Sunday, May 28, 2017

Learning the Sextant

Captain W.D. Puleston, U.S. Navy.  Annapolis.  Gangway to the Quarterdeck.  Appleton-Century Company, 1942.

"Youngsters"?  How quaint!
Maxim Newmark.  Illustrated Technical Dictionary.  New York:  The Philosophical Library, 1944.
Funk & Wagnalls New Practical Standard Dictionary.  Britannica World Language Edition.  1946, 1957.

Interestingly, according to a 2016 CBC article, the Royal Canadian Navy continues to train sailors in the use of sextants as a back-up to GPS. The U.S. Navy had discontinued this instrument, but only recently brought it back as a precaution against cyber attacks which might render a ship's GPS unusable.  According to the CBC article:
All watchkeepers and navigators on a ship are required to be proficient with a sextant, and they are required to practise sextant use while at sea at least once every 180 days.
"It's a skill set that if you let erode, it's very hard to get back because it's not an easy piece of equipment to use or train on," O'Regan said.
"Once you get good at it offshore, you can get within a nautical mile of where the ship actually is."
O'Regan says that when sailors first get their hands on a sextant, they usually think the gadgets are "pretty cool," and O'Regan agrees.
"It sort of makes you part of a navigational community that we're still using the same skillset that the sailors in Captain Cook's age would have used," he said. "There's parts of Canada where Captain Cook and various other hydrographers and cartographers have used sextants to develop those charts. It makes you part of a big club."

We used to make things in this country. # 260: McGraw-Edison (Canada) Ltd., Oakville, Ontario

My McGraw-Edison "Power House" 1/4" electric drill.  It's a rather ugly, snub-nosed tool, but it still works well.

McGraw-Edison Co. was created by the 1957 acquisition by McGraw Electric Co. (founded by Max McGraw in 1900) of Thomas A. Edison Industries (founded in 1911).

The Bersted Manufacturing Corporation of Chicago was bought by McGraw-Edison in 1926.  Apparently, in the U.S., the Bersted Division tools were made in Boonville, Missouri.  In 1972, McGraw-Edison bought G.W. Murphy Industries which had previously acquired the Portable Electric Tools, Inc.  In the early 1980's, McGraw-Edison sold their power tool division to Deco Enterprises of St. Louis, Missouri.  McGraw-Edison was itself acquired by Cooper Industries not long afterwards.

McGraw-Edison's Oakville, Ontario location also made "Toastmaster" electric kitchen products.

Sidecar Sunday

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Take me to your leader!

Cologne, W. Germany, International Furniture Fair, 1966
Britannica Book of the Year 1967.  Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1967.

Oh, those crazy Sixties!

Also called a ball chair, it's still around.  Some original ones seem to be selling up for almost $10,000 U.S, space girl not included.

Massey-Harris R14 stationary engine

Seen at an antique fair a few years ago.  If you think it odd that the label reads both "Toronto Canada" and "Made in U.S.A," that's because this engine was made by Cushman to be sold in Canada as a Massey-Harris. Weighed 185 pounds, produced 2 horse power.

Friday, May 26, 2017

BSA for 1963

I doubt that this was actually "The biggest news in motorcycling for 1963."  That was the year that Honda launched it's "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" campaign featuring the CA100 Super Cub.  A mere ten years later, the once mighty BSA firm was history.

Vanished tool makers: McKinnon Industries, St. Catharines, Ontario

Over the years I've encountered a few hand tools with this thistle logo.  I always thought I'd discover that they were of Scottish or British origin.

Then, one day I picked up this monkey wrench and the mystery was solved:

The company seems to have specialized in this type of tool.  Below, another example in my collection:

Most recently, I acquired the wrench below, showing that they also made tools for the Ford Motor Company:

They also made stamped alligator wrenches, likely an earlier offering:

With a strong Scottish family history, Lachlan Ebenezer McKinnon was born in Brampton, Ontario but in 1878 moved to St. Catharines to partner with H.H. Mitchell in the manufacture of hardware for saddlery, harnesses and wagons.    A four-man shop in the back of the store produced wagon gears and a patented adjustable leather dash for horse-drawn buggies. In 1892 McKinnon created a Buffalo, New York subsidiary, the McKinnon & Dash Hardware Company. He branched out into the manufacture of any number of products that made use of metal, including suspender buckles, as well as bicycles and chains.  (In 1896, another factory was built in Troy, New York, which eventually became Plant 2 of the Hobart Manufacturing Company.)  

Troy, New York..  Source:  Troy Tribune
In 1907, the McKinnon Dash and Hardware Company, now operating under the name of McKinnon Dash and Metal Works Company, was named the largest employer of skilled labor in the Niagara Peninsula by the Board of Trade.  It's success didn't last. The company failed to make the transition to automobile dashboards and so disappeared.

When the First World War began, the original McKinnon company was well positioned to supply the allied horse-drawn armies for saddlery. However, they also manufactured shells and fuses and this gave them the expertise necessary to enter the automotive field after the war, where they pioneered the production of differential and transmission gears in Canada.  McKinnon died in 1923 and his company became McKinnon Industries two years later.  At some point they became the Canadian agents for the J.H. Williams Company, producing a variety of hand tools.  In 1929, the General Motors Corporation purchased the firm, spinning off the hardware business in 1936.  During WWII, the company was a huge producer of percussion fuses, fire-control mechanism, traversing and elevating units for 3.7 anti-aircraft guns, dynamotors for two-way radio transmission, handcrank generators, gyro gun sight motors, rear releases for machine guns and even torpedo drives. The plant for manufacture of these additional products necessitated expansion which practically doubled existing floor space. The number of employees increased from 1,800 in 1919 to 4,500 in 1943. 

