Saturday, March 31, 2012

Aerial the Flying Man

Airbrush drawings from photos and blueprints

While this is now done with computers, there was a time not so long ago when artists would make fantastically realistic drawings of machinery parts using an airbrush.  The following examples are taken from Dixi Gail Hall, Advertising Art Tricks of the Trade (Walter T. Foster, 1960).

Friday, March 30, 2012

The "chopped" tractor craze

In Manitoba during the 1960's, many fine tractors were sacrificed to this customizing fad which contributed to very poor handling, especially at highway speeds.

(In reality, a Hagie high-clearance tractor.  Ray Hagie produced his first one in Iowa in 1948Hagie is still a going concern.)

Leffel turbine

The saw mill & grist mill in Sydenham was built in 1833 but burned down in 1897.  It was rebuilt and added Sydenham's first electrical power system in 20's, but burned down again in 1947 and was never rebuilt.  It is now a park.  The original 1921 Leffel turbine was left in place.  The James Leffel & Co. began in Springfield, Ohio in the 1840's as a stove manufacturer, perhaps the first in the state.  Mr. Leffel became wealthy from the sales of these items, then turned his attention to waterwheels and turbines.  With the need for more food to feed the armies during the American Civil War, Leffel introducted the American Double Turbine in 1862, which doubled flour production in gristmills.  In that year, a 10 to 13-inch turbine cost $200, while the 56-inch version cost $700.  The company still exists and their website contains an interesting photo gallery.

1867 ad

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hodaka Challenger

By 1970, the sport of motorcycle trials was developing nicely, the Spanish manufacturers owned the sport but in the British motorycle industry there were people who wanted to build a domestic world beater. Some attempts are based on European proprietary engines, others used small Japanese two strokes like the Suzuki 120. To that end the large accessory company Wassell developed and sold frame kits.
One kit used the Sachs 125 engine, which was imported into the US by Penton as the Mudlark, another one was set up for the Hodaka Wombat 125 motor. This was the Challenger, reputedly intended for the Canadian market. The idea was you mailordered the frame kit, then hiked down to the Hodaka dealer who would sell you a donor motor. The one shown was apparently put together by Roy's Cycle in Belleville Ontario who I'm told sold several of them.

I bought this one a few years ago with high hopes but frankly, it just doesn't compare to a Bultaco Sherpa T or Montesa Cota. I wanted to like it, really I did, but after a year or two, down the road it went- to a guy who uses it to compete in Vintage trials events. He likes it.

Richard's Hobby

While it did take up a lot of his limited basement space, Richard's hobby provided him with hours of quiet pleasure.

The British Chemical Company Explosion, Trenton

The remains of the British Chemical Company, which became a destination for a motorcycle ride in November 2009.

I stumbled on this site while visiting Ontario Abandonned Places.  Further research determined that the company manufactured artillery, rifles and small arms ammunition.  Industry was attracted to Trenton because its waterways permitted the development of cheap hydro-electric power.  In 1915, the British government financed and built the British Chemical Company on the site of the old Gilmour saw mill.  The plant covered 2000 acres and contained 120 buildings, and at the time was the largest ammunition factory in the Commonwealth.  On Thanksgiving Day, 1918, a fire started and ignited explosives, which blew the building apart and broke windows in houses miles away.  A subsequent fire raged throughout the night.  Eva Curtis, the town's telephone operator stayed at her post throughout the night for emergency calls despite glass blowing past her. She along with seven others were rewarded the medal of the Order of the British Empire for staying in the danger zone throughout horrors of the night.

Here's an account from the Perth Courier:

One of the most shocking tragedies to effect Perth in recent years was the explosion in the plant of the British Chemical Company at Trenton exactly at 1:45 Friday morning last, in which three Perth boys lost their lives.  Philip Doynes MacDonnell, son of Mr. and Mrs. P.J.C. MacDonnell, Perth; Edwin Charles Noonan, son of Mr. H.T. Noonan, Perth, and James Bernard Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith, Perth.  These three boys went to Trenton only the previous Wednesday and engaged with the Chemical Company, commencing work on the night of the following Thursday.  The explosion occurred a couple of hours later after commencing work in a small separate building known as the “solvent, recovery” department.  What the cause was has not yet been ascertained, but it was probably due to chemicals forming an explosive compound.  Seven men were engaged in the building at the time.  They were Philip MacDonnell, Edward Noonan, Bernard Smith, Perth, two McLean boys of Ottawa, S. Mentha Of Quebec, and a boy named Norris, who came from New Brunswick.  There was a large powder bin at one end of the building and Philip MacDonnell and Bernard Smith were standing on one side of this bin near a narrow gauge track on which a small car was run, conveying the powder out of the building.  The two McLean boys were standing on the other side of the bin and, not so close to it.  S. Mentha Was also near the bin.  Edwin Noonan and the Norris boy were further away from the bin, standing near the entrance.  The small box car was being reloaded with powder when suddenly and explosion occurred, which could be heard for miles around, and a sheet of flame flew in the air over a hundred feet, carrying the roof of the building with it.  Fire broke out immediately and no one was allowed near the building until the flames had subsided, for fear of more explosions.  The MacDonnell, Smith and Mentha boys, who were either stunned or killed outright, were burned in the building.  Edwin Noonan was thrown some forty feet in the air, and the Norris boy also some distance in the air, but both were clear of flames when picked up.  The most miraculous escape, however, was that of the two McLean boys, who were near the powder bin.  The explosion seemed to go straight up in front of them, and other than being thrown some distance by the concussion and experiencing some severe bruises, they were able to be up and around again this week.  Edwin Noonan experienced terrible burns, his body being a mass of burns from the waist to the head and face.  He and the Norris boy were injured the most and were rushed to the private hospital maintained by the company.  Edwin was conscious soon afterwards and maintained great cheerfulness throughout.

