Today, we’re going to look at doping. No, no, not that kind, the aviation kind. Early airplanes were made of cloth pulled taut over a wood frame. To protect the wood, and create a streamlined body, the material was covered in something called dope, a liquid designed to waterproof & pull the material tight as it dried.
Looking at an early manual & doping
I have a treat for you today, something from my aviation collection – a 1914 aeroplane manual from the Canadian government’s War Office. While looking at a few patents dealing with doping material I remembered something from this book:
Training manual for the fledgling Royal Flying Corps, Canada.
Published 2 months before the outbreak of WW1, the manual covered basics like assembling an aircraft, maintaining the engine, flying it, and of course doping the body. The book is fragile, so I didn’t scan from it. There isn’t much in the way of diagrams anyway. But it did include a small section on dope:
The shrinking and preservative agents employed by various makers also differ widely. The best known amongst the latter are rubber, pegamoid, cellon and emaillite. P 23 Training manual Royal Flying Corps 1914
Each company developed their own recipe for dope. They were a kind of witch’s brew, with the first being composed of nitrate. Other chemicals included nitrocellulose, cellulose acetate and cellulose acetate butyrate.
British Emaillite Co., Ltd. – the “Premier Dope”
Three aircraft makers are mentioned in the manual – Avro, Royal Aircraft Factory and Farman. Specific models aren’t mentioned, but I suspect they were Avro 504, British Aircraft Factory’s B.E.2 and the Farman MF11, also called the Longhorn. The manual recommends they all be treated with Emaillite. The B.E. plane doping was described this way:
The fabric is sewn with needle and thread along the trailing edges and round the curved edges. It is also sewn with twine through the plane to the reverse side along each rib. Rubber solution is then rubbed into the fabric with the fingers along each rib and rubber adhesive tape applied. Rubber adhesive tape is similarly applied around the curved ends and the trailing edges.
Dome-headed brass tacks are driven in along each rib to further secure the fabric. The planes then receive three coats of the correct emaillite solutions. pg. 23
The Premier Dope Ad Rec. Num. 5 of 128 Source: Aeroplane July 3rd, 1913 https://www.aviationancestry.co.uk/
The British Emaillite Co. was around from about 1911 to 1921 when it was acquired by the Titanine company. It’s difficult finding solid information about the British Emaillite Co, but after a lot of searching, I found a patent for their cellulose acetate dope from around the time the RFC manual was written.
Patent # GB191206798A by British Emaillite Co., Jan. 14. 1914
I could only find abstracts from the patent, not the entire paper. But it is informative as to what chemicals were used:
A fabric for aviation apparatus that is invisible or indistinctly visible is formed of films of cellulose acetate or like compound. Materials are added to modify the refractive index of the compound so as to render a reinforcing-material, such as silk or cotton fibres, placed between the sheets, invisible.
In an example, a composition, comprising 110 grm. of acetate or hydroacetate of cellulose, 35 grm. of a mixture composed of equal parts of naphthol, ethylic ether of naphthol, and benzene sulphonamide, 880 grm. of tetrachloride of ethane, and 120 grm. of alcohol, is spread on glass, and very fine silk tulle placed upon it while still moist. This is stripped off when dry and placed, tulle side downwards, upon a second moist layer of the composition spread on glass, and, when dry, the completed fabric is removed from the glass.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t download the entire patent, and Google Patents doesn’t offer it, just a reference. I did however obtain a 1917 patent, from the same company.
Patent # US1298199A Cellulose-ester dope or varnish by British Emaillite Co., filed June 13, 1917
This invention relates to the manufacture of dopes of the kind used for coating the surfaces of aeroplanes, and its chief objects are to improve the adhesiveness, strength and surface of the coating and to reduce or eliminate the poisonous or deleterious properties of dopes.
Aeroplane dopes must produce in and on the fabric employed an elastic highly contractile film with a hard surface which when struck must yield a clear resonant note (an indication that the necessary contraction has been obtained) with sufficient body and rigidity (obtained so by a succession of coats) to retain its stream line contour during flight.
So, the dope had to dry tight enough to protect the wood and pull the material taut, to keep the airplane streamlined, but not so tight it would damage the aircraft by warping the frame. If you’re interested in the chemical components, look at the patent US1298199A – Cellulose-ester dope or varnish. – Google Patents for the details.
For now, the manual is back in its protective wrapping and back on the shelf. It’s been a real treat paging through it.
