Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We used to make things in this country: #270. Silhouette dishware

Silhouette made large etched aluminum plates and trays like the one above.  Can anyone provide us with any information on this Canadian firm?

Exploded B.M.C. "Mini" engine

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

Hooke joints, more commonly known over here as universal joints, were first investigated systematically by Robert Hooke beginning in 1667, and given the name "universal joint" by him in a treatise he published in 1676.  That far back!  It's also known as a U-joint, Cardan joint or Spicer joint.  The Wikipedia entry is quite fascinating, albeit (at least to me) equally abstruse. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dayton Thorobred Cord tires, 1925

Sedan Delivery

Milling armature cores on a Becker milling machine

Howard Monroe Raymond.  Modern Shop Practice, Vol 3.
Chicago:  American Technical Society, 1902, 1919
That's a complicated jig!

Originally founded in 1899, Becker merged with Reed-Prentice in 1922.

We used to make things in this country. #269: Northern Pacific record player

A visitor sent me a photo of this lovely wooden-cased record player made by Northern Pacific.  The company may have been out of North Vancouver.  Can anyone shed any light on this firm?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Airplanes in formation, Mustang

Roger A Freeman; Mustang at War, Doubleday, 1974

See Chicago

Looks like a stained glass window.
The back cover to Seeing Great Chicago, 1929

The Rolleiflex: How a twin-lens reflex camera works

From Aaron Sussman.  The Amateur Photographer's Handbook.  Seventh Revised Edition.  
New York:  Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1941, 1965, 1967.

Vanished skills: Installing a mortise lock, 1951

From Walter E. Durbahn.  Fundamentals of Carpentry.  Volume II.  Practical Construction.  
Chicago:  American Technical Society, 1951.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hard to resist

I don't need another micrometer but when you find them at a fleamarket in the original box like this...Fortunately the seller wanted more money than I wanted to pay so I don't own it.

Aerial warfare evolves

Edmund Hunter.  The Story of Arms and Armour.  Ladybird Books Ltd., 1971.
Illustrations by Robert Ayton.

Vanished tool makers: Dropstamco (Drop Stamping Company Ltd.) Birmingham, England

I recently acquired this set of "British Made" Dropstamco Whitworth wrenches.


There's not a lot of information online about this tool maker. According to the "New Companies" section of the November 23, 1934 issue of The Colliery Guardian, the company was founded that year:

Drop Stamping Co., Ltd. — (Private company.) Birch-road, Witton, Birmingham. To take over the business of hot forgings manufacturers carried on by C., H., and A. Hickman, at Witton, Birmingham. Nominal capital, £3,000 in £1 shares. Permanent directors C. Hickman. H. Hickman (chairman), and A. Hickman. Qualification of directors, £500 shares.

It's not clear from the above whether Messrs. Hickman had a previous business under their own names, or bought another company and became its directors.  In any event, I can't find any information on C., H., and A. Hickman.  The "Dropstamco" trademark wasn't filed until 1949. Below, the factory in 1951:

Source:  Britain from Above
I can't find any information on what happened to the company.


Sidecar Sunday

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Smiths Interval Timer

I rescued this device many years ago when a children's centre in Kingston was being closed down.  If I hadn't taken pity on it, it was headed for the dumpster.

As can be seen from the clock face, it was made by English Clock Systems, which was a branch of the  Clock and Watch Division of Smiths Industries Ltd.  Anyone who has owned a British motorcycle or car will recognize the Smiths name.  Founded in 1851, Smiths sold off the Clock and Watch Division in 1980, closing their last clock factory in 1983 and selling off their motor accessories business to Lucas.  They went on to buy Lear Siegler and to concentrate on the aircraft industry.  With a host of acquisitions, they became the Smiths Group in 2000.  The aerospace division was divested in 2007 and the company is doing very well today.

To see a short video history of the firm, visit the company website.

Rules for the International Fishermen's Race, Halifax, 1923

R. Keith McLaren.  Bluenose & Bluenose II.  Willowdale, Ontario:  Hounslow Press, 1981.

Ford V8 Station Wagon "Woodie" pedal car

Friday, September 15, 2017

Beginnings of the Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine company

In 1924, the Wright Aeronautical Corporation had just introduced the Whirlwind radial engine but the team that had developed the engine was not pleased with the direction management was taking the company. 
The president resigned, as did gifted engine designer George J. Mead and other members of the engineering team. Talks with officers of the Niles Bement and Pond company of Hartford Conn., a large machine tool company led to the formation of a new aircraft engine company named after the wing of the company building they would be located in. George Mead and his small team got immediately to work in a drawing office set up in Andy Wilgoos's garage in New Jersey. Six months later the first prototype of the new Wasp was assembled and running.
By the end of WW2, twenty years later, the company had built over 375,000 radial engines.
The factory on Capitol St. in Hartford. The first Wasp engine was built and assembled in the second building from the left foreground. Below, the complex today.

