Sunday, January 31, 2021

BTH Magnetos, 1949

Until I read this ad, I didn't know what BTH stood for.  In the context of this 1949 ad, BTH competed against Lucas to sell devices to deliver a reliable spark to a motorcycle engine
British Thomson-Houston was actually created from a British subsidiary of General Electric, whose focus was on heavy industry, mostly generators, motors, steam turbines and later locomotives, even jet engines. The magnetos were obviously a minor sideline.
 Noting the bottom line of the ad, in 1928 they were part of an amalgamation with Metropolitan Vickers, becoming part of Associated Electrical Industries.
A much nicer logo than BTH...

 If this was a business blog we could go into an analysis of the issues that company had with duplicate management structures selling competing products and finally settling in 1960 on selling product under the AEI banner, which was an unknown name, causing a large decline in sales... as well as almost universal resentment within the company. The company was soon acquired by the General Electric Company.

But more importantly to us, it may come as a shock that a company with the BTH logo is again supplying electrical components for the same old motorcycles.  

Sidecar Sunday

Driver training in Holland, or... could that be Captain Doakes taking control?

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Gun tools, 1845

Gun worms and rods...


Kanzler coupe

 I don't quite know what to say about this one. 

I originally thought it was a 911 having had some terrible things done to it, but I understand it's a Opel GT on top of a Lincoln chassis. The ad was in a 1979 magazine, too early for Photoshop. Liberace bought one apparently. 

Friday, January 29, 2021


 Great idea or a travesty?

 Many years ago, I happened upon this special at Daytona, yes that's a Harley Davidson XR motor crammed into a 1986 aluminum GSXR chassis. I waited around for the owner and tried to take better pictures from different angles... but in the end this image is all I have. 


I'm not much of a chopper guy, but this one stood out at the Chief Blackhawk swap meet at Davenport. Can't get much more stark or elegant. 

Beno J. Gundlach shingle cutter

This big cast iron machine, found at an Ontario antique store, was designed and made by the Beno Gundlach company of Belleville, Ill. From info online it seems to be either an asbestos shingle or floor tile cutter. The cast-in handle hole would indicate its portability, but at 3 feet long and probably 70-lbs that might be subjective. 

Company history here.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Gillette safety razor patent , 1901

Introduction of the double edged disposable razor blade system, still available today.

One of my vices is vises, J. Smart again

We've covered the J. Smart Manufacturing Company before, but this big solid vise (patented in 1901) is a bit of a unique design with the loop portion of the sliding jaw. The loop is solid steel, 1 1/4"  diameter. The tall humped jaw area is reminiscent of the older blacksmith post vises.  The vise owner passed on a bit of vise wisdom when he sent the images, "I didn't need another vise but stuck it on a spare bench and I guess that bench needed a vise because I seem to be using it regularly..." 
Life is better with vices.

Thanks, Reg

World Land Speed Record, 1928



1977 Cobra II

Ford sold 153.173 Mustang II in 1977. 

25, 259 of them were the Cobra II package.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Monaco Grand Prix 1973

Don't know if I like it... much prefer the posters of the 1930s.

German Land Speed Record car

In the 1930s, speed record setting was all the rage, various British drivers held the world speed records since the twenties. In 1935, Malcolm Campbell had with his series of Bluebird cars,  achieved 301 mph at Bonneville, John Cobb and George Eyston took turns moving that record to 350 mph by 1938.

Against that backdrop, Hitler had decided a German car with a German driver should hold the land speed record and he picked Auto Union race driver Hans Stuck to do the honours. Stuck then contracted Ferdinand Porsche to design and build a suitable car. In March 1937, the car shown here was presented. Designated the T80, it was originally to be powered by a Daimler Benz 34 liter V12 airplane engine giving 2200 horsepower, but with the speed records being raised at Bonneville, that engine was replaced by one of  44.5 liters, also mounted in the inverted orientation.

 In the meantime Hitler had decided the record should be set on German soil, and in 1939 a nine mile section of the autobahn was prepared and it was decided that a record setting run would be made in the summer of 1940. However, all the plans came to nothing when Hitler sent troops into Poland in September of 1939.  The T80 never ran at all. 

