MGC News – March 2020
Guide to the Misguided
Hello again, it’s Richard here.
Did you go to the ABD, you know, The All British Day? Lovely weather but I must admit I prefer The All Italian Day, lovely bodies and the cars aren’t too bad either. Well I’m a bit of a sucker for the book stalls. I have quite a few books on MGs and on one stall at the ABD they had nothing I didn’t already have. I spotted an MGC manual for $65. I had one, but rushed outside and told that nice round 303 man, Lynton, nice fellow, that there was one inside the shed but he already had a copy. I like using the 303 cleaning products, the Speed Detailer is fantastic.
Enough of that, I did buy a book about Henry Hoke. You may have heard about him on ABC’s Science Show. He was one of the many unsung Australian inventers, who was often heard saying “There no tool like an old tool”. “Guide to the Misguided – A speculative history” was written by Mark Thomson from the Australian Institute of Backyard Studies. He heard about Henry’s passing, leaving behind a shed full of his inventions. Mark believes that Henry is up there with the greats such as Watt, Stephenson, Tesla, Whitworth, Edison …
Mark wrote, “I came across the turnoff to Hoke’s Bluff along the road between Hope Springs and the town of Eternal.” Evidently, it’s located somewhere in South Australia. What Mark found in Henry’s shed was simply astonishing: “a range of baffling and enigmatic tools and devices (or more often containers that once held them) which appear to defy the accepted laws of physics and the underlying principles of engineering.”
After the Introduction the next chapter is titled ‘I Tinker therefore I Am’. This quote “(which is often incorrectly translated) was found pinned to the wall of French philosopher René Descartes’ shed. Interesting, it was also found pinned to the wall of Henry Hoke’s shed.”
The following chapter is titled “Indisputable Proof of Genius – the Known Works of Henry Hoke”. “The patent medicine that kick-started the Hoke family dynasty”, his father Silas Hoke was the district pharmacist, was “Willing’s Suspension of Disbelief”. The ingredients were noted on the bottle as 99% Dihydrogen Monoxide and 1% omnium – “thought to be disguised reference to the element unobtainium” which is so rare “that it is not even listed on the Periodic Table of Elements.” Another concoction invented by the Hoke’s family was the ‘Dehydrated Water Pill’. Instructions for use suggested that it be taken with “alcohol, preferably gin”.
The “Hoke’s Wooden Magnet” was a marvellous invention and handy to have around the workshop. The magnet was “ideal for cleaning up sawdust,” and “extracting wooden splinters painlessly from little children”. “Exactly why the Wooden Magnet has not become a household fixture remains a mystery.”
On another page Hoke’s Rule of Thumb is shown. “Henry Hoke was deeply unsatisfied with both metric and imperial forms of linear measurement. So he invented his own system, based partly on the dimensions of his own thumb, which he believed was descended from the ancient Pharaohs.” “Hoke’s Rule of Thumb Table went something like this: 11 Poofteenths = 1 Bee’s Dick, 7 Bee’s dicks = 1 Smidgeon, 7 Smidgeons = 1 Thumb and 7 Thumbs = 1 Cubit.
“Hoke’s Glass Hammer had the useful quality of allowing the tradesman to see what he was striking as he worked.” “Henry Hoke produced a number of brilliantly useful automotive inventions such as the pre-packaged Spark Plug Sparks.” The standard sparks were “white/yellow – blue or red sparks were much more expensive.” Other wonderful inventions were ‘Battery Oil’ available in quart containers, the ‘Rope Handled Hammer’ that would work around corners, “K9P” a spray on rust penetrating oil, “Bottled Spirit Level Bubbles’ obtained for the Maine Fishfarte Company, “hygienically obtained from North Sea Cod” and bottled ‘Decompressed Air’ ideal for use in “domestic air-conditioning in cars and houses”.
The book goes on to discuss Memoirs and Anecdotes from people who knew him. It is riveting reading (gold rivets of course). If you are not satisfied with the tiny dose I have presented here just ask Doctor Google for more.
On another matter MGCers et al, it’s about time to go on another MGC run, put Saturday 2nd May in your diary and we’ll meet at 1.30pm at Beaumont Road, Adelaide, just off Greenhill Road.
Remember ladies and gentlemen keep ‘em tuned,