Issues with the conventional rod arbor.
WHEN ‘GOOD ENOUGH’ ISN’T
The rod arbor was never intended for use in the modern counterweight system. Yet, there are well over a million of them in use in the United States today.
The rod arbor made its first appearance in the 1905 catalogue of JR Clancy. It was not referred to as an ‘arbor’; rather, it was called a ‘counterweight’. The counterweight was to run in a lattice track, which was mounted against the back of the proscenium wall.
The catalogue instructs that “two or more can be placed in a very small area”. From that it can be inferred that a limited number are expected to be installed. The arbor was intended to be loaded once and left indefinitely.
Some time between 1905 and 1916 the arbor migrated from a position at the back of the proscenium wall to a position along the sidewall. Arbors could be installed at intervals of as little as 5 inches along a “clear, smooth side wall”. This move was possibly inspired by the new – in 1905 – Central European counterweight system that was installed in the Metropolitan Opera House.
With the relocation of the arbor, we repurposed it. No longer was it to be loaded once and left indefinitely. It was now to be loaded, unloaded and reloaded - indefinitely.
When we adopted it and repurposed it, nothing better existed. It was a reasonable thing to do.
So, for the last 110 years, we have been using a counterweight arbor in a way never intended. But – as a credit to us – we made it work. It was good enough.
Today, health and safety requirements have changed. Today, we have an appreciation of ergonomics that did not exist at the advent of counterweight technology. Today, ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough.
I hope that you agree that our arbor designs surpass ‘good enough’.
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