Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Speeding Vehicles

Tales of Speed.  London & Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press.  c 1930.

E.B. Broome & J. McGechaen.  Language Journeys.  Grade VIII.  Toronto:  The Macmillan Company of Canada Ltd., 1954.

Tales of Speed.  London & Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press.  c 1930.

Paul Witty, Ursula Bringhurst & Barbara Nolen.  The Brave and Free.  Boston:  D.C. Heath & Co., 1952, Revised 1950.  Illustrations by Harve Stein.

Joker Dart Game, 1963

Leonard Cunningham was awarded a U.S. patent for this game in 1964, which he assigned to the Magic Wand Corporation of Charlestown, Massachusetts.  About ten years before, he had patented a device for testing the strength of welds to determine the qualification of welders.  Seems his career took a different path. At least he got his name on the box: 

The Magic Wand Corporation seems to have specialized in games of this sort:

Dad with his pipe watches the kids enjoying "the sensational new game."  Amazing to consider the simple things that amused us back then.  "The safest dart game ever."

The original darts had soft foam bodies which had disintegrated, so I replaced them with light plastic tubes with rare earth magnets at one end. With the kind of advertising above, I was expecting a sensational experience when I tried the game for the first time.  I was in for a disappointment.  At least compared to lawn darts.  Now there's an exiting game, combining hand-eye coordination with the very real risk of gruesome injury to other players or onlookers! Sadly, since 1989, it is illegal in Canada to sell lawn darts, or even give them away.  Party poopers!  So, back to the Joker Dart Game, and "the art of creative relaxation."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1957 Studebaker President

Somewhere in Illinois...

Curtiss Ascender

I stopped in at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo on the weekend, among the displays was another unusual plane I had never heard of. The Curtiss Ascender was an experimental canard, swept wing pusher-prop fighter plane designed in the early 1940s. as part of an Air Corp call for improved fighter designs encouraging unconventional designs. the first prototype first flew in 1943. Three were constructed, two of which crashed due to instabilities. This is the last one, on long term loan from the Smithsonian.

Onyx Hosiery

This old ad is so bizarre that I really don't know what to say.

Vanished tool brands: Powermaster, Japan

Above, a hacksaw frame with this brand, and below an SAE wrench.  The quality of the wrench is quite impressive, including the plating, which is perfect.

The only marking on the wrench which may give a clue to the manufacturer is show below.  Other than it's made up of two letters joined with a hyphen, the stamping is not distinct enough to make it out.

From what I can find on the web, "Powermaster" was a brand of Oxwall Tools.  Given my own experience with this generally cheap tool line, perhaps Powermaster was their premium brand.  I discovered that someone online is offering a complete boxed Powermaster socket set with the following label:

The Consolidated Foods Corporation originated as the D.C. Kenny Company, a wholesaler of coffee, tea and sugar out of Baltimore. New Brunswick, Canada-born Nathan Cumming bought the firm in 1939, then added other companies and eventually renamed it CFC in 1954.  In 1956, they bought Sara Lee, adopting this as the company name in 1985.  In the 1960's they went on a buying spree, picking up company after company, eventually adding 90 to the empire.  According to the Chicago Tribune (July 11, 1978), Consolidated Foods sold six small hardware and houseware companies, including Oxwall Tools ("an importer of hand tools"). The article doesn't say to whom the company was sold. Interestingly, however, there are references as late as 1999 that the Sara Lee Corporation still listed Oxwall Tools B.V. as a Netherlands subsidiary. ("B.V." is the Dutch abbreviation for "Besloten Vennootschap" or "Limited Company.")

Monday, May 29, 2017

Data storage, 1970's

Canada 1970.  The Official Handbook of Present Conditions and Recent Progress.  Ottawa:  Year Book Division, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, 1970.
Canada Handbook.  The 47th Annual Handbook of Present Conditions and Recent Progress.  Ottawa:  Publishing Section, Information Division, Statistics Canada,1978.
I suppose all of these magnetic tapes are now taking up room in land fills.  As far as I know, no one ever developed a method of recycling this stuff.  (Think VHS tapes.)

Vanished tool makers: Athol, Great Britain

The ends of a very slender Whitworth wrench I picked up recently. The British Broad Arrow identifies it as having been made for the War Department.  The "1954" stamped on it is likely a production year.

