Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wolf's Head Oil

Whe I found this display, I thought these cans were a long-gone brand, suitable only for display in a workshop or man cave. 
Wolf's Head dates back to 1879 and was one of the original oil brands in Pennsylvania. Pennzoil acquired the company in the early sixties. When Shell bought Pennzoil they sold the Wolf's Head brand to Amalie Oil in Tampa where it is still in business today.. 

Suzuki AS50

This bike, along with the 69-71 Suzuki Stinger seems to me to be a highwater mark for light motorcycle styling. The AS50 as pictured was available in 68 and 69, for 1970 it became the AC50 a slightly more awkward-looking little bike. Unfortunately by the end of the sixties, sales of small bikes were on the decline so not many were sold.

Loening Air Yacht Model 23

Henry R Palmer, The Seaplanes, Leonard Morgan Publishing, 1965

One of three used on the New York-Newport weekend run from 1921-1923. 16 in total were built.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mercedes 38/250SS

Gianni Marin, The Motor Car, London House and Maxwell 1963
 Mercedes introduced the very fast supercharged SS series of cars  in 1926. Between then and 1931, the Ferdinand Porsche-designed SOHC inline 6 grew from 6.2 litres and 100 hp to 7.2 litres and 160 hp. Power could be increased by about 50% by simply depressing the gas pedal to the floor to engage the supercharger. Cars shown here in competition trim and without body (bottom). Porsche was chief designer at Mercedes from 1923 till 1929.  

Richard Hough, A History of the World's Classic Cars, Harper & Row, 1963

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Before streetcars... there were horse cars

Michael R.Farrell, Who made all our Streetcars go? Baltimore NRHS Publications 1973

This Baltimore team is shown setting out on their route near the end of the horse-drawn era.

Mystery Tool Brand: Eclipse, Made in the USA

I found this old pair of slip-joint pliers recently. Some previous owner had painted it in garish colours and all I could make out was "Eclipse."  I assumed it was made by the original James Neill firm (now Eclipse Tools North America) which named its tools "Eclipse" after a famous racehorse, although I didn't know that that British firm had ever made pliers. They were best know for their Eclipse hacksaws, 

but they also made a saw set:

Anyway, if the pliers were British-made Eclipse ones, they would be a nice addition to the Norton's tool kit. So, imagine my surprise when I cleaned the pliers on the wire wheel and uncovered the "Made in USA" stamping.  There is an Eclipse Tools company in the US that makes pliers, but I don't think they make slip-joint versions, and they've only been around since 1997 and these pliers are clearly older than this.  So, the maker of the pliers remains a mystery.  My best guess is that it might have been made for the Montgomery Ward retail chain, which offered wrenches under the Eclipse brand:

Vanished Tool Makers: Shop-King, New York City, NY

This sanding disc turned up recently at a thrift store.  It's a 5-inch steel disc with a 3/8" hole in the centre.  It must have been intended to be attached to an arbor.  

The company was located in New York City, close to the Harlem River.  There's not a lot of information on the web about them, but from the little I could find it looked like they specialized in accessories for electric drills.  The Shop-King company seems to have flourished briefly in the 1960' before vanishing altogether.

Popular Mechanics, June 1963
Below an ad from a 1963 issue of Workbench Magazine:
WORK SAVING hedge trimmer fits any 1/4-in. electric drill motor. Extra-long 14 -in. blade of hardened tool steel cuts, trims and shapes hedges and shrubbery faster and neater than hand shears. Handle locks at 10 angles for convenience. Unit is lightweight and compact, ideal for women gardeners, 1-year guarantee. $12.95 list, special price $8.88 ppd. Shop-King Inc. Dept. WB-5P, 425 W. 203 St., N. Y. 34, N. Y. 
I don't think I'd be especially keen on having a 14-inch steel blade rotating on the end of my electric drill as I tried to trim my hedge and shrubbery, even if it was advertised as "ideal for women gardeners."

Interestingly, the Shop King location was only a few doors away from Arco Tools, based on the product review below from the September 1969 issue of Popular Mechanics:

Popular Mechanics, November 1950
ARCO was apparently a trademark of the Arrow Metal Products Company which, by 1950, had moved to West Broadway.  Were Shop-King and ARCO the same company, or just neighbours for a while?

Nevertheless, "Shop-King" is a great name, way better than "Shop-Mate" or "Shop-Aholic."  Also, much better than "Power Fist," the name applied by the Princess Auto chain of stores (the Canadian equivalent of Harbor Freight) to its economy, Chinese-made hand and power tools.  

Interestingly, Evinrude used the Shop-King name back in the 1930's when the depression soured their outboard motor sales.  They came up with a multi-tool like the Shop-Smith and gave it the Shop-King name. The name is currently trademarked by the Minnesota-based Mid-States Distributing Company which uses it on dollies, hand trucks, and animal feed carts

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sidecar Sunday

Use special tool #...

Anyone reading a repair manual has dreaded seeing this line while doing a repair. Before starting the renovation of my Moto Guzzi V700 I had idly wondered how a swing arm pivot bolt could occupy the same space as a drive shaft and it took a look at a parts manual to discover how it could be done. Back to the repair manual to find out how to take these pivots out. "Using special tool No. 1290300..." Uh oh.
 I had no special tool but lots of farmer experience; double-up the nuts on the stubs and remove. Turns out I was worrying needlessly, even though these threaded stubs had been undisturbed for nearly fifty years, they came out easily.

HMCS Cougar

The HMCS Cougar was one of 16 private yachts bought from mostly American owners in 1940-41 for use by the RCN. These boats were downgraded to training boats as new corvettes were built.