Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sperry Electrical Plant, The Electrical World, Feb 23 1889

And you thought converting from Imperial to Metric was difficult!

 This is taken from a 2011 email the Duke sent me long before we started the blog. He gave no sources or references and several google searches reveal nothing. If anyone knows the source, please contact me.

The Stanley company was (and remains) the world's largest tool manufacturer. Its markets were not solely in the United States and Canada but were found throughout the world. To meet the demands of foreign countries, especially those countries using different units of measurement, Stanley manufactured rules specifically for those markets. Folding rules made with metric measurements (boxwood two- and four-fold rules) were manufactured by Stanley as early as the 1860s. When Stanley began to manufacture Zig-Zag rules in 1899, it was only natural that the company should consider making metric models available. Stanley first offered a metric Zig-Zag in 1901.

During the period of the Spanish Empire (1513-1834), standard measuring systems were mandated many times for its provinces, including Mexico, but the local governments generally ignored the mandates, causing confusion and disruption in commercial trading. Uniformity began when Mexico and Spain adopted the metric system in 1807, but prior to that, linear measurements called Burgos were used. The standard for this length was kept in Burgos, Spain, and thus the name. One Burgos was equivalent to 15/16 of an English inch.

When the colonists arrived to the New World they found the need to measure land, architectural layout, textile goods, furniture making and artwork such as Santos.  Historical Spanish documents show that the vara measurement was used in Nuevo España as early as the middle Seventeenth Century through the end of the Nineteenth Century, and into the Americas as early as the Sixteenth Century.  One such vara stick measuring 33 1/3 inches dates back as early as 1760 and was specifically used in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico.  It is now on display in the Museum of New Mexico at the Palace of the Governors.  This measurement was also used and adopted in Texas in some old surveys, commonly known as “Spanish Land Grants.”  This measurement was done by horseback by counting the horses pace or measuring the gate which came out to be about 33.333 inches or 2.7778 feet.  Other measurements used in the Southwest were the adopted Mexican vara of 32.99 inches or 2.7492 feet.  Lands held in “Public Domain” used the value of 33.372 inches or 2.7810 feet.  In some remote villages in Northern New Mexico, the value of 33.069 inches or 2.7558 feet or four handsbreadth was used as their system of measurement.  Shown here is just a small list of the vara measurements derived from the ancient Vara of Burgos.  By the end of 1846 this system of measurement was soon discarded for the English system of measurement of miles, yards, feet, and inches.  In 1895 the vara officially continued to be used until President Don Porfirio Díaz decreed the substitution of the Continental European Metric System.  The vara remains with us to this day and it remains a measurement of interpretation and further research.

The Spanish-speaking colonies, including Mexico and countries in Central and South America, used the Burgos system of measurement. California, which had been a part of Mexico from 1828 until 1846 when it declared itself an independent republic, (it gained statehood in 1850), also used this measurement. When the metric system was adopted by Spain and Mexico, it took years for people throughout these countries to change to the new system. Thus, Stanley manufactured a number of different models of Zig-Zag rules with three scales, English, metric, and Burgos, for that market.

The “Vara,” or the “Spanish yard,” comes from the Latin word “Forked Stick.”  The origin of the vara has been traced to and substantially used over the centuries by the ancient Phoenicians, Egyptians, and especially the Romans.  Early units of measurements derived from physical dimensions of the human body.  Specifically the vara was determined by totaling the distance of four spans of the hand or one-quarter vara, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger or “handsbreadth.”  Adopted by Spain’s official legislation in the late Sixteenth Century, a royal decree created a standard length of measurement known as “Vara of Burgos,” later known throughout the Hispanic world as the “Castilian Vara.”  This same vara equaled Tres Pies (three feet), and a Legua (league) equaled 5,000 varas or approximately 2.6 miles. 
Another fascinating line of Zig-Zag rules that Stanley manufactured were the Cyrillic rules in Werschock and Sajen, pre-Revolutionary Russian (1917) units of measurement. According to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Sajen is a Russian measure of about seven English feet. For Sajen units, an English rule 7 feet long was divided into 100 parts, making each part approximately 7/8 inch. A 7-foot rule in Werschock units was divided into 48 equal parts, which is about 1 ¾ inches per segment. Russia officially changed from the old system to the metric system after 1917. The government set a time-table for the institution of the metric system, but the old measurements continued in use.

