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Benchmark Hunting Tools

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We thought it might help others to post a picture of the tools we use for benchmark hunting.




The list is pretty simple:


The laptop with GSAK open

The GPSrs

The shovels - pointed nose & square nose

A crowbar


Digital camera

Metal detector


3 different probes

A second spare tire


And most important the DEW!


Not a lot of equipment and some stays in the truck all the time.


The one thing I forgot to put in the picture was the small plastic bottle of corn starch to bring out the markings on the disks.


Let us know what you use for this adventure.



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4x4 GMC with OnStar


ATV when needed (Honda Rincon) beats walking up those hills


(*=have in truck all the time)



*shovels, round and sq point

*wisk broom to clean dirt away

*Blue Paper towels, good kind for auto use found at WM

*tape measure, various from 10ft to 160 cloth tape

*metal locator (for treasure hunting hobby and looking for relics at old survey sites)

*2 GPS, one in truck and one for on foot + one on ATV

*fluor pink flagging

couple orange traffic cones, act as 2nd man (found along road)

*measuring wheel (Rolatape)

*chaining pins

*notebook (paper) and pens/pencils

*fluro pink spray paint (upside down spray)

digital camera with extra disc's

*various hammers and other tools

water, soda, munchies


*first aide kit

*Dell notebook with Delorme Topo quads and plugged into the truck mount GPS (Garmin GPS V) with tracking on screen and complete NGS data for my area in NGS format


PS-I wokred in the survey field for 30 yrs so most of this equipment seems natural to me and was not acquired just to hunt BM's.



Edited by Z15
  • Upvote 1
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No tape measure oldfarts???? :mad: ... just joking..

Thanks for the idea of using corn starch, I'll try that next time.


My list....

PDA with benchmarks loaded via plucker using gpx2html from NGS site.

GPS (just one of them)

25 foot metal tape measure

100 foot nylon tape measure

several metal probes

magnetic compass

camera (although I need to get a better one that takes good close up shots)

wiping cloth

garden gloves

small garden shovel (I'm afraid of using a big shovel, afraid I would nail a optic fiber wire or something)

1996 Chevy Cavalier with 210k miles on it.

Diet Pepsi



All my stuff can fit into a backpack pretty easily when I walk to the site.




Thinking about getting a metal detector when I get the money.....

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No tape measure oldfarts???? :anitongue: ... just joking..

Thanks for the idea of using corn starch, I'll try that next time.



Thinking about getting a metal detector when I get the money.....


Actually I do have a 100 ft metal tape measure someplace in the truck. It has been quite a while since I last used it, though.


We also have 2 compasses in the truck. The old one is in the center console and the newer one is on the dash (in the pocket built in for sunglasses).


We hesitated for a long time before finally buying a metal detector. I wasn't sure it would get used often enough to warrant the cost (about $100). It has aided in finding some pretty tough marks.



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Another minimalist here:


Garmin Venture cx

Brunton compass

12' and 100' tape measures

work gloves (sometimes heavy duty, sometimes lightweight gardening type with nubs)


garden shears (for trimming back growth, pruning around overgrown disks, and general probing)

bungee cord (assorted small ones typically for attaching tape measure to a pole or post)

clipboard (for official NGS datasheets)

Latest addition: Canon Powershot A710 IS camera (with 6x zoom and image stabilization, I can get a nice, full-frame closeup of a disk without even bending!)



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Stiff wire probe (also useful as a tape measure anchor and as a digging implement) bent in a V shape to fit in my pack.

Note paper and pen. Datasheets.

Magnetic compass that reads to 1/2 degree. Matching clinometer too.

Tape measure (50-foot canvas in 1/10 foot and 100-foot steel in the car).

Folding 6 foot aluminum carpenters ruler for short distances.

GPS receiver.

Extra batteries for GPS receiver.


A couple of packs of handi-wipes for cleaning disks.

Digital camera.

Tiny camera tripod with velcro strap for trees.

Mobile phone.

Heavy cord for demarcating a radius.

