Sunday, September 30, 2012

Williams Superslim Spanners

Picked up at a swapmeet. They're still available at
though probably not at this price. Good news as Norton used Superslims in their toolkits for years, as did many other British bikes.

Ad from 1962

We used to make things in this country. #66: National Display Specialties Ltd., Brockville Ontario

National Display Specialties Limited "Show Card Writer Set" made in Brockville, Ontario.

Signs Made Easy.  First Edition.  National Display Specialties Ltd., 1951.

The device was originally patented in Canada in February 1933:

The company was operated out of both Brockville, Ontario and Morristown, N.Y. (two cities which face each other across the St. Lawrence River), with the Canadian side started around 1925.  A later kit advertised on the internet shows the sign below, indicating that at some point they moved their American operations down river to Ogdensburg, N.Y.

The last internet reference to the company I can find dates from 1968.  The kit I have also came with a brochure for the Dinsdale Signriter, also out of Brockville.  I don't know if this was a different company, but it clearly shows how the product was intended to be used back in the day.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Turning Shop 1904

The Turning Shop, 1904.
Lose a finger, an arm-- or your hearing...

Sidecar Sunday

Freddy Dixon breaking the sidecar speed record in 1923. The unnamed passenger looks completely underwhelmed- or possibly drugged.

Swap Meet Tomorrow!

Milton Ontario, Canada

Knapp's Roller Boat

From Willis Metcalfe, Marine Memories.  Picton Gazette, 1975.

In the late 1890's a Prescott, Ontario lawyer named F.A. Knapp contracted with the Folson Iron Works in Toronto to build an unusual ship of his own design.  It was a cylinder 22 feet in diameter and 110 feet in length, with both ends tapered to keep water out.  Two 200-horsepower steam engines were installed on a steel platform that rotated on circular tracts around the circumference of the cylinder.  Ribs or paddles were attached to the outside of the cylinder.  The idea was that the engines would rotate the whole cylinder, while remaining upright themselves and that when sufficient speed was obtained the cylinder would roll across the water like a rolling pin over pastry.  Knapp suggested that the engines would act like squirrels running in a rolling cage.  How it was to be steered remains a mystery.

The vessel was launched in Toronto in 1897, watched by thousands of residents.  Unfortunately for Mr. Knapp, the maiden voyage was not a resounding success, as it took almost five hours for the "Roller Boat" to cross one and a half miles of harbour.  Some wag suggested a change of name to "Knapp's Folly" and, to the inventor's chagrin, this became the name by which it was known.

Undeterred (and in fact planning for a entire fleet of such vessels) he managed to convince investors to cough up $105,000 on improvements.  The next summer, it set off towards Prescott at six knots, but ran aground several times and was eventually towed back to Toronto.  For three years nothing happened, and then Knapp decided it should be equipped with a screw at one end, and a bow at the other like a conventional ship.  It was never tested in this new configuration, but instead was left in the Toronto dock where it was particularly apt at tearing loose from its moorings during storms and crashing into other things as it was tossed around the harbour.  During one such excursion, it caused $250 damage to another boat,  and Knapp sold the Roller Boat to scrappers for $595 to pay for the damages. The "floating rolling pin" was never retrieved by its buyer, and eventually it sank at its moorings.  Some accounts say it was eventually cut up for scrap, others that it now lies under the Gardiner Expressway that runs along the lake in Toronto, but there are those who believe that it just rolled away and now lies forgotten somewhere on the bottom of Toronto Bay.
Gordon Johnston.  It Happened in Canada.  Scholastic-Tab Publications Ltd., 1973, 1977.

Housewives against Hitler!

Friday, September 28, 2012

1966 Ducati Mach1 specs

Chainsaws in 1978

Sears catalogue, Fall/Winter 1978

Corsair plane discovered at a yard sale!

Accurate description, but probably not what aviation enthusiasts were expecting.