Pringles cans have been in the news lately so I thought I’d look up the original patent for the container. Along the way, I learned a few interesting things about the can, Pringles and their “hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped potato chips”, or as the rest of us describe it a big tube of chips.
The ubiquitous Pringles can – image courtesy Pringles
PACKAGING OF CHIP-TYPE SNACK FOOD PRODUCTS.
Patented Mar. 3, 1970
Filed July 29, 1966, Ser. No. 568,878 Patent #US3498798A
The original Pringles can was designed before the world awoke to recycling initiatives. It’s a legacy of the notion that the world would never run out of resources. We didn’t have oceans filled with plastic waste killing off wildlife in 1966. After years of pressure, Kellogg’s (current owners of the Pringles name) are changing the materials.
Pringles is testing a redesign using recycled paper. The current can is almost impossible to recycle. Not really the most friendly packaging when it comes to the environment. This made me curious about the original patent.
The recycling pilot project is being tested in the UK for a few weeks, using recycled paper for starters. I wondered why they aren’t just switching over to a new can all at once. Turns out, it’s more complicated than using any old materials.
Not so easy making changes to the Pringles can after all.
The original patent was filed by Fredrick J. Baur and Harold Kenneth Hawley for Procter & Gamble. The can is composed of foil, paper board, metal and plastic. Impossible to toss into a recycling bin, unless you tear the entire tube apart. The patent was pretty cool though. I didn’t expect to see so many aspects of design to what seems to be a simple tube container.
The technology behind the Pringles can is surprising. Bauer addressed a number of marketing and packaging issues. The design had to take into consideration on how to protect fragile chips, extend shelf life and reduce space on store shelves.
Chips of uniform size and shape are stacked one upon the other in closely fitting relationship to form a stacked array, and are then placed within a rigid tubular container formed from materials which are substantially impervious to the passage of oxygen and water vapor. The ends are applied to the container to seal the same. From patent #US3498798A
[figure one] elevational view of a snack food package
The design addressed the issue of keeping the chips dry and preventing them from getting crushed in transportation. One aspect was the consistency of how many chips you get in each tin. It’s predictable, unlike bags. Nothing says disappointment like tearing open a bag and finding it 2/3 air and 1/3 chips. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It’s worse when the chips are reduced to tiny flakes of crumbs. From a marketing perspective, the tube is a killer selling point. The customer will always get the same amount of perfectly formed chips.
The can overcame issues of shelf life by minimizing “the quantity of oxygen and water vapor which is packed with the product and thereby increase the shelf life of the product by excluding excess oxygen and water vapor, thereby delaying the onset of oxidative rancidity and staling” (From patent #US3498798A() without the need for excessive preservatives. Another win for the customer in terms of taste.
So the design required quite a bit of packaging components to overcome the issues. That’s why it’s not so easy to replace the tube. It had to be vacuum sealed, fit onto any shelf space, be more compact and stackable. It took public pressure to force the company to look for ways to simplify the can and make all components recyclable.
“Hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped potato chips”, or as the rest of us describe it – a big tube of chips.
In case you don’t know what a hyperbolic paraboloid looks like. Author: Christian Amet] File:ParabHyper.png – Wikimedia Commons
Not sure if the tube came first or the patent for the chip shape. There is a second patent dealing with the manufacturing of the actual chip. Part of the patent defines the standardized shape of potato chips to fit the can. They are a “hyperbolic paraboloid”. That means it’s a curved chip made in a uniform design. In case you’re interested regular chips are parabolic cylinder.
[figure 5 6] a perspective view of one form of potato chips which may be packaged in a container of the present invention;
Yup, that’s a hyperbolic paraboloid. I had to look this up to understand what it meant. The benefit of this change is the chips are now stackable. They can easily be plopped into a protective tube and shipped.
The chips used are of non-planar shape and are first formed into the desired curved shape in a uniform manner to permit the chips to be stacked one upon the other to form a grouped array and thereby minimize the void space there between.
The chips are stacked one upon the other with corresponding surfaces similarly oriented and are then placed in a substantially rigid, tubular container which is adapted to enclose the stack of closely packed chips. After being inserted into the tubular container, the latter is sealed closed by securing one or more ends thereto. Both the tubular container and the ends are fabricated from materials which are impervious to oxygen and water vapor to prevent the entrance of additional atmospheric oxygen and water vapor into the interior of the package which would rancidify the frying fat retained by the chips and result in the chips becoming stale. From patent #US3498798A.
In other words, the chips stack uniformly into the Pringles can. And that is how one of the most successfully marketed potato chips came to be. The design and technology created a memorable shape and package.
