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    Re: Chronometers after radio time signals
    From: Michael Daly
    Date: 2007 Oct 23, 17:41 -0400

    frankreed{at}HistoricalAtlas.net wrote:
    > An interesting issue came up recently on Wikipedia...
    
    That's my fault :)
    
    I remember reading about this issue some years ago (10-15) and added the
    bit to the lunar distances page before finding the reference.  I thought
    it was in Landes' "Revolution in Time" but I couldn't find it there.
    Then I went through all my other scientific instrument books with no
    luck.  I'll be in town tomorrow, so will go to the reference library and
    look through several other books I've read in the past (but not likely
    too many issues of old instrument journals due to time constraints).
    
    I figure that if I find the reference I've misplaced, I'd further check
    that writer's references for details.
    
    > So did any chronometer
    > manufacturers go under after about 1905?? Also, was there a sudden glut of
    > used chronometers on the market at about the same time? Just food for
    > thought...
    
    Yesterday it occurred to me that there might have been a glut of used
    chronometers in the years after 1918 - the decommissioning of lots of
    navy and merchant marine ships after WWI (including the dismantling of
    most or all of Germany's navy as part of the terms of the armistice)
    would have freed up a lot of chronometers.
    
    I may have read about the chronometer "downfall" in an article on marine
    radio.  Apparently radio became quite popular in shipping once it was
    proven for reasons beyond just time verification.  It may be another
    myth, but ISTR this related to aftermath of the Titanic disaster and
    standardization of radio emergency procedures.
    
    If radio uptake was as quick as claimed, then many merchant marine folk
    might have been happy with one chronometer + radio rather than 3
    chronometers.  One thing I remember from the source I read was that the
    change in attitude towards chronometers was not found in the navies of
    the world - they mistrusted radio and kept their chronometers (just as
    sextant expertise is still mandatory on today's GPS equipped navy ships).
    
    Someone commented on the unreliability of older radio technology.  While
    true, the operators were able to fix them, since they were relatively
    simple.  As long as a reasonable supply of tubes (valves) and bits were
    on hand, those old-style operators could fix them with bubblegum and
    spit :)
    
    > And, by the way, welcome aboard to any Wikipedians who are new to NavList.
    
    I just joined the list after seeing a note on the lunar distance talk page.
    
    I've put up several articles on Wikipedia in the past couple of months
    after cringing at what was written on navigation (and other)
    )instruments.  That's one area of interest for me - old scientific
    instruments.
    
    Pages I've added include:
    * Mariner's astrolabe
    * Quadrant (instrument)
    * Reflecting instrument
    
    as well as significant changes to other pages, especially the history
    sections:
    
    * Lunar distance (navigation)  - history section
    * Octant (instrument)
    * Backstaff
    * Chip log
    
    I can't claim to be an expert, but I'm an enthusiastic hobbyist.  I've
    got an 1840ish octant (Spencer, Browning & Co.) and a recent sextant
    (Heath ca. 1960).  Photos of both are on some of the wikipedia pages
    I've fiddled with.
    
    Mike
    
    
    
    
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