There's yet another chapter to the story.  Back in 1905, the company took another direction.  Up until then, most chain was made by fire welding.  L.E.'s nephew,  Archie McKinnon, applied the relatively new technology of electric welding to chain production.  In 1909 the McKinnon Chain Company Limited is formed as an independent organization by the McKinnon Dash and Metal Works Company with plants in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and Tonawanda, New York using the electric welding process to produce coil, ladder and 'sugar' chain, donkey and horse trace chain, lorry and plough trace chain, as well as tire chain for cars and trucks.  In 1917 McKinnon Chain merged with the Columbus Chain Company.  (Created around the turn of the 20th century, the Columbus Chain Company, located in Columbus, Ohio, was one of the earliest American suppliers of fire welded chain. The company had been founded by employees of the Hayden Iron Company, which since 1825 had been producing harness hardware but also manufactured coil chain.) In Canada it was known as McKinnon Columbus, and in America it was known as Columbus McKinnon. Either way it was a good fit for both companies. McKinnon brought superior technology, and Columbus brought a better grasp of the American market.  In 1922, the company sold its share of the chain business to Columbus.  The fortunes of the company actually declined until 1925 when board member Julius Stone bought the company.  Self-educated, he had been a telegraph operator, coal miner, brakeman and fireman before founding the Seagrave Company to manufacture motorized fire engines in Columbus.  Recognizing that electric welded chain made in New York was selling better than the fire-welded chain made in Ohio, he moved the company to Tonawanda, New York in 1927, shutting down the Columbus plant in 1931.  Columbus McKinnon went on to absorb many other companies and to other technical accomplishments.  For instance, in the early 1980's, Columbus McKinnon designed and manufactured the only shredder with a sole purpose of shredding steel belted passenger and truck tires. For a fascinating slideshow of the full history of the company, visit their website.

In 1904, Chisholm & Moore introduced the Cyclone high speed hoist, designed to be a previously unheard of 80 percent efficient. Chisholm & Moore used the electric welded chain that was made by Columbus McKinnon, and in 1928 Columbus McKinnon acquired the smaller hoist-making firm. The Cyclone hoist is still considered one of the most popular and reliable hand chain hoists ever designed.  Today, it's made in Lisbon, Ohio.

Below, my Canadian-made McKinnon-Columbus Model M Cyclone.  Unfortunately, the badge giving its lift rating was missing, but these days I only use it when I need to lift myself by my own bootstraps.

Mackenzie monoplane

Larry Milberry, Aviation in Canada, McGraw-Hill Ryerson 1979
The Mackenzie monoplane built by the Red Deer resident in about 1910. It is not believed to have actually flown due to unspecified engine issues.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Locking throttle grip

I've never seen these before. Looks like a pretty good idea, though those clamping screws should have tamperproof heads!

Most Modern Fleet of Chauffeur-Driven Cars, Paris, 1961

Continental Holiday.  The American Travel Guide to Europe.  New York, 1961.

Look at the size of those dorsal fins!  Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the road....

Antique C-clamp

I love the wings on the screw!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Princess Louise and the Lansdowne

Charles Maginley, The ships of Canada's Marine Services, Vanwell Publishing 2003

In 1882 Jotham O'Brien -a shipbuilder in Maccan, Nova Scotia- built a wooden lighthouse supply vessel named the Princess Louise (after Queen Victoria's fourth daughter). As the steamer was completed it was decided to tow the ship to Halifax for the installation of her boiler and engine. The steamer Newfield (roughly the same size vessel) took the ship in tow but before they could clear the Bay of Fundy, a gale parted the towrope and the vessel was driven ashore near Digby, Nova Scotia. The captain and seven crew members lost their life. The Newfield narrowly escaped being wrecked during the same gale.
As the machinery had already been purchased a second identical ship named the Lansdowne was ordered from the same builder. The machinery was shipped to Canada and installed. The Lansdowne served till 1917 when it was retired. The steamer Newfield was wrecked at Digby Neck, Nova Scotia in 1900. 

Shunting engine, 1962

The Port of London.  Official Handbook of the Port of London Authority.  1962

A nice line drawing.

Lawn mower sharpening on your metal lathe

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

First mass production Ski Doo

Fondation Armand Bombardier , Ski-doo, As long as there is winter, 1999

Though they quickly changed to two stroke engines for power, the first production Ski-doo was powered by a 7 horsepower Kohler four stroke, likely adapted from a rototiller or generator. 
The 1958 prototype (below) kept the driver fully enclosed, but a year later that idea had been completely revised and for production the rider now sat astride a longitudinal seat and completely out in the open, the form that has been with us ever since.
Bombardier Museum

Hooper & Co.

Hooper and Co were a London company that specialized in the top (no expense spared) tier of coachbuilding for both horse-drawn carriages and later, automobiles from 1805 till 1959. The company built vehicles for international royalty and industrial magnates for 150 years.

Vanished tool makers: AST, Germany

I rescued this rusty wood chisel recently.  I could just make out a trademark and the word "Germany" under the dirt and corrosion:

Below, cleaned up.  It was made by AST:

I already owned an AST mortising chisel:

The chisels were made by Albert Steup GmbH & Co. of Wuppertal, Germany.  There's very little information on this toolmaker.   The trademark was registered in 1953, but I suspect that the company's roots go much further back than this.


Rear seat position in British cars, 1937 to 1967

Robert Ireson.  The Penguin Car Handbook, Revised Edition.  Penguin Books, 1967.

Sitting right over the rear axle must have made for a bumpy ride for the passengers.