(all this fits in a canvas pack, about 6"x6"x6")

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My list:


NGS datasheet




probe (a long shaft philips head screwdriver)

screwdriver (straight blade)

channel-lock pliers (for removing stubborn caps)

100 ft tape

metal detector

corn starch

water (for cleaning disks if necessary)

whisk broom

plastic trowel

small garden hand clippers

2 ft shovel

orange flagging

paper towels (to dry disks if necessary)

3 ft rope w/ mini D-rings (for use with 100 ft tape in special circumstances)

cell phone or ham radio

work gloves (poison ivy protection)

first-aid kit

pencils (not pens)

extra batteries

topographical map (for extended hikes or bushwhacking)


All of this fits in my backpack except for the metal detector which can be strapped to the outside.


One item I occasionally wish I had, but can never seem to remember to put in my pack is an old tablespoon.


I often bring my laptop along in the vehicle for navigation purposes but rarely use it. I have loaded all the marks into Delorme's Street Atlas so I can see not only the roads but the location of the marks as well.

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Urban hunting

No vehicle



small tote bag containing:

> subway map

> orange safety vest

> wisk broom

> garden trowel

> probe (8" screw driver)

> small container of baby powder to highlight marks

> clip board with NGS data sheets (with nonsense edited out)

> 100 foot tape measure when I think I'll need it.

small tummy pack containing:

> digital camera

> compass


Hunting in the hills

substitute day pack for tote bag

add GPSr with waypoints loaded


add hiking shoes, rain gerar, map, etc.

Edited by Papa-Bear-NYC
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Dolphin must be a wuss, or too old to carry too much.


Extra batteries

Water for drinking

Corn starch

Benchmark pages


Digital camera

paper towels



Sometimes he remembers:

8" screwdriver probe

garden trowel

On rare occasions:

Metal detector.


Could be why I don't find too many buried disks... Last time I wanted to dig for a buried disk, the Sheriff's Clean up crew was wandering the highway.


For next week's trip, I will be carrying all of the above.

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I'm glad to see Safety Vests mentioned in the list. I purchased a good one (heavy duty, with lots of pockets) at a survey supply store, recently. Not only is this recommended along highways, but in the woods during hunting season!





PFF at FY1827

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the small plastic bottle of corn starch to bring out the markings on the disks.


Let us know what you use for this adventure.




Corn starch is a good idea. I've just been spitting on them and trying to get a photo in the moments before it evaporates. :blink::unsure:


Come on don't look at me like that, some of you guys did the same when you were still a part of the leisurely obsessed. ;)


So far I've added the vest and a bag of various tools plus a rag to wipe off the mark.

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Come on don't look at me like that, some of you guys did the same when you were still a part of the leisurely obsessed. :cry:



Never! :cry: ...I will admit using what was left of my Diet Sierra Mist® one time on one really muddy disk...


If you don't want to get arrested for carrying a baggie of corn starch, grab some of the kids' big "sidewalk" chalk - it does an adequate job....



PS - this character looks really suspicious ! :cry:


PFF at FY1827

Edited by Ernmark
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Whats in your Wallet?






1.. Rain Jacket REI compress bag

2.. Rain Pants Sierra Design compress bag

3.. Rain Hat Outdoor Research Seattle sombrero

4.. Wind shirt Headwind

5.. Pullover parka Patagonia

6.. Elmer fud hat Columbia warmest hat ever

7.. leather gloves

8.. cold weather gloves

9.. extra socks Danner best socks I’ve found




1.. 100’ reel tape Stanley

2.. Florescent marking tape

3.. Florescent spray paint Krylon “short cuts” mini can

4.. Entrenching tool Glock strong and light has saw blade in handle.


5.. Spade tool Fiskars won’t scuff or ding markers!!!

6.. Plastic tent pegs line out ref marks

7.. L measure metric & inch Lynn Peavey photo scale

8.. Probe tool Cut down sprinkler tool

9.. Hiking pole LEKI “photo”

