A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2020 Nov 6, 09:28 -0800
Do you believe in synchronicity? At the same time as this discussion was going on, I received, completely separately, an email and a series of photographs asking my opinion of a Hughes and Son produced devive which showed remarkable similarity to Willis’ Navigating Machine. My view was that the device in the photographs was a prototype PZX solving machine produced by Hughes either in cooperation with Willis at Willis’ instigation or independently to see if there was any mileage in the idea.
I welcome NavLister’s opinions. The photographs and a section of the email appear below. DaveP
"I am though a collector and have a keen interest in C 20th navigational equipment.
It is clearly a very unusual item any help or advice that you might be able to offer would be much appreciated”
I think I know that it bears more than a striking similarity to a device invented by Edward Jones Willis and patented circa 1931, this instrument appears to be a simplified version and judging by it’s execution might date to the 1940s or early 50s, the maker is H.Hughes & Son Ltd, London.
I happened across this instrument the other day and despite all earnest and exhaustive enquiry have not been able to find a similar instrument nor any information regarding it.
"In my reply to *** I indicated that I had stripped the optical unit and cleaned it, there is a reticule inside with a very small low power lamp which is arranged at 90 degrees to the optical path.
That said, there is no doubt in my mind that this instrument is experimental or a prototype, I base this on the rather quaint way in which the eyepiece illuminator is configured, in my opinion both the wiring and the lamp contacts would not have been reliable for service use.
In addition the timber case has absolutely no identifiers on it, there is evidence that perhaps a plate might have been affixed to the wooden base to the transport case.
The instrument came to me from a very good source, entirely dedicated to Vintage aircraft ………. though of course that by no means establishes any real connection.
Of one thing there can be no doubt, the quality is superb and I would suggest mainly constructed in brass or bronze”