Watch Pringles being made
It’s an interesting process, from start to finish.
Feast your eyes on the original Two Faced Teddy! One side is an adorable, cuddly teddy bear. The reverse, a po-faced human staring at you with dead eyes.
DOUBLE-FACED TEDDY BEAR.
LOUIS S. SCHIFFER
Application filed December 16, 1913 | Patented June 9, 1914.
Not sure how I stumbled across this one. I was looking for patents dealing with early radium products and became sidetracked. The sketch gives me the giggles when I look at it. The heads look like they were transplanted onto Mr. Peanut’s body. Poor Mr. Peanut, we hardly knew you.
A toy comprising in combination, a body, and a head for said body, said head having two faces thereon looking in opposite directions, one of said faces resembling that of a bear and the covering of said head being arranged to form projections serving as ears for said bear’s face, the other of said faces resembling that of a person and the cover of said head being arranged around said person’s face in the form of a cowl whereby said projections serve likewise to give a clownish effect.
Can you imagine waking up and seeing this staring at you? A furry human clown glowering at you in the dim light?
The actual design is quite interesting. The head swivels 180 degrees using disks and rivets/pins. The arms and legs employ swivel joints so they would be flexible.
… the head being attached to the body by means of a swivel joint so that it can turn easily to the left or right through 180°
and sit steady and parallel with the body when facing in either direction. Patent letters
The only example I could find of a two faced bear similar to this patent, was produced by the renowned stuffed animal maker Bernhard Hermann, sometime between 1930-1940. I could find no reference to any being developed by Louis Schiffer. I’ve tried looking for German patents for the Hermann bear as well, but had no luck. I was curious as to whether Hermann was aware of Schiffer or had developed the two-faced bear independently. They are strikingly similar.
Let’s go play in the forest. You’ll be safe. Trust me!
It’s very close to the patent, right down to the swivelling head and moveable arms. This toy is slightly less terrifying than the one in the 1914 diagram, very slightly. The doll/bear screams out clown in the sewers asking if you want a balloon. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of dolls, so maybe it’s me.
If you’d like to see the bear in more detail, saunter over to Ruby Lane and check out it out.
I’ve been rooting around looking for something interesting to explore and came across NASA Patents of Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings page. I was looking for a couple of space-related patents and started with NASA’s website to see if I could narrow down specific items to research. If you dig deep you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of documents, including some impressive technical drawing.
Command Module Main Control Panel
from Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft
(October 15, 1969)
Diagram of lunar module
The drawings are high quality, allowing the viewer to zoom in close and see lots of detail. If you are a history or space buff, the NASA site is a must stop place.
All Dressed Up & Ready for a Space Walk
The Shuttle space suit, to accommodate the large number of astronauts with widely varying body sizes, was designed to be made up of many interchangeable parts. These parts (upper and lower torso’s, arms, etc.) are fabricated at ILC in different sizes, inspected/tested, then shipped to Johnson Space Center (JSC) where they are inventoried for the astronaut corps.
The immature child in me couldn’t stop giggling when I hit the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG). “The Maximum Absorbency Garment is worn under the LCVG and provides for hygienic collection, storage, and eventual transfer of astronaut urine and feces discharged during extravehicular activities”.
Space underwear for the active astronaut
Astronaut underwear for those of us earthbound. The document hammered home the complexities of space travel. Scientists had to consider every aspect of safety, many that we take for granted. I never stopped to think about how astronauts go in space before this.
After I stopped being juvenile, I popped back to Google Patents and did a search for Extravehicular Mobility Unit. Silly me – all I needed to do is look up space suits. I was surprised at how many patents were listed. Patent #3,751,727 Apollo Space Suit was the one that captured me.
ABSTRACT Disclosed is a pressure suit for high altitude flights and particularly space missions. The suit is designed for astronauts in the Apollo Space Program and may be worn both inside and outside a space vehicle, as well as on the lunar surface. It comprises an integrated assembly of inner comfort liner, intermediate pressure garment, and outer thermal protective garment with removable helmet and gloves. The pressure garment comprises an inner convoluted sealing bladder and outer fabric restraint to which are attached a plurality of cable restraint assemblies. It provides versatility in combination with improved sealing and increased mobility for internal pressures suitable for life support in the near vacuum of outer space
This patent was filed in 1968, a year before the July 1969 moon landing. It’s hard to tell if this is the actual patent for the suits used on the moon. It’s incredibly detailed, which shouldn’t be surprising given the source. I spend a lot of time trawling through patents, many of which are poorly written and badly illustrated, so, this one was pure pleasure.