Samuel Jacoff and his wife Sarah began manufacturing hacksaw blades in Pitssburgh in 1919.  In 1923, they moved the business to Flushing, New York to get closer to the New York market.  A fire destroyed their factory in 1929, after which they merged with the Great Neck Manufacturing Company in Great Neck, New York.  In 1941, they acquired a Pennsylvania hand saw company, and then moved the entire business to a new plant in Mineola, New York.  After World War II, Mr. Jacoff's four sons entered the business, and the business was further expanded when they bought Buck Bros., a chisel company in Milbury, Massachusetts and Mayes Brothers, a level company in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Mr. Jacoff died in 1971.  The company appears to remain family owned, and is still headquartered in Mineola.  

I don't often find Great Neck tools in Ontario, and the ones I have encountered (including the plane above--hollow plastic handles, of all things!) are of middling to poor quality.  The wrenches are particularly shabby.  However, I recently went into a local outlet store and discovered low-priced socket sets bearing this brand name, but unsurprisingly they are made in Taiwan and China.  As Aldo Gucci once said, "The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Press cameras

Thomas H. Miller & Wyatt Brummitt.  Eastman Kodak Company.  This Is Photography.  Its Means and Ends.  Published by the Case-Hoyt Corporation for Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1945,  1952, 1955, 1959, 1963.
The kind that Alfred Eisenstaedt probably would have used. The authors write, "A press camera without a good lens would be an anachronism, a Rolls-Royce with a scooter motor."

Another job you wouldn't want to do: Routine Zeppelin maintenance

Jet Tales.  The Luft Hansa Magazine.  3/81.
Repairing the airship Graf Zeppelin over the South Atlantic in 1934.  Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, who would have had to be standing on the wind-blown airship holding his camera!  He was born in Germany but emigrated to the U.S. in 1935 and a year later became one of the original four photographers for Life magazine, remaining there until it folded in 1972.  At the time of the 1981 article, he had completed more than 2600 assignments and nine books, and Philip P. Kunhardt, Life's managing editor, commented that Eisenstaedt "surely recorded more famous people and great events than anyone else who has ever hefted a camera."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CCM Motor Bicycle

Canada Cycle and Motor was a bicycle manufacturer who did what so many other people did just after the turn of the century, get into the motorcyle market by installing an engine in a bicycle chassis. They used a Swiss Motosacoche 241 cc engine producing 1.5 hp. Unfortunately it was not a success, and by 1912 was out of production.

From The Spirit of the Motorcycle by Michael Dregni. 2000. Photograph by John Dean
Despite that though, motorcycling was alive and well in Canada by the second decade of the 20th Century, below a 1911 motorcycle display at Eatons department store and the Klondyke motor bike trials on Bathurst Hill in Toronto in 1912.
City of Toronto Archives

City of Toronto Archives

John's Arrival

Didn't you used to hate these puzzles!

Jerome S. Meyer.  More Fun for the Family.  New York:  Greenberg:  Publisher, 1938.

Junkers W33/34

Jet Tales.  The Lufthansa Magazine.  5/81
This aircraft represents the prototype for the modern all-metal, low-wing, cantilever airliner.  It went into service by Lufthansa in 1928.  When equipped with floats, it could be used as a seaplane.  In 1928 a W33 named the Bremen made the first successful east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic, concluding the trip with a forced landing on Greenly Island, Quebec.  In the same year another W33, the Ural, made two flights from Berlin to Siberia to test conditions for a regular service to the Far East.  In 1930, this type was used for an air expedition to Baghdad.  The same year, Lufthansa engaged in midair refueling tests with this model, with a Fokker Grulich transferring fuel to a W33 via a 20-metre-long hose (although, wisely, water was used for the first test).  The W34 used a radial engine, versus the W33's six-cylinder, in-line Junkers L-5 engine.  By 1935, five of the later models were being used by Lufthansa on airmail routes to South America.

National Aeronautical Collection, Ottawa

Below the aircraft pictured above now on display in a diorama at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Keep mum, she's not so dumb!

The new Imperial War Museum.  London:  Imperial War Museum, 1989, Revised 1990, 1992.

