Sunday, December 31, 2017

Guzzi project progress

 Last day of 2017 project. Carried that heavy motor out of the basement into the cold shed- me n' the boy put the whole power train back into the Guzzi in about an hour. A 500 watt halogen work light brought the place up to a reasonable enough temp that the metal bits didn't stick to our fingers! Pure Luxury.
There hasn't been so much of this bike in one place in a zillion years. It's a roller now. Frame and swingarm painted, front end rebuilt, aluminum bits polished, new tires, new seals everywhere. Fenders are painted up nice (I'll put them on last, don't want them scratched). Now the real work begins!  

Happy New Year!

Speed Indicators

Before digital readouts, there were various tools put in the market to assist in estimating the speed of rotating parts.  Above, an earlier one from Starrett.  This requires you to hold the tool against the spinning part, being ready to click on a stopwatch as soon as the dial reads zero, then take a reading 30 seconds or a minute later, and calculate revolutions per minute.  Having used it, I can say: awkward.

Last summer, I stopped at a local yard sale to discover the Swiss-made Jaquet Universal Tachometer, which allows you to take direct readings from a spinning shaft or chuck or whatever. Unfortunately, also rather complex in use.

(I have a separate economy for buying unusual tools, and it really worked out here.  My neighbour was going to throw out a lovely wooden door with glass panels that he had replaced, but agreed to give it to me.  I sold it for $30.  The tool below was $30.  Score!)

A few months later, I found the Smiths Instruments device below, in its original box, in the Brockville ReStore.  Ta da and British Smiths to boot!  Lovely and simple instrument, happily now kept handy beside the South Bend metal lathe.

Finally, an ad (probably 1960's) for a watch tachometer that included a built in stopwatch.  Don't know who the maker was, but clearly easier to use than the Starrett version above.

Supplies Canada Co., (Ajax, Ontario)  Catalogue No. 23.

Remembering Theresa Wallach

Back in the day, I was involved with the Canadian Norton Owners Association.  Along the way, I picked up a copy of Theresa Wallach's book, because it had to do with motorcycles and because the cover photo was of a BSA Rocket 3 (in my opinion, the ugly sister of the Triumph Trident.)  The book had originally been published by the Sterling Publishing Company in 1970, but my book was the 1971 Bantam Edition.  Illustrations were by Maggie McGowan.

The author's description of her own background fascinated me. Below, from the book:

Among her impressive accomplishments, in 1939 Wallach won a Gold Star for lapping Brooklands on her 350cc cammy Norton at over 100 mph!

Source:  Motobilia
In 1952 she travelled to the US and road around the country for several years before opening a small motorcycle import business, Chicago Norton Sales and Service, on East 75th Street, apparently in a narrow gray shop. Ultimately it became Imported Motorcycles Inc., selling Ariels, B.S.A.s and Sunbeams.

After she wrote and published Easy Motorcycle Riding, in 1973 she moved to Phoenix, Arizona to focus on motorcycle rider training. The book focused primarily on advice and direction about riding and operating a motorcycle, looking after it, and how to choose proper second-hand ones.  Motorcycles like McGowan's illustration below from the book were not recommended!

(The illustration in Wallach's book reminds me of the cartoon below, coincidentally from the same issue of Motor Cycling as the photo above!  Brits versus the Yanks!)

Theresa Wallach died in 1999 at the ripe old age of 90. Today, there are numerous tributes to Wallach on the Net.  Her account of her 1935 travels on a Panther motorcycle/Watsonian rig with trailer have been published as The Rugged Road, selling today for absolutely silly prices.  More fascinating to me are the silent films of the trip, which you can find on youtube. 

Anyway, back in 1985, on the strength of the Norton motorcycle connection, I wrote her a letter and subsequently phoned her.  She was kind enough to respond, and below is her letter back to me, which I treasure. 

Below, the photos she enclosed, with inscriptions:

The inscription above reads, "King Edward VIII, late Duke of Windsor, was interested in the Norton.  H.R.H. preferred to live his own way by giving up a kingdom.  He liked my chosen way with a motorcycle and inquired about the trek.  New York Trade Convention, May 1950."

