Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sargent's carpenters' bevel

Over the years I've picked up two nice old Stanley bevels which I put back to work in my shop.  The locking mechanism in them is very positive, unlike the typical wing-nut at the joint arrangement used today.

Last week I found another one:

No markings on the handle.  However, after some judicious cleaning on the wire wheel, I discovered this mark on the blade:

I thought at first it might refer to J.B. Sargent who founded Sargent & Co. (now Rostra Tools) out of New Haven, Connecticut, who made very nice dividers among other offerings.  No so.  Instead,  it refers to a patent issued to S.D. Sargent, who assigned the rights to the Stanley Rule and Level Company of New Britain, Connecticut (ironically, a competitor of Sargent & Co. in the tool trade.)  This is clearly where Stanley got their original design.  

According to an informative article on bevels on The Tool Shed:

"Samuel D. Sargent was issued a patent on July 22, 1873 for a butt-locking bevel, which differed from Bailey's lever-action design of one year earlier by having the rod offset to one side of the butt and a thumbscrew that when turned caused the rod to impinge on the blade and secure it. Sargent assigned the patent to the Stanley Rule and Level Company of New Britain, Connecticut, which manufactured and sold this tool as the No. 18 Eureka Flush T Bevel."

Of course, it is possible that S.D. Sargent was a relation of J.B. Sargent given that they were both working in Connecticut at the same time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We used to make things in this country #71: Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd., Toronto Ontario

From Bloor Dufferin in Pictures by Cynthia Patterson, Carol McDougal and George Levin. Published by the Toronto Public Library 1986
In 1914 the only aviation factory in the country, Canadian Aeroplanes Limited, opened a huge plant covering 6 acres at 1244 Dufferin St, south of Dupont Ave in Toronto. The factory operated 24 hours a day. Working twelve hour shifts (with a half hour off for lunch) its 2000 workers produced 2950 Curtiss TN4 aircraft in two years. The company also built Avro 504s and 30 Felixstowe F5L flying boats.

 The site is now the location of what might be the most awful mall in the free world. Progress.

Technological catastrophes: 1977 Chicago train wreck

Catastrophe!  When Man Loses Control.  Bantam/Britannica Books, 1979.
In 1977, a Dan Ryan route elevated train smashed into a halted Ravenswood route train in Chicago's Loop during rush hour.  Two cars of the Dan Ryan train crashed 30 feet onto the street below.  Eleven people were killed and 189 injured.

Mr. Glencannon and the Inchcliffe Castle

Years ago, I stumbled across the adventures of Colin Glencannon, a Scotsman and Chief Engineer aboard the tramp steamer the Inchcliffe Castle, described in "Scotch and Water" as follows:

"The Castle--Montevideo to Cardiff--was the tramp moored nearest the Brandenburger, and perhaps the rustiest, most disreputable craft currently South of Cancer.  She was laded with hides and beef-bones which in stifling wafts made mockery of the "Spice-filled" allusion of the tourist company's literature.  The "Tropical moonight" she disposed of with two 500 Watt lamps slung in the mouth of the port poop ventilator--lamps whose blinding rays blanked the puny lunar effort, flooded her deck, and made the surface of the surrounding waters as nastily bright as a sheet of new tin.  Directly in the glare, their oil-soaked carpet slippers cocked at comfortable angles, their pipes distilling noisome juices, and their rugged faces wreathed in smoke and homesick wistfulness, sat seven alcoholized Scotsmen."

In the books, Mr. Glencannon's dialogue is also written phonetically, so if you read it aloud it sounds like you're speaking with a Scottish dialect.  The insults are wonderful, and my favourite is, "Ye pewling Dunvegan gowk!"

The books were very popular during World War II, and one American B29 was even named after the fictional ship:

The author was Guy Gilpatric, and he began writing these stories for the Saturday Evening Post in 1929.  According to his Wikipedia entry, he was born in 1896, became a pilot and, at age 16, set an altitude record (4,665 feet) in 1912, and was an American fighter pilot during World War I.  His life ended tragically.  When his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 1950, they made a murder-suicide pact in which he shot her and then himself.

The books can be found in used-book stores, but are also still available through The Glencannon Press, which also publishes books on maritime and military history.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ship Propellers

Fred Ott's Sneeze

The World Book Encyclopedia.  Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1970
Now you can view it on Youtube.  What a way to be remembered!

RIckman Metisse CR750

Poetry in motion.  From the September/October 2011 issue of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine.  Photos and story by Graham Clayton.  His article provides a good history of the Rickman Brothers, Don and Derek, and the company they operated from 1962 to 1984/85, reporting that at its peak it employed 130 workers and built almost 4,000 kits per year.  The Rickman firm was highly progressive.  For instance, they worked with AP Lockheed to develop a hydraulic front disc brake, introducing it three years before the Honda CB750 came along.  They also developed, with Weslake, an 8-valve head for Triumphs, and sold 300 of these bikes to the British police.  The CR750 above was introduced in 1974.  Business declined as the Japanese improved their frame designs, so Rickman turned to garden furniture, hospital beds and kit cars before finally winding down.  If I can't own a Metisse, I'd at least like to have a Rickman garden chair!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine found!

