Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another job you wouldn't want to do: Beading holloware and hanging ware

J.E. Hansen (Editor).  A Manual of Porcelain Enameling.  Published for the Ferro Enamel Corporation by The Enamelist Publishing Company, 1937.

One of my vices is vises: Pin Vises

Use and Care of Hand Tools and Measuring Tools.  Department of the Army Technical Manual No. 9-243.  Washington, D.C., 1960.

George W. Barnwell (Ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Machine Shop Practice.  NY:  Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc., 1941.

(I think the vise at the bottom of the drawing above is more accurately referred to as a "hand vise.")

Below, my small selection of pin vises:

The one at the bottom is particularly interesting.  On the Web, it is usually referred to as a pen-style watchmaker's pin vise.  The knurled knob at the end unscrews to reveal a cavity in the handle for storing probes or drill bits.

Pin vices have been around for a while.  Below, the Goodell Brothers Company Pin Vise from 1896:

Pin vises offered by Starrett in 1938:

Starrett Catalogue No. 26, 1938.

"Sonny" Levi and the Speranzella

John Bohannan.  Your Guide to Boating Power or Sail.  Barnes & Nobles, 1965, 1969.

"Sonny" Renato Levi was born in Genoa (or Karachi) in 1902. (The name 'Sonny' was bestowed by an ayah who could not manage the letter 'r.')  His father was an interior designer and manufacturer, but also an enthusiastic motor-yachtsman.  As a result, he found himself in the boat-building business, doing contract work in Bombay for the Indian government.  Sonny was in Cannes when World War II broke out.  Here the stories diverge.  In one, he joined the RAF.  In another, he became a real-life James Bond, passing misinformation on to the Germans and becoming the subject of a 2015 book: Doublecross in Cairo.  Somewhere along the line, he is supposed to have studied aircraft design and joined his father's business after the war.  In 1960 he moved to Anzio, Italy to work for Navaltecnica, which specialized in rough water patrol craft for the government.   During his tenure, he counted among his customers rich, playboy powerboat racers such as Gianni Agnelli, Count Augusta, and the Aga Khan who were prepared to fund his more daring ideas.  Levi pioneered the design of radical deep-V racing hulls.  His A'Speranzella was the 1963 Cowes-Torquay winner.

To read a 2013 interview with Sonny Levi and the history behind the deep vee hull, click on The Speed King.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Schneider Trophy racer, Supermarine S4

 The Supermarine S4 was an R J Mitchell design for the 1925 Schneider Cup contest, held in Baltimore. It was a radical departure from the previous Flying Boat biplane designs, being an all-wood monocoque monoplane with externally unbraced wings, to which a steel framework was constructed ahead of the wings to attach the engine. It set a new World speed record before the event of 227 mph. Unfortunately during the elimination trials, the plane crashed into the sea and was too damaged to continue. The design was perhaps a bit too advanced, the crash was attributed to wing flutter. The race was won by Billy Mitchell in the Curtiss racer, at an even higher speed than the one set by the S4. Image above, engine tests at the Supermarine factory.
On the slipway at the factory.

Images from Ellsion Hawks, British Seaplanes triumph in the Schneider Trophy Contests, Real Photographs 1945
The S4 being launched at Baltimore.

Windsor station, Montreal

A century later, the station building hasn't changed in appearance  though we have less streetcars and cigarette advertising.

Atomic Bomb test on TV, 1953

The New World Family Encyclopedia.  Standard International Library, 1953.
Experience it in the comfort of your own home!  Or cave...

Colin M. Bain, et al.  Making History  The Story of Canada in the Twentieth Century.
Prentice-Hall, 2000.

The design of a motor-car door handle, 1955

Oxford Junior Encyclopaedia.  Volume VIII.  Engineering.  Oxford University Press, 1955.

The British firm of Wilmot-Breeden made a wide variety of components for the British car industry (and, during World War II, the wings for the Supermarine Spitfire!)  Eventually sold to the Americans via Rockwell International and now gone.

1949.  Source:  Grace's Guide

Across America by Motor-Cycle, 1919

On June 13, 1919, ex-RAF pilot C.K. Shepherd rode his Henderson-4 (named "Lizzie") across America, arriving 4,422 miles later in California on August 7th of the same year.  It's a fascinating read!

