Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cycle Magazine Secret Racer 1967

This project was a Daytona 200 project of Gordon Jennings of Cycle Magazine using a special short stroke Harley KH engine by Jerry Branch. In those days you apparently could cut a connecting rod, have it welded together again and go racing without worry.
Jennings, inspired by a 250 Aermacchi Sprint frame, designed the smallest structure he could fit the new smaller motor into and the bike was assembled. The fibreglass gas and aluminum oil tanks were also handmade. How did they do? The article ends as they are loading up for the drive to Florida...

The Hindenburg in Happier Times

Unusual Tools: Sutton Drill Index

You almost never encounter Australian-made tools over here.  So, in a "coals to Newcastle" scenario, this had to come from Down Under in somebody's suitcase.

The Sutton Tool & Gauge Manufacturing Co. was founded by William Sutton in 1917 in Castlemaine, Victoria Australia.  It has remained a family business.  In 1960, they decided on the use of the “ground from solid” approach to making twist drills, in which the drill is ground from a solid, heat-treated high speed steel blank.  The drill was marketed as the “Silver Bullet.”  In 2001, they purchased Patience & Nicholson (P&N), another old Australian drill-making firm.  I've got several P&N drill bits in my shop.

If you're going to use such tools, you also need to be conversant with the proper lingo.  So, courtesy of the 1979 Grolier's New Book of Knowledge, I offer the following table below.  It may be outdated, but I don't need any nong or ear basher to grizzle about it.

Happy Birthday, Dear!

We were visiting the Lake Erie town of Port Dover when to my surprise, I discovered an old friend of mine, the Amherst Islander ferry, built at the Kingston Shipyard in 1955. When I lived and worked in Kingston Ontario (near the east end of Lake Ontario-250 miles east of Port Dover and a different lake!) I had ridden this ferry many times from Millhaven to Amherst Island. What was this old retired thing doing in the wrong lake? I took the picture and moved on, doing what you do in Port Dover, eating a meal of fried perch,  enjoying the excellent museum, hanging out on the beach etc.
A few years go by and by chance I meet two Port Dover residents. It turns out that the wife of the owner of Townsend Lumber of Tillsonburg bought this boat for her husband for a birthday present. No word on how it was received, but it's been at the dock ever since with a For Sale sign on it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Goose Bumps, alright....

What a difference a decade makes....

Vanished Tool Makers: Vlchek Tool Company, Cleveland, Ohio

I can't resist tools with wooden handles.  There's history in each one of them.  They're warm in the hand, and well worth the effort of cleaning up and putting back to use.  So, last week I found a 12-inch Phillips.  Dirt and oxidation obscured the maker's information.  The tip was in good shape, and it also had a hex formed on the top of the shaft to provide a means of applying greater torque if needed.  

Cleaned up, here's the maker's mark on the ferrule:


Frank Vlchek (pronounced "vel-check") was a blacksmith who, in 1895,  founded the Cleveland tool company that bears his name.  The company eventually offered a variety of tools, of which their open-ended wrenches seem to be the most common.  They supplied tool kits for Chevrolets until 1966, when the company decided to no longer offer them with their cars.  Prior to World War II, they also supplied tool kits to Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.  In 1958, the company was purchased by Pendleton Tool Industries, and tool production under the Vlchek name ceased in 1969.  For more on the history of this company, visit The Story of Vlchek.

The shaft of the screwdriver is stamped "Phillips Lic. 5" and with two patent numbers, both issued in 1936.  Below is one of them:

Below, a flat-head screwdriver identified by the Vlchek logo--a V within a shield:

Apparently, wrenches stamped only with the Vlchek name were usually not part of tool kits, but were sold through hardware stores.  The earlier ones are heavy-duty forgings, quite lovely.  Below are photos of a few I've picked up, although they're uncommon in my area.  I clean them up, repaint them, and put them back to use.

Vlchek also made pliers.  Below, my PHC208 hose clamp pliers.


Ham Fisted

I was sorting through my collection of Amal carburettors yesterday (yes, some people collect these things--they make wonderful loving cups) and was surprised to see a remarkably large hex fastener as the drain plug on one float bowl.  The correct plugs are plastic.  Below, a picture of the bowl, with the arrow showing where the plug goes, plus the hex plug (left side) beside the correct plug:

Below, a close up, showing the inexpertly sawed-off bolt that appears to be 9/16" 20 threads per inch, which was forced into the drain which is internally threaded 9/16" - 26 TPI CEI.  Nicely ruined the float bowl.

Really quite remarkable how ignorant and sloppy some home mechanics can be.  Same folks who put self-tapping sheet metal screws into holes threaded for machine screws, or who use vice-grips as a substitute for wrenches (I've seen examples of both).  These are the people who believe that the rule is to "torque it till it strips, then back off half a turn."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Engineer's Dream Car of the Future 1979

The New Book of Knowledge.  NY:  Grolier Inc., 1979.
Taken from the encyclopedia's entry on automobiles which was written by Erik J. Pierce, American Motors Corporation.  Mr. Pierce opined:

"In the late 1960's and early 1970's, American automobile manufacturers received much unfavorable criticism.  Auto safety, lack of quality control, and contribution to air pollution were the chief points on which the industry was attacked.  The federal government passed laws establishing standards for exhaust emissions and auto safety.
    During this period small foreign cars increased rapidly in popularity.  These cars cost less to buy than American cars, they used less gas and oil, and they were easier to park and to guide in traffic.  To meet the competition of small foreign cars, American manufacturers developed their own lines of 'sub-compact' and 'mini' cars.  Some of the new cars were designed so that the average owner could make many of his own repairs."