10.. Clip board

11.. Assorted pens & Highlighters

12.. Assorted brushes Brass bristleP lastic bristle cut down 2” paint

13.. Shop rag

14.. Sheath Knife Colt (jungle commander) sheath pockets contain butane lighter

550 cord

wooden matches

extra AA batts




1.. Toilet paper

2.. first aid kit

3.. baby powder Johnson foot powder doubles for sprinkling worn

marks for photos


4.. sunscreen stick

5.. lip balm

6.. headlamp 1 Petzl halogen & LED AA

7. head lamp 2 Pricenton tec aurora LED AAA

8.. mini mag light halogen AA

9.. wood matches

10.. butane lighter

11.. space blanket

12.. fatwood starterstixs

13.. marine signal flares ORION when you absolutely have too light your

your fire or signal

14.. 550 cord

15.. Rope Goldline

16.. carabiners Black diamond

17.. pulley REI use for closing stubborn barb wire



18.. Assorted trail mix bars Quaker, Nature Valley I get hungry

19.. Water bottles

20.. Peanut butter Skippy Squeez’It Creamy Told ya I get hungry

21.. Hand warmers Grabber www.warmers.com work great

22.. Toe warmers Grabber www.warmers.com

23.. Cell phone

24.. Compass Silva

25.. Area maps and data sheets (in clipboard)

26. Digital camera Canon powershot




Garmin Vista


Pack Containing all the above = Kelty Arrowhead 2500 lots of pockets and compartments. Has water bladder for summer.


Metal Detector Radio Shack 3300 kept in rig. Too awkward to lug

around hiking.

Edited by Camper1
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On August 22, 2006, we posted a note on the removal of lids from iron monument cases, using a tire iron and, when necessary, a pair of vise-grips and a hammer. Since then we have not often needed our own advice, because most iron-lidded monuments, set in or near the centers of intersections, are simply not safe to hunt. In June, though, we came across one in Whatcom County, Washington, a little east of Bellingham, that we very much wanted to see (TR2545). We watched the intersection for a while, and determined that with care and quickness we could get the job done safely; but quickness, in our previous experience, was going to be a challenge.


Back home we came up with a design, went to Home Depot, and bought a length of steel rod, a pipe nipple, and two caps. We sawed off a piece of the rod for a T-handle, bent a two-inch L in the other end, drilled a hole in each pipe cap, and took these components and a drawing to a welder who put everything together to our specifications, using his own hex nut for the welded stop a few inches below the T-handle. Here it is:


Hook the L in the center hole, pull up till it is firmly against the underside of the lid, and give the pipe a quick slide up to the stop. (We do not claim to have invented the slide hammer.) On August 22, 2008, we went back to the intersection, put on safety clothes, walked out to the monument case and lifted the lid instantly. We carried it, still hooked on the tool, to the sidewalk, so the area would be clear if we had to step aside for any traffic.


Quickness ended there, as it happened. The hole was full of black oily water which we had to remove with a cup and a bucket, finishing off with a sponge and some paper towels. The traffic gods were kind to us, and we logged the mark.

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OK, here's a pic of the yawning roll on/roll off cargo compartment of the Benchmarkmobile:


Main Items Include:

-Ames dandelion weeding stick as probe. Also useful because orange handle is 3 ft. long. and blade 6".

-3-prong scratcher, used as rake to remove small brush and stuff piled up on mark.

-A couple of traffic cones, one equipped with hook to hold end of tape.

-Various tape measures (300' and 100' roll-type, 25' engineering steel, 33' steel, light wt. 50' steel)

-Big and small Home Depot orange plastic stakes, a couple with embedded hooks to hold tapes.

-Really light (composite?) Friskars loppers that make short work of stuff to 1.5" thick.

-V. sharp hand shears.

-Super light photo tripod with sep'ly adjustable legs. Holds laser measurer or Brunton pocket transit, with adapter.

-Plumb bob (with fishing line and swivels to change length) for above.

-Twin-pouch and belt/suspenders carrying rig.

-Canon S5 IS camera with lens adapter that enables UV filer and lens cap.

-Brunton compass ("the Beast").

-Suunto M3 baseplate compass--very light and stays in breast pocket for most quick checks.

-Stanley TLM 300 laser measurer.

-DeLorme PN-20 GPSr.

-8" screwdriver as probe.

-V. sharp scratch awl, used to hold tape end in wooden objects (like power poles), or hang reflectors from them.

-Notebook, pen, couple of band-aids and alcohol wipes (for me. not marks).

-Baby powder

-"Wonder trowel" (see center rear of van) w/blue handle from Ames/TrueValue. Has inch measure and VERY sharp edges.

-Heavy gloves

-Various old pill bottles painted orange and part-filled with gravel, to mark points in photos.

-Other brushes, a couple of smallish wire ones for cleaning marks.

