Friday, January 31, 2014

Industrial Design comes to Tractors

John Deere tractors wearing their new look, designed by Henry Dreyfuss.

The Portage Railway

Robert Legget, Ottawa Waterway, Gateway to a Continent, University of Toronto Press 1975.

The voyage up the Ottawa river from Montreal was interrupted at several points by rapids necessitating a time consuming stage coach portage. When the railway craze began in the mid 19th Century a railway from Montreal was proposed and incorporated as The Great Montreal and Ottawa Valley Trunk Line. In the end only the Grenville to Carillon section (20 km) was built and it became known as the Portage Railway- running from wharf to wharf. As it had been started in 1854, it was built to "Provincial Gauge"- 5'6" wide- and because it was isolated from other railways, it had no need to conform to standard gauge. The line operated as a the only broad gauge railway in North America till its demise in late 1910.
 Over the railway's life the rolling stock consisted of three locomotives and a few cars. The first locomotive, named Ottawa, was constructed by Kinmond Brother of Montreal and was bought new.Other locomotive (old and used) were acquired over the years. It must have been hard to find broad gauge euipment! In 1895 locomotive number 1, Ottawa, was destroyed in an engine shed fire. Locomotive number 3 was renamed Ottawa at this time. I'm not sure which one this is.
The line had no turn-around facilities and the locomotive always pointed uphill- toward Ottawa.

Rollie Free's "Eggshell" Vincent 1951

Popular Mechanics, February 1951

I can't find any evidence online that Rollie Free actually attempted a land speed record with this configuration.

Russian War Bonds poster, 1916

H.P. Willmott.  World War I.  DK, 2009.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yacht Altantic

The yacht Atlantic as she was rigged in 1905 when she won the first Kaiser's Cup Transatlantic race, setting a record for conventional hull sailing ships crossing from New Jersey to Lizard Point UK that lasted for 100 years. In 1997 her record of 12 days, 4 hours 1 minute and 19 seconds was beaten by the yacht Nicorette with a time of 11 days 13 hours and 22 minutes.
 Unfortunately the Atlantic was not around to see it as she had deteriorated over the years and in 1982 sunk at a Norfolk Va. dock.

The film projector gives way to the television

The Practical Handyman's Encyclopedia.  Vol. 17.  New York:  Greystone Press, 1963.
This is progress.  Note, however, that the earlier entertainment form, shadow puppets, is still shown behind them.  It might be a shark, or perhaps a bunny.

(Not so) Vanished Tool Makers: Apex Machine & Tool Company, Dayton, Ohio

Over the years, I've accumulated a very small collection of Apex sockets, all of which are of impact quality:

The Apex Machine & Tool Company was founded in 1933.  Their sockets and tools appear to have been largely geared to production.  For instance, in the 1950 patent below (for the socket in the foreground in the photo above), which was assigned to the Apex company, the inventors stressed that their invention represented a driver suitable for electric and pneumatic production tools in which the bit could be replaced separately, rather than having to replace the entire tool.  As such, they seem to have pioneered interchangeable bits on socket drivers.

Several of my Apex sockets are stamped with Patent No. 3,207,010.  In this 1965 patent, the inventor had designed a magnetic clearance socket for use when driving multiple nuts, sheet metal fasteners, or other fasteners in succession.
The above patent is assigned to the Gardner-Denver company, which acquired Apex in the early 1960's.  (Gardner-Denver began in 1859, when Robert Gardner invented the first effective governor for steam engines.  The company expanded into the production of pumps, which paid off when oil was discovered at Spindeltop, a gusher on the Gulf Coast south of Beaumont, Texas.  The maturing of the automobile industry had created a huge appetite for oil, and Garner drilling or "mud" pumps were consequently in high demand. Gardner further capitalized on the boom by developing high speed vertical air compressors for use by gas stations.  In 1927, they merged with the Denver Rock Drill Company, becoming Gardner-Denver.  They were acquired by Cooper Industries in 1979, but spun off as a publically-traded separate company in 1994, becoming privately owned in 2013.  At that time, the company claimed that their impact sockets "have hex tolerances that are on average 48% tighter than DIN and 35% tighter than ANSI requirements.")  The merger with Gardner-Denver appears to have constituted the actual end for the Apex company, although it was not legally dissolved until 1983, when it was under Cooper Industries' control.  According to Google Maps, it's former location in South Patterson Boulevard in Dayton is now a fenced and overgrown field, ironically situated next to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  Apex Tools are still available from MRO Tools, but I can't discover who makes them or where they're now made.

University of Dayton Daytonian, 1946

Toronto Harbour, 1950

I picked up a small hardcover book the other day, Ontario in your Car by John and Marjorie Mackenzie, published in 1950. It's more or less a tourist guide to the various areas of Ontario, mostly showing how sleepy this province actually was. The picture above is a fine example- this is the Dutch ship Prinz Willem IV in the Toronto Harbour. I'm not certain how you can avoid the Toronto skyline in a shot like this but from the picture, its hard to imagine any reason for disembarking in the provincial capital!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Metralla engine news

After bringing home my new acquisition/project a week ago, I've had time to appraise the overall condition of the bike. Concern one was the seized engine.
 I've seen a lot of ratings on the internet about the effectiveness of different brands of penetrating oils with a homespun recipe supposedly topping the effectiveness scale by a long shot. 
A 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) is the suggestion and in my decidedly unscientific test, after flooding the cylinder, the piston freed up within 36 hours of application. This is good news. 
 Next up, how good are the crank bearings. In my Bultaco experience, more often than not the big end bearing is shot and a connecting rod will be required. We'll see.