The only British firm I can find that might fit the bill is the Athol Engineering Company of Manchester.  They made leaf springs, so perhaps they made tools for the military during WWII and for some times afterwards.  Or perhaps the manufacturer was another company entirely.

If I mislay the tool, I'll have to be careful not to be misheard when I complain, "What did I do with that Athol wrench?"

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Learning the Sextant

Captain W.D. Puleston, U.S. Navy.  Annapolis.  Gangway to the Quarterdeck.  Appleton-Century Company, 1942.

"Youngsters"?  How quaint!
Maxim Newmark.  Illustrated Technical Dictionary.  New York:  The Philosophical Library, 1944.
Funk & Wagnalls New Practical Standard Dictionary.  Britannica World Language Edition.  1946, 1957.

Interestingly, according to a 2016 CBC article, the Royal Canadian Navy continues to train sailors in the use of sextants as a back-up to GPS. The U.S. Navy had discontinued this instrument, but only recently brought it back as a precaution against cyber attacks which might render a ship's GPS unusable.  According to the CBC article:
All watchkeepers and navigators on a ship are required to be proficient with a sextant, and they are required to practise sextant use while at sea at least once every 180 days.
"It's a skill set that if you let erode, it's very hard to get back because it's not an easy piece of equipment to use or train on," O'Regan said.
"Once you get good at it offshore, you can get within a nautical mile of where the ship actually is."
O'Regan says that when sailors first get their hands on a sextant, they usually think the gadgets are "pretty cool," and O'Regan agrees.
"It sort of makes you part of a navigational community that we're still using the same skillset that the sailors in Captain Cook's age would have used," he said. "There's parts of Canada where Captain Cook and various other hydrographers and cartographers have used sextants to develop those charts. It makes you part of a big club."

We used to make things in this country. # 260: McGraw-Edison (Canada) Ltd., Oakville, Ontario

My McGraw-Edison "Power House" 1/4" electric drill.  It's a rather ugly, snub-nosed tool, but it still works well.

McGraw-Edison Co. was created by the 1957 acquisition by McGraw Electric Co. (founded by Max McGraw in 1900) of Thomas A. Edison Industries (founded in 1911).

The Bersted Manufacturing Corporation of Chicago was bought by McGraw-Edison in 1926.  Apparently, in the U.S., the Bersted Division tools were made in Boonville, Missouri.  In 1972, McGraw-Edison bought G.W. Murphy Industries which had previously acquired the Portable Electric Tools, Inc.  In the early 1980's, McGraw-Edison sold their power tool division to Deco Enterprises of St. Louis, Missouri.  McGraw-Edison was itself acquired by Cooper Industries not long afterwards.

McGraw-Edison's Oakville, Ontario location also made "Toastmaster" electric kitchen products.

Sidecar Sunday

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Take me to your leader!

Cologne, W. Germany, International Furniture Fair, 1966
Britannica Book of the Year 1967.  Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1967.

Oh, those crazy Sixties!

Also called a ball chair, it's still around.  Some original ones seem to be selling up for almost $10,000 U.S, space girl not included.

Massey-Harris R14 stationary engine

Seen at an antique fair a few years ago.  If you think it odd that the label reads both "Toronto Canada" and "Made in U.S.A," that's because this engine was made by Cushman to be sold in Canada as a Massey-Harris. Weighed 185 pounds, produced 2 horse power.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Vanished tool makers: McKinnon Industries, St. Catharines, Ontario

Over the years I've encountered a few hand tools with this thistle logo.  I always thought I'd discover that they were of Scottish or British origin.

Then, one day I picked up this monkey wrench and the mystery was solved:

The company seems to have specialized in this type of tool.  Below, another example in my collection:

Most recently, I acquired the wrench below, showing that they also made tools for the Ford Motor Company:

Regular wrenches were part of their production:

Update Sept. 2020. A reader sends this example in, a large heavy wrench, 10 inches long with multiple size markings. He says he found it at a Restore! The bargains are still out there.

thanks, Inno!

