Friday, November 30, 2012

Ducati Diana 1963

Fly to the Muskokas!

William Kilbourn.  The Making of the Nation.  The Canadian Centennial Publishing Co. Ltd, 1965; McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Revised Edition, 1973.

Vanished Tool Makes: Supreme Products Corp. and the Versamatic

Back before cordless drills, electric drills provided too high a speed and too low a torque to drive screws.  This attachment was designed to change that.  It was patented in 1957 by Elmer J. Ondeck, who assigned the patent to the Supreme Products Corporation of Chicago.

Supreme began producing and advertising it even before it was patented, with ads in Popular Science as early as 1956:

Popular Science, April 1956

Popular Science, April 1960
The Supreme Products Corporation also manufactured the "Versatapper," an attachment to turn a drill press into a production tapping machine.  These units appear on ebay from time to time, usually for an asking price in the hundreds of dollars.

Black and Decker produced their first cordless drill in the early 1960's, so the writing was already on the wall for the Versamatic when it first appeared on the market. The company itself had been purchased in 1956 by American Safety Razor (A-S-R), a firm started in 1875.  (During World War II, they saved an estimated 1,550 tons of steel by reducing blade production by 40 percent!)  ASR was bought by Phillip Morris in 1960.   Addictive properties add value to products:  cigarettes are still around--the Versamatic is not.  What happened to the company?  Supreme registered "Versatapper" as a trademark in 1963.  I've founded a "Buck Supreme Versatapper" (made by Buck Supreme Inc. out of Battle Creek, MI) and a "Ridgid Supreme Versatapper" for sale on the web, so it looks like Ridgid eventually acquired the company.  (Ridgid was bought in 1966 by Emerson Electric out of, Missouri.  However, almost all Ridgid tools are now made by Hong Kong-based TekTronics International (TTI), the parent company of Ryobi, which also manufactures the tools for AEG and Milwaukee.)

Toy Guns: Bang, bang! You're dead!

Top two toys from yard sales.  Bottom photo taken at the Frontenac County Schools Museum in Kingston.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Skunk Works GP suspension

As the monoshock long travel revolution took over Motocross, various people were trying to find ways to convert existing bikes. I don't know anything about the product above but the Ossa below has the BLT (Bolger Long Travel) fitted, a Joe Bolger designed cantilever arrangement. According to the link below about 150 were built.

The Dominys' Workshops

I serendipitously stumbled across the following pics and information in a library discard I picked up at a sale in Tweed, Ontario.  The title is The Home Workshop (Alexandria, Virginia:  Time-Life Books, 1980).  The book is a do-it-yourself guide to building your own workshop, but about a third of the way in, it has a feature entitled, "Diversity in Shops of Yore."

The Dominy family were skilled cabinetmakers, wheelwrights, clockmakers, carpenters, metalsmiths and handymen who, over three generations beginning in the mid-18th century, maintained wood- and metal-working shops in rural East Hampton, New York.  The book explains, "In these compact and well-conceived spaces, the Dominys were equipped to cast, turn, hammer, saw, thread, drill, carve or burnish almost everything a neighbor could want from wood or metal."  Their collection of tools numbered over a thousand, including 44 taps for making threaded holes in metal, 23 gauges for measuring turned work, and 50 or so pattern files for clockwork.  The woodworking shop was originally built around 1750, with workbenches placed at each of the three windows so that the craftsmen moved during the day from one bench to another to follow the natural light.  The final generation of the family could not compete with low-cost, machine-made goods, so several decades after its passing the shop was moved to another site.  Over the intervening years, the tools were dispersed among a museum, antique shop, and various attics until being reunited in 1957 and moved to the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in Delaware where the shops were reconstructed from original floor plans and photographs.  Images and captions below are taken from the Time-Life book:



Welcome to Canada: Tagish Lake, Klondike 1898

David McIntosh.  The Collectors.  A History of Canadian Customs and Excise.  Published by NC Press Ltd in association with Revenue Canada, Customs and Excise and the Canadian Government Publishing Centre, 1984.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

America meets Yamaha

Photographed at the 2012 Barber Vintage Festival 
In 1958 Cooper Motors introduced Yamaha to America, offering two bikes- the 50cc MF-1 stepthrough (as shown above) and a 250 twin, the YD-1. Two years later Yamaha International Corporation was importing the Yamaha line to the US, no word on how Cooper felt about this.
"Step Up" in the 1963 YG-1 ad below probably references the popular 50cc stepthrough Honda Cub which was rapidly transforming the motorcycle market. The YG-1's big 80cc motor represents a 60% increase in engine size over the Honda and the rotary disc two stroke is quite advanced for the time. 1963 was also the year that Yamaha introduced the autolube system (no more mixing gas and oil!) though there is no mention of it in the ad.