ETC Industrial wrench

This is another wrench found at Liberty Tool in Maine. It's another tool name I had never heard of, but it turns out they were made in Japan, imported about 30-40 years ago. A few references online indicate they were a good quality tool.
More recently, there also seems to be a tool company, Extreme Torque Corp. the trademark registered to Hanover tools in 2003, no idea if this the same manufacturer. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

EKA Knives

I found this flimsy in with my old Norton Commando receipts.  I must have had an EKA knife at some point, but it's vanished into the mists of memory.  Rats!

Founded in Eskilstuna, Sweden in 1882, EKA remains northern Europe's last folding knife maker. Interestingly, they almost went under in the 1940's when bottle caps replaced corks on bottles. With corks, you needed a folding knife and corkscrew to open them--bottle caps dispensed with all of that.  Just shows how one kind of innovation can vastly impact another area of technology with unintended consequences.  Anyway, they survived and are apparently doing well today.  History at EKA-knivar.

Hitchcock Machine tool list

I picked this cover for the enthusiastic Art Nouveau theme. The catalog consisted of production machinery ads, both new and used. By the forties, there were also articles on various aspects of manufacturing. I'm not sure when publication ceased, but it appears to have lasted into the 1970s.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Army bikes at the War Museum

Norton 16H, 1940s. Triumph TRW, 1950s-60s. CanAm 250, 1970s and 80s.

Jet tests with a Wellington bomber

Chaz Bowyer, Wellington at War, Ian Allan Ltd, 1982
1944 photo of the experimental installation of a Whittle jet engine in the tail of a Merlin powered Wellington. 

Wald Bicycle Wrench, Maysville, Kentucky.

I picked up this bicycle wrench a while ago.  Any tool with a name stamped on it is an interesting focus for research.

Ewald and Herman Pawsat came up with the Wald Tire Repair Tool in 1905 and started the Wald Cycle Company in Sheboygan, Michigan.  (I'm assuming that the "Wald" company name came from Ewald's first name.)

Looking for better location for their business, they packed up shop in 1924 and moved south to Maysville, Kentucky on the Ohio River. Eventually, the factory would span 300,000 square feet. Including the bicycle basket, their list of bicycle innovations and products was impressive and they made parts for most of the big American bicycle manufacturers of the time.  As the years passed, and off-shore manufacturing gobbled a bigger share of the market, Wald expanded into products for automotive and appliance manufacturers.  Wald is still around.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Archimedean Screw in the Nile Delta, 1955

Geography for Today.  Africa.  Longmans, Green & Co., 4th Edition, 1952, New Impressions, 1955.

Planes in formation, Tupolev TB-3

Images from Gene Gurney, The War in the Air, Crown Publishers 1962

Paratroopers jumping from bomber

The Tupolev TB-3 first flew in late 1930 and about 800 were built in the next few years. It was considered obsolete by the time WW2 started but the dire circumstances of the Russian war effort kept them in service. By the end of the war, only 10 remained.
Or perhaps; incredibly, 10 still remained.

We used to make things in this country. #287 : Integrated Plastics Limited, Scarborough, Ontario

This economy-level "Sure-Grip" hacksaw was for sale in the local ReStore.  Not sure how old it would be but even today, not worth the $5 they were asking.

The company declared bankruptcy in July 2005, though they still seem to be in business, not making tools, but storage bins, planters etc.

Ariel square four cutaway

A model 4G, I believe? 
Thanks Tonyand03

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sidecar Sunday

Stanley Steamer Model K

Better known as the Semi-Racer this example is part of the Owls Head Transportation Museum collection.

2 million vews!

