Sprayers, Misters & Dusters *cough, splutter*

September 25, 2017 in Articles

I have been collecting some sprayer demonstration images for a few months now, and for a bit of light-hearted fun, these images show the marvelous ingenuity and brave stupidity of some of the sprayers and dusters that graced the mid-20th Century. There were certainly some clever chaps on our shores who took the bull by the horns and from a few bits of pipe, a two-stroke engine and sheer determination created sprayers and dusters to rid the land of pesky pests with the aim of better crops all around. 

OK, on the negative side perhaps killing bugs wasn’t always advantageous to the whole food chain but in 1951 it was estimated that in many parts of the world 10% of food crops and in some cases as much as 20% were spoiled by pests and disease. Where there’s a potential problem then there’s someone with a potential answer and our chaps stepped in with a multitude of solutions.

Observe from the pictures the ingenuity of the people who designed and made these machines – and the machines worked too!

Pests and bugs exist everywhere and the first image (below) that caught my eye was a sprayer for use in limited areas where bugs have found a safe haven – like under a rock half way up a mountain pass. This sprayer was affixed to a donkey which is ideally suited for difficult terrain such as mountainous areas or Blackpool beach. It comprises of a hopper with 30lbs of dust and is powered by a Villiers engine rattling in the donkey’s ears. The sprayer never went into production and donkey number 26 got a reprieve. 

Donkey sprayer in demo mode

Donkey power can only be surpassed by one other and that is Camel power. The sprayer pictured below was developed in the UK for use in the cotton fields of Sudan and two panniers each held a 15 gallon plastic tank. The camel was provided by a local zoo for the demo day, the camel looking suitably miffed that it has had it’s day off completely ruined.

Camel powered sprayer proving difficult to attach at a demonstration 1951.

Health and safety was never of the utmost importance yet at these demonstrations one cannot be sure what was being sprayed or at whom, this seems to be a recurring theme through all the following images. Observe the chap below with a Drake and Fletcher exhibit and cigarette in mouth, the 1947 caption actually reads “This is a good one!!”. We hope the chemical could not ignite. 

“This is a good one!!”

…Or how about just spraying the visitors during a demonstration?

Dusting demo at Wroxham 1959

Seeing sprayers demonstrated at an events day is possibly a good idea, yet old images make it seem a little primitive somehow. This 1947 Skip Crop Duster shown below was described directly as using a bicycle wheel – why invent the wheel when one already exists? Used for distributing insecticide between narrow rows it is demonstrated in a somewhat back-ache inducing position. 

Skip Crop Duster 1947 with cycle wheel at the front and soon to be crippled operator at the rear.

Fancy something that can be ridden? Then, below, enter stage-right one car (in lieu of a tractor), trailer and a spraying machine. Designed for dusting high trees and no doubt drifting over the outskirts of the nearest town this machine could decimate bugs galore at whatever height they decided to hide. On the back of the trailer is a large letter T for ‘trailer’.  This machine was actually called the ‘Dustejecta’ – great name. To me this image looks like the exhibitor is setting off home across the showfield but has accidentally left the machine running.

1951 Dustejecta for trees and high places

The Power Dusting Machine, below, was designed to be people-powered and designed for rough ground where a couple of unwilling accomplices could drag the machine along, over, or up whilst the operator used the hose for bug reduction purposes. It seems very labour intensive. Protection was not high on the agenda although suits and ties were. 

Power Dusting Machine, Evesham. 1951

Finally an image from 1938 of another great machine, sadly no photos of it in use but you can imagine the workers designing the machine, carefully working out how it would operate and function in the field, with the folk in the workshop and foundry making the parts, they would have been immensely proud of their work in producing this sprayer. This is the magnificent British made Drake & Fletcher ‘Mistifier’. Anyone got one, I’d like to have a go and I’ll bring my proper Health & Safety gear!

Drake and Fletcher ‘Mistifier’ 1938

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