All are more or less familiar with the piece of paper with a hole in it that is slipped over the string of a kite high in the air. The wind catches it and whirls it along, until it finally reaches its destination, the kite. Sometimes urgent business demands several communications to the kite, so several pieces of paper are seen whirling at various distances from the boy, making their way, now slowly, now faster, overtaking, falling behind and so on until they fulfill their mission. Such is the usual kite messenger.
A clever little messenger was described by Nungent in St. Nicholas for October, 1900. This has been modified and used at a number of kite tournaments. It is in the form of a little yacht, and has a beam on which is attached two pulleys under which the kite line runs, a mast that carries the sail and that also extends downward thru the hull to carry a weight that holds the yacht upright. The mast slants backward a little so as to brace against the pull of the sail. The sail is held up by a string that is attached to an easy trip, and when released the sail drops and the yacht returns down the kite line to the operator by gravity. Fig. 138 shows a complete model with sail up as it appears on the up trip. Fig. 139 shows a complete model with sail up as made of a light wood, 1/4"x1/2"xl5", portions are cut away to reduce weight; the mast b, is round, 1/4" in diameter at bottom, tapering to a point at the top, is 29 1/2" long, 9" below the beam and 20" above; the mast is lashed to the side of the beam; c and, d are yard arms c being 16" and d 14" long and both about 1/8" to 3/16" thru; c is lashed above the beam, and d is hung by a thread 15" higher up. A thread is run from each end of both yard arms to the top of the metal loop supporting the back pulley wheel. The threads are for the purpose of preventing twisting of the sail. The sail is of some light soft material that is very pliable in the breeze, Some use silk, others soft cotton, and some paper. I used a Chinese tissue paper sail and found it very satisfactory; it lasted several seasons. The strong way of the paper should be put on up and down.
The sail is pasted or sewed to the yard arms. The sail line is a piece of linen thread that is fastened to the middle of the upper yard arm, passing thru a loop made of small wire, u, which is lashed to the mast, see Fig. 140. The line then passes to the eye of the wire forming the trip on the side of the beam, see Fig. 141. t is a small nail in the side of the beam a; m is a long slim wire nail with an eye bent at the top and two bends at right angles about half way down. A piece of small spring brass wire will do as well as the slim nail. A small round wooden stick, e, not larger than 1/8" at the largest end and about 14" long lies loosely in the screw-eyes, r and s, under the beam. The end of the hook that the sail line is fastened to passes down thru a small hole in the end of the small stick e. A weight, p, is secured to the lower end of the mast to prevent overturning of the yacht, and a piece of light cardboard is used for the hull.
The pulley wheels can be turned on a lathe or small metal ones, especially aluminum can be used. Strips of tin make good frames for the wheels, and are attached to both sides of the beams. If wooden wheels are used, care should be taken to see that the holes are in the center. Wire nails make good axles. The kite line is liable to jump out the grooves of the wheels, so small screw-eyes placed in the beam just in front and behind each wheel will keep the kite line in place. It may be an advantage to press the eye together some so as to make an elongated hole, Fig. 142. Some care will be necessary to see that the screw-eyes are screwed in just the right distance so as to prevent the string from resting on the screweyes instead of the grooved wheels. The Release. The sail is tripped by the stick, e, being pushed against an obstruction of cardboard fastened perhaps three hundred feet from the kite, see Fig. 143. The reason for placing it away from the kite is that when the weight comes on the kite line, the last part of the trip is very steep; by placing the obstruction some distance from the kite this difficulty is largely overcome.
As a final warning, the sail line should just be tight enough to hold the sail in place while going up and not tight enough to prevent easy tripping when e touches the obstruction disk. Some put on elastic bands to pull the sail down quickly when it is tripped. The nearer the sail can float out straight behind on the return trip, the less resistance there will be to the breeze. Some even go so far as to have a little rolling up device for the sail. A thread should be attached to the beam and to the little rod e to prevent its falling out on the down trip.
The Chinese and Japanese sometimes have little messengers that are released when a punk burns down so as to burn off a supporting thread. This might be applied to parachutes too. Another good device but which is not self-propelling on the upward trip is the trolley car, Fig. 144. The car is pulled up the kite line to a trip, when it is released and returns by gravity. The pulley block is tied into the kite line, Fig. 145. The line below the block passes thru the car under a little roller on the inside of the car at each end. The car can be made up of any light material, but need not be as light as self propelled devices, the weight being an advantage on the downward run. The line that pulls the car up passes around the grooved pulley, thru the guides in the pulley block and one end goes to the car while the other goes to the operator. A release is necessary, and perhaps a little sharp blade like a safety razor blade will be as effective as any, Fig. 146. In Fig. 147 another trip is shown in which a wire is bent, as at a. This wire passes up thru the upper portion of the roof at b, and passes thru screw-eyes c and d; d is bent forward. The lower portion of the wire as represented is much longer than the upper, and when it touches the pulley block is pushed back, and the shorter portion is pushed back of screw-eye d, which releases the small ring, e, to which the pulling line to the operator is attached, and also sets free the car to run down the kite line. This last is not a difficult attachment and seems a little more scientifically mechanical.
There are other ways of effecting the release. A good pulling kite is necessary, as in the excitement of pulling up the car, more strain is put on the kite than one would realize. If a race is on, a fishing reel would be an advantage. This last messenger is not limited to the street car, but the form might be a locomotive and train, an automobile or an air ship. The latter might have adjustable wings so as to be open to the breeze on the up trip and so be self propelling as in the yacht, and by releasing that which holds the wings open, they will close up, and the messenger would be ready for the down trip. In the messenger races, it is necessary to measure the string. At a tournament it is necessary to do this beforehand. It is not necessary, but more interesting, to have all the contestants operating at the same time. In case all cannot operate together, each can be timed. Some very comical devices might be devised as messengers, not so much for speed as for amusement. Certain motions might be developed that would add much to the entertainment of all.