Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Vaughan & Bushnell gas pliers

Above, 2 pairs of gas pliers, designed for working on gas lines. They're very useful in the shop for gripping round stock, or removing stuck screw-on lids from bottles of glue.  Plus, because they have slots for holding round items straight out in front of the jaws, they're handy for grinding the ends of round stock.

Alexander Vaughan founded a plumbing business in Peoria, Illinois. In 1869 Vaughan opened a blacksmith forge behind a hardware store in Chicago owned by Sidney Bushnell.  The same year he patented a post auger, and sales of this item lead to requests for other tools.  Things were going well until the 1871 Great Fire of Chicago destroyed the factory.  Sidney Bushnell fronted the necessary capital to rebuild, and got his name added to the masthead. 

Along with chisels, punches, pincers, nippers, star drills, planes, wrecking bars and pliers, hammers became a company specialty, especially the "killing hammers" needed in the great Chicago stock yards. 

Source:  Vaughan
Eventually, hammers and striking tools dominated the company's catalogue. In 1940, the company moved to larger premises in Bushnell, Illinois (no connection to the Bushnell family, which had sold it shares to the Vaughan family in 1922).  In 1966, V&B Mfg. Co was formed to make hickory handles in Walnut Ridge, Alabama. Vaughan is now the world's largest manufacturer of striking tools. See my earlier post on Garden City hammers.

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Gemini Space Walk as imagined in 1963

Michael Stoiko.  Project Gemini.  Step to the Moon.  Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963.  Illustrated by Frank DiPietro.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Martin SeaMaster

This was the real jet-age seaplane, it was not the slow awkward lumbering seaplane of piston engine days. It was capable of over 1000 kph and was designed to live in the water for months at a time. The first Navy prototype first flew in 1955. Four years of testing led to the first production model, flown in early 1959. Later that year the program was cancelled and Martin got out of the airplane business, focusing on electronics and missiles instead. Twelve examples were built, none survive.

Who owns what: Brand name ownership

Search Google Images for "Who Owns What."  You'll be surprised what you find.

For corporate ownership of hand and power tool brands, visit ToolGuyd.

Len Coates: Few today can name General Motors' founder

Len Coates (1937-2006) covered motor sports for the Toronto Star for many years. (In 1986, he wrote an article about Canada's first car-- the ‘Steam Buggy’ that watchmaker Henry Seth Taylor  of Stanstead, Quebec built in 1867 – two decades before Karl Benz invented his Patent Motor Car.)  He was instrumental in founding the Canadian Motor Sport Hall of Fame. 

According to his obit:

His career took a fast turn when Mosport Park approached him to do public relations in the heyday of Can-Am and Formula One racing there. His charm, wit and knowledge of the sport helped him garner media coverage -- as did his penchant for facts and clever lead paragraphs.  
Len was hired to promote Canada's fastest rising motorsport star, the late Gilles Villeneuve, whom he considered the best "natural" motorsport talent of that era. Villeneuve also provided Len with several hair-raising high-speed runs through twisty streets in Italy as Gilles slid his blood-red Ferrari around corners as the locals cheered him on.  
Len was in the process of writing a Villeneuve book when Gilles was killed in a tragic motorsport crash. It was a book Len never completed although he tried several times to bring himself to the task. He had already self-published a book titled Challenge! The Story of Canadian Road Racing in 1970. 
Under the banner Wheels, Len Coates self-syndicated his automotive writings to a number of Canadian papers. By 1985 he was editor of World of Wheels magazine, the largest circulation Canadian automotive journal of the day. He had, by then, helped found the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada and received its lifetime membership status. Yet he extended his career for one more quest, as copy editor at the Globe and Mail Report on Business. 
Just a few weeks before he died, Len was again honoured as the first recipient of an award from Automotive Journalists Association of Canada that will bear his name. And on the day of his memorial service, it was announced at the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame banquet that an award in his honour would be created. 

I can't find any information that the Motorsport Hall of Fame followed through with its promise, but in 2010 the Journalists Association founded an annual $2000 Len Coates Automotive Journalism Scholarship at Carleton University in Ottawa.  He is also remembered today through an award at Ryerson University's School of Journalism in Toronto.

 Coates in a Lola Mk1 at Mosport in 1964:  Source:  The Garage Blog

Monday, February 20, 2017

Honda race bikes, 4 5 and 6 cylinders

Top: the four cylinder 125 wasn't fast enough to beat the Suzuki in 1964, so the next year Honda built a five that revved to 20,000 rpm.
The Honda sixes came in 250 and 350 sizes. The sound was unbelievable.

Maytag washing machine gas motors

When we see these attractive little motors on display putt-putting to themselves at tractor and farm shows, it's hard to imagine them serving any useful purpose but for many farm families without electricity in the first half of the last century it was a godsend. Imagine doing handwashing of clothes for a family of 6 or 8. Maybe one would still be useful to power a minibike or go kart. Hmmmm.

1915 Harley Davidson 11F

A.L. Dyke.  Dyke's Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia.  Nineteenth Edition.  Chicago:  The Goodheart-Willcox Company, Inc., 1941.

Professor Julius Sumner Miller and the physics of simple toys: Part I

Old children's toys incorporate some surprisingly complex physics principles.  Below, from Popular Science, May 1966.  I had cut this article out years ago (although I wish now I had kept the entire issue!)  Professor Julius Sumner Miller (1909-1987) was both a physicist and celebrity entertainer.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jaromir Wagner--Wingwalking across the Atlantic, 1980

From Time, October 1980.  The aircraft is a Britten-Norman Islander.

For more on the story, visit Historic Wings.