The Triggers Brush Principle and Bootstrapping

Trigger’s Brush is a phrase I like to use a lot. It refers to the roadsweeper character “Trigger” in the series “Only Fools And Horses”. One time Trigger gets his name in the paper for having the same brush for 15 years. At the end of the episode he remarks to the main character Del, “It’s had 4 new handles and 5 new heads. But it’s the same brush”.

When you are getting started on a project it can be difficult to know where to start. But if you have something than needs repaired or you want to improve then the route can be clearer. That broken part needs replacing, that bit there needs extending.
You often see this on TV shows where a car or house is remade. It’s often not cheaper or quicker or even easier to do it this way. But it is more accessible in that you can learn as you go along and have parts to copy from.

Sometimes you don’t have the right tool to do a job. You could go out and but them but you could use a bootstrapping technique. This originates from the phrase, “to pull yourself up with you own bootstraps”. It’s used literally in Warner Brothers Cartoons and also common in computing. The bootstrapping idea is that you have a simpler and often smaller version of the end result which you then use to build the final version.
An example from engineering is the Gingery Lathe. When building this you need a lathe to make the headstock so Gingery takes the parts you’ve already made and rigs a temporary setup to bore the hole in the headstock.
Another example is the RepStrap, a minimalistic 3D printer you can build to print the parts for the final RepRap printer. Some printer enthusiasts then reprint the parts with better quality on the RepRap and fit them back into the printer.

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