IT IS hard to believe that the Standfield mousetrap-maker, resembling an illustration from a wacky science magazine, worked for a week let alone nearly 60 years.
Held together with scrap metal, a bicycle chain, solder and tape, it produced 96 million ''Supreme'' mousetraps, so many that most houses in Australasia likely always had one or two lurking under the kitchen sink or in a shed.
It may look like some crazy contraption, suggestive of the machines drawn by English illustrator W.Heath Robinson. But there's one big difference says Powerhouse Museum curator Debbie Rudder. ''Heath Robinson only ever drew things. He didn't make them.''
Ambitious plan ... Wes Standfield with his invention.
In contrast, the mousetrap wizard Stanley Wesley (Wes) Standfield was one of Australia's great backyard inventors. The self-taught country boy, born in 1901 in Kyogle, started early.
One of his first ideas was the Kyogle cow-tail clip, which kept a cow's tail from flicking faeces into a milk bucket. Soon after he invented his first mousetrap, the Westan.
During World War II Standfield developed an idea to automate mousetrap manufacturing.
He didn't have a prototype or a drawing.
''He just made it from scratch with these bits and pieces he found,'' said Ms Rudder, the curator of science and industry at the museum. Because materials were scarce during the war, Standfield scavenged for metal and other parts at the tip and other places.
''You can see bits of various chains and wheels, pulleys and so on,'' she said, adding the machine was a great example for children of inventiveness.
Standfield was obsessed with the machine. One of Rudder's favourite parts is its little heater, used in one of the first steps in the manufacture of a trap - the branding into the wooden base of ''Supreme Mouse trap, made in Australia''.
From 1942 until Standfield died in 1990, the machine was never redesigned - just patched, soldered and repaired.
After his death, his sons Dave and Ron Standfield added a framed picture of him to the front of the machine and kept the mousetrap-maker going.
Finally, in 2010, when the sons closed their Mascot factory, they pinned the last trap ever produced to that picture of dad.
The machine will be on display from December 15 at the Powerhouse, Harris Street, Ultimo, as part of a small exhibition Australian Inventions which complements another showing, Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention.