Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sidecar Velocette Sunday

Phil Schilling; The Motorcycle World, The Ridge Press 1974

Greyhound Bus,1937

1937 design for Greyhound bus, by Count Alexis Sakhnoffsky, incorporating as much as possible, the trendy teardrop into the blocky bus shape of the day.

Albion farm machinery

W.G.V. Balchin (Consultant Editor).  The Country Life Book of the Living History of England.  Country Life Books, 1981.
Harris, McGregor & Co. Ltd. was founded in Leigh in 1872.  The company was very successful making first mowing machines and later reapers and binders for grain harvest. Eventually the product line included all sorts of farm related machinery.
  It was bought in 1955 by David Brown Tractors Ltd. of Meltham, Huddersfield.  Under this new ownership, it became the third largest tractor manufacturer in Britain.  In 1979, David Brown was bought by Tenneco Inc. of Houston, Texas.  Harris, McGregor ultimately became Case. Production declined, however, and the company closed down in 1988.

Vanished Makers: Jubilee Manufacturing Company, Omaha, Nebraska

I recently picked up this Jubilee auto horn (including the original mounting bracket and hardware) at an Ottawa thrift store. It has a lovely tone and I plan to install it on my Norton-sidecar combination.

The Jubilee Manufacturing Co was based in Omaha, Nebraska and dates back to the early decade of the last century, when they made the "Jubilee Self-Heating Flat Iron."  Nothing like a liquid fuel-burning iron to add a little excitement to that otherwise boring activity!

Popular Mechanics, 1909
By the next decade, they were offering automobile "spark intensifiers" and windshield wipers.

Popular Mechanics, 1917
In the early 1920's, they expanded into spark plugs, visors, hose clamps and even crystal radios.  Then, at least by the 1930's, they began to produce electric horns.  Below, a 1936 patent assigned to the company by the inventor:

Auto horns seem to have become their primary product and by the 1950's they were OEM suppliers to manufacturers like Chrysler and Harley-Davidson.

Durham Museum's Photo Archive
In the 1950's, the company was featured on an "Industry on Parade" film produced by the National Association of Manufacturers entitled   "Horns Aplenty!"  This included segments on horn manufacturing, women assemblers and cattle-calling horns. Eventually, in the 1970's they offered programmable horns that could play melodies like "Dixie" and "The Eyes of Texas."

These horns were apparently so ubiquitous that Cycle World lampooned them in their April 1984 issue (with illustrations by Bud Rembrandt, probably no relation to the more famous painter):

The Jubilee trademark expired in 1992.  So, I suppose, did the company.  On google maps, their former location (1931 South 20th Street in Omaha, Nebraska)  is not prosperous.  To quote T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper."

Below, a family photo of Mr. John L. McCague at his desk in Omaha, using a very modern Dictaphone, alas no date but I'm guessing late 1930's or early 40's. An artifact from an almost bygone world of small homegrown manufacturers who actually made real things that were useful and lasted.

Mr. McCague (1888-1974) headed the Jubilee Manufacturing Company from 1915 until his death, and was rightly proud of his company's reputation as the largest manufacturer in the United States of specialty horns for cars, trucks, and boats. (One of his customers was President Lyndon Johnson, who had a Jubilee cattle-calling horn installed in his Lincoln Continental and used it on his Texas ranch, terrifying reporters who rode along as he summoned cattle while driving off-road at high speed.) 

  How proud of Jubilee's products was Mr. McCague? Here's a clue. When his daughter gave birth to his grandson, in 1945, he wrote her a congratulatory note which said in part: "So the young man weighs seven pounds, seven ounces. Just the weight of a No. 125 Jubilee twin horn, but much harder to manufacture. I understand he has been built to very close tolerances, but that all dimensions gauge up correctly. Also that this particular model has been put out with a beautiful finish and plenty of eye-appeal."

Thank you, Tom!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Egli Vincent in red

Robert Patrignani Mario Columbo, Golden Treasury of Motorcycles, Crescent Books 1971
Ohhhhhhh, If I ever win the lottery..... That Brooklands can will have to go though.

How to be a Machinist

The 16 Commandments. The gospel according to South Bend.

Oldsmobile portable radio, 1965

The Practical Handyman's Encyclopedia, Volume 1.  Greystone Press, 1965, 1968.
Like an ipod dock, only much bigger.

Edward Pryor & Son Ltd., Sheffield, England

I picked these metal stamps up recently.Unfortunately the set is incomplete.  They're made by Pryor of Sheffield, a company that started in 1849 as Edward Pryor & Son.  


According to Sheffield History, as of 2007 the company was still family-owned.  One person commented on that forum:

The Company is still up and running and lets hope it carries on for many more years. It was my daughters first job there and with any luck she will retire there.    There's not many family run companies anymore , they all seem to have been took over by the giants more often American.

Below, how to use such stamps.  This is taken from S.F. Krar, J.W. Oswald & J.E. St. Amand, Machine Tool Operations.  (Gregg Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983).  

