Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I just learned today that Robert Pirsig died yesterday, age 88.  For those of us who came of age in the 1970's, his was one of those seminal books you had to have read or, like many, tried to read or simply just said that you'd read. In 1978 I took a copy with me on my Norton sojourn to California, and lost and replaced it three times on the trip.  I ended up seeing myself as something of a minor Johnny Appleseed for his book, spreading it around as I moved along. Years later I bought his second book, Lila, but I have to say I've never been able to get through it. Still, it occupies the space on my library shelf beside two copies of Zen and the Art.

After I returned home from my California road trip, the last copy of Zen I bought had an afterword from Pirsig about his son Chris's murder in 1979.  This was the boy who had ridden with him on the motorcycle trip that formed the basis for the book.  He died two weeks shy of his 23rd birthday.  Very sad.

Anyway, as something of a tribute, I offer my two favourite send-up cartoons:

What causes air bumps and why they should not be feared

The World Book Encyclopedia.  Chicago:  Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1958.
Today, we call this "turbulence."  Not really any improvement over "air bumps."

The evolution of Plymouth automobiles, 1961-1967

From Bill Toboldt.  Fix Your Plymouth.  All Models 1967-1952.  The Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc., 1967.

According to Wikipedia, the brand lasted from 1928 to 2001.   "The inspiration for the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth binder twine, produced by the Plymouth Cordage Company, also of Plymouth. The name was chosen by Joe Frazer due to the popularity of the twine among farmers."  Bizarre.

Monday, April 24, 2017

BNT Canada Mystery Hammer

From a reader come these pictures of an unusual hammer with an oddly slotted and wedge-shaped head.  Although it's proportioned like a small tack hammer, it's a substantial tool, with a double head 8 inches long. The faces seem to be angled to facilitate tapping using wrist action. Comments to the Duke's previous  B.N.T. post seem to indicate the company made different types of hammers, this one must be for a specific and as yet unidentified purpose! Any ideas?

Vickers Velos

Larry Milberry, Aviation in Canada, McGraw-Hill Ryerson 1979
The sole Vickers Velos sitting at its moorings. Built for surveying in 1927, it proved difficult to fly and when it sank in the same year the design was not pursued. When I first found this image I mistook it for the short lived  Dayton Wright F. P. 2, an aircraft with a similar look built 5 years previously and with a similar story.

Rostselmash Plant, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, 1965

Nikolai Mikhailov.  Discovering the Soviet Union.  Moscow:  Progress Publishers, 1965.
Founded in 1929, the company specializes in combine harvesters and is still going strong.  (You can even request a tour!)

According to the company's history page:

In summer 1931, in the research workshop of the harvester workshop being constructed, the assembly of two harvesters of more perfect design was completed, and these harvesters were named “Stalinets”. The new machines were tested together with American harvesters. The Rostselmash machines operated better and, unlike of foreign harvesters, were able to harvest not only wheat, but also sunflower seeds, corn and millet.

During World War II, the entire plant was moved east.  Then:

On February 14, 1943, the South Front troops freed Rostov. The city was in ruins. Almost all enterprises, including Rostselmash and its towns, were demolished. Germans regularly were exploding and firing the plant within eight days before retreat. All workshops, living houses, culture center, agricultural machine-building institute, etc. turned into piles of ruins. The plant material damage comprised more than 180 million Stalin rubles. 
On February 23, on the 10th day of Germans’ retreat, the first 33 Rostselmash machines started to operate in demolished Rostov. At the same time, preparation of military purpose equipment production was started, and the repair of battle tanks, tractors and vehicles was organized. In order to refurbish the plant, it had to clean 150000 m3 of obstructions, lay 21 million of bricks and 37000m3 of concrete, install 8000 tons of metal structures, and lay 185000 m3 of roof panels. 145000 m3 of production facilities were put into operation within a short time.


We used to make things in this country. #258: Coleman Lamp & Stove Company, Toronto, Ontario

I recently photographed this old No. 4A kerosene iron at a local historical society's open house.  Although it's difficult to make out, the badge reads, "Coleman Lamp & Stove Company Limited, Toronto, Canada."  The exhibitor told me it was a remarkable advance over the old sad irons, which had to be laboriously heated and re-heated on the wood stove, and which would leave black carbon marks on white shirts.  Still, the kerosene ones could catch fire (look at the bottom of the wooden handle on the example above) and even explode!  To watch one of these things in action, go you YouTube.  Ironing in those days was clearly not for the faint-of-heart!

Below, from Waymarking.com:
Coleman's relationship to Toronto began in 1925 when he opened a plant there. Sheldon Coleman (the founders son) worked at this plant. And it was the Toronto division of Coleman that created the miniaturized gasoline pressurized stove, the Model 222, in 1976. That stove became the backbone of the Peak 1 line of Coleman products.
The Canadian company made a huge variety of lamps and stovesAccording to the Canadian Science & Technology Museum, Coleman manufactured in Canada up until the 1960's.

Google Streetview:  Queen Street East and the Don Valley Parkway

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cunard Royal Mail Steamship sailings, 1842

George W. Brown.  Building The Canadian Nation.  J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Ltd., 1942, Revised & Reprinted 1950, Reprinted 1951.

Heavy hammers

Like I said, I like hammers.

Sidecar Sunday