Tuesday, January 31, 2012

100 Years

This might be my favorite building. The Michigan Central Station in Detroit , built in 1912-13 to serve as the city's main passenger depot. At time of construction it was apparently the world's tallest railway station- a strange distinction.


It's been abandoned since Amtrak left in January 1988. Various renovation plans have been proposed over the years but it still stands empty... deteriorating.

Thank you for not smoking

I picked this up in the early 70's in Toronto.  I think it may have been an ad for an art exhibit.  I kept it all these years because I've always thought it was a great send-up about technology applied to human well-being.

Lufkin Tools Standard of Accuracy

A nice little calculator from Lufkin.  Although there were clearly far more fastener sizes in 1935 (increasing by 1/64ths in diameter, rather than today's 1/16th), the gauge is still very handy.  Edward Lufkin was an American civil war vet who formed the E.T. Lufkin Board & Log Rule Manufacturing Co. in 1869.  He had sold out all of his interests in the company by the mid-1880's.  The brand is now owned by the giant conglomerate, Cooper Tools.

Below, a nice "Chrome Clad" Lufkin tape rule:

And a "Thrifty Fifty" made in Canada:

Winnie's Wings

Winston Churchill loved aircraft.  Below, top two pictures from February 1914, next he's in a Short Brothers 'Calcutta" flying boat moored on the Thames across from the Houses of Parliament, then in April 1939 flying as co-pilot at No. 615 Auxiliary Air Force Squadron at Kenley (where he had just been gazetted the squadron's Honorary Air Commodore).  Below that, looking out of his personal transport, the B24 Liberator "Commando" piloted by the American Bill Vanderkloot.  (Churchill's last flight on this aircraft was on February 7, 1943.  Later, with a different pilot and crew, the plane crashed with the loss of all aboard.)  Photos from Martin Gilbert's excellent book, "Churchill.  A Photographic Portrait" (Penguin Books in asssociation with William Heinemann, 1974).  Final photo from Bruce West's book, "The Man Who Flew Churchill" (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1975).

"Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"

"Well, you better let him out!"  Or so goes the prank call that kids supposedly used to make to tobacconists back in the day.  Ah, the days of easy laughs!
The brand was introduced by the R.J. Reynolds Co. back in 1907, named for the Prince who later became Edward VII. Apparently, according to the can, the process by which this blend was discovered was quite scientific.

Spy cameras

Two "subminiature cameras", picked up at yard sales.  The cheaper one is marked "Minetta Japan" and the better-made one is marked "Kiku16 Model II."  The former was made by Tougodo (Tokyo) in the 1950's, and the latter by Morita Shokai from 1956-57.

Below, the instructions for the Kiku 16:

Don't take any wooden nickels

I've had this for a while.  Neat advertising gimmick.  Coincidentally, I meet my motorcycle riding buddies at this place every week.  It's a cool old general store.  The store's founder, Larry McCormick, was a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1993 to 2004.  He passed away last year.  The Texaco brand disappeared from Canadian gas stations when it was bought by Imperial Oil in 1989.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stafford Liners

In the mid-eighties I happened upon a nice streamlined pressed steel steam engine pull toy at a booth at the Carlisle Auto Swap Meet.  It was black, about a foot long, a bit beat up and had a price tag of $20. A bit steep I thought, and after admiring it for a minute put it back on the table. I moved on to the next booth. A minute later I glanced back at the train, seeing someone else picking it up. I froze. All of a sudden I realised I needed that toy. He put it down eventually and I went back, quickly paid the twenty bucks and I owned a genuine Stafford Liner. Whatever that was.

15 years passed with the engine happily displayed on my book shelf. I never saw another one or found any information on it till they started appearing on ebay. It became a habit, put a bid of $5 or 10 on them and if I won, good. The most I paid was $75 for a set of three minty red ones. It was feeling like an addiction. Eventually I owned a dozen or so.
But I became aware that they weren't all the same, they were either Stafford Liners or Stafford Liner 1006s with slight differences in the pressings, came either red or black, some had crude train cars, gondolas and cabooses with them. And another rarity popped up, a P A Rocket- yet another different pressing.

