Tag Archives: curvimetre

Map measurer of the month- The Pathfinder Three-in-One

The Pathfinder Three-in-One was a multiple attempt at bringing together a map measure with two other functions. Usually a compass and one other- either pencil, magnifier or plug tester. You will frequently come across examples on the second hand market which is either testament to their robust longevity, or that they were simply thrown in a drawer and forgotten about.

Standard Pathfinder map measure with short handle

Standard Pathfinder map measure with short handle

Purchasers pf the Pathfinder map measure could choose one of two dial options. This is the inch to mile/centimetre to kilometre choice

Purchasers pf the Pathfinder map measure could choose one of two paper dial options. This is the inch to mile/centimetre to kilometre choice

Made in Western Germany, probably mostly in the 1960s, the Three-in-One is based on the stock model Pathfinder map measurer. This is a single needle, dial measure with one of two paper dials inserted in the face. One choice was Statute miles/Kilometres/Nautical miles, the other dial face option was Inches to Miles/Centimetres to Kilometres. Once purchased, the owner could not change the paper dial to the other option. The choice had to be made when bought. There was also the option of purchasing a Pathfinder measure that had two measures, one on each side of the body, each with a different dial scale.

The metal bodied measure has two faces-front and reverse. Map measure on one and if not another measuring dial, then a simple magnetic compass on the reverse. The compass is not liquid filled and the needle fluctuates wildly before settling. However, it works. Cardinal and ordinal points are shown, incorporating 30° intervals, indicated with figures, around the outer edge. Between these, every 5° is included. And that is it. I wouldn’t like to rely on the compass as a primary navigational aid but if such a measure were carried in the glove box of a car then it probably sufficed reasonably well.

This is by no means a unique combination. There are a number of surviving examples of Victorian map measures that also include a compass, so common is the combination that many very cheap and cheerful Chinese made plastic bodied measurers produced today also have a tiny compass included.

Pathfinder with long handle. This has a compass in the reverse face

Pathfinder map measure with long handle. This has a compass in the reverse face and is capable of measuring statute miles, kilometres or nautical miles

Pathfinder Map Measure and compass. Any of the five options of handles could be fitted- short, long, magnifier, pencil or plug tester

Pathfinder map measure and compass. Any of the five handle options could be fitted- short, long, magnifier, pencil or plug tester

A second choice of standard Pathfinder map measure has a long handle. This is a far easier measure to manipulate when following a line on a map, spinning the handle between the finger tips while trundling the measuring wheel along a path or line on a map is a relatively simple task. The same two choices of dial face were available with this as it is only the handle length that has changed. Again, a compass is included on the other side of the measure.

Box and instructions for the basic Pathfinder map measure and compass

Box and instructions for the basic Pathfinder map measure and compass

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with magnifying glass

Based on the basic model Pathfinder, there were three further ‘three-in-one’ options available. These were easy for the manufacturer to create, instead of including a short or long handle with the standard body, one of three alternative handles was attached. The first Three-in-One shown here has a combination that has also been produced by just a handful of other manufacturers. Three Points of the Compass has seen Victorian and later measurers that also offered a magnifying glass as an option however surviving examples of the Pathfinder Three-in-One with magnifying glass are testament to the relatively large numbers produced and sold.

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and magnifying glass

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and magnifying glass

Glass magnifier on map measure is perfectly functional

Glass magnifier on map measure is perfectly functional

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with pencil

Compass on Pathfinder Three-in-One with pencil

Compass on Pathfinder Three-in-One with pencil

This is a pretty handy little combination. I would think more drivers utilising a map measure on a trip would want a pencil than magnifying glass. I doubt many cyclists or hikers would be using it much as they will not be carrying a map measure on trail.

Twisting the barrel reveals the propelling lead/graphite. Sadly this is not a particularly well made product as the barrels frequently split on this measure, indeed my example is also split toward the end as a result of internal pressure and most I have seen for sale also exhibit similar failure. It still works though and the lead is replaceable.

