A listener discovered a fence 'tensioner' in a field near Aviemore in Scotland and wonders whether it is an artefact of a little-known Nazi history. Second World War historian James Holland dampens down such claims by explaining that the Nazi's over-engineered and over-designed even the simplest objects - hence their survival even in the most unlikely places!
Came across dozens of these when I worked in forestry. The last place I recall seeing some was in the early 70s on a fence in front of one of the Swedish Houses at Ardentinny. Never found out where they came from. The correct term is a "radisseur".
I wonder if the presence of more than one suggests they were 'liberated' by Scots who ended up in Nazi territory at the end of the war, and stuffed boxes or bags of the things in their packs to use when they got back home?
I am thinking of those who were conscripted and taken away from jobs where they used such things.
I tend think it unlikely that Scots/Brits would be buying and importing Nazi products, even in the years prior to the war itself.
My guess would be that they were picked up after fences round camps, concentration camps, compounds and suchlike were torn down by the Allies.
The presence of the swastika on the radisseur would, I think, be there to identify it as a piece of Nazi military inventory, and any civilian found to have any of these tensioning their fence would have been guilty of theft, and dealt with by military justice.
Not so sure about the use to indicate that military hardware. I don't know what the Wehrmacht used (eagle with swastika?) but I have expected whatever was their equivalent of the WD or broad arrow. If anything like military forces elsewhere they would be just as worried about someone from the Luftwaffe or other branch of the Nazi war machine nicking something as civilians doing so.
Fencing might be done by the Organisation Todt so again they might use their "OT" emblem for the same reason.
Surprised there is not a webpage on radisseurs, there must be people collecting them!
The Wehrmacht symbol was the straight armed iron cross - looks like a + sign with additional lines on the border.
I wouldn't have thought there was any doubt that anything the Nazis put a swastika on what was theirs, and god help you if you had it and you were not entitled to.
I see someone on Flickr stating that 'Swastika Brand' was common before 1939 - but I think this can be discounted as sheer speculation since Hitler took it as the symbol for the Nazi party in 1920, and I can't him or his SA thugs endorsing the local ironmonger and his Swastika Brand soap, mousetraps, and nails. Mind you, Himmler might have done a deal to get a discount for the old chicken farm!
When did they move Tayport to Brazil?
I must have missed that story, and the programme, since it must surely have been filmed for "How do they do it?"
On the other hand someone making agricultural metalwork in rural Scotland in the 1920s, and perhaps well into the 1930s, might know little about the Nazis. Probably did not get much coverage in the Sunday Post.
There are two possibilities I can think of. One is that they were made here for a German customer. but were part of a cancelled order in 1939, or that they were imported from Germany either before or after the war. the latter would probably make more sense as their use would be totally forbidden post war in Germany, as displaying a swastika in any form was banned, and there may have been a warehouse full of them with no home market. The interesting thing is that modern ones in catalogues seem absolutely identical. apart from the swastika, of course.
Also one of the suppliers says on their website "these are widely used in Scotland" implying that they are not elsewhere in the UK.
Perhaps the reference to Scotland arises from the sheer number of the things sold here, as deer probably eat them when they trash fences.
I'm sure the Fox can comment on how destructive they are, not only to cars, but to property and flora.
I'm not making any sort of claim or suggestion that this is related, and the feature is clearly not a swastika, but I couldn't pass this variation I found for sale on eBay without at least mentioning it it in passing.
Production method looks like fairly cheap and crude pressing, so it seems very strange that they would go the cost and effort of having the four squares machined into the die, which can only add to the cost, yet has no obvious purpose. The tensioner is turned using the simplest of spanners - probably a 'universal' shifter - to fit the flats of the square, so the raised parts of the four squares are actually more of a nuisance than anything else (because the move the spanner slightly further away from the bearing, the turning effect is reduce, slightly, but reduced nonetheless).
And the stamping is so crude, there's no possibility of it being to locate the tool - this square head of the tensioner is much more secure all on its own.
Is this one really the same? It looks like there might be a brass ratchet mechanism on the other side, instead of the pentagon with the five holes. It also does not seem to have a hole for the locking pin. It seems to use the same basic stamping, but maybe the "economy version" with the pentagon and locking pin (with or without the swastika) is the one that is more popular in Scotland.
The spanner used is a special one. It has a big handle and is like a four sided box spanner. It will normally fit on the other end from the embossed disc, ie the end with the split pin. The strange thing about this last example shown is that it has no way of holding the tension. Usually this is done with a short piece of wire passed through the radisseur, or with a ratchet fitted on to it. The ratchet model can only be turned one way but the other can be tensioned either way.