They also made stamped alligator wrenches, likely an earlier offering:

With a strong Scottish family history, Lachlan Ebenezer McKinnon was born in Brampton, Ontario but in 1878 moved to St. Catharines to partner with H.H. Mitchell in the manufacture of hardware for saddlery, harnesses and wagons.    A four-man shop in the back of the store produced wagon gears and a patented adjustable leather dash for horse-drawn buggies. In 1892 McKinnon created a Buffalo, New York subsidiary, the McKinnon & Dash Hardware Company. He branched out into the manufacture of any number of products that made use of metal, including suspender buckles, as well as bicycles and chains.  (In 1896, another factory was built in Troy, New York, which eventually became Plant 2 of the Hobart Manufacturing Company.)  

Troy, New York..  Source:  Troy Tribune
In 1907, the McKinnon Dash and Hardware Company, now operating under the name of McKinnon Dash and Metal Works Company, was named the largest employer of skilled labor in the Niagara Peninsula by the Board of Trade.  It's success didn't last. The company failed to make the transition to automobile dashboards and so disappeared.

When the First World War began, the original McKinnon company was well positioned to supply the allied horse-drawn armies for saddlery. However, they also manufactured shells and fuses and this gave them the expertise necessary to enter the automotive field after the war, where they pioneered the production of differential and transmission gears in Canada.  McKinnon died in 1923 and his company became McKinnon Industries two years later.  At some point they became the Canadian agents for the J.H. Williams Company, producing a variety of hand tools.  In 1929, the General Motors Corporation purchased the firm, spinning off the hardware business in 1936.  During WWII, the company was a huge producer of percussion fuses, fire-control mechanism, traversing and elevating units for 3.7 anti-aircraft guns, dynamotors for two-way radio transmission, handcrank generators, gyro gun sight motors, rear releases for machine guns and even torpedo drives. The plant for manufacture of these additional products necessitated expansion which practically doubled existing floor space. The number of employees increased from 1,800 in 1919 to 4,500 in 1943. 

There's yet another chapter to the story.  Back in 1905, the company took another direction.  Up until then, most chain was made by fire welding.  L.E.'s nephew,  Archie McKinnon, applied the relatively new technology of electric welding to chain production.  In 1909 the McKinnon Chain Company Limited is formed as an independent organization by the McKinnon Dash and Metal Works Company with plants in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and Tonawanda, New York using the electric welding process to produce coil, ladder and 'sugar' chain, donkey and horse trace chain, lorry and plough trace chain, as well as tire chain for cars and trucks.  In 1917 McKinnon Chain merged with the Columbus Chain Company.  (Created around the turn of the 20th century, the Columbus Chain Company, located in Columbus, Ohio, was one of the earliest American suppliers of fire welded chain. The company had been founded by employees of the Hayden Iron Company, which since 1825 had been producing harness hardware but also manufactured coil chain.) In Canada it was known as McKinnon Columbus, and in America it was known as Columbus McKinnon. Either way it was a good fit for both companies. McKinnon brought superior technology, and Columbus brought a better grasp of the American market.  In 1922, the company sold its share of the chain business to Columbus.  The fortunes of the company actually declined until 1925 when board member Julius Stone bought the company.  Self-educated, he had been a telegraph operator, coal miner, brakeman and fireman before founding the Seagrave Company to manufacture motorized fire engines in Columbus.  Recognizing that electric welded chain made in New York was selling better than the fire-welded chain made in Ohio, he moved the company to Tonawanda, New York in 1927, shutting down the Columbus plant in 1931.  Columbus McKinnon went on to absorb many other companies and to other technical accomplishments.  For instance, in the early 1980's, Columbus McKinnon designed and manufactured the only shredder with a sole purpose of shredding steel belted passenger and truck tires. For a fascinating slideshow of the full history of the company, visit their website.

In 1904, Chisholm & Moore introduced the Cyclone high speed hoist, designed to be a previously unheard of 80 percent efficient. Chisholm & Moore used the electric welded chain that was made by Columbus McKinnon, and in 1928 Columbus McKinnon acquired the smaller hoist-making firm. The Cyclone hoist is still considered one of the most popular and reliable hand chain hoists ever designed.  Today, it's made in Lisbon, Ohio.

Below, my Canadian-made McKinnon-Columbus Model M Cyclone.  Unfortunately, the badge giving its lift rating was missing, but these days I only use it when I need to lift myself by my own bootstraps.

Update Nov 2018.
 A Quebec reader contributes pictures of his model M Cyclone chain hoist, rated at 1 ton, doing more work than the Dukes example, this one being used regularly for lifting snowblowers, bicycles etc- and for manually pulling stumps!