Really?  How is it that I missed this?  In any event, AMC itself passed into history less than a decade after Mr. Pierce's encyclopedia entry.

One of my vices is vises, patented Sept 22, 1914

Found these pics of a vise being advertised on Kijiji.  Cool idea--move the pin to the next hole to extend the reach of the adjustable jaw.  Works on bar clamps--why not on a vise?

She used to build things in this country

Ok, "Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl" is all over the net and she even has a Facebook page. I'm just reblogging the same pictures. But why not.
 Veronica Foster worked on the production line at John Inglis Co. making Bren Guns during WW2 . She was featured in a propaganda campaign and it's easy to see why, she has an appeal that reaches out across a half a century.

It would be easy to say she was the Canadian version of Rosie the Rivetter but the photos were taken in 1941, before the US had entered the war.

Two unnamed workers with part of the Bren Gun production.

The Inglis plant at 9 Hanna St.- now demolished, the site occupied by a big new police station, part of the massive Liberty Village condo developments of the Inglis site.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Porter Cable Sander

Only $39.50!
 In 1960 my father was renting a three bedroom house for $150 a month. He liked to work with wood but clung to his handtools - a brace and bit, handsaw, chisels. Looking at the cost of power tools, it was no wonder.
 For comparison a quick Google search finds a modern Porter Cable finishing sander for $89.95But I bet it isn't made in Syracuse NY.

Auto Union

Goodwood 2009

The grille appears to be inspired by Bugatti.


Pearl Harbor Attack

From Arnold S. Lott, LCDR, USN (Ret.) & Robert F. Sumrall, HTC, USNR, Pear Harbor Attack (An Abbreviated History).  Leeward Publications/Ship's Data Special, 1977.

Ted Marsh and The Enemy

Elmer Sherwood; Illustrated by Neil O'Keeffe;   Racine, Wisconsin:  Whitman Publishing Co. 1910.
The Wright brothers first flew in 1903.  Seven years later, the plane is already finding its way into boys' books!

Gas station as Oasis

It's still a gas station today but without anywhere near the charm of this scene.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Repairing high-voltage transformers

Louis V. Newkirk, Ph.D.,  General Shop for Everyone.  Boston:  D.C. Heath & Company, 1952, 1959.

An explosive story

Blasting, Sporting and Rifle Powder
Images above from H.H. Lank & E.L.Williams, The Du Pont Canada Story.  Du Pont Canada Inc., 1982.
The Gore Powder Company was established in 1851, the forerunner of Du Pont Canada.  Black powder was critical to the development of the railways, good enough to make it possible for the Union Pacific to cross the Sierras to San Francisco.  However, it tended to produce a heaving rather than a shattering effect due to its relatively low strength and slow rate of pressure development.  This made it ineffective against the granite of the Canadian Rockies as well as the rock of the Laurentian Shield on the north shore of Lake Superior.  Then along came nitroglycerine.  First discovered in 1847 by an Italian professor named Sobrero, it remained to Alfred Nobel to exploit this as an explosive, patenting it in a form he called "dynamite" in 1867.  Eventually, it ended up in use in the railways, including opening up the route north of Superior.  It was not without risks.  According to the Du Pont Canada history book:

"One of the transportation sagas which has come down the years has to do with a shipment of 100,000 pounds of nitroglycerine from his (George Mowbray's) Massachusetts plant to a construction camp near Kenora, Ont.  It was packaged in five-gallon cans, sent via Buffalo to Fargo, N.D., and thence to Winnipeg where it was loaded on two-wheeled oxcarts which were trundled east to the Lake of the Woods and across the ice to a dump or outdoor magazine.  Finally, workmen carried it on their backs to the construction site, melted the nitro over open fires and poured it into bore holes which had been partially filled with water to "cushion" the heavier nitro.  The hazards at almost any point and any moment along the way defy calculation."

Trials of the Suzuki B100P

The Suzuki  B100P was a basic 120cc 4 speed commuter bike of the mid-sixties. It became the B105P Bearcat trail bike when a dual range transmission was added. 
 Meanwhile, for several years in Observed Trials competition,  British bikes had been obsoleted out of contention by the Spanish manufacturers and NVT had stopped supplying Villiers engines to the industry. Small British trials bike manufacturers were looking for other powerplants. This Suzuki engine was one candidate and it appeared in several one-off and low production bikes.

Alta Suzuki

Peter Gaunt Suzuki

Peter Gaunt Suzuki

McLaren Suzuki

Milk run...

Actually it's a beer run. Spitfires- using repurposed long-range fuel drop tanks- were employed to deliver fresh beer to the troops in Normandy in July of 1944. thanks, Shan

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CTS Hermes

I got this poster back in the 1970's.  Below, it is shown folded up, then unfolded to reveal the communications satellite that is clearly intended to represent how it enables people to stay in contact although separated by a great distance.

The helpful folks at Telesat were able to identify the satellite as the Communications Technology Satellite (CTS) Hermes.  This was a joint effort of the Canadian Department of Communications (who designed and built it), NASA (who launched it) and the European Space Agency who provided the solar panels and other equipment.  It was launched in January 1976, with the goal of broadcasting TV signals to homes equipped with small antennas.  It was the first satellite to operate in the Ku band.  At the time of its launch, it was the most powerful communications satellite in orbit.  Contact with the satellite was lost in November 1979.