A century of phones

new electronic push-button telephone
Canada One Hundred 1867-1967.  Prepared in the Canada Year Book, 
Handbook and Library Division, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Ottawa, 1967.
Hard to believe that the phone, in one form or another, has been around now for 134 years.

Vanished Makes: The Eagle Lock Company

Part of an old garage door latch I picked up because I liked the trademark:

The Eagle Lock Company of Terryville Connecticut dates back to 1833 when Eli Terry, Junior founded the company, incorporating it in 1854.  It became so successful that eventually two dams were constructed on the Pequabuck River to provide power for the factory.  At its peak, it was Terryville's primary industry, employing 1800 people and being recognized as the largest trunk and cabinet lock maker in the world.

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum
Depending on who you believe, the firm closed in 1954 or 1975.  Terryville now boasts two attractions:  the Lock Museum of America, and the Terryville waterwheel--the last original manufacturing waterwheel left in the U.S.  Apparently, the town has been planning a Waterwheel Park, but progress has been slow since so much contaminated soil has had to be removed first.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ducati Cadet 1966

"Made in Italy, where they invented taste".
A far cry from the Vtwins of the next decade.

South Bend Lathe 1956

Compare to the Atlas in the post below.
Prices start at $1282.00
These machines are still treasured, register yours here;

New Atlas lathe for $439

Right out of the 1964 Sears catalogue.  How long has it been since Sears carried metal lathes?

Mystery Tool

I picked this up recently:

Clearly a promotional item.  Other than "Made in Canada", it's stamped "ENR. 1976  No. 40773."  I can figure out the bottle opener (maybe to save the seatbelts--see Seat Belt Bottle Opener) and screw driver, but the functions of the prongs at the bottom and stepped recess at the top elude me.

Update 2017:  A visitor had already identified the function of the tool, but today I found an ad for it in the December 1971 issue of Woman's Day (why I was looking at that magazine will remain another mystery).  This one is made in the U.S. so, unlike the Canadian-made one, doesn't include a beer bottle opener.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Steam powered railroad Rotary Snowplow, 1890

(Or, "we used to invent things here...")

The rotary was invented by Toronto, Ontario, dentist J.W. Elliot in 1869, however he never built a working model or prototype. Orange Jull of Orangeville, Ontario, expanded on Elliot's design, building working models he tested with sand. During the winter of 1883-1884, Jull contracted with the Leslie Brothers of Toronto to build a full-size prototype that proved successful. Jull later sold his design rights to Leslie Brothers, who formed the Rotary Steam Shovel Manufacturing Company in Paterson, New Jersey. Leslie Brothers contracted with Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works in Paterson to do the actual construction. Cooke was part of the Alco merger of 1901 and the plant was closed in 1926.

The Long Travel Revolution 1975

It's the mid-seventies and Yamaha's new motocrossers feature long travel Monocross suspension. It's the way of the future and everyone wants it. These are the aftermarket offerings from DG.


It has sadly come to our attention that the person behind has been appropriating entire blog entries from our site and numerous others and posting them as his own.  We have since learned that this discourteous and ignorant behaviour is referred to as "scraping" and is usually carried out as a means for the "scraper" to illegitimately acquire content in order to attract more traffic to his monetized site, where each ad click generates revenue for him.  See

As our visitors and followers will recognize, our content is derived from photographs we have taken ourselves plus scans of out-of-print sources we have acquired over decades, supplemented by web research.  On our own blog, we try very hard to ensure that credit is given to all print and internet sources of information that we use.  We are happy to freely share our content and research with others, but do expect that anyone re-posting the material should give us credit for our work, at the minimum by acknowledging our blog as the source of the material and providing a link to our site.  This is just common courtesy. 

After prolonged debate, Mister G and I have decided to continue to post new entries to the blog in spite of this flagrant and ongoing rip-off.  However, we would love to know how to block this miscreant from scraping our blog.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Leslie Armour.  The Idea of Canada and the Crisis of Community.  Ottawa:  Steel Rail Publishing, 1981.

The Old Shot Tower, Baltimore

National Geographic, February 1927.

Completed in 1828, at 234-1/4 feet, it was the tallest structure in the U.S.  It's still standing, but I doubt that it holds height the record anymore.  Below, when no longer used for making shot, it made for good advertising.

Discoverers Weapons.  London:  Sparrow Books, 1980.

Canadair Sabre

Both drawings from The Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal, Winter '86.

Always referred to as "Swords" by Canadian airmen, North-American Aviation in California designed the Sabre but more than 1800 were built under license by Canadair in Montreal.  Originating as the Canadian Vickers Company in 1944 to manufacture PBY Canso amphibians, Canadair was sold by the Mulroney government to Bombardier in 1986.

Thanks to Mister G for the colour photos above.  He also informs me that Vintage Wings of Canada is currently flying one of these lovely aircraft: