Friday, June 1, 2012


[Photograph by Michael Leddy. Click for a larger view.]

I found this baby crocodile (eight-and-a-half-inches long) in some stray debris after a nearby supermarket was torn down. Can someone tell me what this metal piece really is?


July 23, 2012: The mystery of this object has been solved, at least to my satisfaction: it is a handle from an electrical disconnect box. Throwing the handle shuts off power (or turns it back on). Seeing this object correctly requires a new perspective.

A bolt runs through the hole at the top.

A padlock’s shackle fits through the crocodile’s eye. The padlock 1) prevents nitwits from throwing the handle and shutting off power and 2) prevents nitwits from turning power on when someone has shut it off.

The crocodile should be wearing a plastic or rubber sheath over its mouth to prevent electrocution. I assume that the sheath was lost when this object joined the scrap heap.

When our plumber Rick Veach was here to fix a problem with our kitchen pipes, I asked him about this object, and he gave me his best guess: a disconnect-box handle. He suggested several possible manufacturers — Cooper Crouse-Hinds, Cutler-Hammer, and Square D, so I checked their websites, with no luck. At Rick’s suggestion, I also tried a nearby electrical supply company, where the clerk had never seen such an object. But he took me into the (awesome) warehouse and pulled a couple of disconnect boxes from their cardboard boxes. The clerk and I could see the family resemblance right away. A Google search for disconnect box will give you the general idea.

Rick Veach is both smart and wise. I often remind myself of something he once said when contending with our plumbing: “A problem is just a challenge that hasn’t been overcome.”

A related post
Mystery challenge (another strange object)

comments: 6

Adair said...

Hmmm. My first thought is that it is a door-pryer, multi-tool.

Michael Leddy said...

That seems like a good call. I just searched for door prier and found the term panel tool. Amazon has some of those that look a little similar. But they seem to be made of plastic. This object looks like it would destroy anything in its path — see the teeth in its mouth?

Geo-B said...

I was thinking some sort of bike tool, for spokes and sprocket, but I was waiting for my son the bike expert to get home.

Gunther said...

I have the impression that it was used for mounting something. The teeth in its mouth look like barbs and could hold a board, and the star-shaped hole at the other end might be used for fixing it in certain positions by form closure.

will said...

The technical name fot this implement is "Thingee".

Anonymous said...

Such multi-tools like this are prepared to be used in mounting/dismounting specific items in a do-it-yourself product. They are cheap and discardable. But having christened it a baby crocodile, now you will have to feed it....