What ARE these?
December 30, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Please help us identify these confounding objects! Photos inside.

Here are pictures of the confounding objects:

a box with rotating rods

a small chain-hook thing

a larger chain-hook thing.

They are from my boyfriend's grandmother's garage in Corpus Christi, Texas. She has passed away, so we can't ask her what they are. My boyfriend thinks they are from her parents or her grandparents, who lived in southern Texas, possibly on a ranch or a farm.

The box is especially confounding.

Any ideas?
posted by millipede to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Were these objects found together? The box could be a spool for wire (perhaps for a fence?), with the chain-hook things looking like something one might use to tighten the wire. I'm more sure of the chain-hooks than the box, and that's not terribly sure.
posted by JMOZ at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2008

When I was a kid I made something a lot like the box. I'd draw these long scenes on reams of paper, roll them around one of the dowels like you would film, and rotate the crank to watch my "movie" go by. I guess it's a long shot, but maybe it's a homemade toy like that?

As for the hooks and chains, you've got me. The small one looks vaguely familiar, but I've no idea. Good luck :)
posted by littlerobothead at 8:35 AM on December 30, 2008

Are those clothespins inside the wooden box? Could it be related to laundry somehow, like a stretching rack to unshrink clothes maybe?

No idea about the hook and chain things.
posted by xbonesgt at 8:41 AM on December 30, 2008

I think the chain/hook things are old time fence pullers. They used them to tighten the barbed wire around the posts.

posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:41 AM on December 30, 2008

JMOZ: they were found together as in they were in the same garage, but lots of things have been moved around in the garage, so it's impossible to tell if they originated together.

These are all good ideas, and ones I didn't even think of!
posted by millipede at 8:43 AM on December 30, 2008

The first hook chain thing is used for cinching down loads on a truck. I can't recollect what they're called but I'll see what I can google up. The second looks like it would fulfill a similar purpose but I can't say for sure from the angle it's being held.
posted by stet at 8:48 AM on December 30, 2008

The two things with hooks are probably chain binders for ratcheting loads down on a truck or trailer. You might be able to jury rig them into working as fence pullers, but for that you really want a come-a-long of some variety.
posted by Forktine at 8:50 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Boo-yah! It's a load binder. I always wondered what those were called.
posted by stet at 8:53 AM on December 30, 2008

Yeah I think you use the middle one to tighten a cord on a load. Because if you are tying to ends of a line together, it's tough to tighten them with just a knot. You call the knot that you'd tie a "trucker's hitch" I believe. But this would be easier to tighten than that.

I don't know what the bottom one is. It looks different, I can't see how you'd have leverage.
posted by sully75 at 10:29 AM on December 30, 2008

Since there seems to be a bit of confusion about what a chain binder or load binder does, here is a photo of them in use; here's another. They use clevis hooks to slot onto binder chain (which can be color coded to make highway safety inspections easy), and then tighten the load down with a lever action (like the ones in this question) or with a ratcheting action (more modern and secure).

They are not commonly used to attach to rope, because rope has too much stretch, just chain and sometimes wire rope -- though farmers and ranchers are famous for jury-rigging everything, so you will see all kinds of things done out in the fields.
posted by Forktine at 10:57 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

The last item could be part of a heavy duty balance or scale, something like one of these 1, 2. I've used similar devices for crude weighing of heavy items in barn settings.
posted by Rumple at 3:09 PM on December 30, 2008

I agree that the box with rotating rods is a home-made deluxe version of a kid's toy. It's like a little TV or movie theatre designed to show a long strip of kids' drawings.

I used to make these, using kleenex boxes that had pencils jammed through them. I'd tape paper together into long strips the same width as the height of the kleenex box. Draw long scenes or comic strips on the paper. Roll the drawing up around one pencil, tape the free end to the other pencil, stab the pencils into a kleenex box, and scroll my drawings along inside the box. A hole cut in the kleenex box acts as the screen to a TV and the long drawing or cartoon is like your own little movie.

Kind of like this, but the paper feeds side to side on the rollers, instead of vertically through a slit. Looks to me like someone's grandpa made them a nicer version.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:03 PM on December 30, 2008

I've used very similar tools to help my grandfather fence, so that's my vote.
posted by deezil at 7:08 PM on December 30, 2008

Fortine explained the load binder. Note that if you are ever going to use it for it's intended purpose that the long arm needs to be secured when tightened; either with wire (some arms have holes towards the end for this) or with a loop of the free chain as shown in Forktine's first image. The hooks are often stamped with what size chain they fit and you should only use the right size. I prefer wire because in case of an accident where the binder comes loose it provides proof that you secured the binder.

The third item is a kind of load binder used instead of a tailgate (say across the back of a horse trailer). The loose end of the chain would be firmly attached to one side of the opening. A matching chain would be attached to the other side. The hook with short arm hooks onto the free chain and then the long arm takes up most of the the slack. Then, because the binder still has some play, the hook on the long arm is hooked back onto the attached chain to keep the binder closed.
posted by Mitheral at 7:09 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

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