Friday, July 10, 2009

Plans for mechanical flying goose on radiator cap

Plans for Mechanical flying goose on radiator cap
The folks over at the always interesting Modern Mechanix Blog recently posted this great set of plans for an animated mechanical hood ornament originally published in 1932. Like a reverse-whirligig, the air speeding past the car's hood powers the motions of this mechanical bird.

From the original article:
While your car is standing still this wild goose isn't so wild. He perches sedately upon the radiator cap surveying the world with a glassy eye. But as soon as you start up and shift into high he flattens out his tail, stretches his neck forward and begins to flap his wings as if he were going somewhere, and going there in a hurry.

The article has been converted in to text and scanned as three large images -- everything you should need to make this project yourself.

Here's the article on the Mechanical Flying Goose Decorates Radiator Cap.

[ Thanks deanS! ]

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Isaac Newton's great idea told in whirligig form

There can be no doubt: artist Ben Thal has taken whirligigs to a new level -- many having up to 30 moving parts and multiple actions. The whirligig shown here depicts Sir Isaac Newton's epiphany regarding gravity in animated wind-powered 3-dimensional form. Wow.

To learn more about the remarkable man behind this and other fantastic creations check out this great profile on him: Spin Doctor -- Former Surgeon Ben Thal Builds Humor Into His Witty, Whimsical Whirligigs.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vollis Simpson's windmill-powered whirligigs

Some time ago, I posted a YouTube video about Vollis Simpson, a man who has made a park full of windmills and whirligigs. There is a great web site with more about the man behind it all. The site also features a detailed virtual tour of his wind-powered mechanical park.

Here's a link to From Windmills to Whirligigs brought to us by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Whirligig of a Medical Student and Skull

Another video of a wind-powered automaton by doctor and automata-maker Ben Thal. Very charming!

From the YouTube Description:
A white coat medical student inserts a tongue depressor into the snapping jaws of a human skull.

For books on whirligig construction, check out The Automata / Automaton Store. Whirligig books page 1 and Whirligig books page 2

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Fantastic Wind-Powered Whrligigs Video

Automata maker Tom Haney sent the video you see above to me.

Tom writes:
I have something you might want to put up on your site. The man who inspired me to do mechanical pieces, Ben Thal, has posted a video on YouTube. I met him at a whirligig show in Oregon in 1994. He does great pieces with amazing and simple movements. He is a doctor and does whirligigs as a hobby. All his whirligigs are for indoors and are powered by a fan.

See it at:

The motions are pretty sophisticated for whirligigs...impressive!

Thanks Tom!

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wind-powered Whirligig Head with Moving Jaw

This week's Reader Contribution comes from Tim who has used a common whirligig mechanism to animate an uncommon theme.

Tim has fashioned a head with articulated jaw. The wind-powered whirligig mechanism drives a crankshaft which makes the mouth open and close.

Very clever, indeed.

For more on whirligig construction check out these titles:
Whacky Toys, Whirligigs & Whatchamacallits
Making Animated Whirligigs
Easy-to-Make Whirligigs
Whimsical Whirligigs
Action Whirligigs: 25 Easy-to-Do Projects
The Art And Craft of Whirligig Construction

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Master of Windmills and Whirligigs

Whirligigs are a form of automata -- to my mind at least. They depict an animated scene with a person or animal. The only distinction between a contemporary automaton and a whirligig is that the latter are outside and are powered by the wind.

The folks over at The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society have a great post about a man with a passion for windmills and whirligigs. The man's name is Vollis Simpson, an 87-year-old retired mechanic from North Carolina. Simpson's back yard is filled with dozens of his wind-driven creations.

A quote from Simpson:
"The main part of doing anything that turns is to get it centered".

Truer words were never spoken.

Check out the post on Vollis Simpson's Windmill Farm at the Kircher Society blog.

Here's a list of books on how to make whirligigs:

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