Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sidecar Sunday

Swallow Gadabout with sidecar...

Swallow Gadabout Scooter

The Swallow Sidecar company started business in the twenties, they later expanded into cars under the SS name- changed to Jaguar after the war. For some reason in 1946 they also introduced the Gadabout scooter- about the same time the Vespa was introduced. 
Power was provided by a Villiers 125 cc engine, giving a top speed of about 35 mph. It was not that successful, about 2000 were made in total.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Taking a break, 1927

It's a little hard to be certain with this grainy 1927 picture but it looks like the rider is making a cell phone call while taking a cigarette break. Further investigation leads us to the Ariel model lineup, the 4G was introduced nine years later... but no evidence of 5G.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Volkswagen ad, 1956

Artist, Hans Looser
See comments...


Sawmil in rural Ontario, 1940s

The caption for this photo was Jone's Mills at Clinton's Corners. I'm somewhat familiar with the largely wilderness area "north of Hwy 7" but cannot find the Corners on a modern map, I assume it would be near Cloyne Ontario.  I also found a photostream that this picture is part of. See it here.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

First Mosquito built in Canada

In 1942 Downsview was chosen to be the Canadian location for Mosquito production, the first aircraft was built in secrecy, next to the Avro Ansons production line.

Panther for 1949

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Graders on tracks

Here we have a couple of contenders for first road graders on tracks, apparently a dead end in grader development. Champion had their Yuba Ball track tractor powered unit in 1911, discontinued because of the expense, below is a Russell #10 Road Patrol of about the same period. 

Monday, May 18, 2020


Machine gun Monday, Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade

The Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade was formed in 1914 as an idea of Canadian resident and recent French immigrant Raymond Brutinel who, seeing the future of warfare, had bought a large shipment of Colt machine guns and was planning to join the French Army. He was convinced to join the Canadian army instead and incorporating his ideas, the brigade was formed.  He purchased eight armoured cars of his own design from the Pennsylvania company, Autocar. Backup and support were provided by 8 trucks, 4 cars, 17 motorcycles and 16 bicycles operated by a 134 man crew.
 When the brigade was organized in September of 1914 it was the first self-sufficient motorized unit in the Allied forces. It could be described as the precursor of the WW2 mechanized method of warfare. 
The success of the brigade led to reorganization in 1916 and the formation of the First Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade as it absorbed other machine gun batteries. 
 Brutinel continued to develop machine gun strategies and by 1918 he had been promoted to Brigadier and was in charge of all aspects of machine gunnery in the Canadian army.
More here

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Handley Page Manx

 The Handley Page Manx was part of a 1939 British government development program on tailless flight, the intent being a heavy defence fighter. The small pusher configuration aircraft was powered (underpowered) by two deHavilland 4 cylinder engines.
 Flight characteristics were apparently stable enough though it required constant attention at the controls. However, it was structurally weak and only flew a few times over the entire period of the war. It was revealed to the public immediately after the war and stored until being scrapped in 1952.

Happy Birthday, Oscar Zerkowitz

He would have been 142 years old today. Oscar Zerkowitz was born in Vienna, Austria and from an early age demonstrated an extraordinary mechanical aptitude. In his teens he invented an weaving machine controlled by punch cards (this in the 19th century). Throughout his life he apparently amassed 300 patents, from leg-slimming stockings to stamped steel wheels, hubcaps and streetcar braking systems. 
After he took a trip to the US to study the White Steamer he decided to emigrate and when he did, he simplified his name to Oscar Ulysses Zerk. That word may be familiar.
In Cleveland he invented a grease delivery system which he named after himself. Though that venture did not go well, he designed a better system and that made his fortune. 
To this day we mechanical people appreciate the convenience and utility of the grease gun and zerk system and it's hard to imagine a better way.
That being said, we all have neglected machinery. I propose May 16th as National Lubrication Day!

Friday, May 15, 2020

How to make a wrench

These illustrations are part of the instructions on how to blacksmith a wrench and are found in the book The Complete Modern Blacksmith, an amalgamation of three earlier books written and illustrated by Alexander G. Weygers.
 I doubt if I will ever have the opportunity or need to make a wrench from scratch (actually from a leaf spring) but the following instructions I found to be informative and entertaining. The author is a very interesting guy.

Making a open end wrench
 Making a box end wrench

Road King Grader, Joseph D Adams 1911

Reading the ad, was surprised to learn about the leaning wheel feature, I figured that would have been a refinement that came along long after graders were powered and equipped with hydraulics.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


Amal 1948

Below Decks - Gregory Manchess

Not the usual fare here at Progress is fine... but the subject matter caught my eye, there has to be a story about why a U boat, Stuka in a dogfight and otters come together in a painting.  Sadly I still haven't found an explanation but if the painting caught your eye,  more here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Lost dealerships, Conroys

Located at 516 Danforth Ave. in Toronto, J.V. and J.W. Conroy operated a motorcycle shop which was the "Dominion Distributors of Ariel, Douglas and Royal Enfield". Looks like the building is still there, but having lost much of its decorative brick work. This was the dealership that attracted J. Graham Oates as he walked down the street soon after he arrived in Toronto in 1927 and led to his Castrol-sponsored ride across Canada. He used an Ariel 500 equipped with sidecar in 1928. There were few roads, so at times he took to the railway tracks. Book here

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

1969 Suzuki Trail Cat

My first running motorcycle was an old B100P Suzuki acquired in a trade for a homemade VW dune buggy, but my first moto-lust was the Suzuki Stinger.  So when this little beauty came up, I had to have it. The lines are nice for a little bike in what was then the brand-new dual purpose category, the "Triform" frame (a triangulated space frame with the engine underneath) is pretty much the same as the Stinger, The pretty-gutless 118cc engine was enhanced by a dual range transmission featuring 2 ranges of 3. Note the unique grab handle on the front fork. 
 So what's it like to ride? Did I mention the gutless part? The low range needs another gear above 3rd, the high range needs a gear between 2nd and 3rd. If you're riding solo on a relatively flat dirt road, it's perfectly pleasant.

VZ58 cutaway

I thought this was an AK variant, but was corrected (comparison in the last image). The VZ58 is a nicer-looking unit than the AK but the cutaways on this one are rather crudely done. 

thanks, Rolf!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Mosquito vs Me 410

Mosquito HK360, one of the first Mosquitos to be fitted with radar for night fighting, entered service with the 456 squadron in January, 1944. In April it was transferred to the Fighter Interception Unit where it was used for testing and experiments. Here it shown with a captured Messerschmitt 410, which had landed intact in Italy after its crew became lost.


Two scenes from the Seventeen Mile Grade on the Baltimore & Ohio railway. In steam days, with heavy trains and the long steep grades, helpers were required on a regular basis. In each of these images, two locomotives coupled together are providing a lot of force on the end of an upbound train. Must have been quite a sight to see.

"M "Boats

The Art of the Boat, Photographs from the Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic Seaport Museum 2005
Spectacular boats, fabulous photography. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Planes in Formation, Grumman Goblins

Six of fifteen Canadian-built Grumman Goblin biplanes, some with canopies and others not, fly in formation near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Early in the war, they were the only fighter force on the east coast of Canada. Already obsolete for years, they were retired in April of 1942. One of the Canadian-built aircraft remains, on display at the Pensacola Naval Aviation museum.
More here