Made in Japan

Sony's first offerings:

Above photos from Akio Morita, with Edwin M. Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura, Made in Japan.  Akio Morita and Sony.  New York:  E.P. Dutton, 1986.  This book is a fascinating read, tracing Sony's humble beginnings in bombed out  Japan as the Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Toyko Telecommunications Engineering Company) to the international giant it was to become.  

New York Times, May 1968
Morita explains the many differences between Japanese and American approaches to business philosophy.  In particular, he stresses the importance of mottainai (pronounced "moat-tie-nigh") which "is an expression that that suggests that everything in the world is a gift from the Creator, and that we should be grateful for it and never waste anything.  Literally, mottainai means 'irreverant,' 'impious,' but more deply it carries the notion of sacrilege atainst heavy.  We Japanese feel that all things are provided as a sacred trust and actually are only loaned to us to make the best use of.  To waste something is considered a sin..  We even use the expression mottainai to refer to the profligate waste of something simple, even water or paper."

Amazingly, he reports that no single American company was initially interested in Sony's compact disc player technology.  He adds, "Ironically, some of the technology that made this new recording breakthrough possible was pioneered in the United States, but American companies nowadays seem more interested in service industries than in turning new technologies into attractive products that will be enjoyed by a vast number of consumers.  A theme I feel must be struck over and over again is the danger to America of exporting its production.  Rather than devoting their attention to making products competitive over the long haul, many American managers are still prone to looking for good merchandise at the lowest prices to produce quick profits."

At another point (remember, this was in 1986) he writes, "We Japanese do not feel comfortable with the kind of wide open, frontier spirit deregulation that the United States went through in the early eighties, when banks and savings and loan associations went into freewheeling promotion and many collapsed and the government had to bail them out with public money.  We are also worried about America's over-extension of credit and the huge deficits the U.S. has built up."

Finally, he concludes, "I have written earlier, maybe not with too much sympathy, about how many American businessmen must run their businesses with greater and greater profit foremost in mind, always with the fear that their stock price may drop if their quarterly dividends do not show constant improvement.  In this atmosphere, when the pursuit of profit gets stronger and stronger, managers are forced to seek the easiest ways to make a profit.  Two dangerous things have happened:  some mangers have found they can make more money more easily by trading money rather than goods; others have found that manufacturing where the cost is cheapest gives them the best chance to show profits quickly, even if it means moving production offshore.  
     "This phenomenon is leading to what I call the hollowing out of American industry.  America's industrial establishment is being reduced to a mere shell, and the same is happening all over Europe.  The world economic situation has slipped out of our control; increasingly, our economies are at the mercy of financial opportunists.  Entire companies have become objects of exchange for the money traders, and great, old businesses are eating up their own assets in pursuit of quick profits.  Some nations are crushed under debt burdens they cannot hope to liquidate.  And as some industrialists invest in the money trading game instead of the future, the ability of some countries to produce their industrial necessities is diminishing rapidly.  None of this activity is helping to create the better, more stable world we say we want."

Akio Morita passed away in 1999.

Ducati Flattracker

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beechcraft propeller

Antique store on Queen St. Toronto.

I think that's a great logo for a Tshirt.

The End of Snowy Owl Squadron

Larry Milberry.  Aviation in Canada.  Toronto:  McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1979.
Following VE day, eight RCAF bomber squadrons consisting of 165 Lancasters were send back to Canada to assist in the war against Japan.  After they arrived home, Japan capitulated before they could be assigned to their new task.  Number 420 (Snowy Owl) Sqdn had its aircraft struck of strength, and their final trip was from Debert, Nova Scotia to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Larry Milberry relates:

"On September 24 the squadron took off for the final leg of its trip.  Destination was Pearce, Alberta, from where the Lancasters were to be sold off or destroyed.  This leg has been described by one participant as 'how World War II came to the Prairies.'  Once out of Winnipeg, the gaggle of Lancasters set about terrorizing the countryside between there and Pearce.  Aircraft, even as big as they were, flew under telegraph wires; one, flew so low it over a farm, it collided with a barnyard duck.  Another pilot buzzed a train and recalls his last impression as seeing the startled look of disbelief on the engineer's face as he pulled down his blind!"