Dress:  pocket handkerchief
British M/C Racing Club "Crossed Jacks" and 100 m/h Gold Star.

Below, Chief Big Snake, Sioux, Colorado 1950 on Theresa Wallach's Norton.

With her permission, I subsequently wrote with some of this information to Cycle Canada:

Below, a photo of her last Phoenix address, snagged from Google Maps.  Pretty modest but lots of pavement in front for her motorcycle classes!

The final paragraph in her entry on the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame reads:

Wallach’s love affair with motorcycling is summed up in a quote from a 1977 interview with Road Rider Magazine 

"When I first saw a motorcycle, I got a message from it," she said. "It was a feeling – the kind of thing that makes a person burst into tears hearing a piece of music or standing awestruck in front of a fine work of art. Motorcycling is a tool with which you can accomplish something meaningful in your life. It is an art."

Lastly, a quote from Wallach from her description of her travels in the U.S., courtesy of the excellent (and Canadian!) blog Mostly by Motorcycle:

"When travelling, of course there have to be sacrifices. One cannot have the comfort and security of home. Neither can one enjoy the companionship of one’s own friends. but the Law of Compensation as Emerson says is the Law of Life itself. Every advantage has its disadvantage. Every loss, its gain."

Sidecar Sunday

Classic Motor Cycle, November 1984
Ariel VB and Swallow sidecar

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Motorcycles on record covers, The Crystals. 1963

Looks like a cross between a BMW and a Harley... sort of.

Vanished Tool Makers: Plumb Tool Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Above, the only Plumb tool I've ever found--a 22 oz. ripping hammer.

In 1869, Fayette R. Plumb entered a partnership with Jonathan Yerkes, an established hammer manufacturer operating in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia.  The company soon became operating as Yerkes and Plumb.  They were one of the first U.S. firms to cast steel in their tools.  Plumb bought out Yerkes when he retired in 1886, and the company became Plumb in 1888. In 1889, they added mattocks and picks when they acquired the Washoe Tool Manufacturing Company of New York City and moved its production to their own Frankford works.  Plumb and the Plomb Tool Company went to court in the mid-1920's over the use of the name as a trademark, and in the 1940's Plomb capitulated and began selling its tools under the Proto brand name. Interestingly, in their 1965 catalogue, the Plumb company still refers to itself as Fayette R. Plumb Inc.  

In 1971 the Plumb Company was acquired by the Ames Co., which itself had  been bought in 1955 by Bernhard McDonough.  For a time production was in Monroe, North Carolina and then Parkersburg, West Virginia. In turn the name Plumb was then noted as part of a brand printed on labels and in advertisements along with “AMES Division of McDonough Company”. 

Popular Mechanics

In 1981, Plumb was sold to Cooper Industries, which merged in 2010 with the Danaher Corporation to become the Apex Tool Group.  Today, the name is simply used as a brand by Apex, with manufacture outsourced to China.

For a very comprehensive company history, including trademarks, visit Yesteryear Tools.

Motorcycle Books for Kids: Dr. Hilda Makes House Calls

Mabel Watts.  Dr. Hilda Makes House Calls.  
(Racine, Wisconsin:  Western Publishing Company, 1988). 
Illustrated by Steven Petruccio.
A motorcycle-riding veterinarian!  How great is that?!

The book is so whimsical I've scanned it and uploaded the document here.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Glove etiquette for ladies, Paris Glove of Canada

They say it best, "The Company’s long history in the glove business makes it unique in Canada as one of the few early glove makers continuing to prosper in North America." 

Vanished Tool Makers: Indestro, Chicago

I occasionally turn these tools up in my area of the country.  Below, a set of nesting combination wrenches which could be secured and stored with a screw and wing nut through the centre of the wrenches.

They also came as box-end wrenches, which could be stored in their "Kliptite" holder.

Below, the evolution of their wrench styles, ending with the Indestro Super T4 which originally sold for $1.16!

See my previous posts on the Duro Metal Company and on Nut and Re-Threader Wrenches.

The best (and most amusing history) of the co-mingled Duro and Indestro firms can be found on the online Made in Chicago Museum.  Duro was founded in 1917, but it, along with Indestro, came to an end in 1990.