Friday, February 28, 2014

The gentlemanly art of dowsing

Both images from J. Arthur Thomson. (Editor),  The Outline of Science.  A Plain Story Simply Told.  Third Volume. (New York & London:  G.P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1922)

Silva Compass & Orienteering

I recently stumbled across my old Silva compass:

According to the 1955 ad below, it's a Type 5 Pathfinder.

Orienteering, a sport involving the use of a map and a compass, became popular in Sweden in the 1930's.  However, compasses of that era left something to be desired.  By coincidence, instrument maker Gunnar Tillander, who was also an orienteer, got together with three brothers, all of whom were successful in the sport: Arvid, Björn and Alvar Kjellström.  The brothers had contributed to the development of a liquid dampened compass combined with a protactor, allowing a person to take a fast and accurate bearing from a map.  Together with Tillander, they produced their first compass in 1932 and named their device "Silva," from the Latin for "forest."  The Silva company is still in business today.  The sport of orienteering came to the United States in 1946 when Björn Kjellström moved there.  In that year, he arranged for orienteering events for the Boy Scouts in both the U.S. and in Canada.  The sport was slow to become popular, but did take off in the 1960's. Kjellström remained a strong supporter of the sport well into the 1990's.  He founded the American Orienteering Service as a service division of Silva Industries, Inc.  Today, the sport is overseen by Orienteering USA.

Below, drawings from Kjellström's book, Be Expert with Map and Compass.  The "Orienteering" Handbook.  (LaPorte, Indiana:  American Orienteering Service, 1955.)  Illustrations are by Francis J. Rigney.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Husky Spanners by Garringtons

From The Autocar  April 1955

History of Garringtons Forging.

My, what a large trunk you have....

Morris Minor accessories, before carbon fibre, when fibreglass was new.

The Puckle Gun

Edmund Hunter.  The Story of Arms and Armour.  Ladybird Books Ltd., 1971.
Illustration by Robert Ayton.

Vanished Tool Brands: Upland Forge, Upland, Pennsylvania

Above, a socket and a wrench.  Although they both are stamped "Upland", I don't know if they came from the same manufacturer.  Both are stamped U.S.A.  The wrench is old, though, as it's been a long time since 19/32" was a common size.  So, if it is the same company, they were around for a while. The logo is oddly done, looks like Upland was stamped in as an afterthought.

According to an unconfirmed source on the web, Upland Forge was a brand of Upland Industries in Upland, Pennsylvania.  Their name is most often seen on wrenches and pliers. The company changed ownership in 1967, when the family sold the firm to a larger corporation.  At this point, Upland Industries became the Upland Corporation.  They were primarily makers of mechanics hand tools, and their primary customer was the US government (GSA contracts).  They were allegedly bought by Emerson Electric in 1979.

Below, from ebay:

Today, Upland Forge lives on in a small way as Hexcraft, which was also a founder of  Chesco Products (which is now owned by Irwin).  Both Hexcraft and Chesco are brands of Allen keys.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cagiva Flattracker

I've never seen this one before...

Fairchild 91

Built at the request of Pan Am who wanted a small flying boat for their Amazon and Yangtze River routes, only two were bought as the Chinese route was cancelled. In total only four were built.
 The prototype (above) was sold to the Spanish Republican Air Force, but was captured by the Spanish Nationalists and was used by them until 1938.

World's Champion Typist

George L. Hossfield & Julian Nelson.  Brief Typing.  Second Edition.
Baltimore:  The H.M. Rowe Company, 1962.

Sadly, speed typing never became an Olympic sport.  Nevertheless, George Hossfield was still being remembered 40 years after his title fight, even if they originally got the spelling of his surname wrong.

Fordson in the snow

Photographed yesterday outside of Shannonville, Ontario.

Columbian Bronze propellers

 In business from 1901 to 1988 in Freeport, Long Island.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Matchless Man

Vanished Tool Makers: G.H. Cooper Ltd.

An old drafting triangle I picked up.  Given the Broad Arrow marking, this was issued by the British or colonial War Department. It's clearly been heavily used and abused.  If this thing could talk!  Intriguingly, I can find no information on this maker, other than another example of their work at Mathematical Instruments.

Another job you might want to do: Testing aircraft guns (American method)

Life, February 8, 1943
Contrast this with the British method.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunk at dock

Penobscot Marine Museum 
On November 10, 1938 in Rockland, Maine, the laid-up steamer Vinal Haven snagged her guardrail, listed enough to fill with water as the tide went out, and sunk at the dock.

Michelin promotion

Museo de la Moto, Barcelona
Custom bike built over Honda scooter mechanicals, made in the late seventies to promote Michelin motorcycle tires. 

His first drafting set, 1930's

Verne C. Fryklund & Frank Roy Kepler, General Drafting.
Bloomington, Illihnois:  McKnight & McKnight, Publishers, 1938

"Gee whiz, that's swell, pop!  But I was really hoping for a Stutz Bearcat..."

Stanley No. 55 screwdrivers

I love the bolster heads on these tools, turned down as concentric circles of smaller diameters.

I suspect that this is part of the 1932 U.S. Patent No. 1839835 issued to Harris J. Cook of New Britain, Connecticut.  Cook assigned the patent to the Stanley Works, and the patent appears on an earlier screwdriver in my possession:

The letters of patent explains that.  "The head 13, which may be of any suitable configuration, is preferably tapered down so as to merge into the shank."  It would appear that on later screwdrivers, Stanley improved the appearance of the screwdriver by adding more stepped rings.  Who'd bother to do that today?  I also like the fact that a model number is stamped on the tool:  "Igor, bring me the Stanley No. 55, stat!"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sidecar Sunday

Office General Du Chien et Du Chat

Continental Holiday.  The American Travel Guide to Europe.
New York, 1961.
Ah, the French!  Vive la diffrence!

Cross-Country Skiing

I've got back into cross-country skiing after an absence of a very long time.  I dusted off my old wooden skis (Made in Canada!) and am in the process of re-learning all of the rituals of waxing. Fortunately, I'd packed away all of my old book resources:
  • Ned Baldwin.  Skiing Cross Country (McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1977)
  • M. Michael Brady.  Nordic Touring and Cross-Country Skiing.  Third Revised Edition (Oslo, Norway:  Dreyer, 1971; Originally published 1966)
  • Hans Brunner and Alois Kälin.  Cross-country Skiing.  (Coles Publishing Company, 1977)
  • John Caldwell.  Cross-Country Skiing Today.  (The Stephen Greene Press, 1977)
  • John Caldwell.  The New Cross-Country Ski Book.  (Bantam, 1976; originally published in 1964)
  • Morten Lund.  The Pleasures of Cross-Country Skiing.  (Equinox, 1975)
  • David Rees.  Cross Country Skiing Touring and Competition.  (Copp Clark Publishing, 1975)
All of these authors were big names in the sport back in the Sixties and Seventies.

I also wanted to pick up a pair of skis for my older son who is at home in between jobs, and I found a nice Finnish-made pair of wooden skis at a thrift store for $3.  They're made by Karhu (which is Finnish for "bear") and have the coolest logo on the tips:

(Karhu was founded in 1916.  In 1950, it sold its three stripes trademark to a now well-known athletic shoe company that still uses it to this day. 

The price? Two bottles of good whiskey and about 1,600 euros.)

Cross-country skiing dates back to pre-history.  Rock drawings on the Island of  Rødøy in Norway from 4600 BC portray this activity. 

In his 1674 book Lapponia, the medieval historian John Schefferus wrote:

"The natives advance at astonishing speed on strips of wood tied upon their feet, bent upwards at the front.  Steering with a stick they thus run unhindered at will up, down or across the snow-clad summits.  No Latin word for this exists, since the Romans never moved in such fashion."

In North America, cross-country skiing became a phenomenon in the late 1960's.  Fibreglass skis began to supplant wooden ones in the mid-1970's, followed by so-called "waxless" skis.  In his excellent book Skiing Cross Country , Ned Baldwin (whose day job was project architect for the CN Tower in Toronto) explains that the very popularity of cross-country skiing killed off the older wooden ski manufacturers, which could not keep up with the demand and who could not compete economically with the alpine ski manufacturers who added cross-country skis to their production lines, making them cheaper but pricing them higher.  He writes:

"Those still making wood skis complain about the high cost of labour required to finish them.  Many wood skis used to be hand-sanded and shaped to reduce their weight.  Today this is impossible since mass production techniques require machine finishing of the ski.  Weight is reduced by side channeling only.  Most unfortunate of all is the loss of fine geometric characteristics of the hand-made wood ski now no longer available.  Wood skis used to be dramatically 'waisted' or side-cambered; that is, much broader at the tip and shovel than at the midpoint and somewhat wider again at the tails.  This made their tracking characteristics far superior to the modern virtually parallel sided ski which has replaced them.  I am always buying old wooden touring skis, especially broad ones, whenever I see them. ... One used to able able to find good skis of this kind in the Salvation Army or Crippled Civilian stores, but today many people are beginning to recognize that they are quite valuable."

Baldwin adds:

"I almost feel ridiculous writing about the preparation of wooden skis for waxing when to-day, fewer and fewer skiers are able to acquire them.  However, I hope that somehow some of the smaller manufacturers will survive the competition from the synthetics and keep them available."

Now, 35 years later, I'm discovering that pine tar base wax, which used to be available at Kresge's for a couple of bucks, in now a high-priced commodity only available at specialty stores like Mountain Co-Op.  At least they do still carry it for those of us who cling to the old ways.  Even Canadian Tire has a very, very limited selection of cross-country skis (in my local store, two pairs of skis and a few containers of wax).  The sport is clearly not as popular as it once was.

Below, in this cartoon by Pedro, a cross-country skier (lower right) looks askance at Alpine skiers.

Not everyone is unhappy with the technological progress in this area.  Below, from Richard Needham.  Ski.  Fifty Years in North America.  (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Machining a cylinder head in the 1950's

Below, the original method used in the factory, and then the improved method.  From Introduction to Work Study, 2nd Edition (Revised).  (Geneva:  International Labour Office, 1969).   From what I've read, the British motorcycle industry could have benefited from this kind of intervention.