On arrival at their final destination, the planes were sold for scrap, although some were also burned on site.  Trainers were offered in flyable condition.  $800 would buy you a Cornell or a Crane.  For $900 you could walk away with a Harvard.  Anson V's sold for  $5000, and a Canso (PBY Catalina to Americans) commanded $25,000.

Milberry continues:

"Since this aircraft disposal process was shortlived, it didn't receive too much publicity.  Some articles appeared decrying the colossal waste.  One Winnipeg Free Press article was headlined, 'Aircraft Are Suffering Post-War Let-Down Too,' and read in part, 'Where blue-clad mechanics and armourers used to swarm around her on the tarmac servicing and bombing up for the next flight, now chickens roost on her tailplane, cows scratch their backs on her rudder and the farmer's dog lies out of the sun beneath her wings.
     'It's getting to be almost a common sight now--one that would have caused a minor sensation a few years back--to see one of these big yellow bombing trainers taking up space between the barn and the farmhouse.'
     'Barnyard bombers' were well worth the fifty dollars asking price.  To begin with, a farmer could count on recouping his investment by simply draining gas and antifreeze from his plane.  Tires were just fine for a farm wagon.  A tailwheel fit the wheelbarrow.  For years to come the carcass would be a veritable hardware store of nuts and bolts, piping and wiring.  In the meantime it made a suitable chicken coop for storage shed.  One farmer converted the nose of his Anson into a snowmobile.  Bit Waco gliders were hauled away just for their packing cases.  The actual gliders were probably put to the torch."

Check your oil?

Time was, service station attendants used to check your oil while they filled your car with gas.  I remember because I used to do this as a teenager.  We also used to check tire pressures.  Actually, neither service made sense since, to be accurate, both engine oil (for wet sump engines) and tire pressure should be checked when the car hasn't been driven for a while, not when it has just pulled in for gas.  This ad is from 1965.  I guess we know better now, since gas stations don't do this anymore.  

For a company started in 1901, the collapse of the once might Gulf Oil was messy and painful, a story of sleaze and greed pitted against harsh economic realities. Read more here.  Progress is fine...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Making a cross-stick boomerang

Bernard S. Mason.  Boomerangs.  How to Make and Throw Them.  New York:  Dover Publications, Inc., 1974.  Originally published as Primitive and Pioneer Sports by A.S. Barnes & Company, 1937.
Originally published back when gasoline in cars was measured by dipping a wooden stick into the tank.

The author stresses:

"But there is another aspect of this sport that plays a most conspicuous role in its appeal--the making of the boomerang is as interesting as the throwing.  In fact the making and the throwing are inseparably related in the the full enjoyment of the pastime.  There is pleasure in throwing a boomerang that is purchased or obtained from some one else, but it is in no respect comparable to the joy and thrill that results in handling one which you yourself have made.  All the time the boomerang is being whittled you are looking forward to throwing it--constantly in your mind is the question, 'Will it come back?'  And when the last chip has been removed you hasten to hurl it--and it works!  There is thrill and glowing satisfaction as can come from few other pastimes!  Even the old-timer at the boomerang game never fails to experience it; he may have made a thousand boomerangs, yet each time he throws a new one and it works perfectly just as he planned that it should,  he feels a surge of pride and satisfaction that is worth many times over the effort required for the making.  It is a feeling of craftsmanship, of having been the cause!"

Wooden Colonist Car

D.M.L. Farr, J.S. Moir, S.R. Mealing.  Two Democracies.  Toronto:  Ryerson Press, 1963.
No expense spared!  Yeah, right.  Not a pleasant way to travel.  See Colonist Cars.

Below, three ads enticing immigrants to come to CanadaThe top two are taken from William Kilbourn, The Making of the Nation.  A Century of Challenge(The Canadian Centennial Publishing Co. Ltd, 1965; Revised Edition:  McClelland & Stewart, 1973.)  The drawing for the Colonist Cars ad is clearly based on the photo above, with some artistic license.

Anthony Hocking.  Canada.  The Canada Series.  
(Toronto:  McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1979).