Wednesday, October 20, 2021

It's a race!

A ridiculous contest at La Capelle racetrack in France in August 1927. The horse led most of the way, but was caught and passed in the last few yards.

Supermarine Swift

 This was another early jet fighter developed immediately after WW2. It featured a swept wing, a radical idea at the time,  and as improvements and new ideas cropped up they were incorporated into the design, leading to delays in the schedule. The program had been conducted in parallel with the Hawker Hunter development, Britain was hedging their bets.  The Swift first flew in 1948 and after much development and testing it was finally adopted by the RAF in early 1954.
During development a Swift had posted a world speed record in 1953 of 737 mph so the promise was there, but it was not to be a happy story. Several crashes made the airplane unpopular and continuing problems with engines, stability and maneuverability issues over 40,000 feet made the airplane unsuitable as a fighter. By late 1954, the time this ad appeared, it was already considered a failure and a scandal, I expect Mr. L.B.J. Forbes, sitting in his office on Bloor St. Toronto was getting very few inquiries about this plane. 
Despite all that, almost 200 were built and the RAF didn't retire them till 1961. Apparently four examples remain. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Pottery and china repair

My wife was sorting and cleaning some old china she had inherited years ago, among them was this small teacup which had been repaired in a way I had never seen. Small holes had been drilled into the china, then staples inserted, clamping the two broken pieces together. Presumably the broken joint was also glued with some unknown substance, inside the cup there is only the crack. 
It's a simplified version of the Japanese technique Kintsugi, the art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold - built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. 
    Apparently this method of repair is not uncommon, more on the technique here.

Suzuki TS50 Gaucho

 I've had four of these, and two of them had a broken transmission.

Monday, October 18, 2021

1910 Simplex

Antique Auto Mar-Apr 92

Mr. Jesse Manning at the wheel of his 1910 Simplex sport runabout that he made by removing the enclosed body. 'Twas ever thus. 

No word on who the crew are, but they are apparently off to a picnic. 

We used to make things in this country; #330

Here's a craft item from the past, a cast statuette of a generic hockey player, paint it to look like your favorite! Bobby Orr!, Stan Makita! How Canadian can you get.
  I suspect it's a polyester resin with a talc fill. The name Polytal is a commercial name for talc. Not surprisingly, the company seems to be long gone. 



Sunday, October 17, 2021

Vercingétorix takes a ride

The Camera Never Lies,  Webb and Bower, 1982

The statue of Vercingétorix by Bartholdi, recently completed at the Jaboeuf foundry in Paris, sets off in 1901 for its destination at Clermont- Ferrand. The statue was too large to be shipped by train, so a truck was specially constructed by De Dion Bouton for the job, it was fitted with a 35 hp engine and was capable of a speed of 6-7 mph. The 260 mile journey was expected to take five or six days. 

More here


Sidecar Sunday


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Baltimore Arms Co.


The Baltimore Arms Company manufactured side by side shotguns at 1300 South Sharp St. Baltimore, starting in January 1900. This is the cover of their 22 page 1904 catalog, they certainly present well- but they closed in October of that year. According to, over the company's lifespan they made about 6000 shotguns before going bankrupt. 

 The site is located under the freeway near the M and T Bank stadium, nothing to see there... 

Question that no one asked

 This image was found on a tumbler somewhere, a bit of googling finds that Mick Fish was a builder of choppers in England during the 80s. Now we know the when and where, still need the WHY.

And another pic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Austin Healey Streamliner

Underneath the swoopy bodywork (and subjectively corny fin) is an Austin Healey 100, its supercharged engine took Donald Healey to 192.6 mph at Bonneville in 1954

In 2009 a group of Healey enthusiasts returned to the salt flats to do a reenactment of the event.


Kenny Roberts flat track frame


Cycle Magazine 1976

Thanks, James...