I stand to be corrected, but the radisseur I just posted above is relatively light weight - compared to the example we started with - and the ratchet which holds it in tension is located on the blind side behind the square drive shaft.
Similar models can be found in a number of online catalogues, but the pics mostly too small to really show the detail, even when they catch the inside where the ratchet is almost hidden, so the next pic is of something similar while it still has its label attached - including the word 'ratchet'.
There is an even lighter one which demonstrates that there it is possible to fit a ratchet in though, and they need not be as large as those seen on farm fences:
You can get some really light ones, which I guess you just nip up the nut on with your convenient 'Third and Fourth hands' - while you hold the radisseur in one, and apply the tension with the other :
It can also be found in the 1953 Popular Mechanics magazine - apparently being used to pull a washing line tight, although there not actually a specific caption for it.
Oh they are - if you watch someone with no Common Sense try to pull a friction tensioner tight and secure it.
Two hands work fine - but only if the person concerned works out the difference between the effects of 'leading' and 'lagging' torque when handling a wrench.
It's much more fun watching them juggle two spanners, and not realise it's next to impossible to tighten things if they haven't organised them properly - so that they are turning into each other, rather than away, which makes the job a lot harder - especially when the tension in the wire helps to loosen everything each time they get fed up.
Well I just went out to the garden and spotted this. We used to have a wire fence, but it's now replaced with a wooden one. I had obviously forgotten to remove this post with the others. It has some tensioners, or radisseurs on it. They are of basically the same types as in the illustrations, but with only a split pin on the far side holding the spindle in, and no ratchet or locking mechanism. It is rougly 4" or 100cm long. And no swastika! In fact, identical to the one Apollo has already posted from Ebay.
It's s pity those radissuers didn't have enough surviving 'bits' to positively identify how they locked if there is no ratchet to be found in that design.
I had been thinking that it could be as simple as leaving a longish 'tail' on the end of the wire pushed through the hole in the rotating part of the device, and then just hooking/bending/twisting that end onto the static part of the device, so preventing the spindle from rotating when is released.
I take it there is no sort of 'secret' hidden under the disc part of the spindle - maybe worth a second look?
There's plenty of wire fences around me, it used to be farmland, but all the ones I've looked are fitted with radisseurs that have highly visible ratchets, so there's no doubt about how they work
I think this may be a simple design for short garden fences without too much strain.. If the wire is stiff enough the deformation as it winds round the spindle might be permanent enough to hold it. I'll have look and try to get a better photo tomorrow, maybe removing the device from the post if is not too rusted up. As you see, it also has that square pattern which would seem to be purely decorative. The non parallel sides of the bolt head are not such a god design as they would tend to force the spanner off when force is applied, but being a cheap casting they will be for easy removal from the mould.
Apollo has it right. You poke extra wire through the hole just enough so that it can turn within the frame. When it is tensioned, you take it to the side and hook it over the side of the frame. That needs at least three hands and you have few options as to the positioning. Apollo has also got the torque problem sussed . Mild steel wire does not pull back much but most fences now use high tensile wire which behaves much like a piano string. If the spanner slips just let go or you will only be able to count to nine, or less, using your fingers. Many of these high tensile fences do not use radisseurs. The wire is tensioned using a winch type tool, and secured with twisty grips like those you see on telegraph pole stays, but much smaller. (Edit: Wrap guy links. Just remembered )
I tracked down a few more variations on the name, but none deal in our subject, they were in agriculture, and industrial machinery - but it's a big country, so deeper digging could find more.
The Indian logo above brings another point to bear, in so far as there are individual variations when the swastika appears, especially before the Nazis used it, and I think the variation on the radisseur looks very much the dimensions and ratios that the Nazis used.
Nowadays especially, such symbols are almost guarded and protected by companies in the extreme, with company manuals dedicated them, giving all the dimensions, colours, and rules for their use, and who may use them.
I'd almost expected to find an Indian fencing hardware company fairly quickly
It seems I was wrong about the radisseur on my former fence. It does have a ratchet, an almost hidden and very crude one. The cast spindle has four pawls, and the stamped bracket has a notch. It has no spring, relying on the tension of the fence wire to make it work. I had another look at it this morning in better light, and re-photographed it.
Well ,, I Googled on the Indian sub-continent last night for about 1 hour , I could find nothing for this large Industrial Manufacturing Conglomerate that remotely indicated that they were the manufacturers of such fencing strainer / tensioners.
I gave up whan I came across this when I googled on their military interests , being a web-site giving priority to military interest I nearly posted it then but then considered otherwise .