Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sidecar Sunday

Coaling towers

Don Ball Jr., Portrait of the Rails, Galahad Books, 1972
I missed the age of steam but remember these iconic structures as I was growing up and travelling around Ontario and Canada. They must all be gone by now? This one, with octagonal water tower, was located at Portage de Prairie, Manitoba. The CN locomotive is a U-1f 4-8-2.

Ben Eielson: Pioneer of Alaska Skies

Edna Walker Chandler & Barrett Willoughby.  Pioneer of Alaska Skies.  The Story of Ben Eielson.
 Ginn & Co., 1959.  Illustrated by Ray Quigley.

Ben Eielson was one amazing guy.  According to his Wikipedia entry:

In 1924, he flew the first air mail in Alaska from Fairbanks to McGrath, Alaska in 4 hours, a distance dog sleds took 20 days to cover. He also flew the first air mail from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Florida in 1926.
He and his mechanic Earl Borland died three years later in Siberia while trying to rescue furs and personnel from the Nanuk.

The Phillips Screw

The Phillips cross-head screw was originally the brainchild of John P. Thompson of Oregon.  The X-shape of the slot and pointed tip of the Phillips head screwdriver made the driver self-centering and unlikely to slip out when it wasn’t supposed to. The recessed slot was shallow enough, though, that the driver did pop out when the screw was fully tightened, which prevented over-torquing and damage to the screw, the driver and the product being assembled. As such, it had great potential for the air-driven fastening tools then being introduced into automotive assembly lines. Thompson took out a U.S. patent in 1933 and over the next six months Thompson approached many screw manufacturers, all of which said his screw was impossible to reproduce because the punch needed to create the recess would destroy the screw head. Thompson decided the whole idea was not manufacturable until he revealed his idea to a Portland acquaintance named Henry Frank Phillips who became intrigued with the idea and offered to buy the rights to the patent. In 1934, he approached the American Screw Company of Providence, Rhode Island, the oldest (founded 1837) and largest screw manufacturer in North America where a new president named Eugene Clark had taken over. Clark was captivated by the design despite his engineers' reservations. By 1936, after some significant modifications by Henry Phillips (U.S. Patent #2,046,343, U.S. Patents #2,046,837 to 2,046,840) American Screw agreed to underwrite the development of a cold form process to produce cruciform screws.  Eugene Clark said, “I finally told my head men that I would put on pension all who insisted it could not be done.”

Below, the Canadian patent:

In 1935, with the financial backing of Jantzen Knitting Mills of Portland (which made bathing suits!), Phillips formed the Phillips Screw Company of Wilmington, Delaware, not to make the screwdrivers but to sell licenses.  
Phillips succeeded in bringing the design to industrial manufacturing and promoting its rapid adoption as a machine screw standard. One of the first customers was General Motors who used the innovative design in 1936 for its Cadillac assembly-lines. By 1940, 85% of U.S. screw manufacturers had a license for the design. Due to failing health, Phillips retired in 1945. He died in 1958.  By the mid-1960's, when the Phillips patents expired, there were more than 160 domestic and 80 foreign licensees.

Phillips was not the first cruciform recessed screw: that honour for that invention belongs to John Frearson, a Birmingham manufacturer, inventor and engineer who designed this screw type in the mid-1800's.  The Frearson screw had a steeper, sharper point and flat rather than tapered edges than the later Phillips design, which better resisted cam-out.  The Frearson screw was manufactured in the U.S. by the Reed and Prince Company of Worcester, Massachesetts, an old American company which was the first to manufacture cold-formed wing nuts.  The “Reed and Prince” screw found favour with boat-builders and air frame makers.  The company filed for bankruptcy in the 1980's, and their historic factory was demolished to make room for a Price Chopper.

There had been another precedent in 1908, when Canadian Peter L. Robertson of Milton, Ontario patented the “first recess-drive type fastener practical for production usage,” a recessed square-drive screw that bears his name. Robertson screws became a standard in Canada and gained a buzz in the U.S. when the Ford Motor Company, one of Robertson's first customers, used over seven hundred of them on each Model T, saving two hours of assembly time per vehicle.  However, Robertson had been burned in a licensing agreement he had signed in England, and refused to enter into another with Ford, so the use of these screws ended up restricted to the Canadian division of the Ford Motor Co.  The last Robertson patent expired in 1964 and the company is still a going concern. We're still very attached to them up here, especially on wood screws where their driving properties are excellent.

From what I can find on some of the old Phillips screwdrivers in my shop, Phillips issued licenses individually to different makers.  I've seen Lic. 1 on Stanleys and M. Klein & Sons, Lic. 2 on Apex or Stelco screwdrivers, Lic. 6 on Vlchek, Lic. 7 on the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Co. blades, and Lic. 9 on VACO screwdrivers.

Below, License 1 issued to Stanley:

And to Klein:

Vlchek out of Cleveland, Ohio got License 6:

  Below, License 7 on a Bridgeport stubby:

From a Canadian-made Cluthé screwdriver, blade courtesy of Bridgeport:

From a No. 1 Point on a Bridgeport WA-6 screwdriver, with a later patent number:

I can't personally say that I like the Phillips recessed screw, as it is far too prone to cam out and to stripping the head of the fastener:

To address this problem (and to deal with the fact that Phillips patents were running out), the Phillips Screw Company and the American Screw Company jointly developed the "Posidriv" system in the 1960's.

The Family Handyman, July/August 1984

In 1978, the Phillips Screw Company was acquired by Gloucester, Massachusetts-based Rule Industries.  The Phillips Company is now a stand-alone firm based out of Burlington, Massachusetts.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Rules of Thumb

I picked this unusual book up a while ago.  Interesting idea to attempt to compile all of these rough-and-ready pieces of advice.

Anyway, below are the ones that spoke to me in terms of shop and tool use:

First Canso rollout at Canadian Vickers

Airborne, A heritage stamp collection, Canada Post
The first aircraft built at Canadian Vickers in Montreal is rolled out on December 2, 1942. Previous post here. The Canadian Boeing plant in Vancouver had gotten up to speed earlier, they flew their first on July 26, 1942. 
I'm looking but so far have not found any images of the Canadian Boeing works...

Great sailing shots, "Once in a lifetime"

The Art of the Boat, Photographs from the Rosenfeld Collection, Mystic Seaport Museum 2005
Photo by Morris Rosenfield & Sons 1934

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Doweling Jigs

Decades ago, a long-standing hardware store named Vandervoorts was located in downtown Kingston.  This was one of those wonderful places where you could pretty much find anything, buy one thing, or buy a dozen. Not like the generic Crappy Tire stores that have replaced them. Anyway, in the face of increasing competition, the store eventually became mainstream, but not before having a big sale of items.  I bought this jig back then, and have got my money out of it many times since.  Apparently, it's no longer available from Stanley.

I've uploaded instructions on how to use it here:  Stanley No. 59 Dowel Jig.

Below, an even lovelier British-made dowel jig produced initially as the Record 148 in the 1970's before receiving the Marples brand by the combined firm in the 1990's.  It looks so much more sophisticated than the Stanley offering, but all I have are the pictures.  (Online instructions for the tool can be found here.)

L. Donald Meyers & Richard Demske.  Furniture Repair and Refinishing.
Reston Publishing  Co. Inc. (Prentice-Hall), 1978.

Record Tools catalogue 1990's

British business practices through cartoons

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.