-Long-handled grill-cleaning wire brush w/scraper--works good for scraping moss/lichen off ledges.

-Metal detector as last resort.

-Orange hat and vest when working near traffic.

-Garden rake, spade, weed wacker (bow-type) for major combat.



Double-pouch carrier is loaded with tools I think I'll need, depending on the Description and the area. Many times, I just walk to and from the car to get things. I seal the camera in a Ziplock freezer bag when it's in the pouch to keep dirt out.

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All, I remembered that USC&GS Special Publication #247 contained a list of equipment used by first-order triangulation parties, so I copied it and pasted it below - you may find it interesting. Remember this was written in 1959 so there's no GPS and not much in the way of electronic devices (we read and reread the descriptions in those days). By the late 1970's when I was on the triangulation party, we had a good calculator and a computer that could connect to the Washington computer by telephone Everything else was about the same as one the list below. At one point we had 5 trailers, about 20 trucks, about 25 Bilby Towers, about 20 people (plus families), and a large assortment of many other items.






From USC&GS Special Pub #247, 1959, on-line at: http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/cgs_specpu...s_specpubs.html


(A) Typical list of instruments for use of a standard multiple-unit triangulation party equipped to

place 4 observing units in the field:


2 altimeters, surveying

12 ammeters, pocket

12 binoculars, ordinary

2 binoculars, prismatic

1 chronometer, sidereal (azimuth observations)

6 collimators, vertical

15 compasses, azimuth

1 dividers, hairspring (drafting)

1 dividers, proportional (drafting)

1 finder, star, mariner’s (azimuth observations)

1 glass, magnifying

6 heliotropes

40 lamps, signal (5-inch and 7-inch)

10 lamps, signal, small (flashlight-1 !&inch)

1 lettering set (drafting)

1 level, hand

2 levels, builder’s, with horizontal circle

1 machine, adding (accounts and computing)

1 machine, calculating, electric (computing)

1 pen, drop bow (drafting)

1 pen, ruling (drafting)

6 pens, fountain

12 pins, adjusting (spare)

12 plumb bobs

1 protractor, 3-arm metal (office)

6 protractors, no-arm

1 radio receiver, battery-operated short wave

(azimuth observations)

4 reticles, theodolite (spare)

1 rule, slide (office)

1 scale, metric, 1-meter, diagonal

1 scale, metric, %-meter, diagonal

6 scales, ordinary

1 set, fixtures, beam compass, with beam

1 set, instruments, drawing

3 straightedges, assorted lengths (draftina)

8 tapes, *meter, steel

4 tapes, aO-meter, steel, standardized

5 tapes, Wfoot, steel

1 theodolite, second-order, with tripod

1 theodolite, 7-inch repeater

4 theodolites, first-order

1 transit, engineer’s, with tripod

4 triangles, celluloid, assorted (drafting)

8 tribrach plates, aluminum (4 pairs)

1 typewriter, standard, 14-inch carrkge

6 typewriters, portable


(B) Typical list of general property for use of a standard multiple-unit steel tower triangulation party

equipped to place 4 observing units in the field:


8 axes 3 boxes, mortar

12 bags, bolt (with belt and 3 pouches)

4 bags, hoisting 4 buckets

4 bags, observing (canvas bags for record books,

8 bars, digging

12 bits, drill, assorted

12 bits, wood, assorted

8 blocks, steel, single, hauling, %- by 4-inch

8 blocks, steel, traveling, x- by 2-inch

3 braces, carpenter’s

6 cans, water, IO-gallon

8 chains, towing

3 chisels, carpenter’s, assorted

3 chisels, cold

3 clamps, tower

1 climbers, tree

24 cots, folding, canvas

4 crowbars

7 cutters, weed

4 die seta, letters

4 die seta, numbers

3 diggers, post hole

3 drift pins

8 drills, rock, star

3 files, assorted

6 tire extinguishers, camp and spare

20 flashlights, hand

1 hacksaw

7 hammers, ball-peen

10 hammers, claw

3 hammers, sledge

16 hatchets

1 hectograph (duplicator)

