Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Didn't take them long....

The American Heritage History of Flight, Simon and Shuster 1962
During the First Balkan war in 1912-13 Bulgarian aviators dropped small bombs over Turkish-held Adrianopole (Edirne, Turkey). 
In 1911, the first wartime reconnaissance flight was made by Italian flyers in the Tripolitatian War. Keep in mind it was only in 1909 was the English channel crossed for the first time.

Business end of a coast-defense gun, 1945

Movie Lot to Beachhead.  The Motion Picture Goes to War and Prepares for the Future.
By the Editors of Look.  Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1945.

We are the Borg.  Resistance is futile!

Vanished Tool Makers: Record Tools, England

Above, my Record No. 044 plough plane made from 1934 to 1970.  A little the worse for wear, but still good.  I've uploaded a 2-page instruction sheet for it here.

Below, the company's planes as offered in a 1990 catalogue:

Below, from the Record Tools Hand Tool Catalogue No. HT90.  

Now one machine did the work that previously required twenty.

Below, their warranty back in the day.  Humourous copy!

The catalogue lists Record Tools Inc. at 1915 Clements Road in Pickering, Ontario.  Gone now.

See my previous post on Marples.  That firm, along with William Ridgway, traded as Record Tools but was bought in 1998 by Irwin, the American conglomerate which closed the Parkway factory in Sheffield in 2003/2004 and moved production to China.  To see the abandoned Parkway factory site as it was in 2013, visit Derelict Places.

In 2016, Stanley Black & Decker bought Irwin from Newell Rubbermaid.  Newell Rubbermaid are the same folks that shuttered the original Vicegrips factory in Dewitt, Nebraska and took production of that quintessentially American tool to China as well.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Old time dealer experiences, Rocky's

photo by Fred
Fred Beddington recalls,

Photo is of Brian Beddington on his C&J XR,  Charlie Chapple of Michigan following on his XR, Western Fair, 74-75 ? Brian managed the fastest time trial at the fairgrounds that day. The then owner of Rocky's Cycle came down into the pits, asked why we didn't come to him for some sponsorship ? I replied, We'd be lucky to get spark plugs and a T shirt in this town ! He took his T shirt off, gave it to us and said, "Come and see me!" Ha Ha! He bought Brian a beautiful set of leathers ! Rockys HD, which I still have. He was good to us.

photo unknown
All the shops in those days were great places to visit, I miss them. As you can see, variety of products. The fella on the right end Lloyd, was the Harley mechanic. A nice quiet man, remained a Bachelor all his life, worked at Rocky's most of his life, now buried in a small gravesite not far from Komoka.

stacked tracks

Turn of the last century. Everyone was proud of their trains and their trestles.

Vanished Tool Brands: "Signal", Sheffield, England

Above, an economy hacksaw I recently acquired.  "Signal" was one of the brands of Cooper and Sons.

Good Reads: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

Published in 2013, this is a phenomenally wise and inspiring book from one of Canada's preeminent  astronauts.

If you haven't seen the incredible video of the song I.S.S. played with the Barenaked Ladies and the Wexford Gleeks, click here:

For all of his incredible accomplishments, he retains the common touch for others and the sense of wonder about our species and its place on this amazing planet.  He takes the many lessons he learned in preparing for and executing space missions, and applies them to challenges of our daily lives.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.  It's helped me so much in my own ongoing battle with cancer.

For visitors familiar with my own rants on this blog about thoughtless roadside litter, I found his comments below particularly supportive.  Thanks, Chris, so very much.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Rube Goldberg & Professor Lucifer Gorganzolla Butts, A.K.

For the origins of the professor, click here.

Remembering Firth Motorcycles, Toronto

I used to take the subway frequently to Firth's (at the Coxwell station) to get parts initially for my 1967 Royal Enfield Interceptor and, after 1976, when I bought my 1974 Commando.  Harry Firth was quite the character.   (He once told me, a wet-behind-the-years teenager, "Royal Enfield!  Best bank in the world!  You're always putting money into it!").  Harry was actually issued a U.S. patent for a "combined tail light and end piece" in 1948:

Towards the end of his business days, Harry complained that Norton was shipping him incomplete motorcycles in crates, which would be missing a saddle or some other essential part, but include a snarky note in its place. He basically told me that these stupid actions were killing the Norton company, because he couldn't sell a bike in that condition. (To see some of these clowns, visit my previous post.  Today, what's left of them probably sit around in grimy pubs complaining of the loss of their glory days, and blaming it all on someone else.)

I remember that you had to go up a steep flight of wooden stairs to get to the parts counter upstairs, where a gorilla of a guy named Ron greeted you gruffly and with little enthusiasm.  After Harry retired, I'd heard Ron and Harry's daughter Lois (?) bought him out and renamed it "Loron Motorcycles." 

When they answered the phone, it always sounded like "Moron Motorcycles."  I said as much, and I don't think they appreciated the feedback.

To see some more photos of Firth Motorcycles, visit Moto Code.