Well, it's taken 7 years but the counter says we've had two million views. Nothing in the worlds of celebrities or naked women, but not bad for a lot of pictures of old rusty junk. Much appreciated by the Duke and myself through the years... Thanks to all for the interest, comments, corrections and additions... Most of all I wish the Duke could have been here to see this milestone.

German & Austrian Wrench Makers

Below, German and Austrian-made wrenches that have come my way.


Apparently made in the 1950's or 60's by a company called Rheidco.  It seems it was owned by Metabo, but may have been sold to Elora.


Otto, Karl and Willi, three Dowidat brothers, founded Gedore (an acronym for "GEbrüder DOwidat REmscheid") in 1919. In 1949, Willi struck out on his own, creating Dowidat. Dowidat specialized in making smaller wrenches out of better quality steel. Usually not chromed, but blued or blackened with phosphate like handguns.  Eventually, it merged with Belzer to form Belzer-Dowidat before being acquired by Bahco in 1988.  The Dowidat name disappeared, replaced by Bahco-Belzer.

Elora Werkzeugfabrik GmbH

Elora was founded in 1924 by Erich Rauch in Luttringhausen near Remscheid.  He started making Stillson wrenches in the basement of his parents' house.  He built his own factory 4 years later.  By 1955, the company had grown to 133 employees.  They currently have 7500 tools in their catalogue.

Gedore Werkzeugfabrik Otto Dowidat KG

In 1919, three brothers started a tiny forge to make adjustable wrenches and other tools. They decide to call their company GEDORE, an acronym based on the name GEbrüder (brothers) DOwidat REmscheid. The forge soon becomes too small, and in 1926 GEDORE moved into new premises in Remscheid Lüttringhausen – still the family company's main base today.  In 1961, in a joint venture with an Indian company, Gedore India was founded. In 2012 the GEDORE group of companies became a holding company. 

Hazet GbmH & Co. KG

Founded in 1868, Hazet takes its name from its founder, "H" (HA) Hermann "Z" (Zet) Zerver.  The original plant was built in Remscheid-Vieringhausen.  The factory suffered heavy damage during World War II but it successfully rebuilt and is now under 5th-generation family control.

Heyco GmbH & Co.

The company was founded in 1937 by brothers Max and Ernst Heynen, initially as a maker of hand tools for automobile service and other applications. Heyco manufactures tools used in many European automobile tool kits, such as those found in Volkswagens, Opels, Fords, Volvos, BMWs, Mercedes Benzs, Rovers, Land Rovers and Rolls Royces.


I can find no information on this brand online.


Stahlwille was founded in 1862 by  by Eduard Wille at Wuppertal-Cronenberg to make pokers and fire tongs. The factory was destroyed during World War II but was able to rebuild after the war. Today it is a joint stock company with  shares all owned by the family, similar to a German “Aktiengesellschaft” (AG.) Management is by independent experts not related to the family.


It seems Stecoge was a brand name employed by Werkzeugfabrik Steinbach & Co. The only article I could locate online seems to say (I don't speak German) that the plant was demolished in 1983.


I can find very little information on this firm.  The manufacturer may have been Kurt von Stein, beginning in 1920.  The brand name was deleted in 2001.

Metal working in the Stubai Valley in Austria dates back to the 14th Century, followed by a proliferation of independent blacksmiths. The Stubai trading companies started way back in 1680 when goods began to be transported on carter wagons.  In 1742, the Volderaruer trading house was founded.  In 1897, Stubai became a cooperative. The company soldiered on through both world wars. In 1960, the name was changed to Stubai tool industry reg.Gen.m.b.H.“  Stubai wrenches wrenches were issued in many motorcycle kits , including Penton, Puch and Bombadier . In 1996, the firm built  the most modern heat treatment factory for hardening in western Austria.. The company name changed to Stubai KSHB (Kompetenzzentrum Schmieden Härten Bearbeiten--"Centre of Competence for Forging, Hardening and Machining") GmbH in 2007, and then to Stubai ZMV (Zentral Mitgliederverwaltung--"Central Members' Association") GmbH in 2012.   Today tubai is the largest tool maker in Austria.

The company has operated in Wuppertal since 1919 and is still going strong.