Thursday, December 12, 2019

Brian Hughes, Blacksmith

Many years ago, when I rented a shop for my motorcycles in Kingston, Ontario, one of the other tenants was a blacksmith/philosopher named Brian Hughes. His shop (Highland Forge) was a delight to visit, a dark comfortable place in a limestone basement with coal fires providing most of the light, filled with the fragrance of coal and steam. He never was too busy to stop and share his views on life and the world. 
I tried- without much luck- to pick up some blacksmithing skills by osmosis and one day by way of explanation of the process, he made me this knot. As he pointed out, you can't just heat up a rod of steel and tie a knot, the material just doesn't move that easily, it all has to be pushed into place in stages with a hammer and multiple reheatings, a time consuming and deliberate process. To complete the piece he tapered and shaped the ends into the standard decorative little curlicues- in the time honoured way. 
I still have it.

Time went by, I left town to go to school, he moved his shop to Westport and we kind of lost touch over the years. I heard through the grapevine he had passed away (much too early) and it took awhile to find something about him on the net.

The Anvil's Ring

"Live every day as if it was your last- but plan on living forever..."

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

County Commericial Car conversions

There were several companies in the mid-century UK building specialty conversions to farm tractors. County Commercial Cars started in 1929, building a 6 wheel chassis for a Ford Truck.
 After WW2 they branched out into tracked conversions for the Fordson Major. This led to the rubber tire "Fourdrive" 4WD skidsteer. The company survived into the eighties when it was sold to the Benson Group who closed it down in 1990.  Apparently the company built about 35,000 tractors over the years with 75% being exported.
The one below is billed as an Export to the US model but they must be rare, in my travels I've not seen anything like this over here.

Nice work if you can get it...

Tough being an artist's model! I wonder how much she was paid for this?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Dirt track comes to England

The sport of the moment, 1928.
 Too this unknown-type event held in the winter, 3000 spectators were hoped for... and an estimated 15,000 people flooded the event.

East side, Manhattan

Alco S13 #502

The Waterloo Central Railway acquired this S13 switcher in 2018 (history here) along with #501, two of the three built for the Pacific Great Eastern in 1959. 
The S13 is a rare one, produced by Montreal Locomotive Works from 1957 through the mid sixties, and is powered by a 1000 hp Alco 251 diesel

Monday, December 9, 2019

Hawker Tornado

The Tornado was designed as the replacement for the Hawker Hurricane and was based around the Rolls Royce Vulture motor a 24 cylinder engine in an X  format. The engine had many development problems and the lack of resources during 1941 meant that Rolls Royce was concentrating on manufacturing and developing the Merlin. The first prototype was destroyed in an accident. 
The aircraft pictured is the second prototype in late 1941, outfitted as a testbed for the Bristol Centaurus radial engine. The "P" on the fuselage signifies prototype. The program was cancelled but led to the development of the Hawker Tempest.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Reliant Regal

Pearl Harbour hearings, 1946

I was at a book sale a few months ago, thousands of them, $2 per book. One of the offerings was this title. I was tempted but... does anyone have enough spare time to wade through something like this? Anyways it's online if you need to read it... 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Heller Bros. Farrier tool

I've always avoided any contact with horses, in our family the boys went for motorcycles, the girls- horses, so I can't say exactly what this tool is for- at a guess its a clinching hammer? Seems handmade or at least crudely-made for a production process. We've covered the Heller Bros. Toolmakers in a previous post.

Railway accident at Ravenna, Ohio, 1891

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Lypsoid tyres

 I'm not sure why military people thought the future was 3 wheelers but to rival the Moto Guzzi oddity, here is the entry from Straussler. 
Nicholas Straussler was a Hungarian-born automotive engineer working in England, becoming a citizen. He was known for a series of innovative trucks and tractors in the mid thirties, and one of the designers of the floating DD tank system. Postwar he came up with what he called Lypsoid tires, fat low pressure tires which he thought could replace tank tracks as well as provide better floatation for conventional wheeled vehicles. One of the test vehicles was this 2 stroke twin powered thing, basically the forerunner of the ATV!
Below, Lantrac from 1969, about the time the Honda ATC was introduced.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Swap meet transportation


Shelby Dowd Daytona wheels

 The Munch Mammoth had cast wheels in 1966, and Peter Williams experimented with them in the late sixties on his race bikes, but by the mid-seventies there were many choices. These are from Carroll Shelby's aftermarket company. The company must have been short-lived, I don't think I've ever run across examples of these anywhere. For American competition, Morris and Lester were selling their own versions.  By the late seventies the motorcycle companies were all doing their own. 

Morris motorcycle

Before going into the automobile business William Morris had tried motorcycle manufacturing. He showed 2 of his self-designed and built machines at a Motor Show in 1902 but it took a couple of years to get into production. However the venture was not as successful as he would have liked and he sold the rights in 1908. He continued with a dealership selling different makes of motorcycles and cars until he went into car manufacturing (successfully) in 1912.

Monday, December 2, 2019

"This is how a Phoenix tire is made"

The title is translated from the text on the sample case. In 1951 the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, hoping to penetrate the German market, acquired 25 percent of Phoenix to market tires for automobiles under the brand name "Firestone Phoenix" in Germany. 
 The agreement lasted twenty years, Firestone withdrew in 1971 when Deutsche Bank purchased the shares as they were trying to reorganize the German rubber processing industry. A merger with Continental didn't work out and Phoenix quit the tire business in 1973 to concentrate on other rubber products.
 The sample case pictured here dates to that twenty year period, the contents show the raw materials and processes for tire construction both bias and the newly-developed radial tires.

Phoenix business info here.

thanks, Rolf!

Monday Mystery. Fortecs Imperial

I did a post on these Fortecs wire wheels last year, we are still looking for a screw-in center badge. If anyone has any leads please contact me at . 
It appears they are Japanese aftermarket, Ebay does show some round horn buttons but there is still not much information online.

Autodromo di Monza 1948

Unknown artist but another great poster advertising the motorcycle races held at Monza in 1948.
The main element- the arrow- points to the race circuit but who knows why the rider is leaving?