ability and 12x zoom.  With it I could go eye-to-eye with a butterfly.

This is the butterfly, a Lemon.

This is a garden pest on my thumbnail..... enlarge this thumbnail and see its legs.

I can zoom in on an object from many feet without my binocular fitting!

And zoom in to see craters on the moon.

... and see 'sun spots' on the morning sun. 

All these without any extra attachments.  There appears to be no end to technological advancements, but the fun in getting the most out of the limitations can never be paralleled.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Car bumper finds another use

A flat, solid-looking metal object, broken in the middle, was lying in the store [attic] room for many years.  When I moved house, it came with me.  I knew it was the bumper of a car.  Since this looked like an object that could be useful in some other way, I got this broken junk welded by my friend Ramas.  It continued to lie here and there.  Finally it found some re-purpose after five decades!

My late uncle Kitti had a car which he had bought for a thousand rupees.  I still wonder how he managed this huge sum in 1964-65, which was probably 5 or 6 times his salary from a small job. It was a car that had changed many hands already and at least 20+ years old.  It was, I reckon a "Morris Minor" from the 1930s vintage.  

Kitti's car was something like in the web-grab images [below], cream coloured, 4-seater, two doors. Back-seat access was by folding the front seat. 

From 'OldClassicCar'

Keep an eye on the front bumper to which the registration plate is fixed. 
That is the part being bragged here. Click on the images to enlarge.

Its registration plate bore "MYM 828".  I can remember that they used to talk about how someone had cheated Kitti with a very poor condition vehicle.  It was frequently finding itself in the repair garage.  Unable to meet the expenses Kitti sold it off for peanuts after incurring a heavy loss and landing in debt. He had reverted to his Robin Hood bicycle [1958], which I still use.
 Kitti died as a bachelor in his early 40s in 1967.  

Kitti was fond of kids. He was a bit adventurous, much to the chagrin of my grandmother. I hear that young Kitti used to clandestinely take away my g/g/father's Model T Ford car which made my grandmother anxious.

Me and Kitti at Raj Studio

 After Kitti sold this troublesome Morris Minor, the new owner had painted it red.  It was a prominent vintage car even in the 60s and attracted passersby, for its mere vintage look. "Look, Kitti's car" we used to exclaim when we saw it.  This car was on the road for a couple of more years before finally 'disappearing'. 

Did you see the bumper in the car images above?  It is actually just over a metre long, so you can imagine the width of this baby car!   

Fifty years on, this bumper gets 'unjunked', finally finding some use in my garden, of all places.  For growing small flowering vines, I placed two ladder-like structures and then connected the two on top with this bumper.  Soon, the plants from both sides will reach the top to dangle and droop.

View from above.

Close-up of one end of the rusty bumper.

This sleek object will remind me of Kitti' Morris and the short rounds he took me after he returned from work.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plant Markers from plastic bottles

Nowadays, shampoos, hair oils, perfumes, talcs, lotions, what have you, all come in such plastic packing [as in picture above] and make way into our homes.  Once empty, a vast majority of them find no further use or reuse and have to be discarded.  But some good ones are suitable for other purposes after the original content is used up.  

I have seen many people use old Venetian Blinds for labeling their plants in the garden.  Since I cannot find the blinds here, I thought of using the spray bottles to label what I planted/sowed where. There will be so many such containers that may be handy too.  

Next time I cut up a container, I will think of more artistic patterns. There is one here that got the shape of a carrot and one like a necktie.  There will be so many options if we use our own 'recyclables'.

[Names are written with Sharpie pens.]

I hope you also noticed the 'bed dividers'.  They are granite pieces I gathered from the stone-slab cutting shop - they throw these waste pieces out in a pile for the landfills. I brought in a few and used it like this, since I cannot even think of wood on the soil due to termite menace. 

I have some spare blanks now.  

When I write the name on the top, I can still cut up that written portion later if I want to use it for other names in the next season, but the label will be slightly shorter. Squeeze the maximum out of it!