How we smiled when we saw this 1924 advert for a Graphite Pile Rheostat. With it's connotations of 'pile' and near onomatopoeic sound of Oooyah, a classic expression of pain, I am sure may callow schoolboys as well as middle aged chaps like me smiled...... but where did the term Oojah come from?
Well, Oojah was an elephant and an invention of a children’s book illustrator known as Thomas Maybank. Uncle Oojah began life as a comic strip character in the Daily Sketch Newspaper in 1919. By the early 1920s, the newspaper was issuing a four-page supplement called 'The Oojah Paper' which later became 'The Oojah Sketch'. By 1922, Oojah was staring in his own annuals. The stories were written by Flo Lancaster and illustrated by Thomas Maybank until his death on 27 March 1929, after which the Uncle Oojah’s children’s annuals continued under the illustrative artwork of JHL, who was later identified as Henry Matthew Talintyre until the early 1950s.
If you've not come across Oojah before it might be helpful to know something about him. Flip-Flap (later known as Uncle Oojah or The Great Oojah) is a magical elephant who lives in a strange animal country called Oojahland. Don, or the Little Oojah, is Flip-Flap's greatest friend and travelling companion. Snooker, the Kitten-cat, lives with the Great Oojah and looks after his memory!
In the picture above, here we see Oojah 'trumpeting' into the carbon microphone - don't worry, AGC is a wonderful invention and a young chap is listening in to the transmission on his SG Brown head telephones - simply super indeed.
What all this has to do with a graphite pile I am not sure. For those who are not in the know, a graphite pile is a voltage regulator that was used with some high-output DC generators in which a stack of pure carbon disks acts as the resistance element in the field circuit. When the generator output voltage is low, a spring compresses the carbon pile and reduces its resistance, allowing a large amount of field current to flow. When the generator output is high, the electromagnetic field produced by a voltage-sensing coil overcomes the spring force and loosens the carbon pile, increasing its resistance and decreasing the field current.
That's the technical explanation dealt with, yawn, but all you need to remember about the graphite pile is....."It's small cost will pay you many times over in added pleasure and satisfaction." Why, well, because that is what the advert says!!!! Also an elephant never forgets... apparently.