3 hooks, anchor

3 hooks, brush

24 hooks, harness, double end

3 knives, corn

4 lanterns, red warning

3 levels, carpenter’s

12 levels, pocket, lightkeeper’s

7 lines, hauling

3 mattocks

4 mauls, stake

1 nail puller

1 oilcan, squirt

28 packboards

1 palm, sewing

12 picks

15 pliers

3 pliers, side cutting

3 punches, rtssorted

1 rasp, wood

1 rope assortment (pigtails and bindings)

3 rules, carpenter’s, folding

1 saw, electric power, skill

10 saws, carpenter’s

3 saws, crosscut (two-handled)

16 screw drivers

9 shovels, long handle, round point (holes)

13 shovels, short handle, round point (holes)

6 shovels, short handle, square point (concrete)

22 signal notices, metal

4 slings, instrument

12 spade.-, short handle

3 spoons, digger’s

1 square, carpenter’s

8 tarpaulins

4 tents, observing, ground, with frame

4 tents, observing, tower

15 tents, 9- by 9-foot, center pole, bunk

3 tents, 14-by 14-foot, ridge pole, work and storage

8 tower-bases (only), 103-foot

2 tower-bases (only), 116-foot

8 tower-extensions, 10-foot

22 towers, Bilby steel, *foot complete

2 trailers, office (complete with desks, chairs, files,

desk lamps, stove, fire extinguisher, and flares)

3 trowels

22 trucks (with tools and equipment):

2 lj/,ton open

10 ?+ to ,%&ton panel

8 1- to/l?&ton panel

2 1 %ton semi-trailers

4 umbrellas, sunshade

3 winch drums (truck wheel)

7 wrenches, crescent

34 wrenches, S, end


© Additional instruments and general property for base line and traverse measurements:



2 awls, marking

2 balances, dial spring, tape stretching

2 cutters, glass (rail movement check)

1 dividers, bowspring

1 dividers, hairspring

1 level, wye, with tripod

1 plumb bob

1 pulley, frictionless (balance testing)

1 rod, level (meters and feet)

2 scales, boxwood ?&meter (to millimeters)

2 scales, spring balance, small, for 30-meter tapes

1 stretcher set, tape, pavementtype

1 stretcher set, tape, rail-type

1 stretcher set, tape, stake-type

1 tape, %meter, staking


1 tape, 300-foot, checking

2 tapes, mmeter, standardized

2 tapes, Wmeter, invar, standardized, for secondorder

tie traverses (4 needed for first-order base


1 theodolite, 4- or 7-inch, with tripod, for lining-in

4 thermometers, base-line-tape type

1 weight, testing, 15-kilogram

General property

2 axes

2 hammers

1 hand axe

1 hand saw

1 maul, 16-pound, iron

1 punch, center marking

1 sunshade

strips, copper (as needed)


(D) Typical list of general property for use of a multiple-unit triangulation party, operating in mountainous

areas, equipped to place 4 observing units in the field:


16 axes

4 bags, observing (canvas bags for

2 bars, digging

4 bits, gimlet, X6-inch

4 bits, wood, %&inch

2 boxes, mortar

2 braces, carpenter’s

12-20 cans, water, 10-gallon

4 chairs, folding

4 chisels, wood, assorted

1 climbers, tree, set

24 cots, folding, canvas

2 crowbars

4 die sets, letters

4 die sets, numbers

2 diggers, post hole

12 drills, rock, star

4 files, assorted

6 fire extinguishers (camp)

24 flashlights

10 hammers, claw

2 hammers, sledge, 2- to 4-pound

2 hammers, sledge, 8-pound

1 hectograph (duplicator)

3 hooks, brush

16 lanterns, gasoline

2 levels, carpenter’s

12 levels, pocket

2 mattocks

2 mauls

1 nail puller

24 packboards

small instruments, etc.)

4 pails, 10-gallon

4 picks

8 pliers, ordinary

2 pliers, wire cutting

2 rules, carpenter’s, bfoot folding

1 saw, electric power, skill

8 saws, carpenter’s

2 saws, crosscut (two-handled)

6 screw drivers

4 shovels, long handle, round point

14 shovels, short handle, round point

4 shovels, short handle, square point

4 spades, short handle

2 spoons, digger’s

1 square, carpenter’s

1 square, tri-

16 stoves, gas, camp (heating)

24 tarpaulins, bed

8 tarpaulins, truck

4 tents, observing, ground, with frame

20 tents, 9- by 9-foot, center pole

2 tents, 14- by 14-foot, ridge pole

2 trailers, office (complete with chairs, desks,

desk lamps, stoves, flares, etc.)