We used to make things in this country. #139: RCA Victor Company Ltd., Montréal, Québec

Below, seen at an estate auction last summer:

This is apparently a 1938 model.  

Emile Berliner invented the disc record and the microphone, but was mired in litigation in the U.S.  Consequently, he packed up and came to Canada in 1900, creating the Berliner Gramophone Company of Montreal.  In the U.S., the Berliner company became the Victor Talking Machine Company in the early 1920's.  RCA merged with Victor in 1929, which included equity in the Canadian firm.  In 1929, RCA bought out the Canadian firm completely.  Radios in Canada were actually made under contract by Canadian Westinghouse and Canadian General-Electric.  By 1940, the company was employing 150 people in a 300,00 square foot plant, and RCA Victor was the largest record maker in Canada.  In the late 1950's and early 1960's, the Montreal plant made some of the parts for Alouette I, Canada's first satellite.  In the early 1970's, production was moved to the U.S. and Japan.  The history of Berliner and the company is now preserved in the Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner in Montréal.

The car-toons of Russell Brockbank

From Stirling Moss & Ken W. Purdy,  Speed and Women. Atlantic Monthly, October 1963.  

Drawings by Russell Brockbank (1913-1979).  Although best known for his work with Punch in England, Brockbank was Canadian, born in Niagara Falls.  During World War II, he did many of the drawings used to train home defense workers in aircraft recognition.  His work is featured on an official website established by his family.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Largest locomotive in use on the CPR in 1926

Serious Yachting in 1935

How the other half lived in the depth of the Depression.

Great White Shed

Dieter Bachmann & Danial Schwartz.  So Many Worlds.  A Photographic Record 
of Our Time.  Bullfinch Press (Little, Brown & Co.), 1996.
How cool is that!

Love Letters to Rambler, 1964

Atlantic Monthly, October 1963.
Six years later, they were gone.  With lack-lustre advertising like this, perhaps not a surprise.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Recent acquistion

I've wanted this Bultaco Metralla for some time. A friend had acquired it years ago but as his motorcycle habit changed focus it had been resting in his basement. It's pretty much complete (chrome parts removed) but the engine is seized. No problem, we can fix that. I'm tickled.

Fasten your seatbelts!

Henry R.Palmer, This was Air Travel; Bonanza Books. 1967
When it came to flying in the early part of the century, it might be said, "safety is overrated".

Another job you wouldn't want to do: Repairing broken concrete structures

Railway Track & Structures.  October 1976. 

We used to make things in this country. #136: Dubl-HeX and Durable wrenches (revisited)

Mister G did a previous post on the Dubl-Hex wrenches.  This week, I found a nice set of them.  I'll call these the "round" version due to their cross-section:

That got me poking around in my shop for other examples I knew I had.  Below, a set of "flat" version wrenches:

They also offered a style of "raised panel" wrenches (raised on the one side, but recessed on the reverse):

What's interesting about this style is that it almost exactly matches a larger wrench I have that is marked "GMC" (presumably for General Motors Canada):

It looks like DublHeX (or Dubl-Hex) was around long enough to produce at least three different styles of wrench, and presumably to make GMC wrenches under contract.  So, they must have been a fairly large firm.

I also have some Canadian wrenches marked "Durable":

These have recessed panels on both sides.  Note the maple leaf:

As does one style of Gray wrench, with virtually the same font of capital letters used on the Durable wrench:

And which also includes the maple leaf on the reverse side:

Below, the Durable wrenches and the Gray wrench combined:

Note that the three-digit catalogue numbers line up, from the Gray wrench on the bottom and through the Durable wrenches above:

I think this is pretty strong prima facie evidence that Gray made Durable.

This was no small toolmaker:   the Durable line also included sockets, adjustable wrenches, and pliers.

Now look at the catalogue numbers for the DublHeX wrenches:

In this series, the three digit catalogue numbers are identical to the Gray/Durable ones, except that the first digit is a one rather than a zero for each fractional size.  (E.g., the 3/8"-7/16" DublHeX 180 wrench corresponds to the same fractional size Gray 080 wrench.)  Coincidence?  I think not.  Given that Gray also made wrenches under the "Dreadnaught" name, I believe that Alex Gray must have had a predilection for brand names beginning with the letter "D."  I submit my case.

Update:  A friend recently gave me a copy of the 1953/1954 catalogue for the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Co., Ltd. of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  They were distributors for a wide variety of products retailed by hardware stores.  Below, their offerings for both Dubl-HeX and Durable.  The latter ad proves conclusively that Durable, at least, was a Gray product: