Author Topic: How times have changed...  (Read 4440 times)

Offline langcliffe

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How times have changed...
« on: January 13, 2020, 03:22:55 pm »
As reported in the Manchester Evening News, 05 May 1948:

On the 2nd May 1948  a couple of young lads were exploring West Mine on Alderley Edge when one of them, 13-year old Leslie Hunt, fell down a 50' shaft and was killed.

At the subsequent inquest, the Coroner said: "Boys will still search for adventures even in these days. I think that it's a very good and proper thing that we still have adventurous types in the rising generation, and anything that makes for a free and open life I am in favour of."

Offline paul

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 05:25:24 pm »
Another example after the death of Neil Moss in Peak Cavern in 1959,

Quote
"For the young man who died in Peak Cavern, there must be mourning,
but there can be a sense of pride in him too. Those who will risk
danger, whether in caves, on mountains or at sea must sometimes have to
pay the full price they have pledged. It could not be otherwise.

The adventurous cannot guard against all risks without reducing
adventure to make-believe. The death that came in the darkness at
Peak cavern is pitiful, but it is good that there are those who
for youth or adventure or a cause are willing to risk such an
end. It is in this that the honour of being Human exists."

"Manchester Guardian" 25th March 1959
Probably written by Patrick Monkhouse
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Offline langcliffe

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 06:19:40 pm »
Another example after the death of Neil Moss in Peak Cavern in 1959,

Quote
"For the young man who died in Peak Cavern, there must be mourning,
but there can be a sense of pride in him too. Those who will risk
danger, whether in caves, on mountains or at sea must sometimes have to
pay the full price they have pledged. It could not be otherwise.

The adventurous cannot guard against all risks without reducing
adventure to make-believe. The death that came in the darkness at
Peak cavern is pitiful, but it is good that there are those who
for youth or adventure or a cause are willing to risk such an
end. It is in this that the honour of being Human exists."

"Manchester Guardian" 25th March 1959
Probably written by Patrick Monkhouse

The Coroner also reflected those views:


Offline grahams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 06:30:54 pm »
It was a time when the Boy's Own Annual used to read like the Anarchist Cookbook.
Sceptics wanted!

Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 08:45:25 am »
It was a time when the Boy's Own Annual used to read like the Anarchist Cookbook.

You could buy all kinds of things over the counter in Boots, all you had to do was sign the poisons register. I remember buying bottles of hydrochloric acid when I was about twelve years old.

Sodium chlorate was readily available in 7lb tins, I used to buy mine from "Smiths Corn Stores" which was a garden supplies and pet shop.

 

Offline Jenny P

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 07:16:41 pm »
It was a time when the Boy's Own Annual used to read like the Anarchist Cookbook.

You could buy all kinds of things over the counter in Boots, all you had to do was sign the poisons register. I remember buying bottles of hydrochloric acid when I was about twelve years old.

Sodium chlorate was readily available in 7lb tins, I used to buy mine from "Smiths Corn Stores" which was a garden supplies and pet shop.

Reminds me that we used to buy carbide (now classed as an explosive apparently) as 7 lb. tins of "Bird Scarer" from agricultural stores in Derby.  Wonder if you can still do that?

Offline mikem

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 07:56:37 pm »

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2020, 08:55:58 pm »
Can still get it delivered: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Calcium-Carbide-caving-acetylene-production/dp/B00BW9LLI8

Does it get delivered by horse and cart, or something suitably of its era?

Offline 2xw

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2020, 10:32:30 pm »
£30 a kilogram. So I know nothing of carbide, how much lamp time does that give you?

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2020, 11:58:21 pm »
A kilo would give you upwards of 48 hours continuous light.

18 of us went to Belize for 3 months in 1988. We shipped 200kg of carbide (among several tons of other gear, food and two LandRovers). There was still around 30kg of carbide left at the end of the expedition.
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Offline mikem

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2020, 10:32:31 am »
I guess the postage is so much as it's not being delivered by Royal Mail...

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2020, 01:02:21 pm »
I remember buying bottles of hydrochloric acid when I was about twelve years old.

Might I ask why a twelve year old boy needed to buy several bottles of hydrochloric acid?
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Personal assistant to King Frederick of Liechtenstein, 1803-1857. Speaker of 35th Upper Silesian Parliament (fl. 1904-5). Owner/operator, Bridgend Underwear Factory, 1973-present.

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2020, 01:03:14 pm »
Reminds me that we used to buy carbide (now classed as an explosive apparently) as 7 lb. tins of "Bird Scarer" from agricultural stores in Derby.  Wonder if you can still do that?

How was cabride used to scare birds?
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Personal assistant to King Frederick of Liechtenstein, 1803-1857. Speaker of 35th Upper Silesian Parliament (fl. 1904-5). Owner/operator, Bridgend Underwear Factory, 1973-present.

Offline mikem

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2020, 01:22:29 pm »

Offline Jenny P

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2020, 01:34:40 pm »
"Bird Scarers" were a contraption used by farmers which had a metal container of carbide and a drip feed of water onto the carbide plus some kind of mechanism which made a spark at regular intervals - I think it would be every few minutes but you could change the setting yourself.  The spark ignited the acetylene, which went off with a loud bang and scared the birds off.  See the fascinating U-Tube video just posted by Mikem - many thanks for that - I'd never actually seen one in action before.

I never even actually saw one in an agricultural merchants (not that I frequented these other than to buy the tins of carbide).  Since I was buying carbide from agricultural merchants as late as the 1990s I assumed these Bird Scarers must still have been in use up to that time.  The video sounds as if something similar but powered by propane is still around now.