4 trowels

16 trucks (with tools and equipment):

record books, 1 palm, sewing

8 %- to %-ton panel

4 1- to 1%-ton panel

2 1%-ton open

2 1 %-ton semi-trailers

2 umbrellas, sunshade

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GPS & Camera with extra batteries for both.

Radio Shack metal detector, we use it all the time, and extra batteries.

Fiberglass T-handle probe rod

300' fiberglass measuring tape

NGS Data sheets

Garden Trowel

Those are our essentials.

We also carry paper towels, spray bottle filled with water and a small scrubbing brush for cleaning marks.

Log book, pencils, cell phone, insect repellent, sunblock, munchies and drinking water.

Laptop that we mostly use to find near by Dairy Queens :laughing:

I don't like cornstarch, so I have sidewalk chalk and a yellow crayon. Haven't used either of them yet.

We haven't had a big problem with water covering the marks but I've been thinking of getting a turkey

baster to help remove small amounts of water. This time of year we have a problem with burrs. :laughing:

So we add tweezers and a sticky link roller to our bag.


Jo Ann

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Here's a list of stuff in George's list that is puzzling/unknown to me:


12 ammeters, pocket

12 pins, adjusting (spare)

1 radio receiver, battery-operated short wave [i assume this is for listening to WWV or even CHU]

8 tribrach plates, aluminum (4 pairs)

1 hectograph (duplicator) [interesting to read about in wikipedia]

1 palm, sewing

22 signal notices, metal [are these witness posts?]

strips, copper (as needed)

record books, 1 palm, sewing

2 spoons, digger’s [is this a trowel?]


Anyone know what these things are?

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Could ammeters be a mis-typing of altimeters? The pocket version is listed just after the more precise version and this would seem more likely than anything electrical. And they definitely weren't for electric fence, which you might theoretically test with a voltmeter (a neon bulb would be simpler) but not an ammeter.


In case anybody didn't catch the humor in Klemmer's comment about stretchers, those would be for applying a desired tension to a steel tape. Calibrated tension (to know the sag and actual stretch) and temperature are vital to precise taping.


I've played with a hectograph. My mother used that method of duplicating papers when she taught school and still had the supplies when I was young. Basically it is a layer of gel that soaks up a purple ink and transfers it to sheets of paper one at a time. The ink is same stuff that was later use in the mimeograph "ditto" machines that were common until the 1970's.

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Here's a list of stuff in George's list that is puzzling/unknown to me:


12 ammeters, pocket

12 pins, adjusting (spare)

1 radio receiver, battery-operated short wave [i assume this is for listening to WWV or even CHU]

8 tribrach plates, aluminum (4 pairs)

1 hectograph (duplicator) [interesting to read about in wikipedia]

1 palm, sewing

22 signal notices, metal [are these witness posts?]

strips, copper (as needed)

record books, 1 palm, sewing

2 spoons, digger’s [is this a trowel?]


Anyone know what these things are?


I'll take a stab at a few of these.


The ammeters are electrical current meters. I would expect those are used in setting up lights for triangulation.


Shortwave radios were needed to check the precise time when doing observations on Polaris, (the north star).

The earth's axis doesn't exactly point to the north star. From our perspective, Polaris spins in a small circle when viewed on a theodolite.

Because of this, knowing the exact time becomes important when determining astronomic azimuth/true north.

And yes, station WWV out of Boulder Colorado was used to synchronize the surveyor's watches.


Descriptions of those record books confound the heck outta me.

~ Mitch ~

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Glad to see that many enjoyed my list. I should point out that the list came from the 1959 edition of SP#247, but that the list in the 1950 version is about the same. The inclusion of tents tells me that the list probably originated in the 1930s, when the USC&GS field parties switched from tents to trailers.