The images above are from an electronic version digitized from, oddly enough, a copy presented to the University of Toronto in 1980 by the Ontario Legislative Library.  What the book was doing there will forever remain a mystery.  You can download it at the Internet Archive.


In 2010, a blogger named Chris decided to trace Shepherd's cross-country journey on a modern motorcycle.  Read his adventures at Across America by Motorcycle.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Repairmen may gyp you...

Front cover
Published 1951

Back cover

Love the illustrations.
Read the whole frightening story here! 
Best to throw broken things in the garbage and buy new.

Citroen DS suspension

Going up, going down...

Tandem Corliss engine driving electric light plant, 1907

Cyclopedia of Modern Shop Practice.  Chicago:  American Technical Society, 1907.

According to Wikipedia, "A Corliss steam engine (or Corliss engine) is a steam engine, fitted with rotary valves and with variable valve timing patented in 1849, invented by and named after the American engineer George Henry Corliss of Providence, Rhode Island."  There's an example at the London Science Museum that you can watch on YouTube.

Founded in 1886 in Milwaukee, in 1944 Nordberg designed and built the largest diesel engine that has ever been built in the United States. It was placed in a Victory ship.  As another interesting piece of history, Adolphus Busch, of Anheuser-Busch beer fame, had acquired the first American rights to the diesel engine in 1898.  He founded the Busch-Sulzer Diesel Engine Company in 1911, and Nordberg bought it in 1946.  Nordberg itself was bought and sold several times, finally by the Finns who closed the Milwaukee factory in 2004.

When Sears used to sell metal lathes

These lathes turn up today in places like Cardon Tools, outside of Perth, Ontario.  Below, photos taken by Mister G on his inaugural trip to this local tool mecca:

From what I've read online, these weren't bad little lathes, although not in the South Bend league.  Cast parts on some were made of Zamak alloy, which is not as strong as cast iron.  Perhaps that's why the headstock cover plate has been replaced with engine turned sheet metal, which is sort of like lipstick on a pig.  Nice enough job, but it looks goofy to me. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fleet Freighter

After years of building small single engine trainers, in 1936 Fleet decided to get into the bush plane market. After sending a questionnaire to bush pilots, the company came up with a conventional fabric over steel frame biplane with a low wing loading for short take-offs and good carrying capacity.  The plane was designed to be a versatile platform with freight, passenger and military versions proposed as well as being capable of being easily outfitted with wheels, floats or skis. For ease of loading freight, large cargo doors were designed in.
 The prototype first flew in February of 1938.  330 hp Jacobs radials were the intended engines but as they were not ready in time, 285 hp engines were substituted which left the aircraft underpowered. The larger engines, when fitted did not remedy the situation as the power was offset by the extra weight of the engines. 
 Only five were built and they were not well received, mostly to the power issues and the onset of WW2 put an end to the development program. Given different circumstances the plane might have been developed into a successful aircraft as it handled well and the basics were all there- it certainly looks the part of a bushplane.
 All aircraft had short lives and the last was retired in 1946. Remains of two are in the collection of the Canadian Airplane and Space Museum, so some day we may see one on display.

The prototype CF-BJU nearing completion.

All images- Ron Page and William Cumming, Fleet, The Flying Years. Boston Mills Press, 1990

I'll do it better on Dated Coffee

Old newspaper ad found in a derelict building.

Anyone for a 1930's Ford truck project?

Seen at a local auction several years ago.

Vanished Tool Makers: American Toy and Furniture Co., Inc., Chicago, Illinois

Above my Model 500 woodburning tool or "Wonder Pen" from this company.

I don't know when they started making it, but the ad below celebrates its return to production at the end of World War II:

Popular Mechanics, December 1945

Ten years later it was still doing well, with accessories in a bigger kit:
Life, November 1955
The company also made tool kits for boys:

Boys Life, January 1948

The company was co-founded by Meyer and Eleanor Rapaport.  On Meyer's death in 1959, his son Gerald gave up his career as a clinical psychologist to take over the reigns of the company. In addition to the products above, the American Toy & Furniture Company manufactured highly decorated children's furniture and games, which were sold through catalogues such as Sears, particular for the Christmas season.  Mr. Rapaport died in 1987, and the company filed for bankruptcy in December 1992.

Sidecar Sunday