Pathfinder Three-in-One with propelling pencil

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and propelling pencil

Pathfinder Three-in-one showing split barrel of propelling pencil. A frequent point of failure

Pathfinder Three-in-one showing split barrel of propelling pencil. A frequent point of failure

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with plug tester

This final example of the Pathfinder Three-in-One is an oddity these days. I do wonder if it were ever actually popular or of much practical use beyond as a map measure or basic compass.

I confess to never having used the plug-tester. In fact I cannot even find instructions on how it should be used. Even the instructions that come with this model actually fail to give any instruction. Is this because everyone knew how to use these? Three Points of the Compass has quizzed a few ‘old boys’ who run classic cars and has yet to come across anyone either with actual experience in using one of these or able to give any indication on how effective this particular tool is.

Pathfinder map measure and compass with spark plug tester

Pathfinder map measure and compass with spark plug tester

Plug tester variant of the Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure showing the little oblong test window in the handle

Plug tester variant of the Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure showing the little oblong test window in the handle

I am guessing that you simply touch a spark plug or tip of a lead running to one while an engine is running and it lights the little oblong window in the black handle to indicate a proper electrical charge is being delivered to the spark plug. Though I could be very wrong in this. The label on the box says ‘for running order‘, but again, I am not at all sure how this can be achieved or checked with this tool.

The Pathfinder Three-in-One is an interesting range of map measures. The company has deliberately sought to diversify a pretty standard piece of kit. I am not sure that anyone would go and buy more than one of the variants and all are possibly more suited to the motorist rather than the hiker. The name Pathfinder has been used with other makes of map measurer, though none seem to be of any noticeable improvement over the examples shown here.

Electrical contact on Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Electrical contact on Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Enclosed instructions for Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Enclosed instructions for Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

 

Opisometer in case stamped Edward Stanford Charing Cross

Map measurer of the month- Stanford’s opisometer

 

Bone handled opisometer with finely turned finial

Bone handled opisometer with finely turned finial

An opisometer is a curious instrument. As soon as you handle one it is pretty obvious how it works. A handle, in this case made of bone, probably from a cow, with a small milled wheel that turns easily on a supported fine thread. There is also a small metal pointer to aid in locating whatever it is you are measuring.

An opisometer is easy to use with irregular lines on a map or drawing

An opisometer is easy to use with irregular lines on a map or drawing

What is essential is a scale to read off against once a line has been precisely tracked. You wind the wheel to one end of the thread, then wheel it along a line on a map, or along any distance you are measuring, then turn the wheel backwards against a known scale. With maps, the scale usually appears at the bottom. Simple to use and effective. Opisometers are still made today but seldom for use with maps, more as an aid in the medical or surveying worlds.

Stanfords Opisometer in small leather carry case

Stanfords opisometer in small leather carry case

Opisometer advertised in a 'Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments', by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association. 1921

Opisometer advertised in a ‘Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments’, by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers’ Association. 1921

Having first stated as an employee of Trelawney Saunders at 26-27 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, London in 1848, Edward Stanford became a partner in 1852. This business relationship never lasted the year however and Stanford became sole proprietor in 1853, expanding his shop, that sold maps and charts, to 7-8 Charing Cross. The business further expanded and a printing works in nearby Trinity Place was purchased. Stanfords became the map maker and seller in London. Now situated at 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, they still enjoy an enviable reputation to this day supplying maps for countless expeditions across the globe.

As well as maps and charts, Stanfords sold many accessories including map measurers. The opisometer shown here is unlikely to have actually been made by Stanfords. It was likely supplied to them by a manufacturer of fine mathematical or surveying instruments. It is difficult to date, certainly they were being sold in the 1870s and the example shown probably dates from around then, but examples were still available for purchase for much of the first half of the twentieth century. Though an all metal construction became more in favour at the turn of the century.

The opisometer is pretty generic in design. Other sellers of surveying and mathematical equipment would also have stocked these, each seller having their own address stamped onto the bespoke leather case that held these quite delicate instruments. The Stanford example is quite small when compared against others that were available. It measures just 97mm (3 13/16″) in length. The turned and pointed finial on the end of the bone handle shows that this is an English made instrument as each country had their own particular design. It will measure a line 958mm (37 3/4″), so over a yard/almost a metre, which is quite remarkable for such a small instrument.

