Compasses – Schmalcalder Prismatic Compass by Ross Ltd. circa 1897-1907

German-born Charles Augustus Schmalcalder, a “mathematical and philosophical instrument maker” living in Middlesex in England, patented the first prismatic sighting compass in 1812.

schmalcalder 1812 patent drawings
Drawings from Schmalcalder’s 1812 patent.

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Travel – 4WD Swagman – Getting the Army Trailer Back to a Stock(ish) Condition

The “before” pic. The trailer as picked up the evening before this photo was taken.

Being manufactured in 1963, I was surprised that Trailer, Cargo 1/2 Ton, 2 Wheeled, Aust No. 5 – Army Registration Number 101-001 hadn’t been modified more during its service life. Since it was bought at auction by the previous owner in 2015 its biggest modification had been the addition of the civilian 7-pin flat plug to replace the original NATO plug. I don’t mind too much since it fits the socket on the Shorty Forty and saved me having to track down an adapter. I’m glad the previous owner hadn’t chopped and modded this one into a camper trailer or changed the pintle ring.

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MYOG – Repro Pattern 1895 Water Bottle

Water carriage is crucial for the bushwalker. For the walker who likes their foot-borne adventuring done in the old style, there are a few options for carrying a usable amount of water. One of these is the canteen and one classic canteen which is rarely seen these days, but was a mainstay of bushwalkers and other bushgoers in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, is the circular and enameled steel Boer War era Pattern 1895 MkIV water bottle. Continue reading “MYOG – Repro Pattern 1895 Water Bottle”

MYOG – Flint and Steel – the Pocket Strike-a-Light Outfit

Back in the olden days, when matches were scarce in the outlying areas, many bushmen went back to their ancestral roots and used flint and steel instead. I’m not talking about the spark-showering ferrocerium rods sold today as “firesteels”, ferrocerium wasn’t even invented until the early 20th Century. No, what I’m talking about is a lump of steel (high carbon is best) struck against a lump of rock (flint or quartz, etc.) with the resulting spark caught by some form of tinder (charred cloth or dried fungus) and then coaxed into a flame with the addition of some bullswool (such as a bundle of dry grass or shredded stringybark). That’s a crash course in the use of the traditional flint and steel. The good news is that the use of a traditional flint and steel becomes much easier with practice.

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Old-Style Pocket Knives – the Mercator Multi

Vintage WWI-era Mercator Multi

Mercator pattern knives originated in Germany in the mid-1860s and were made by a variety of manufacturers. The standard Mercator pocket knives are a marvel of design – slimline, with a secure backlock and are still large enough to be useful for a variety of uses. They were far ahead of their time and are still popular in this second decade of the 21st Century. Possum skinners in New Zealand (where our beloved Aussie brushtail possum is an invasive feral which needs to be eradicated) swear by these Mercator knives, which they commonly call “cat” knives. I have a few of the standard “cat” knives, and I even carry one in my Bob Cooper survival kit since it has such a slim profile. My EDC pocket knife is a brass-scaled “cat” knife which I use for chopping up fruit mostly. Look out for a separate post soon covering these standard Mercator pocket knives. Continue reading “Old-Style Pocket Knives – the Mercator Multi”

Travel – 4WD Swagman – Solving the Shorty Forty Storage Issue with a Trailer

The little short wheelbase Landcruiser has a big problem – storage space. Being a soft top shorty forty, mine has even fewer options for storage than normal – no provision for roof racks for example.

The path of least resistance was to pick up a trailer. Such a trailer would literally only be used to haul camping equipment, so I’m not planning for any roof-top tents, slide-out kitchen units, under-floor water tanks or anything else like that.

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Waltzing Matilda with a swag, Part 7 – Navigation and Direction-finding

Swagmen often didn’t need to navigate “properly” since they followed tracks and roads the bulk of the time. In unfamiliar areas they relied upon directions from other swaggies and from station workers and other locals they might run into and stop to yarn with along the way. In some areas the roads were little more than kangaroo or cattle pads so the swaggie usually had a working knowledge of direction-finding via the sun and the stars as well as other natural cues.

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Travel – 4WD Swagman – a Lap of the Left Hand Side

This is the first in a series of posts chronicling the preparation for and the conduct of a big trip around the western half of Australia on four wheels in  mid-2017.

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Waltzing Matilda with a swag, Part 6 – Water

A swaggie walking his circuit out west knew where the water was, and he also knew that when water was more than a day’s walk he’d have to carry his own supply. Usually a swagman would carry a flax water bag. This would not only allow him to carry 3 or 4 litres relatively easily, but the slightly porous nature of the bag meant the water was always cool. In fact, the hotter the day, the cooler the water. Other methods of carrying water were, in a 5 pint billycan with the lid tied on, or in a canteen or glass bottle on a shoulder strap.

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Waltzing Matilda with a swag, Part 5 – Eating

In this picture showing the contents of the nosebag you can plainly see the eating equipment usually carried.

The swagman’s eating equipment is simple and  concise. I use vintage and vintage-style eating equipment. It consists of a tin plate, a silver-plated spoon, three-tine fork, bone handled butter knife sharpened to a razor edge and the quart pot’s pannikin.

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