Monday, December 11, 2017

Rube Goldberg & Professor Lucifer Gorganzolla Butts, A.K.

For the origins of the professor, click here.

Remembering Firth Motorcycles, Toronto

I used to take the subway frequently to Firth's (at the Coxwell station) to get parts initially for my 1967 Royal Enfield Interceptor and, after 1976, when I bought my 1974 Commando.  Harry Firth was quite the character.   (He once told me, a wet-behind-the-years teenager, "Royal Enfield!  Best bank in the world!  You're always putting money into it!").  Harry was actually issued a U.S. patent for a "combined tail light and end piece" in 1948:

Towards the end of his business days, Harry complained that Norton was shipping him incomplete motorcycles in crates, which would be missing a saddle or some other essential part, but include a snarky note in its place. He basically told me that these stupid actions were killing the Norton company, because he couldn't sell a bike in that condition. (To see some of these clowns, visit my previous post.  Today, what's left of them probably sit around in grimy pubs complaining of the loss of their glory days, and blaming it all on someone else.)

I remember that you had to go up a steep flight of wooden stairs to get to the parts counter upstairs, where a gorilla of a guy named Ron greeted you gruffly and with little enthusiasm.  After Harry retired, I'd heard Ron and Harry's daughter Lois (?) bought him out and renamed it "Loron Motorcycles." 

When they answered the phone, it always sounded like "Moron Motorcycles."  I said as much, and I don't think they appreciated the feedback.

To see some more photos of Firth Motorcycles, visit Moto Code.

Anyway, I was cleaning out some old file folders recently and discovered I'd actually kept a 1978 Firth catalogue!  Below, for your edification and enjoyment from that time machine:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Unlikely survivor, Chysler K car

Looking at this characterless anemic little wheezer, its hard to believe that it changed Chrysler's fortunes. This one is nearly perfect 35 years later, interior as new and only a bit of rusted rocker panels, something that usually manifested itself after a year or two of use. And hey! Its available!

Puch Maxi, 1978

Scientific American, July 1978
The almost final gasp of the once mighty Steyr-Daimler-Puch.

I've uploaded a 3-page article from 1982 on rebuilding the engine here:  Maxi Rebuild.

Sidecar Sunday

George Booth on Junk Collecting

It's often a thin line between cool stuff and junk.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Environmental solutions!

Doing a double take when I found this, i remembered stopping at a dealership in LasVegas in 1981 to buy some oil. 
"Where can we change this", we asked. 
Out in the desert, they said.  So we did, though it didn't sit comfortable with me even then. 
 Working with old leaky tractors over the decades, I learned that a gas leak would kill grass for months, diesel was particularly evil, taking multiple years to restore the ground.  But motor oil and hypoid didn't seem to cause a problem, the grass just kept growing. 
Still, having a few hundred million people dumping a couple of gallons all over the place every year just boggles the mind. 


From difficult beginnings in Saskatchewan in 1947, it took to the mid-sixties before a workable plan was finally adopted nationally in the sixties. More here.
Apologies on the gap in posts, I've been availing myself of the Ontario plan in recent days as I struggle though high fevers and debilitating headaches for the last week and a half. Hope it's all behind me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Electric conversion

Take an old sixties Honda, toss away all the gas engine related stuff, add a hub electric motor and a couple of bags of batteries... a new lease on life!

Thomas Automobile comapny

The Thomas Automobile Company was located in Buffalo, building their first car in 1899. The company was well regarded and when a Thomas Flyer won the 1908 New York to Paris around the world race, it only added to his reputation. The luxurious Six-Forty above sold for $ 5150 in 1912. The company went into receivership the same year and built its last car in 1919,