Regarding batteries, we bought batteries by the case. For the signal lights, we used four 1.5V batteries in series. These were the large, lantern sized batteries. We wrapped tape around them to create the set of four in a row (easier to carry and use). Then the light keeper could power the light with 2, 3, or 4 batteries (3V, 4.5V, or 6V) depending on the intensity required. Remember, the first-order angle observations were done in the evening. The observer would be in the center of a circle of stations that he was to observe. A light keeper would be sent to each of the stations and would point a light to the observer's station near the center of the circle (actually a polygon). Using radios the observer would ask the light keepers, one-by-one, to adjust the vertical and horizontal directions until he could see a good light. Then the observer would have the light keeper dim the light as required. In the days before two-way radios, the observers and light keepers communicated via Morse code, flashing the light (or in the very early days, flashing their heliotrope). On a typical evening in the 1970s, we would have one or two observers turning angles, each at their own survey mark. Occasionally, we would have three observers on the same evening, the more observers, the more efficient the operation. Each observer would turn angles to 5 – 10, or more other stations. With multiple observers, some of the light keepers would show more than one light (hence the efficiency) and each of the observers might also show one or more lights (see the photo at: http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/magazi...y/Figure24.html of a Bilby Tower with three lights on top. This indicates that there were at least 4 observers that evening, one on the tower and one in each of the directions the lights were pointing.) On my survey party the maximum numbers of stations on which we could post lights simultaneously on a given evening was about 20. So, 20 times 4 (# of batteries) indicates we sometimes used 80 batteries in one evening (they would last more than one evening).


Now, for the list of unknown items:

12 ammeters, pocket ---- these were used to test the batteries


12 pins, adjusting (spare) --- believe this means the pins used to adjust the cross-hairs in the theodolites


1 radio receiver, battery-operated short wave [i assume this is for listening to WWV or even CHU] --- these were used to get very accurate time for star observations for azimuth, latitude, and/or longitude


8 tribrach plates, aluminum (4 pairs) --- used to mount the theodolite atop the inner tower, they were clamped in place with common C-clamps (see photo of “Y” shaped plate at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12262796@N06/2152057769/ )


1 hectograph (duplicator) [interesting to read about in wikipedia] --- never saw one, but believe it was an early copying device


1 palm, sewing --- for sewing canvas, etc (originally a sailor’s tool)


22 signal notices, metal [are these witness posts?] --- believe these were signs warning the public to stay off the towers


strips, copper (as needed) --- these are probably the strips used in measuring a baseline with an invar tape; a mark was scratched on the strip with an awl


record books, 1 palm, sewing --- probably for sewing the record pages together into a book; by the 1970s we had bound books


2 spoons, digger’s [is this a trowel?] --- believe this is a shovel (I found a “spoon shovel” for sale on-line using a search engine)




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Fabulous list!


We hope it's not too trivial to add this further clarification on adjusting pins. They were (are) hard steel pins with ends a little smaller than the middle, about an inch and a half to two inches long, used to turn capstan-headed screws, which are located in moderate profusion here and there on older theodolites/transits. Here's a K&E "Twisted Frame" transit made in 1908 (they would have left this one in the shed in 1959!), and some close-ups showing the pin and its use.



Here's a view of the case trivet, with the pin lying loose on it:



Here the pin is inserted in one of the four cross-hair adjustment screws:



And here it is inserted in the adjustment screw for one of the plate levels:



In conclusion, we are deeply grateful, having used one fifty years ago, not to have a digger's spoon to photograph. It is a long-handled shovel with a business end smoothly curved instead of pointed, and bent almost to a right angle with the handle, used in conjunction with a digging iron for lifting dirt out of a deep hole of small diameter--as for a utility pole.


Thanks again for that wonderful list.



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NGS Surveyor said:

8 tribrach plates, aluminum (4 pairs) --- used to mount the theodolite atop the inner tower, they were clamped in place with common C-clamps (see photo of “Y” shaped plate at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12262796@N06/2152057769/ )


Here's another picture from the same Flickr site (NGS Surveyor?) showing a triangle of floor boards intended to keep the surveyors from shaking the stand.




I found a wooden tower similar to the one pictured in the links above at ES1006. The recovery log for 1946 says that a "6-FT Instrument stand was erected over the mark and the floor boards supported by a triangular wall of rock about 2 feet high." The floor boards have either rotted or the survey party removed them but the stand looks to be in good shape after 52 years in the weather.






Just so this isn't completely off-topic I didn't see a walking stick in anyone's list. Since climbing hills is a typical experience a walking stick helps on the way up and is critical on the way down.

Edited by sjkimmel99
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