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How to watch a demonstration of the Thrussell & Trobbs foot-warmer, toe-tickler and ankle-polisher

Video of Newbury sculptor’s latest wacky creation will put a smile on your face

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

nigel williams sculptor

Thrussell & Trobbs foot-warmer, toe-tickler and ankle-polisher

Here’s  a bit of fun - we thought it would cheer our readers up and a time there’s not a lot to laugh about. The artsdesk was sent this by the delightfully eccentric local sculptor Nigel Williams who wanted us to enjoy his latest creation, the Thrussell & Trobbs Foot-warmer, toe-tickler and ankle-polisher.

This ones moves, so Nigel has constructed a video to demonstrate. We recommend watching the video right to the end, with your speakers on.

For a demonstration click on the video below.

Thrussell & Trobbs Foot-warmer, toe-tickler and ankle-polisher from Nigel Williams on Vimeo.

Remember those draughty journeys in a rotten old train or a horse-carriage - or even one of those new-fangled automobile things - where your feet were saved from freezing completely solid for a short while by a copper foot-warmer filled with hot water from the engine? Well, this device offers that same functionality, but with a few added touches of luxury suitable for the deserving (and well-heeled) Edwardian gentleman.

As well as warming your feet, it will caress all your bare toes with the lightest touch of a set of animated duck and goose feathers. If that weren't enough, it also polishes both ankles simultaneously using a pair of the finest horse-hair brushes for a comfortable and soothing action.

There is one slightly frustrating flaw in the design of this machine, however: once you’re settled in with your feet in exactly the right place to get the maximum benefit from the feet-warming, toe-tickling and ankle-polishing functions of this device, you can't reach the handle to operate it....
But then, what are servants for, after all?

Materials: brass, copper, steel, foot-warmer, miniature bicycle-chain, wooden brushes, duck & goose feathers
Dimensions: 14" wide x 16" deep x 18" high (36cm x 41cm x 48cm)
Weight: 5lb (2.2Kg)

How does it work?
You (or your servant) turn the handle, which causes two sets (one for each foot) of eight-feathered tickler wheels to revolve, each feather tickling your toes on its way past - this way you get multiple feather-hits per revolution, dramatically increasing the tickle sensation. In addition, your left and right ankles are simultaneously polished by a pair of sumptuous soft brushes, separately revolving in an optimum arc around each ankle. By the end of your session, both your ankles will be as bright as a new pin.

How does it actually work?
The machine is constructed around a copper foot-warming tank, with a filler plug on the top. Turning the handle rotates a central brass drive axle mounted in polyoxymethylene bearings and running the entire width of the machine, powering two identical (but symetrically opposite) sets of machinery, one for each foot. Each set of machinery includes the following:
* a set of custom-made pin-wheels to transfer the drive around 90 degrees to power:
* a miniature roller-chain (precision-manufactured by Dunlop) across two sprockets (mounted on polyoxymethylene and brass bearings respectively), to take the drive up to a vertically mounted spinning brass disc with eight duck and goose feathers captive in a circle, arranged such that each one touches the user's toes with its tip on the way round its arc
* a further miniature roller-chain across two sprockets taking the drive outwards to a crank, which drives a rod attached to a brush through a hold-bearing positioned such that the brushes describe a horizontally-biased ellipse around the user's ankles

Note: it's best not to fill the foot-warmer tank with water, because it's likely to leak like a sieve, considering the multiple punctures required to mount all the machinery clobber....

You can see more of Nigel’s work on the @newburytoday online gallery

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