Small Stanfords opisometer (top) with larger opisometer supplied by Elliott Brothers who were making these instruments in the late nineteenth century

Small Stanford’s opisometer (top) with larger similar opisometer supplied by Elliott Brothers who were making these instruments in the late nineteenth century. The bottom example dates between 1853-1873

 

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Map measurer of the month- the Velos ‘Clicker’, model 1460

Velos 'Clicker' map measurer

Velos ‘Clicker’ map measurer

“All 3 styles count the miles

on Mainroads, Coastlines and Byroads”

This is an oddity. Very little like it has been produced by any other manufacturer. It is as though the person who devised it had never come across a map measurer in his life and, with a clean sheet, came up with something new that, well, just kinda works.

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of 'Velos' Products, 1947

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of ‘Velos’ Products, 1947

Frank Pitchford and Co. were established in the early twentieth century. By the 1930s the company was called Rees, Pitchford and Co. Based at 72-74 Victoria Street, London, SW1, they registered the brand name Velos on 14 March 1946.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prominent ‘V’ appeared on a wide range of products made by the company. General Velos office supplies included glass inkwells, erasers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, staples and staplers, hole punches and date stamps. Their bakelite range included desk tidys and inkwells, ashtrays and stamp wetters, and the Velos Clicker map measurer.

The distinctive Velos 'V' brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

The distinctive Velos ‘V’ brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

The side of the Velos Clicker, shown above, shows the English patent number- 422611. This was issued in 1935 and the drawing that accompanied the patent application shows well how the little wheel, when pulled along a line, would click as it rotated. The little wheel measures exactly one inch in diameter and clicks four times with each complete rotation. With a one inch to the mile map, this means that every quarter mile will be indicated with a click.

First versions of Model 1460 simply had a cambered wheel slid on to a pin mounted in the end of the handle. This could occasionally sashay rather than studiously follow a contour and the introduction of a small spring to the pin went a long way to calming its motion.

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

There was no risk that a user wouldn’t know how to use the instrument. Instructions were included on the box, information sheet and the side of most Clickers. Though there is a variant where the instructions were left off for some reason.

Four variants of the bakelite Velos Clicker. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

Four variants of the Bakelite Velos Clicker, model 1460. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

The Velos Clicker shown here also incorporated a ‘paper cutter and envelope opener’ at the other end. Rees, Pitchford and Co. actually produced at least four variants of the Clicker. The cheapest at sixpence was Model 1458 and combined the Clicker with a propelling pencil, a simple cap covered each end. For ninepence, you could purchase Model 1459. This was similar but had heavier caps, eraser, pocket clip and was chrome plated. The classic model however was Model 1460. Costing one shilling, this Clicker has a bakelite handle with letter opener at one end and Clicker at the other end. Complete with new style wheel and spring and protected by a chrome plate cap when not in use, large numbers were sold. Another robust model later appeared. Model 1461 again combining the Clicker with a propelling pencil. Models 1458, 1459 and 1461 are rarely encountered today.

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

So what happened to the Velos brand? Sadly it is rarely seen today. In 2004 the trademark was assigned to ACCO brands as just one of many that periodically appear on a myriad of office supplies. You can still come across examples of the Velos Clicker today on auction sites. One of those shown here was recently acquired for me by a work colleague as he rummaged through an auto-jumble in deepest Norfolk. Knowing my interest in such oddities he paid the grand total of three quid for it. Not that it is much use on modern metric maps though.

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

If you want to see a little more of one of these delightful little measurers, one of my favourite YouTubers- Wood & Graphic, took an affectionate look at the Velos Clicker here.

 

My much used German made map measurer

Map measurers

Map measurer, opisometer, curvimetre, mile-o-graph, meilograph, chartometer, call them what you will, in the era of digital mapping, who uses such an antique analogue object today? Well, Three Points of the Compass still does. I have used a simple little map measure for decades. The  cheaply made one shown above, made in Western Germany,  has been pulled down off the bookshelf hundreds of times over the past twenty years when planning routes. It replaced another that gave equally lengthy service but had eventually died the death.