BTW, this textbook is an excellent resource for hobby machinists like myself, with a wide variety of machine tool operations clearly described and illustrated with diagrams and photographs. All three authors had long careers in the trades before returning to teachers' college at the University of Toronto to achieve Specialist's Certificates in Machine Shop Practice.  I'm pretty sure that such certification hasn't been offered for decades.  I believe that high school shop classes today, where offered, are now taught by people who've simply graduated from teachers' college, with little to no previous experience in the trades.  That's the result of the misguided educational policy of aiming to make every high school student graduate into a white-collar job, preferably IT.  To misquote Herbert Hoover, "An Apple on every desktop and a mouse in every hand."

Below, the acknowledgements page from the book. How many of these machine and hand tool manufacturers are still around today, 30 years after the book was first published?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Triumph 277 General Arrangement Blueprint

2.77 hp, 277 cc.

The view from the cab

Another job we all wanted...

Umbrella Hospital, 1870

Bryan Little.  Cheltenham in Pictures.  Newton Abbot:  David & Charles, 1967.

Imagine travelling in an open pony-cart in the rain, with only an umbrella for protection!  

We used to make things in this country. #177: Fisher-Price Canada, Orangeville, Ontario

Above, a 1960's-vintage "Tip Toe Turtle" pull-toy manufactured by Fisher-Price when they had a factory in Orangeville.  Safety was stressed on the box:  "For safety, no bead is provided on the pull string.  For easier pull toy play by the very young, we suggest a knot or loop tied at the end of the string."  "All colors absolutely safe, conform to American Standard Z66.1-1964 for use on surfaces which might be chewed by children."

Founded in 1930 in East Aurora, New York, the American parent company was bought by Quaker Oats in 1969 when one of the founders, Herman Fisher, retired.  In 1991, the company became independent but this didn't last because it was purchased by Mattel in 1993.  At some point, production moved in part to Mexico and China. (Today, 80 percent of U.S. toys are imported from China.   In 2007, Fisher-Price  had to recall a number of its Chinese-made toys because lead paint was discovered to have been used on them.  Then, in 2010, they recalled more than 11 million tricycles, toys and high chairs over safety concerns.  Not quite what the founders had in mind, methinks.) I can't find when the Canadian side of the firm began or ended, but it's certainly gone now.

This particular toy tip-toed into my life as a result of an complimentary email I sent to Michelle Hauser, who writes a humorous column which is carried in a local paper as well as in the Kingston Whig-Standard and The Globe and Mail.  I'm not in the habit of sending such emails (in fact, it's the first time I've ever done so), but her writing was just so darn funny! (You can find her work online on her own website.) After a few weeks of exchanging emails, we eventually met up for a coffee in Napanee.  She told me about finding Tip-Toe Turtle in some stuff that was being cleaned out of her husband's family's house.  I expressed an interest in getting some photos for my blog, and was delighted to learn that her husband wanted the toy to go to a good home, and I was it!  It's now in my house, and follows me everywhere I go. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sports Day at Mt Albert, Ontario 1952

Dancing and concert, looks like fun!

Log boom on the Ottawa River

Robert Legget, Ottawa Waterway, Gateway to a Continent, University of Toronto Press 1975
.One of the last of many, many log booms to travel down the Ottawa River, passing the old Parliament buildings in Ottawa, 1899. Not all those logs made it and logs are still being recovered from the rivers bottom.

Vanished Tool Makers: Mibro Tools, Germany

Below, the few Mibro tools I've managed to turn up over the years:

I can't find any information on this German tool maker which, like Hoppe, clearly made a wide variety of tools.

I did pick up a 3/4" brad-point drill bit made by Mibro and packaged by the long defunct Beaver Lumber chain, so obviously at one point they were available through these Canadian hardware stores.

Of interest, all of the taps and most of the dies in my Mibro set are marked "Steer" and many are marked "Austria."

So, was "Mibro" a brand of "Steer" (or vice-versa) or was Mibro like Sears, a retailer that sold various tools under its own name?

There is a Canadian tool company by this name, but I don't think it's the same.  All its website reports is that it has been around for more than 60 years.  To its credit, that company is one of the sponsors of the Toronto Tool Library.

Since posting this, a received an email from Steve, a regular visitor, pointing out that the Mibro hacksaw frame bore a strong resemblance to his Eclipse 20T frame.  So, I took a photo of the Mibro, my 20T, and another frame simply marked "Made in Sheffield" and "516":

They are indeed very similar, although the "ears" on the handle of the Mibro are sharper than on the two other frames.  So, maybe there was some connection between the firms, or maybe it's just design convergence.

 And finally a reader from Quebec sends these pictures of a hatchet he owns.

Update May 2018 A reader bought these pipe wrenches at an antique store. Though they are similar, one says Germany.

Mibro in a box, not a diamond and Germany stamped above it. Not West Germany so prewar?