Mechanical Weathervanes

Written by Patty Yu
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There are countless accessories to select from when decorating a home and garden, including mechanical weathervanes, cupolas, and fence finials. Many home and garden suppliers carry a relatively wide selection of outdoor adornments, but many collectors prefer to search for rare pieces at flea markets or yard sales. In an age of technology, the Internet also provides endless resources for finding rare mechanical weathervanes and the like.

What are Mechanical Weathervanes, Cupolas, and Finials?

We all know that mechanical weathervanes are ornaments people place outside to show wind direction, but do we all know how they work? Weathervanes must be designed so that from the center, mass must be equal, while area is unequal. These properties ensure the weathervane's mechanics, as crosswinds push the tail until the head points whatever direction wind blows.

People often place weathervanes on cupola tops, since cupolas have cute little rooftops. Most of us recognize cupolas as the little dome structures protruding from church rooftops, barns, stables, and schools. Cupolas can be made to allow light into the room below, while the little windows offer air circulation when hot air escapes.

The finial is another outdoor accessory used in architecture for centuries in many architectural periods. The ornamental caps we call finials cover the apex of structures like the cupola. Towers, gazebos, and turrets all frequently use finials for weatherproofing, since finials are meant to prevent weather damage due to water collecting in the material.

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