Kenny Roberts parlays his Flat track victories into commercial products. According to The Dan Rouit Museum gallery page Kenny Roberts, Sparky Edmonston and Jerry Griffith developed the frames.
With a lot of consideration for rigidity, this must have been a very heavy frame, compare to the Harley Davidson XR750 frame of the time- that one seemed to work well with a lot more power. I haven't seen many pictures showing KR on that bike so I wonder how successful it was.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

We used to make things in this country; Netherlands edition

Thanks, Rolf!

 Shortly after the Netherlands Navy bought and tested the first steamship made by J.H.& J. Duke shipyards in Dover, England in 1825, the company Machinefabriek Werkspoor was founded in order to bring the technology to the Netherlands. The company was successful, becoming the largest machine factory in Holland, building ships and ship components, later adding railway steam locomotives and rolling stock to the product line. The company went through several iterations over the years and after a reorganization in 1890, it became a major manufacturer of all sorts of machinery, their first marine diesel engine was installed in 1908. The railway portion of the business also did well, supplying locomotives and rolling stock for railways in South Africa and Indonesia as well as the Dutch railways.

 The company merged with another large manufacturer Stork in 1954 and that concern was taken over by the Finnish concern Wärtsilä in 1989. 

Wikipedia page

Unfortunate hood ornament

Classic and Sportscar , August 1989

LaSalle hood ornament. The LaSalle was considered by some to be the "poor man's Cadillac" and the joke at the time was that the man was holding out his hat for donations to buy a real Cadillac.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Parilla 175

 Another lovely Italian motorcycle.

Unlikely survivor, KZ750

Looking like a neglected 10 year old beater, with the period plexi windshield, deteriorating King Queen seat and weeping head and valve cover gasket this bike is still a daily rider in the 'hood.


Sidecar Sunday

 George Weiss and passenger charge up Tirrach Hill in the 1953 Austrian Alpen Trial in their KS601 combination.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Hispano-Suiza hood ornaments

The stork (Cigogne) in flight as sculpted by Francois Victor Bazin.


We used to make things in this country #329 York Gears

 Nice trendy graphics in this 1957 ad for what appears to have been a substantial Toronto factory "specializing in the production of complicated assemblies". The company seems to have completely vanished, on the site these days is a Home Depot, and I can't find anything online at all.

 Graphic designers might wonder how they might have treated the airplane image differently, it doesn't quite line up with the arm of the Y and why does the wingtip contact the corner of the large rectangle?

Friday, October 8, 2021

Canadian Pacific to the Orient, 1930s


Advice on vises

 From Machine Shop Training second edition, by S.F. Krar and J.E. St. Amand. Published by McGraw Edison, 1967. 


Mosport Motorcycle Grand Prix, 1979

 Posters never seem to give the year, but this was a Mosport Raceway event in 1979. Note the creative treatment of the sponsor Molson Export's logo morphing into lens flare.
Thanks Glenn

Thursday, October 7, 2021

1971 CB500

 Spring 1971, we heard that this bike was at a nearby dealer- Ramsay Hardware in Napanee, Ontario to be specific. Dealerships were different in those days, the motorcycle section of the store was in a back room of the ancient hardware store with the creaky wooden floors. There was the bike in the middle of the floor, leaning on the sidestand. Awestruck, we circled it. 

"Want to hear it run? the owner asked. He hit the button and there it idled in the small echo-y room. After a minute or two, he shut it off. "Sounds like a V8", he commented. We at 16-17 years of age had no answer.

Which brings me to this. Remember this cover? June 1971? Sure, the bike was awesome but the blonde!

Who she was was Mary Cathleen Collins, an aspiring model and actress. You may remember her from a later movie named "10"? Later known as Bo Derek. But she was "ours" first :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Interoceanic Railway Concept

 This marine railway was proposed as an alternative to the Panama Canal in this 1884 Scientific American illustration. Note the huge fanciful double ended steam locomotives.

thanks, Dave! (See comments)

A view of the Fowler steam tractor works

 I guess the workers were all shooed away for this 1912 photo of the erecting shed..