Cary Hoge Mead, Wings over the World, The Life of George Jackson Mead, The Swannet Press 1971

Another job you wouldn't want to do: sorting coal

The New Wonder Book Cyclopedia of World Knowledge.
Philadelphia & Toronto:  International Press, 1954.


The Practical Handyman's Encyclopedia, Volume 1.  Greystone Press, 1965, 1968.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Canadian Pacific Selkirk

Don Ball Jr., Portrait of the Rails, Galahad Books, 1972
Canadian Pacific had 30 of these 2-10-4 giants to haul heavy trains between Calgary and Revelstoke.

AMC Pacer Wagon

The owner has a sense of humour!

Handley-Page Hannibal

T.E. North (Illustrator).  Timothy’s Book of Aircraft.  London: Collins, 1958.

Apparently, these slow, heavily loaded aircraft used to wallow dreadfully, and air sickness was very, very common among passengers.  Hengist (brother of Horsa and legendary conqueror of Britain) burned in a hangar fire in India in 1937.  Of the eight aircraft made, all were gone by 1940.  Google it, and you can find a video of one these immense biplanes on youtube.

See Mister G's earlier post on these aircraft.  We've got so much stuff on this blog now that it's getting hard to keep track!

Evolution of Gem hand punches

Top above, a punch stamped McGill M.P. Co., Pat. 2120682. Bottom above, a punch stamped McGill Co., GEM, Pat. 2,735,492. (This punch was featured in an earlier post.) Both are also stamped Marengo, Illinois.

The first patent was issued in 1938 to Robert H. Sharp, who assigned it to the McGill Metal Products Company of Chicago, Illinois.  The second patent was issued in 1956 to Stanley Cain, who assigned it to the McGill Metal Products Company of Marengo, Illinois. The patent application also references an 1868 patent granted to John and George Daniel Friese of Baltmore, Maryland for a "ticket punch."

The biggest difference between the two tools is the diameter of the punch, which is much smaller in the older one:

In the patent description for the earlier punch, the inventor emphasized that his design related "particularly to the form of hand punch which is used by conductors, waiters, card players and others, for punching holes of various sizes and shapes in tickets, score cards, paper and other materials."  I'd be interested in learning how waiters used these devices.  By 1956, however, the punch was now just being used as we use it today, to punch holes in paper in preparation for putting the paper into a binder.  For this purpose, the holes had gotten bigger.

According to Naked Binder Blog

Loose-leaf paper was patented in 1854. Also in 1854, patents were filed for both the 2-ring and 3-ring binders by Henry T. Sisson of Providence, Rhode Island. Sisson recognized the need to be able to protect pages, although he was not yet exactly sure how to fix the problem.  No loose-leaf binders were available on the market at that time. 
Fast forward a few years and go to Germany where Friedrich Soennecken is said to have invented ring binders in 1886 in Bonn, Germany. He also registered a patent on November 14, 1886, for his Papierlocher für Sammelmappen (“paper hole maker for folders”, or hole punch).
The American Friese patent mentioned earlier predates Soennecken's by almost twenty years!  Maybe that's why we don't refer to them today as Papierlocher für Sammelmappen.  Good thing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Seen at the CVMG Paris meet

Northrop Delta

 Almost the quintessential 1930s streamline style airplane, the Northrop Delta was a passenger development of the earlier Gamma. A change in US airline regulations specified multiple engines for airliners and the Delta was obsolete soon after being introduced. 
The Royal Canadian Air Force had tested the Gamma and decided they needed a plane like that. The Gamma was not available and the Delta was adopted instead, serving as a survey plane and general use aircraft. Canadian Vickers obtained the license and built nineteen between 1936 and 1940. The aircraft was withdrawn from service a year later and served as airframe instruction aids in several schools though the 1940s.
 A fuselage of a crashed example currently resides at the Canadian Air and Space museum in Ottawa.