Moon boots and ring adapter
Apollo moon boots
Boot rings for Apollo boots
The opening paragraph includes a synopsis of the development of space suits, including details on how the suit will improve an astronauts ability to move and perform duties while working independently from the space capsule:
This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by U.S. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program. The suit is designed to provide life support not only within a space vehicle but also during extravehicular activities including exploration of the lunar surface. It may also be used by aircraft pilots during high altitude flights …A primary feature of the space suit of this invention involves the retention of a pressurized atmosphere about the astronaut in the vacuum of free space, while at the same time providing significantly increased mobility, both in the torso and the limbs, so that the astronaut may freely move about and perform useful tasks.
The total weight of the suit was 60lbs, including the helmet and protective shielding. Even in an environment with gravity, this would still be functional. It was designed to be useable ‘in the wild’ as well as inside a space vehicle:
For example, both the gloves and helmet are completely removable and may be taken off by the astronaut within the pressurized cabin of a space vehicle when it is not necessary to rely on the suit for life support.
Fascinating, isn’t it? The patent is available to download and the drawings are wallpaper worthy as well. I’ll leave you with one last image from the patent to enjoy.
This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by US. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program.
I know I promised irradiated feet, but I couldn’t pass up the Edsel of flying cars. Take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking fins on this:
Einarsson Flying Car patent
Every time I look at the drawing, I think it needs to be a deep cherry red with chrome so bright you need sunglasses to withstand the glare. Sarcasm aside, this design is very much a product of the times. Designed in the late ‘50s and patented in 1963, the Einarsson Flying Car has an admirable meshing of luxury car with the sleekness of a James Bond getaway vehicle. Oh, and those fins!
The dream of turning a car into an airplane goes back to at least the 1930s. I remember the “future of tomorrow” films of the 60s that had us zipping around with our own personal jetpacks and Jetson-like flying cars by the turn of the century. The future was so full of yet to be conquered technological wonders that would make our lives easier. Instead of flying cars in every driveway, we ended up with Twitter in every pocket. The disappointment is crushing.
EINARSSON Flying Car
A few actual working flying car prototypes have made if off the drawing board. The most notable being the 6 designs build by (Molt) Taylor Aerocar in the late 40s and 50s. One was still flying as late as 2008 and there’s a website devoted to people hoping to buy one. They look like traditional 2-seater aircraft with larger, road ready wheels, except for the Taylor III, which resembles a Franken-mini. Looking at Taylors got me thinking about other attempts, which in turn led me to one Einar Einarsson and his patent for a Flying Car.
EINARSSON FLYING CAR
May 21, 1963
Filed Aug 12 1959
Inventor: Einarsson Einar
A vehicle capable of cruising on land and in the air comprising a body, a plurality of wheels mounted under the body to support the vehicle while on the ground, means for supplying power to the wheels for cruising on the ground, front and rear propellers mounted on the body to provide for take-off and cruising power when in the air, and a pair of pivotally mounted wings secured on the body and being adjustable as to the angles to the horizontal for take-off and cruising positions for the wings, said propellers being connected to receive power from the power supplying means and the wings forming a wing extending from the front propeller to the rear propeller with a bridging element to receive the pressure between the propellers
Einarsson’ s design borrows heavily on the Aerocar idea, with a number of alterations that shows a bit of forward thinking. Looking through the cited patents in Einarsson’s filings, I find it curious there are no references to Molt Taylor’s patents. However, I’m neither a lawyer nor an engineer and my knowledge of both is just enough to show how much I don’t know.
A sedan with wings
Unlike almost every flying car design I looked at, Einarsson seemed to envision a luxury sedan with wings, rather than a compact, economical model. It would be the ultimate marriage of the sleek 1950s tail fin stylings with a private aircraft.
Einarsson Flying Car patent showing front and side with propellers
The Taylor flying car relied on a push propeller. For those in the audience who aren’t aviation fans, let’s take a quick break to explain. The rest can skip down a few paragraphs. Aircraft today (excluding jets) generally have the propeller on the front of the plane – either on the wings or the nose. This is referred to as a pull propeller because it pulls the airplane forward. Although this is considered the traditional form, the earliest aeroplanes used a push propeller. Here are two famous examples:
Here’s a Farman biplane
And one of my favourites, Alexander Graham Bell’s Silver Dart:
The Silver Dart
Front and side with propellers
See the difference with modern airplanes? The propeller is seated to the back (behind the pilot) and pushes the airplane forward. Many pioneer aeroplanes used this style and, if you poke around google a bit, you can find a couple modern planes that use it as well, though it’s not very common.