A friend emailed...
"I think I have found Thomas the Tank, I wonder how he got here?"
Downtown, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin Island, Russia.

London Bridge 1870's

John L. Stoddard.  Portfolio of Photographs of Famous Scenes, Cities and Paintings Chicago:  The Werner Company, 1893
John Lawson Stoddard was an American who traveled around the world between 1874 and 1876, and used his experiences to become a celebrated speaker on the American lecture circuit.  Although he did not take his own photographs, he gave specific directions to his photographer and these photos offer a wonderful glimpse into life over a century ago.  I'll be posting more of these photos from time to time.

The most sued company in America

Above, a hard rubber paper weight from "The Garlock Packing Company, Manufacturers of Quality Controlled Mechanical Packings."  Around the outside, it reads, "The Standard Packing of the World."

Late in the 19th century, Olin J. Garlock came up with a better way to seal piston rods in industrial steam engines.  In 1887 he founded Garlock Sealing Technologies in Palmyra, New York.  (On January 19,1892, James T. Walker of Palmyra was issued a patent No. 467454 for a photographic camera. The camera was called the Takiv since the lens and shutter could be rotated to take 4 pictures on one plate. Although this camera has advantages over other plate cameras, Mr. Eastman had produced the first roll film Kodak camera in 1888 and Mr. Walker’s company could not survive the more efficient roll film model. Another of Palmyra's claims to fame is that 57 of the town's residents fought in the war of 1812).  Back to Garlock.  The company used asbestos in many of its products, which led to its putative title as the most sued company in American history.  It introduced the use of PTFE gaskets 40 years ago, and continues to this day as a manufacturer of fluid sealing products for a variety of industrial applications, including nuclear ones.

Supercharged Ariel Square 4

There did not seem to a lack of supercharging experiments in the 1930s. Headgaskets were a big problem in this one.
From A Clubman at Brooklands by A.C. Perryman.
 Haynes, published 1979.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fun with Cedar Shingles

Rockport, Maine

When phone numbers were only three digits

Also, when cottagers were protected by huge woodsmen wielding double bit axes.

Unusual Tools: Interlox Master Slide Rule

Pictured is a Number 106 Interlox Master Slide Rule made by the Master Rule Manufacturing Co., Incorporated of White Plains, New York.  The ruler folds out to 72 inches and is marked in black on one side for "outside measure" and in red on the reverse for "inside measure."

The company apparently continued to make these unusual carpenter's rules up until World War II. 

While the sheer quirkiness of this ruler is highly appealing, in practice it has a number of flaws.  It would clearly have been complex and costly to manufacture, and the fact that each section slides over the one underneath acts to remove the varnish and erase the markings off of the wood.  I can understand why zig-zag rulers were clearly more common.  Anyway, the company eventually moved to the production of tape measures.

Popular Science, October 1948

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Clubman at Brooklands

I just discovered this book by A.C. Perryman. Published by Haynes in 1979, it's a personal account of motorcycle racing in England in the 1930s and is, in the authors words, "a factual year by year account of the striving of a young man of very modest means, to enjoy himself in the very exhilarating pastime of motorcycle racing".
It's not loaded with technical information, or a history of the famous Brooklands banked racetrack, but a nice story of a motorcycle life before WW2.

We used to make things in this country. #75: Engineering Tools & Forgings Ltd., St. Catharines Ontario

(The electrician's pliers above are stamped "Bulldog", the only example I've encountered of a model name on ETF tools, rather than just a model number.)

Pictured above, a selection of tools made by “ETF," Engineering Tools & Forgings Ltd. of St. Catharines Ontario.  This company may have begun in the early 1930’s. During its heyday, ETF made a huge variety of tools including wrenches, monkey wrenches and cold chisels.  In 1951, it acquired Canadian Warren Pink Co. Ltd., which had been formed in 1928 by the amalgamation of Thomas Pink Co. Ltd. of Pembroke ( a manufacturer of logging tools established in 1866) with Canadian Warren Axe & Tool Co. Ltd. The latter company had been incorporated in 1912 in St. Catharines, Ont., largely to manufacture in Canada the Sager line of axes then being made in Warren, Pa., by Warren Axe & Tool Company.  They continued to manufacture the SAGER brand until 1965, when Canadian Warren Pink was purchased by its largest customer, Dominion Chain Company Limited of Niagara Falls, Ontario (itself a subsidiary of the American Chain Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut).  Dominion Chain was in turn gobbled up by Fisher Karpark Industries (FKI), a British firm that had started in the 1920’s making parking meters, but which then expanded greatly in the 1970’s under its Halifax-born president and whose Canadian subsidiary (Welland Forge) still owns and operates a hammer and press forging business in Welland.   Through all of this merging and amalgamating, it is unclear as to whether ETF was bought out by FKI or simply went under.
More of the ETF story here

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