Incidentally, you got about 3 hours light from one of the old helmet-mounted small "stinkies" before you had to swap to a new fill of carbide.  We used to buy spare lamp bases with a screw lid and put a full charge in the spare with the lid on tight so it kept dry.  When you swapped, you simply changed the base of the lamp and re-lit it and screwed the lid onto the base with the used carbide so you didn't have to dump it or tip it out in a cave.  So a full carbide and 2 spare bases would get you 9 hours of light - better than most electric lamps at that time.

I stopped buying carbide after about 1990 because I switched to using electric lights when the batteries became more reliable.  Prior to the modern electric lights we all bought ex-Coal Board lamps - normally when a pit closed but occasionally they would acquire a new batch of lamps and sell off the old ones cheaply.  Living in Derbyshire with coalfields around people kept an eye out for these sales and would buy up a complete "lamp shop" (with all its charging racks if you were lucky) and could then sell on the surplus to other cavers.  So we had a never ending supply of relatively cheap lead-acid or NiCad lamps but many of them were dodgy and wouldn't hold a charge; plus the NiCads, in particular, were prone to leaking and some cavers suffered quite bad chemical burns through this.

Offline yrammy

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2020, 02:04:04 pm »
Jenny - I remember Buster getting a horrible burn from a NiCad. We were underground (cant remember where) and he suddenly shouted out and took of his belt and battery . The battery was fizzing and popping . Very nasty. 

Offline royfellows

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2020, 04:02:14 pm »
I started with Oldham miners lamps from Caving Supplies, late 1980s. Regardless of what came out as a newer battery design I found that the best was the T2. This I believe had different design of cells, it was certainly slightly heavier than the T3. I used the higher amperage halogen bulbs that CS used to sell. I tapped the vent holes and fitted screws with rubber tap washers and used to carry a screw driver on long trips to vent my cells. It was quite a good light for time.

My Scorpion X16 is over 9000 lumens running off a high discharge helmet battery.

I wont even start on cameras or the car.
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Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2020, 08:43:57 am »
I remember buying bottles of hydrochloric acid when I was about twelve years old.

Might I ask why a twelve year old boy needed to buy several bottles of hydrochloric acid?

For chemistry experiments of course. In those days chemistry sets were often given as Christmas and Birthday presents and once you had used up the supplied reagents it was natural to want to save money by buying the most interesting substances in bulk.

A few years later I was buying KOH over the counter at Boots to refresh the electrolyte in NIFE cells.

https://www.brightontoymuseum.co.uk/w/images/Lotts_Chemistry_(MM_1963-10).jpg

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Online Fulk

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2020, 08:47:09 am »
I can remember buying as a kid sulphur, potassium nitrate and powdered charcoal . . . the ingredients of gunpowder.

Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2020, 09:03:06 am »
I can remember buying as a kid sulphur, potassium nitrate and powdered charcoal . . . the ingredients of gunpowder.

You did not even need to sign the poisons register when buying sulphur. "Flowers of Sulphur" was the element in powder form sold in half pound cardboard boxes very cheaply, it was supposed to be a remedy for some sort of digestive disorder!

We made our own charcoal, very inefficiently. (Barbeque charcoal not being available then.)

Potassium nitrate was a bit more difficult and even Boots would question why this was wanted - it was obviously to make explosives. I can remember wheeling a visiting elderly aunt into Boots to vouch for my spirit of scientific investigation. It was easier to get Sodium nitrate to fulfill the same function, and strontium nitrate was useful when making fireworks. Eventually Sodium chlorate became the oxidant of choice as it was so cheap and available with no questions asked.

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Offline Roger W

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2020, 09:19:23 am »
Careful, folks!  Times have indeed changed, and Badlad will be getting a call from the anti-terrorism squad if we aren't careful!
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline alanwsg

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2020, 09:20:23 am »
I remember buying metallic Sodium & Potassium at my local chemist.

Offline 2xw

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2020, 09:34:24 am »
Granted you can't buy stuff in the chemist anymore, but most of the stuff you've mentioned can be bought on Amazon or other supplier. I'd rather be a kid now, the chemistry sets are less explosive (but you can still buy kids sets that come with HCl etc) but come with other options like nano particles, PEM fuel cells and accessible lasers. I can't wait til my sister has a kid so I can buy it all this stuff (and try it first!)

Offline Dave Tyson

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2020, 02:04:35 pm »
I remember buying chemicals at Oakes & Eddon in Liverpool when I was about 14.. They sold little tubs (~1oz) of various chemicals to the general public and you could buy dilute (5%) sulphuric, hydrochloric and nitric acid. Later I discovered a place in London which sold a wider range of stuff in bigger quantities and was able to purchase sodium, red phosphorous, bromine, phenol, aniline and concentrated acids.  You would probably be locked up for what we used to make in the late sixties. I remember making picric acid and the satisfying bang it made when mixed with lead oxide and struck with a hammer. As others have noted sodium chlorate was the oxidant of choice for low energy explosives. I never managed to make TNT, without fuming sulphuric acid its hard to get the extra NO2 group to attach to di-nitrotoluene :-(  Friends made nitroglycerin, but I really wanted to make sure I kept my hands and face and so avoided emulating them. Still have 10 fingers lol.

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Offline royfellows

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2020, 03:42:10 pm »
I made nitroglycerine in a test tube and poured a spot of it onto concrete from a height expecting it to go bang. It didn't. So I then struck the spot with a hammer.
It was an hour before my ears stopped ringing, but brought home the dangers.

I was sensible enough to keep the nitration cool, brown fuming and it went down the sink.

Got as far as a home made ammonium nitrate - nitro mix, but the home made dets from shotgun primers would not make it go off.
Packed it in at that point and found a fresh interest.
I had found a more exciting discovery, - girls.

Some other lads made pipe bombs from sodium chlorate, but I never got into that.
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