It was also obvious that none of the sellers knew what they were either. They were advertised as toys anywhere from the '20s to the '50s, came with reserves of as high as $75... Some ads from a postwar toy industry magazine shed a little light.

I've never seen this full set for sale, but the crudeness of the gondola and caboose can be seen, most times if a train appears on ebay it will consist of only one of each in colours as shown in the top ad.

A quick Google map search shows the address of the long gone company today.

Anyone with more info, please contact me!

The Red Baron Rides Again!

In my opinion, one of the best BMW motorcycle ads.

Ride a bike--it's your best pal!

Miracle Fire Maker

The "Miracle Fire Maker" manufactured by the A. Rowley Tool and Engineering Company, Green Lake, Wisconsin.  It's basically a small squirrel-cage fan operated by a dry-cell battery to produce a stream of air to stoke a fire.  I found this one at a yard sale where I experienced little difficulty in deciding to buy it.  This company made other novelties like the "Village Blacksmith." (found at The National Museum of Play.)

Stand Up and Be Counted

Four mechanical counters.  A more efficient way to count beans.

Top one is a "Productimeter" made by the Durant Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee.  Apparently a lumber counter.  For a photo of it in its completed form, see vintage machinery.
The company was founded in 1879 when W.N. Durant sold a counter to the Milwaukee Rolling Mill to count bags of flour.

Googly Eyes

His and her googles.  The ultimate in cool.  You know you want them.

Dive Bombing V-1 Sites, France

A painting by Flight Lieutenant Robert Stewart Hyndman.  Spitfires were used for this duty.  For an account of what it was like to bomb V-2 sites, see http://www.v2platform.nl/dive_bombing.html

Calling Collect

My wife's late father worked for Bell Canada, and would have used these phones when checking relays on the phone system.  Rotary dials!  Speaker and receiver on the opposite side.  Both made by Northern Telecom (better and infamously now known as Nortel).

Spouting Off

In the 1930's, oil companies began marketing oil in cylindrical containers of fixed volume, to protect the contents from contamination, to ensure quality and to provide oil in convenient sizes for motorists.  You had to puncture these tins to open them, and pouring the contents often meant getting oil all over the place.  So, creative minds set about inventing spouts that could be easily inserted into the cans.  Below are some examples.
The top one was made by the Sterling Auto Manufacturing Company of Chicago.  (Another company by the same name, but with headquarters in New York City and a plant in Hebron, CT, briefly made the Sterling car from 1917-1919.  Apparently, of the 30 cars made, all that remains is one horn.)  The second spout was made by "Cantapper" and was stamped "For oils, liquids & juices."  Better not mix them up.  The last spout was made by the Swingspout Measures Company of Los Angeles.  The patent drawings for, respectively, the Swingspout and Sterling spouts are also shown below.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hot Vulcanizing

Time was, you could buy special hot patches that actually vulcanized a rubber patch on an inner tube.  The patches came as small open container that held a combustible material within it, and a special patch on the bottom.  Using a special clamp, you held the container with the patch against the tube, lit the material, got out of the way while it sparked and smoked, and, voila, your tube was patched.  The most common makes were Shaler,  Camel (Egan Mfg. Co.) and Victor.  They were also made by the Better Monkey Grip Company of Dallas.  In the 1920's, the cost of a vulcanizer and 12 patches was $1.60.  This was probably quite a deal, as tires and tubes were frequently punctured by horse shoe nails.  Over the years, hot patches have put me back on the road when travelling on British bikes.  The patches are no longer available due to government over-regulation except, curiously enough, in Columbia, South America.


J.H. Ashdown Hardware Co., Ltd., Winnipeg.  1953/1954 catalogue