From another source, 1920:

The details of the tragedy were explored in a 1980 book by John Melady entitled Explosion:  Trenton Disaster, a copy of which is held at the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's an Optaco?

The motorcycle name Bultaco was a combination of founder Senor Bulto's last name and his nickname Paco. So where did the Op in Optaco come from? In 1971 a Boeing aircraft engineer neamed Al Oppie designed this bike for lightness. The large diameter top frame tube doubled as a gas tank. Jim Pomeroy made his professional racing career on this bike and finished second to Brad Lackey. Jim Pomeroy went on to race conventional Bultacos for the factory and became the first American to win an FIM World Championship MX Event.

Parallel Twins Never Meet

A French workshop manual produced for those who happen to own both a Norton Commando and a Honda CB350 Four or CB 400.  Talk about your niche publishing market!

Outlaw Bulldozer Gangs

While unfortunately overshadowed by the events in Hollister, California, the small town of Kindersley, Saskatchewan was nevertheless terrorized for several days in early July 1947 by teenaged hoodlums on high-performance bulldozers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One of my vices is vises, Hollands Mfg.

A substantial Number 100 pipe vice from Hollands Mfg of Erie Pa. I'm not sure if the wingnut-type mount is for portability but you could drill a 5/8" hole through anything substantial and have a way to clamp a pipe in place for cutting or threading.  Another Hollands pipe vise post here
I see one of the pipe jaws is missing, but that won't affect its usefulness much.

Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Al.

In 1880 Colonel James Withers Sloss, one of the founders of the city of Birmingham, founded the Sloss Furnace Company and built the first iron-producing blast furnace in the city. In the first year, 24,000 tons of high quality iron were produced and although Colonel Sloss retired a few years later, the operation went on under several owners for nearly 90 years. In 1971 the furnaces were shut down and sat unused till 1981 when the decision was made to preserve the site as an industrial heritage site. Now designated a National Historic Landmark, the facility remains much as it was when shut down and is open to the public as a museum and special events. It is also home to metal arts programs. In 2009 we spent an enjoyable and informative few hours exploring the buildings and machinery on a selfguided tour.






Ranger Gord and His Forest Companions

 "Yes," thought Ranger Gord, "It's shaping up to be another strange day in the woods."

Motorcycle Pulp Fiction: The Bikers, 1971

Monday, March 26, 2012

Worst sand casting ever.

Over 57,000 Russian T-34 tanks were built during WW2 and they were considered to be a crude but very effective weapon. I never realised just how crude till I visited the Fort Knox Armour museum and saw the casting quality of the turret. Appearance was apparently not a consideration.

Pictures taken at the Fort Knox tank museum (since moved to Fort Benning, Georgia).

Crew comfort was also not a consideration. The driver was apparently lucky to have a piece of wood to sit on and Wikipedia says... A mallet was also needed to shift gears, increasing the time needed to maneuver the tank.

Scout meets Condor 1936

Courtesy Indian Motorcycle Co.

Logo convergence

Volkswagen (Germany)

Walter tools (Germany)
 Ransome & Marles bearings (U.K.)

Robbin & Myers electric motors (U.S.A.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Growth Rings

We used to make things in this country. #87: A.B. Jardine Co., Hespeler Ontario

A large old pipewrench, part of the product line of the A. B. Jardine Co. of Hespeler (Cambridge) Ontario. The company made mostly blacksmith and plumbing tools till its demise shortly after WW2. These pipewrenches were a Ridgid Tool design made under license.

Company history here.

Below, a pipe-threading tool made by the company:


Canadian Machinery, 1921

The destruction of the engine of the "City of Paris" 1890

The steamships "City of New York" and "City of Paris" were built for the Inman and International Steamship Co.'s Royal Mail service, prior to 1890. These ships had twin screws, driven by two separate and distinct sets of triple expansion engines, together capable of developing over 20,000 indicated horse-power.

