Tag "Useful"
Mobile Power Plant (Sep, 1948)

Mobile Power Plant
GAS-TURBINE power plants on rails have been conceived by Allis-Chalmers engineers as emergency units to be used when power plants fail or disaster disables transmission lines. Still in the blueprint stage, the turbine generators mounted on railway trucks for rapid movement will be built in 3000 and 6000-kilowatt units, to operate as a sole source of electric power or to be synchronized with an existing power system.

License Tag in Miniature Identifies Auto Keys (Oct, 1939)

I think this is a great idea. Though I’m sure that Bruce Schneier could explain to me why this is a bad idea, I’d still love to have one. I can never remember my license plate number! Here is an awesome gallery of similar key chains.

This guy sells them, but they don’t look nearly as nice.

License Tag in Miniature Identifies Auto Keys

A metal tag stamped out as a miniature reproduction of your automobile license plates is attached by a chain to a novel key ring designed to hold car keys. Tiny copies of any individual license plate of any state may be obtained. The identifying tags are especially useful where a number of sets of keys to different cars are kept in one place, as in a public garage.

Gas from Sewage Waste Runs City Power Plant (Mar, 1922)

Gas from Sewage Waste Runs City Power Plant

SEWAGE that costs large cities tremendous sums each year can be turned into a source of power equivalent to thousands of tons of coal! The waste now dumped into rivers or shipped to sea may be used to run factories or to light buildings!

That conversion of sewage into power is possible has been proved conclusively by the city of Birmingham, England. There a suction gas engine of 20 brake horsepower has been successfully driven by the gases given off by sewage sludge.

Toe Preview (Jan, 1947)

Toe Preview will eliminate guesswork when salesmen fit kiddies’ shoes with master sizes made with transparent vamps of Vinylite. Developed by Step Masters, they’re supplied to dealers in full sets of half sizes. Vinylite is Bake-lite’s name for transparent vinyl plastic.


That’s a really nifty way to pump water!

Adapting an Oriental idea for raising water for his own needs and to irrigate his fields, a California farmer has constructed the curious apparatus shown in the accompanying photographs. Power from a windmill, transmitted through gears, revolves a spiral-shaped tube of pipe open at both ends. The outside end dips into a water-filled ditch at each revolution. Water is thus picked up, and runs by gravity around the spiral to the hub as the wheel revolves. An opening in the hub dis-charges the water into a trough four feet above the level in the ditch, giving a sufficient lift for the irrigation purposes desired.



Constructed of junk parts at a total cost of $20, a homemade hydroelectric power plant is supplying current on the farm of William E. Howell, Decatur Island, Wash. The water wheel is built up on half of a rear automobile axle, and the two-foot, V-shaped buckets are constructed of cedar planks. A thousand gallons of water a minute run down a 217-foot flume from a small creek and strike the buckets after a five-foot drop, spinning a one-fourth-horsepower, thirty-two-volt motor of washing machine type which is used as a generator. The electricity thus produced by the “backyard” hydroelectric station is sufficient to light two houses, the barn and outbuildings, to operate an electric washer, sewing machine, vacuum cleaner and sheep-shearing machine, and to run the builder’s amateur radio station, with which he talks to the mainland.

Glasses Let Color-Blind See Red Light (Sep, 1940)

This seems like a pretty good idea. Of course it’s not as necessary anymore since we have standardized stop lights. You can just tell which light is on by it’s position.

Glasses Let Color-Blind See Red Light

TO ENABLE color-blind motorists to determine whether a traffic light is red or green, a New York City optical firm has just introduced special glasses. The spectacles are made in two sections, the upper consisting of a segment of dark-red filter glass, and the lower of clear crown glass, although optically ground eye-correction lenses may be employed for those who ordinarily wear glasses when driving. With the spectacles on, the color-blind driver looks through the red filter section of the lenses as he approaches a traffic light. If he sees any light at all in the traffic standard, he knows that it must be either red or amber, the “stop” or “caution” signal, since the filter blocks out all rays emanating from the green “go-ahead” light, while admitting the others. Since eye specialists estimate that one person in every twenty-five is colorblind, the filter glasses should make an important contribution to the problem of increasing traffic safety.

Turntable Eases Garaging (May, 1952)

Turntable Eases Garaging

Now Frank Enos of Sausalito, Calif., just presses a button to solve what had been a difficult problem. He lives on the side of a hill, with a garage 30 feet below the level of the road and at the end of a 150-foot driveway. Backing up the hill on wet mornings was sometimes a dangerous chore, until Enos devised a turntable and installed it just before the entrance to the garage. Pressing a button puts a 1/2-horsepower geared motor to work revolving the table after Enos backs out, and he drives forward up the hill. The turntable deck is supported by 4 by 12-inch girders and 2 by 12-inch joists which are set on eight concrete piers.

Bag Inside a Can (Jun, 1970)

I’ve always wondered how those worked!

Bag Inside a Can
New kind of pressurized package keeps product and propellant separate You’ve probably used hundreds of aerosol cans to dispense everything from shaving foams to vermouth with astonishing ease.

But so far, these pressurized cans have only been able to dish out sprays and foams. Now science has perfected a new type of pressurized package that will let you dispense more viscous substances, like gels, greases, and caulks, with aerosol convenience.

A new shaving preparation called Edge, by Johnson Wax, is one of the first products to be packaged in this second-generation pressurized can. Unlike other whisker-wilters, which emerge as foam, Edge oozes out as a gel—but foams into lather on your face.

What keeps Edge a pressurized gel? It is stored in a plastic bag within the can and thus separate from the propellant, whereas in aerosols it is dissolved. The propellant pressurizes the bag to squeeze out its contents. And the bag folds up until all the contents are gone.


This looks pretty useful.

Reading is made painless for the most comfort-loving of mortals by a new book rest that clamps lightly over the reader’s knee. It not only supports the book’s weight but holds it open and keeps the place. Extension arms unfold to hold a magazine or a sheet of music. The user, sitting in an easy-chair, has both hands free to make notes, smoke, or eat.