Saturday, April 30, 2022

1939 Gilera 500cc Rondine

Gilera at the top of their pre-war game. From 1935 till 1939 they produced this supercharged, liquid-cooled, DOHC transverse four cylinder race bike. Rider Dorini Serafini won the European Championship by winning the Ulster GP. 

Motorcycle Classics article here.

Sioux air tools

 Sioux tools started as Albertson and Co in 1914, their first products being sparkplugs and piston rings, They soon invented and produced a lathe for turning valves, which started them in the tool market. This ad is from 1964 and they're still going strong today. Company history here.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Panther sloper engine cutaway


Cutaway drawing by Tony Lofthouse

Panther engine highlighting the drive for the magneto and the automatic decompressor.

One of my vices is vises (or maybe anvils) A & W

Here's an interesting multi-use tool made by yet another long lost Canadian company, A&W in Guelph, Ontario. Update (see below)- There is conjecture that it is actually A&V (for anvil and vise?). The vise jaws are only about 2 1/2 inches wide so the whole tool is of hobby size though this thread suggests it dates to the mid 1800s. Wonder what the protrusions along the lower edge of the base are for?

Here's another combination vise anvil.


Update July 2022,  A reader, John did some research and came up with the following information- and the whole industrial history. Very much appreciated, John!

"After seeing this vise on your blog I searched for the maker extensively, and unsuccessfully. Then while looking for other vise info on Garage Journal I stumbled onto a purported Canadian manufacturer previously unknown to me: A. R. Woodyatt & Co. of Guelph. Down the rabbit hole for me..."

The model is "Allen's Combination Vise and Anvil". What we took to be "A&W" on the base is actually "A&V" for "anvil & vise".

It was sold from at least 1901 to 1903, according to catalog pages. The jaw width is given as 2", whereas you said the one in your post is 2.5". Also says it is red in colour, so the one in this post may be original. But the punch and chisel are missing.

Patented by JOSEPH ALLEN, of PALMYRA, NEW YORK, application date 1900.03.21. Although the patent is for a somewhat different design than what Woodyatt manufactured, it does describe the features that were so puzzling:   Patent US 650363

And an example of the American version is at

Successor company to Woodyatt was Taylor-Forbes, also in Guelph:  previous post and here.

Best source I found:

Comment here says: "Woodyatt and Guelph Malleable Iron were joined together into Taylor Forbes."


I believe the following site is wrong based on the above: "Canadian manufacturers established at Guelph, Ontario in 1873. In 1890 they bought out A.R. Woodyatt."

And a building that was home to both companies is still in use today:  

More history on Guelph Malleable Iron Works, the other company folded into Taylor-Forbes!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

International Fire Trucks


Airways Special lubricant

Just the thing for your wringer washer. Although it's listed on the can as a Toronto company, they were based in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and are now named Brad Penn.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Oil boiler

 Granville Bradshaw, who had many innovative engine-related designs in the first half of the last century, designed this oil cooled 500cc flat twin in the early 1920s. The cylinders were located inside the crankcase and were cooled by oil splash. The engine was derisively referred to as the "oil boiler" but it apparently worked well enough. He apparently believed the hotter an engine ran, the more efficient it was. Incidentally, this drawing is billed as the first fully sectioned motorcycle engine cutaway to appear in print, the artist's name is not noted and the signature is not clear enough to decipher.

Suzuki resurrected the oil cooled idea with its first generation GSXR SACS engines, where engine oil was circulated by a high volume pump and kept cooled by an oversized oil cooler (radiator). Increasing heat from higher output led them to adopt liquid cooling in the early nineties.

File advice

Seems as though Nicholson Files in Post Hope made files for everyone. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Punch tape computerized accounting, 1964

Baby steps... As late as the 1970’s teletype terminals were still used for computer terminals, especially for dial-up systems. They used paper tape for “high speed” input/output. Computers from that era required a paper tape reader. Imagine loading a software package from a very, very long tape.


Monday Mystery; four prong hand tool

  Today's mystery came from an old toolbox full of oddities, It's an all-steel T handle tool with a strange four prong business end. Anyone have any ideas? No markings of course.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Kingsbury Scooter 1919

 Part of the short-lived postwar standup scooter craze, the company was also short-lived, closing in 1921.  Brochure on ebay.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Great moments in automotive history


Bessey vise fail

This largely unworn 6" Bessey vise was being thrown out at work. Take it away, they said. The screw assembly had broken so the jaws did not open. The swivel base would have needed to be removed to see what was required, I had no tools handy, it weighs 44 lbs, I don't need a vise project or even another vise. Sadly I left it there. Regrets.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Flying in formation

 Student pilots getting a last minute briefing before going up to practice formation flying. The aircraft in the background is an Avro Anson, a British twin engine trainer.

Wall Auto-wheel penny farthing


This amusing ‘outfit’ was entered in a 1922 comic cycle parade at Coventry. Several of these old ‘penny farthing'” or ‘ordinary’ bicycles were entered, but the idea of attaching an Auto-wheel caused the "greatest amusement among the spectators.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Franklin cars, "The car beautiful"


Elliot Bros. micrometer

Here's a beautiful nickel silver micrometer by Elliot Bros. There is what appears to be a sliding button on the barrel which does not appear on the ones shown at Practical Machinist, which has a detailed thread on the company.
 The firm of Elliott Bros was founded in 1804 by William Elliott. In 1850 he formed a partnership with his sons, Frederick & Charles and the firm became known as Elliott & Sons, operating at 56 Strand, London. Whilst their father had specialized in drawing instruments, Elliott Bros offered a wide range of mathematical, optical, and philosophical apparatus. The firm began using the signature "Elliott Bros London" in 1873 and “Elliott Bros (London) Ltd” in 1916. During this time they were located at 449 Strand, London. Elliott Bros (London) Ltd appear to have discontinued producing surveying instruments around WW1 and began to focus on developing electrical equipment.

Thanks, Peter!


BSA Starfire

 The tank and sidecovers were also used on the 650 Firebird, to my eye the styling worked better on this bike, the 250 Starfire.  The low pipe model also looked nicer. The advertising company had to work pretty hard to sell these things when the competition was products like the Suzuki X-6 and the Honda CB72.

No animals were harmed...

No matter how suggestive this ad is, animal skins were not used in the manufacture of flour sacks... though the actual material, cotton or paper, seems to depend on when this ad was written, the Lincoln paper mill was also the Lincoln cotton mill.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

BMW R25 cutaway

Here's a cutaway model of a BMW vertical single with the focus being on the bottom end and clutch, Why the top end has been removed is unclear, the rod is still in place. It also appears the transmission and final drive has been gutted, The large black lever (below) is the neutral finder but it is connected to the clutch lever.

thanks, Rolf!


Sidecar Sunday

 1948. That man Eric Oliver and passenger Denis Jenkinson working hard for their victory at Zandvoort.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Le Cowboy de Moto


Henri Fabre's Hydravion

Henry R Palmer Jr. The Seaplanes, Leonard Morgan Publishing, 1965

On March 28 1910, this unlikely craft, named the Hydravion , became the first aircraft to lift off and land on the water. Although others had experimented, Fabre was the first one to find the right combination of strength, lightness and the ability to break free of the water in the design of the floats. After 5 flights, he modified the craft to a rear rudder configuration and then crashed the it in a stall. Rebuilt, it was later wrecked in a gale. It now resides in the  Musée de l'Air in Paris.