Here's two things you don't see every day, a vintage Mack truck- parked under a mature elm tree. The Mack tractor is apparently doing promotional work for the Canadian Home Hardware chain (holding up quite well under the onslaught of Home Depot and the like, thank you very much).
The elm tree is a rarity, most of the elm trees in Ontario died in the seventies and eighties due to Dutch Em Disease. It is a fast-growing hardwood and new growth quickly achieves a good size only to have another wave come through again, providing a constant supply of reasonable firewood.
Between DED, the Emerald Ash Borer and now the gypsy moth, the local forests are struggling.
Friday, July 31, 2020
Humans made poor draft animals.Although steampower in railways were the norm by the mid 1800s, steam was not really viable for street railways and various attempts to come up with alternate power, electricity (battery or 3rd rail and wire systems), compressed air, flywheels etc. was meeting with limited success.
The horsedrawn system worked well enough, and were quite profitable. A horse worked 12 to 15 miles each day and was well taken care of for their 18 or so hours off. But in 1872 the horse population was hit by a flu-like epidemic which killed thousands of horses in the Northeast of the US. It appeared in Canada in October and within a few weeks had covered New England and soon the south, finally spreading across the country, at a rate that was faster than simple horse to horse transmission seemed possible. At one point in Philadelphia 175 to 200 horses were dying daily. After a few months, it calmed down, the disease was less virulent, new horses brought in from the country seemed to be more resistant and things returned to normal. Stables were rearranged to stop the head to head stabling and new hygienic protocols were put in place.
Experiments in NYC with men or oxen replacing horses weren't successful but street railway owners and operators were quite a bit more open to alternatives to animal power, by the early 1880s the first viable trolley cars were starting to appear.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
This British cartoon of 1828 predicts the steam-powered distant future, picking the year 2000. self-powered vehicles, flight by balloon and personal wings, robot preacher, fuel shortages, equipment breakdowns.
Designer Syd Mead took a shot at it in 1975 below:
He says; "Standard public lease vehicles enter a mobile lobby at left, containing shops, lounges and information centers, loading for the half mile transit to megastructure in background. Corporate and privately leased vehicles in middle foreground, fitted to specific use, await departure. Two personal enclosures float over the parking lane in foreground, while late afternoon strollers walk past an illusion cluster at far right: large sculpture overlooking illusion plaza is monument to first extra-terrestrial visitors.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Monday, July 27, 2020
With the Formula 1 championship success of Mercedes Benz in 1954 and 55, other manufacturers took notice. Norton, in search of more power in 1957, built an experimental desmodromic version of the 350 and 500 Manx. For simplification both engines used the same bore.
Both engines were raced at various times in 1959 and 60 but did not show enough advantage over the valve spring version to continue development and the project faded away.
|Classic Bike May 1998|
Sunday, July 26, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Cannon Ball (Erwin) Baker won the 1932 Mount Washington hillclimb driving a supercharged Graham. Long Manufacturing appears to have been a sponsor. Dana Long is still around, making heat exchangers.
In 1933 he made his last cross country record run, driving the Graham across the country in 53 1/2 hours. He considered the trip a durability test. Below, Robert Graham, (senior and junior) pose with the record setters. The Graham Paige company stopped automobile production in 1940.
Friday, July 24, 2020
The Martin Baker MB-3 was the company's design for 1939 Air Ministry call for a sturdy, maneuverable fighter plane capable of over 400 mph. The prototype was completed in 1942 and test flights showed much promise. Unfortunately it was crashed and destroyed when its Napier Sabre engine failed shortly after takeoff. The second prototype was named the MB-5. More than a repeat, this aircraft was a new bubble canopy design using a Rolls Royce Griffon engine with contra rotating 3 blade props. Unfortunately it did not fly till May of 1944 and although it too was considered to be a very good airplane with great potential, it arrived too late, jet propulsion had arrived- obsoleting piston powered fighters. The single prototype continued to be flown and tested into 1946.
The MB-5 was scrapped but for the last twenty years or so there is a replica/tribute being constructed in America by a John Marlin. The last entry on his website is dated 2014, when it was described as being almost ready for short hops.
The Martin Baker company started developing ejection seats in 1944 and is still in business in that field.
Many years ago, I used to run a 1977 version of the TS185 in the local enduros, great bike although outclassed by the time I got it. It went the way of all things and I put the word out that I was looking for another. This 1974 model appeared in my circle of friends and soon I had acquired a 20 year old virtually brand new, never been licenced, never been dropped sweetheart of a bike. I've been using it casually on the farm ever since. Always a one- three kick starter, it runs along happily at 20-50 mph, the motor purring and chuckling to itself.
Still on the original tires 25 years later, I think it may have had the spark plug replaced once and I had to de rust the tank a few years back. The never-dropped aspect ended when a new rider we were teaching hit a tree. Oh well.
Definitely a keeper.
A few years ago, it was joined by a blue 72, once again a pretty bike. Two of them was unnecessary, I found I never rode it so it got passed along to a good home.
We covered Mibro Tools of West Germany in another post, readers keep finding more tools we didn't know the company made. The company logo was the name overlaying a diamond shape. Here is another tool with a different logo, how do we describe that shape, a curved rectangle? The plane itself looks like a plain midrange workman-quality tool.
There is a modern Canadian tool company of the same name, and the logo is different again. Inquiries about the relationship between the companies go unanswered.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
In January 1940, the Noordyn factory in Montreal got an order to built Harvard trainers (Texans to our American friends). By the end of the war they had built 2800 planes. This view shows nearly completed aircraft being worked on outside. The company also continued making Norseman bush planes, some for the United States.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
With steam powering ships and trains by the mid 1820s, a British inventor, Goldworthy Gurney adapted the technology to the roadgoing coach. The picture above shows the vehicle, with driver out front steering small guide wheels to help steer the main carriage front axle. The boiler- burning coke as a fuel- is located at the rear with a steam engine acting upon the rear wheels. Sixty gallons of water were carried in a tank under the floor. From the artists rendition it looks remarkably resolved.
The coach could make the 100 mile run from London to Bath reliably. He made several versions of the coach and within a few years others had constructed and were operating 20-40 similar vehicles. The public was not ready for such technology and Parliament placed a prohibitive road tax on the steam carriages, driving them out of business.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Sunday, July 19, 2020
The 55-57 Chevrolets were a good looking, well proportioned car with modest tailfins that grew incrementally through the three year run. The 1958 model was bigger, longer and lower, with almost nonexistent tailfins, exactly the opposite of what Ford and especially Chrysler, were doing.
The Chevrolet sold well, but was dumped at the end of the year as GM rejoined the trend to the exaggerated tailfin look for 1959 and 60.
|C. Edson Armi, The Art of American Car Design, Pennsylvania State University Press 1988|