Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We used to make things in this country. #53: J.S. Imlach, Ottawa Ontario

An interesting tool I picked up, assuming it was a C-clamp.  Not so.  John Stevenson Imlach was clearly of Scottish origin, since the family name derives from the Old Gaelic "imeallach" or "imleach", translating variously as "marginal land", or "marshy shore-land", and it was originally given as a topographical name to someone whose dwelling was located on such swampy land.  At the time of our story, he was a resident of Ottawa.  In the 1922 volume (LVI) of American Machinist, it describes the "Imlach Twistest connecting rod gauge."  This was designed to ensure that proper alignment of both bearings at the ends of a connecting rod.  It was also recommended for use when scraping bearings, or to check the alignment of the piston when assembled with the rod.  It was claimed that it could detect errors in the rod of 0.00025 inches.

Mr. Imlach also patented a pipe threading machine in 1924 and a device for pulling car wheels off of their axles in 1930.

It also appears he may have had a very close call years before.  In 1912, the sternwheeler Mayflower (which had originally built to carry corundum) offered regular passenger service between Combermere and Barry's Bay on Kamaniskeg Lake.  Although the ship was preparing to lay up for the winter, the captain was approached by a local councilor to make one last run to bring a body back for burial in nearby Fort Stewart.  The deceased had recently died of a "mysterious" gun accident in Saskatechwan, and his body was being returned on the Grand Trunk Railway to Barry's Bay, where it was proposed to pick up the body and casket and bring it across the water to Combermere.  The ship left the dock at 7 p.m. on November 12th on a very cold night with high winds.  Under normal conditions, the trip should have taken three hours.  A terrific storm  overtook the vessel and two hours into the voyage the ship foundered.  Nine people died, including the councilor who had requested the trip.  Only three people survived in the frigid water by clinging to the casket, one of whom was a J.S. Imlach, described as a "commercial traveller" of Ottawa. After an overnight ordeal on a small island, they were eventually rescued.

There is a YouTube film of a dive on the Mayflower wreck.

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