The Three Infantas
by: Wayne Meadows
|The Story of a Very Interesting Bar Screw
There were at least three versions of the Infanta. Two of the versions attack the same problem: how to insure that turning the crank caused the inner screw to descend rather than cause the outer screw to ascend (to operate properly, the outer screw must remain down against the cork until the inner screw is fully extended). Without some method of clamping the outer screw, any wear, lack of lubrication or thread damage would cause the outer screw to rise rather than the inner screw to descend.
From left to Right: Infanta #1, Infanta#2 and Infanta #3
Version #1 is as per the patent, with a nut holding the crank on. This version has no hole or clip in the front of the frame. The original version called for a clutch "H" as shown in figure #1. It is unlikely that any clutch existed that solved the problem and it seems questionable whether Williams himself was aware of any such clutch existing. To quote from his patent:
"It is obvious that the clutch connection between the cork screw and its supporting screw, may or may not be employed as desired, and further, it is obvious that any of the well known forms of clutches which will answer the purpose may be employed between the cork screw and its supporting screw and at one or both ends of the elevating screw to lock it against rotation until the inner or supporting screw reaches the limit of its independent movement, or for that matter, in some instances the clutch may be entirely omitted." The version #1 Infanta that I have seen does not have the described clutch, and turning the crank causes the outer screw to ascend unless it is held down by hand.
Version #2 is identical to version #1, except that it has a hole in the front of the frame. As the screws go up and down, one can hear a "click" and feel positive pull just as the outer screw reaches the bottom. What appears to be a single damaged thread on the outer screw is in fact a notch drilled into one thread. Thus it seems reasonable to believe that the hole in the front of the frame is the result of drilling through the front and into the back of the frame. It is also very probable that if one could disassemble the piece, one would find a spring and a single ball bearing inset into the back of the frame. Thus, when the outer screw reaches its lower limit, the spring-loaded bearing presses into the notch cut into the thread, applying a reasonable amount of resistance to the upward movement of the outer screw.
Version #3 as illustrated in Watney & Babbidge, has a spring clip set into a channel cut into the front of the frame. The clip holds the outer screw down by engaging a slot cut into the upper washer, thus hard-clamping the outer screw when it reaches its lower limit. This version also has a one piece cap and handle. The lip of the cap releases the spring clip when the inner screw reaches its lower limit. This last version of the Infanta is not as elegant a solution as the one devised for Infanta #2, but it is extremely effective and may have been the only version put into mass production.
Almost all of the Infantas are marked "INFANTA no 8 PAT JAN 1st 95". To be strictly accurate there are four versions of the Infanta, if the unmarked variant of version #3 is counted.
Wayne Meadows - firstname.lastname@example.org
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