The diameters of the cylinders are: H.P., 45 inches; I.P., 71 inches; L.P., 113 inches. Each piston has a stroke of 5  feet.  The crank shaft has a diameter of 20-1/4 in. at the journals, and the crank pins are 21 in. in diameter. Through each crank pin there is a hole 3-1/2 in. in diameter. The thrust shaft has a diameter of 19-1/4 in., enlarged to 20-1/2 in. between the collars. The tunnel shaft is 19-1/4 in. in diameter, and the tube or pro­peller shaft is 20-1/4 in. in diameter.

The following is an account of an accident to the starboard engine of the "City of Paris." This account was taken from the May, 1890 edition of "POWER" magazine.
"At half past five on the evening of Tuesday the 25th of March, the steamship "City of Paris" was about 216 miles from the coast of Ireland, running at full speed. There were in each engine-room three men, one upon each platform. The man on the top platform felt the tail rod of the low pressure engine, and went forward. He had not gone five steps when the whole low pressure engine fell to pieces. In a few  seconds this great engine, standing 45 feet high, was a heap of scrap. A represen­tative of THE ENGINEER (English) was allowed to view the wrecked engineroom when the ship was brought to the dock, and from that paper we reproduce the accompanying engraving showing the star­board engine-room as it appeared at that time.

The result of that examination was to show that everything that could be broken was bent, or twisted, or distorted. But the ruin is not confined to the engine room; the great screw shaft, 21 in. in diameter and over 100 feet in length, has been ripped out of its bearings from one end of the screw tunnel to the other and then dropped back again. All the cap bolts were smashed and a great rent is torn in the bulkhead where the shaft passed through it. The half-inch steel plate has been dented and buckled like a bit of paper; all the horse-­shoes were torn out of the thrust-block and scattered over the engine room. The destruction of the condenser was followed by an enormous rush of water into the engine room.

The editors of  THE ENGINEER prefer to reserve all expression of opinion in regard to the cause of the breakdown, their article mentioned, however, that experts in Liverpool are satisfied that something did not give away first in the engine, but that the succession of events was as follows:  The brass liner on the tail-shaft burst; then the lignum vitae strips were torn away, bringing metal to metal; then the tail-shaft ground away the liner in the steam jacket; then the steel shaft ground away itself and the bracket and the shaft dropped; then the continual bending action which took place resulted in the shaft breaking just where it came out of the steam tube; then the engine raced with the result shown by the engraving. At present they neither accept this theory as sound nor dispute its accuracy. When everything has been collected out of the ship and nothing remains to be discovered it will be time enough to express an opinion.

The 'engraving' talked about in the above description is a steel engraving showing what the engine looked like from a point above the high pressure cylinder. This engraving has the clarity of a photograph."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Miner Inconveniences 1936

The self-rescuer attached to belt.

Hangar Queen

I'd heard rumours that there was an old flying boat at the Ganonoque airport, so on our last bike ride in December we stopped by.  By sheer coincidence, the hangar owner was there, otherwise we wouldn't have seen nuttin'.  Anyway, there it was, an amphibian rather than a flying boat, a beautiful Canso, its designation in Canada, while in the US they called it a PBY Catalina in its flying boat form. 

The air museum in Ottawa has an example.

The guy who owns it is in his 70's, and it hasn't flown since 1966.  (The guy who owns the hangar told him, "When that thing flies I want to be in it."  The old guy replied, "So do I.")  He doesn't want it as a static display in a museum, but apparently insurance to fly it is prohibitive.  (It also sucks 50 gallons of fuel per hour in standard flight.)  All things told, you'd need to be rich to own it and fly it.

A lovely machine.  Huge Pratt & Whitney radial engines.  Dwarfed all of the other light aircraft stored in the hangar.

Just to get an idea of how big this thing is, below is a picture of a Canso of RCAF 413 Squadron on a Ceylon beach in 1942.  (Taken from Lt. Col. D.J. Goodspeed (Ed.), The Armed Forces of Canada 1867-1967.  Ottawa:  Directorate of History, Canadian Forces Headquarters, 1967. )

There's another Kingston connection with this model of aircraft.  On April 4, 1942, Leonard Birchall was piloting one of 413 Squadron's Cansos when he located a Japanese carrier battle group consisting of five aircraft carriers, four battleships, and other warships, heading to Ceylon.  He was able to radio a warning before being shot down.  This gave the British some time to prepare, although they fumbled their response.  The Canadian press later called Birchall the "Savior of Ceylon" and suggested that if the British fleet had been defeated at Ceylon, the Germans would have won in North Africa.  (For a full account, see Leonard Birchall and the Japanese Raid on Colombo.  There's also a detailed account based on an interview with Birchall in John Melady's book, Pilots.  Canadian Stories from the Cockpit.  McClelland & Stewart, 1989)  Birchall himself spent years as a Japanese P.O.W.  The Air Commodore spent his last years living in Kingston, where he died in 2004.  

Kingston Whig Standard.  November 18, 1989.
Finally, here's a photo of a privately-owned Catalina that was shot up and abandoned in Saudi Arabia in 1960.  For the sad story, follow this link.