Looking at the car, the driver was to sit in a narrow cockpit right in front of the engine. The 27 foot long car was fitted with 2 drive axles for traction, horizontal winglets provided downforce and the bodywork covering the rear wheels blended into tailfins for directional stability. And all that power and weight running on wire-spoked wheels!

Aug 1987 Classic and Sportscar Magazine


Monday, January 25, 2021

Wolf 2-1 T500 pipe


Here is something unusual. a two into one exhaust for a Suzuki T500. If I remember the story correctly it was a one off, custom made for the owner by Gary Wolf who made 4-1 pipes in Ontario in the seventies and eighties. 

There were a number of manufacturers who made 3 into 1 pipes for the two stroke triples back in the day. Though they were styled to look like an expansion chamber, it's doubtful they were at all effective or efficient with all the confused soundwaves bouncing around inside them. I expect the same would be true for this setup, though considering the 180° power pulses, only one exhaust port would be open at a time...  hmmm. Now where is Gordon Jennings' Two stroke Tuners handbook?

Thanks, Walter.

Thoroughbred and Classic Cars. October 1976

 Restored 1959 model on the left, '58 on the right needing a bit of work.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

1956 Chevrolet, Fisher Body


Sidecar Sunday

Sidecar man Cece Hanrahan, now travelling under the name Jack Stocks, emerges from the fog and ponders the grim climb ahead. He pilots his 795cc Abingdon powered Ariel while his companion...

Canadian Pacific Steamships 1938

Artwork by Norman Fraser, 

Leaving from Montreal or Quebec City, the transatlantic crossing would avoids two days of open ocean crossing and would include almost 500 miles miles of St Lawrence river scenery.

 Norman Foster was one of many artists employed by Canadian Pacific for many years. Like most of the artist/illustrators creating posters like these, he worked in obscurity, his work is rarely signed. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Friday, January 22, 2021

Sydney R. Jones, artist

These lovely sketches by Sydney R. Jones all come from the editorial pages of Classic MotorCycle magazine when Bob Curry was the editor, they were originally presented in motorcycle magazines during the 1920s to the 40s. The sketches are typically beautiful, accurate architectural sketches with a motorcycle or two ghosted in. Looking further, I discovered the motorcycle sketches must have been a sideline, Sydney R Jones is the artist and illustrator of at least 18 books on architecture and landscapes in England between the years 1906 and 1954. More here.

Stearns-Knight sleeve valves

 Stearns manufactured the Stearns-Knight automobile with the Charles Yates Knight-designed sleeve valve engine, Instead of normal poppet valve arrangement, the engine uses concentric sleeves around the cylinder with ports in them to control airflow. These sleeves had to be machined very accurately, the Bryant company made the equipment to grind them. The company is still in business today, owned by the Vermont Machine Tool company.
More on the Knight here. Wikipedia on Bryant here.

Junkman's adventures

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Convair XP5Y-1 Tradewind

The Convair XP5Y-1 was part of a new generation of US Navy flying boats, the program was intended to utilise the technology of laminar flow wings and the new turboprop technology then being developed. The airplane, powered by 4 Allison XT40 turboprops driving 15 foot contra rotating props, first flew in spring of 1950. 

 Originally intended to be a patrol aircraft, the Navy soon changed its mind and asked for a redesign as a cargo and passenger version. Convair experimented with a landing craft version, and an inflight refueling tanker version was also tried but the era of the military flying boat had passed.

 In all, 11 aircraft were built, but the continuing unreliability of the Allison XT40 engines caused a number of crashes and was the cause of the program being cancelled in 1958. The planes were all scrapped.  

More here.

Autolite overseas, 1939

Thanks, Rolf...

 I'll summarize, basically all spark plug gaps- .6 mm (.025").

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ribbons and Bunting

 Southern Pacific locomotive decorated for presidential use, hauling Teddy Roosevelt to Berkeley in 1903. 

Southern Pacific locomotive 2244 decorated for another unknown presidential special.

Rauch and Lang Electric Car


U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a 1914 Rauch and Lang Electric during the 1952 campaign The car was owned by his mother-in-law, Mrs. Elivera Dowd. 

Rauch and Lang electrics were capable of 16-20 mph and 50-100 miles on a charge. The price point was about 4 times higher than a Model T.  Referring to the previous post, these cars were not fitted with Edison's nickel iron batteries, though apparently Thomas Edison did own a R and L electric car at some point.