Mackay inventor redesigns salt shaker
THE humble salt shaker is about to get a shake-up, thanks to a Mackay inventor.
Retired engineer Ron Meng, known as Mengie, has received an Australian patent for his improved salt shaker.
It may sound like reinventing the wheel but Mengie has a mind to improve on whatever he sees.
And he has a track record that stands up, as four of his previously patented inventions have been hugely popular on regional properties throughout Australia.
He and his late wife, Jan, were at Souths League Club one night when he became interested in the salt shakers there.
"They had glass bottoms and stainless steel tops, I believe they were from China, where stainless equates to stain less - they don't stain but they do rust," he said.
"I took one home, it was new and after about six or eight weeks I noticed the top was rusting."
He said rust from the top was getting into the shakers and its multiple holes allowed air to circulate, which let moisture in and made the salt lumpy.
His solution was simple - a plastic top with a single elongated hole, which prevented air circulating, wouldn't rust and kept the salt fresh.
He applied for a provisional Australian patent but was denied one by the patents office because two similar patents had been taken out in the US in 1937 and 1939.
Given 12 months to explain to the office why his application deserved reconsideration, he turned to his daughter Leona, an accountant who lives in the US.
"I asked Bub (Leona) to rewrite the application," he said.
"The 12-month period was due to run out at 3pmlast Friday and at 1.30pm Thursday Bub got a phone call from the patents office saying they had accepted it.
"I'm now negotiating to see what I can get for it.
"After Christmas we'll gointo negotiations withbig importers andmanufacturers in China."
Mengie has four other patents for previous inventions, all of which have been popular on rural properties across Australia, including star picket fence posts, a wire strainer, a wire tensioner and a calf cradle latch.
Given the success of those inventions, one day soon patrons at Souths maybe dining with salt shakers bearing the name Mengie.