The Einarsson Flying Car proposed using both the push and pull propellers in what is called a push-pull configuration. This has some benefits re: drag and stability if one engine dies but it also greatly decreases fuel efficiency.
The hood and trunk pop open so propellers can slide out and be affixed front and back. “A further object of the invention resides in a flying car with front and rear propellers of which the front propeller is of the pulling type and the rear propeller is of the pusher type”.
The added weight along with 2 engines capable of creating enough lift stirs up a few questions. Looking at one of my favourite pioneer planes – the Antoinette Flyer (1906), the V8 engine in that wood and cloth aeroplane weights 209 lbs alone. I wonder how large an engine would need to be to lift a large, steel, 2 propeller car with wings, carrying both driver and passengers. Modern aircraft have the advantage of light weight materials to help with the tricky weight problem. They also benefit from modern micro circuitry that creates efficient instrument panels. Neither of which were available in the early 60s. The Einarsson Flying Car would be the original heavy metal behemoth. The patent makes no mention of instrumentation and glosses over engines, two crucial components. Perhaps Einarsson was more interested in basic over-all design at this stage.
… each car may have a common plant to drive both the ground wheels as well as propellers with suitable clutch devices to control one or the other cruising power. Separate power plants may be used for air travel jet engines may also be used with and without the use of propellers.
There wasn’t a hope in hell a jet engine was going to be affixed to the car. Imagine the havoc caused on roads when someone kicked on the engine. The backwash alone would be a public hazard. One also has to wonder what the noise level would be inside the car with both engines running whether jet or regular.
Getting back to the patent, Einarsson envisioned foldable wings, although this is also frustratingly vague. The best I can figure is they would fold flat against the body when not used. This wasn’t going to be a one touch convertible model. To use the wings, the driver would have to pull them out and affix them, which sounds a bit like an arm strong application – better have a strong set of arms to put them in place. I’ll leave you to read about the wings and let me know how you think they’ll work.
Move over Jetsons
The sheer weight alone would make this one expensive vehicle to run. Which led me down another rabbit hole or two of conjecture – what about fuel. The basic car would run on regular gas, but the air and jet options would require special fuel. Without easy access jet fuel, the lack of infrastructure doomed that part of the design, not to mention proper pilot training to run a jet propelled aircraft. I also wondered how much space the vehicle would need for take off. This isn’t a compact little Taylor Aerocar. As I wrote earlier, this would be a behemoth of steel, chrome and engines. I wonder what the over all weight would be? I have about 20 other questions but, I’ll save them for another discussion because I can see another couple of patent articles in the making.
So where now with the promise of flying cars?
Though most entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have abandoned the idea as impractical, there are companies currently building working prototypes. Look at the heart stopping lines on this beauty:
Aeromobile flying car https://www.aeromobil.com
It’s from Aeromobile in Slovakia and boasts a vertical takeoff, a parachute system embedded, lightweight materials, stowable wings much more. To me these vehicles are as exciting as early pioneer airplanes like the Bleriot, Silver Dart and Antoinettes. My interest in aircraft pretty much ends with the advent of metal frames. Biplanes, especially pioneer aircraft, get my heart racing in a way very little else does. But modern flying car designs seem to be triggering the same effect on my pulse so I’ve been deep diving into flying car patents, having fun looking at the ideas pushing them forward. And yea, I’d go for a fly in one in a heartbeat. Hand me the waiver, strap me in and let’s go!
I’m working on a number of new articles for the patents section. It just takes so dreadfully long to do the research and pull them together. Well, not almost a year long. That’s a 50/50 combination of too busy and too lazy to do extracurricular work. I have a backlog of about 50 patents in my archives I’ve been sifting through, and these are the ones I’m focusing on:
1938 shoe fitting machine patent – complete with a dose of radiation
Alexander Graham Bell’s 1902 patent for his aerial kite
An 1892 submarine patent
Fitted sheets – because who doesn’t like a patent for a torture device
The Bell patent is going to take a lot more research, so it is an unlikely candidate. It may be the fitted sheets because the entire contraption is so over complicated and vicious looking, I can’t resist. If you have a preference, drop a line in the comments section. I’ve had to layer on quite a bit of spam protection so you’ll have jump through a few spam prevention hoops, but I do enjoy hearing from people. If you have an idea for me to explore, I’d be thrilled to hear it.