I returned from a short holiday to find a package containing these shiny metal things waiting in my office. Now, you might wonder why I have been spending my employer’s money on steampunk plant-pot stands. As is often the case, the answer to an odd question is to do with gravity. When our Lacoste-Romberg gravity meters (see this earlier blog post) are taken out into the field, they need a firm base to be stood on, so that they can be levelled accurately. They are supplied with one of these metal baseplates for this purpose. The three legs mean that the baseplate does not wobble when on a hard surface, and the dished top allows the meter to be levelled approximately by sliding it around, before levelling more accurately with its three screw feet. The legs are sturdy enough that the baseplate can be stamped on to get it bedded firmly into surfaces such as turf.
However, once we had the third meter renovated by ZLS, I found myself with three gravity meters and only two baseplates. No-one knew where the baseplate for the third meter went, if we ever had it. ZLS were unable to supply a baseplate, so I investigated the possibility of getting duplicates cast, using one that we had as a pattern. In a time when we are so often told that no-one in Britain manufactures anything any more I was charmed to find out exactly how many companies there are out there busy turning metal into things. Specialised Castings over near Stirling gave us a good quote, and a week or so later, my original came back with two shiny copies.
Now, when we head off to the Peak District in September we will be able to use all three of our gravity meters on whatever surface we encounter.