It never goes on actual walks with me. Though I am one of a seemingly dying breed who still likes, appreciates and takes hard copy maps with me on trail. If I want to measure a distance on the map while sitting in a tent, pub or hostel lounge, I either guesstimate, infrequently use a roamer scale on my compass baseplate, a strip of paper which is then measured against the scale at the bottom of my map, or, most frequently, I use a length of thin cordage. The small hank of 2mm yellow cord in the image below is one of the two I carry for attaching my Katabatic Palisade quilt to my sleeping pad.

Assortment of map measurers from Three Points of the Compasses collection. Some cheap and nasty, some peculiar, one or two beautiful and uncommon

Assortment of map measurers from my collection. Some cheap and nasty, some peculiar, one or two beautifully made and uncommon

Plastic map measures sold to readers of a popular motoring magazine

Plastic map measures sold to readers of a popular motoring magazine

Map measurers can be sweet little pocket watch style affairs that were tucked into the waistcoats of the gentry, or simple little wheeled opisometers, like the one below,  sold in the likes of Stanfords map shop in the mid-twentieth century.

They could be made of plastic, bakelite or metal. Have handles incorporating bone or ivory. Cheap versions were given away at petrol stations, or combined into all-singing all-dancing measurer/compass/thermometers made in China by the thousand. That said, they still work. The cheapest will do the same job as the most expensive gold plated measurer ever made. They even make incredibly expensive digital versions today. I look on them with dismay, much preferring my little analogue measurers.

Simple opisometer

Simple opisometer

Newspaper advertisement for Morris's 'Wealemefna', a 'new design of map measurer'

Newspaper advertisement for Morris’s ‘Wealemefna’, a ‘bijou’ map measurer. The Graphic, 1880

The idea of map measurers is an old one, probably as old as ‘to scale’ maps themselves. Beyond simple calipers, early map measurers, or opisometers were very simple affairs indeed, little wheels on a threaded bar that could be pushed along a line. More expensive designs that incorporated a dial scale didn’t really appear in any great numbers until the later nineteenth century.

Anyone that required a map was also using a map measurer. The military use them, sailors use them, motorists use them, town planners and draughtsmen use them, and still, just a few walkers use them. You run a little wheel along a route, a path, a road, a river, a line on a drawing, then either read off the result or measure against a standard.

 

Box for 'Self-Registering Rotameter', giving detail on how to use

Box for ‘Self-Registering Rotameter’, provides detail on scale and how to use

While a piece of cord or length of paper will simply measure a length, more complicated versions can measure in many units- multiples or sub-units of inches or feet, centimetres or metres, versts, miles or kilometres. Also to different scales- The two-faced French made measurer below has scales for 1:20 000, 1:25 000, 1:40 000, 1:50 000, 1:75 000, 1:80 000, 1:100 000 and 1:200 000. Made almost a century ago, it is still an effective and useful piece of kit that cost me less than a tenner. Not that I ever use it of course, I still pull down the old favourite from the bookshelf.

Map measurer by Henri Chatelain, with Quarter-Inch Ordnance Survey map to The Border, 1935

Map measurer by Henri Chatelain, with “Quarter-Inch” Ordnance Survey map to The Border, 1935

Along with thousands of other hikers I rely very much on my online O.S. Maps when planning my routes. This will give me not only distance but also daily elevation. However I still like to use a map measurer on my paper maps when I can. It forces me to look at the terrain, the twists and turns, the type of country being crossed- across bogs, through woods, traversing moorland, traipsing through the backstreets of towns.

I won’t go in to any great detail on map measurers here. There is an expanding page on my website that gives more information. Over the years I seem to have built a bit of a collection of these little devices, just a small handful of which are shown above. There seems to be a dearth of information on these online or in print form. Perhaps it is because they aren’t that interesting, just to the likes of me and one or two other like-minded souls. So I have decided to share just a few from my collection with you- good reader, over the next year. Twelve, one a month, beginning January. I bet you cannot wait…

The ditty bag/repair kit that Three Points of the Compass carried on the Cape Wrath Trail in 2018. A Leatherman keychain multi-tool formed a vital component of this

The ditty bag/repair kit that Three Points of the Compass carried on the Cape Wrath Trail in 2018. The hank of 2mm cord was often pulled into use as a simple map measurer when considering alternative routes due to weather or resupply necessity.