Vintage DIY Magazines Projects Were Sure-Fire Deathtraps

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald | Mar 10, 2015

Oh, how we long for the days of immediate post-war America, when not one, but at least three do-it-yourself-style magazines would be delivered straight to your door, packed with fresh ideas for killing yourself and your entire family. Every month, magazines like Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated and Modern Mechanics were chockablock filled with get-rich-quick ads, cures for hernias, and clever notions for maiming and disabling every human within a three block radius of your home!

DIY Wind Wagon

This project answers the life-long question: "What do you do with your Model T now that it no longer functions as a reliable automobile?" Well, Sonny Jim, you simply remove the engine, turn it 90 degrees and install a giant, spinning, four-blade propeller! No word on whether or not the builder has been released from prison yet for killing 32 people while trying to parallel park. (Ed. note: "Wind Wagon" is also what we call John "Bugsy" Lawlor's 15-passenger Econoline van, especially after he's on the way back from the Shawsheen canteen, chili bean, hot poutine, prune tagine and soup tureen.)

DIY Labor-Saving Model Airplane Scooter Engine

Why on earth would anyone want to expend moderate energy pedaling a bicycle like some kind of an idiot, when he could expend huge amounts of energy affixing a noisy, underpowered engine from a child's toy to do the work of 1/15th of a man? The builder claimed he could travel at 15 miles an hour. The only way this claptrap travels at 15 miles an hour is if you throw it off the Chrysler building.

DIY Bicycle/Scissor Sharpener/Self-Impaling Device

This guy certainly wasn't afraid of pedaling, not like that bum with the airplane engine was. By simply affixing a belt between the drive wheel and the spinning grindstone mounted to the handlebars, this enterprising young buck was able to turn a hefty profit in the lucrative, go-go world of scissors-sharpening. Hopes of franchising his invention were dashed when he displayed the device to a group of mothers who had been warning their kids not to run-- much less bike-- with scissors since the beginning of recorded time.

DIY Unsafe Jalopy

We don' t know much about this car, made from 16 other cars, a tractor, a lawnmower and a sailboat. However there is one thing we know for certain: that Mr. Edward G. Hammond of Newton, Massachusetts wasn't married, because if his wife caught one look at this contraption rolling out in the driveway where the neighbors could see it, she'd have kabongged him over the head with a cast-iron frying pan.

DIY Car Seat/Junior-Launcher

Now we're really into Popular Mechanics' stock-in-trade: Projects for, er, "removing" pesky children. Not satisfied with the barely functional car seats one could purchase from a store, Mr. Lester Bresson fashioned one himself, made of "odd bits of wood, strap iron, and discarded upholstery fabric," and affixed it to the car through the life-saving power of the friction generated by two car seat cushions. It no doubt gave Junior Bresson a commanding view of the windshield he was certain to crash through minutes later.

DIY Motorized Death Wagon

This may seem sexist to 2015 sensibilities, but you wouldn't motorize a girl's wagon in 1952 because you'd have to be dumb enough to ride in it, and that special kind of stupid is reserved for boys. In LESS THAN AN HOUR, you could motorize a Radio Flyer that can -- and we quote from the ad -- "be safely operated by a four-year-old." Thanks to a high center of gravity, no suspension and steering that pivots in the middle, if you've ever tried to steer a Radio Flyer the way this kid is, you know that it couldn't be safely operated by Ralph Nader.

DIY Dog Bumper-Offer

Now that you've killed the entire family, there's nowhere else to turn but to the family pooch. Sorry, Rover, but now it's your turn! Nobody wants Rover to muddy up those fancy vinyl seats and rubber floor mats, so an enterprising inventor came up with this innovative solution for... wait for it... hanging the dog out the window. Sizes are available in Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane and Mother-In-Law.


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