Anyway, I was cleaning out some old file folders recently and discovered I'd actually kept a 1978 Firth catalogue!  Below, for your edification and enjoyment from that time machine:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Unlikely survivor, Chysler K car

Looking at this characterless anemic little wheezer, its hard to believe that it changed Chrysler's fortunes. This one is nearly perfect 35 years later, interior as new and only a bit of rusted rocker panels, something that usually manifested itself after a year or two of use. And hey! Its available!

Puch Maxi, 1978

Scientific American, July 1978
The almost final gasp of the once mighty Steyr-Daimler-Puch.

I've uploaded a 3-page article from 1982 on rebuilding the engine here:  Maxi Rebuild.

Sidecar Sunday

George Booth on Junk Collecting

It's often a thin line between cool stuff and junk.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Environmental solutions!

Doing a double take when I found this, i remembered stopping at a dealership in LasVegas in 1981 to buy some oil. 
"Where can we change this", we asked. 
Out in the desert, they said.  So we did, though it didn't sit comfortable with me even then. 
 Working with old leaky tractors over the decades, I learned that a gas leak would kill grass for months, diesel was particularly evil, taking multiple years to restore the ground.  But motor oil and hypoid didn't seem to cause a problem, the grass just kept growing. 
Still, having a few hundred million people dumping a couple of gallons all over the place every year just boggles the mind. 


From difficult beginnings in Saskatchewan in 1947, it took to the mid-sixties before a workable plan was finally adopted nationally in the sixties. More here.
Apologies on the gap in posts, I've been availing myself of the Ontario plan in recent days as I struggle though high fevers and debilitating headaches for the last week and a half. Hope it's all behind me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Electric conversion

Take an old sixties Honda, toss away all the gas engine related stuff, add a hub electric motor and a couple of bags of batteries... a new lease on life!

Thomas Automobile comapny

The Thomas Automobile Company was located in Buffalo, building their first car in 1899. The company was well regarded and when a Thomas Flyer won the 1908 New York to Paris around the world race, it only added to his reputation. The luxurious Six-Forty above sold for $ 5150 in 1912. The company went into receivership the same year and built its last car in 1919,

Monday, December 4, 2017

Math by Fairchild, 1944

Reduce, Re-cruise and Recycle

Emphasis on the recycle... While walking along the Toronto waterfront, I came upon this boat, what caught my eye was the identification text welded into the hull just below the registration number. Ex-US army T-509, now a private boat in Lake Ontario, of course a quick Google revealed everything. 
It was built for the US army as a light cargo and utility boat for use in the rivers of Korea. Full story (blog) here.

Sidecar Sunday

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The first building on the site of the Banff Hotel

E J Hart, The Selling of Canada, Altitude Publishing, 1986

Four adults

The mockup used by the Austin Mini design team for determining the minimum space requirements to accommodate 4 adults. (The original Mini)

A liking for traveling in leather

While researching my previous post on the cartoons of "Pont", I came across Paul Davies' site, which includes his homage to the 1930's cartoonist.  Paul is a British cartoonist in his own right, and a very good one.  He donated this particular print to sell to support a worthwhile charity, Headway, which assists folks who have experienced traumatic brain injury.  He wrote about this in a July 2017 posting on his own blog.

Paul kindly gave me permission to use his cartoon on the Progress blog.  Please drop by his blog to enjoy many of his other imaginative illustrations.

Friday, December 1, 2017

New Haven Railway, Postwar

Geoffrey H Doughty, The New Haven Railroad's Streamline Passenger Fleet 1934-1953, TLC Publishing, 2000
Early 1948 and New Haven tries to increase ridership with a makeover.

Another job you wouldn't want to do, loading steamboats

Dean Server, The Golden Age of Steam, Todtri, 1996
This scene from 1900 shows the levee in New Orleans, where the  transfer of cargo between riverboats and ocean carriers took place. Below a painting by Currier and Ives presents a much more orderly, though no less busy version. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rough crossings

Much was made of the discomfort experienced by passengers on early ocean liners, here a series of 1890 drawings by W.W. Lloyd illustrates some of the problems.

Lubrication of your Ducati single

Villiers-Starmaker/ Metisse, August 1966

The Rickman Brothers made lovely frames, with  fibreglass body parts by the Mitchenall Brothers.  Apparently, this particular machine was designed by them for Bultaco.  The frame was based on the Norton Featherbed, and front suspension could be had as modified Norton Roadholders (as above) or Italian Cerianis.

The name "Metisse", by the way, is French for "mongrel."

Simplex "Senior" motorcycle, 1965

The only American motorcycle manufacturer located in the Deep South, Simplex operated out of New Orleans from 1935 to 1975, when they went bankrupt.  The "Senior" model above used a 200cc Villiers engine.  Weighing in at 200 pounds, it was advertised as having "flashing performance."  ("Also available with horsepower restrictor for junior licensing.")  It was offered at $40 U.S. F.O.B. Apparently, the company's profit per motorcycle was only $1.60!  It's a wonder they persisted as long as they did.


This Canadian No 18 drill press lying in front of a scrap yard looked to be in operating condition, but judging by its location and position its future doesn't look promising...