Sunday, July 14, 2019

A new toy

Yes, it IS a toy ! :-)

This Week End in our travels spotted this old Erector construction set, at first glance it looks like it is mostly complete.

Oh and also picked up a Panel raising plane and another BBM bit.
And yes, there were chocolate involved :-)

When I was growing up in the 60s, Meccano was, bar none, my all time favorite toy.  The possibilities were endless and I could powered up my contraptions!  For years that was my combined birthday and Christmas present.  I was born near Christmas, so I could combine and get a bigger set :-)

Never thought much of Erector, to me they were simply an imitation of the real McCoy, Meccano.
But turns out there is more to that story.

No idea if there are, most likely, missing parts...yet.
One big part is obviously missing, the electric motor. 

 Researching my new toy, found out that Erector was the most popular construction toy on this side of the pond.  Well, in America, here in Canada, Meccano reign supreme, being of British Commonwealth origins.

Both Meccano and Erector are construction set using metal parts and models are assembled with nuts and screws.  They both resemble each other at first glance, but there is a patented notable difference.



Meccano (see video) first came out in Liverpool, England in 1898, invented by Frank Hornby.
It uses flat stock, panels, girders frame piece etc are all flat, except a few angle connector and etc.
It uses small 8-32 slot screws and square nuts.

Meccano was also on the US market
Some of the flat panel sheets could be bend around shapes.
They uses thin metal, an early plastic (brittle), Mica and more modern plastic in later years

Erector,(see video) came out in 1913, invented by AC Gilbert in New Haven Conn USA.
It uses similar pieces to Meccano, but the patent difference lays in the girder's construction.  For more stiffness, they are stamped with an interlocking depression in the back.  It allows to make strong beam structures.

The stamped girders makes for stronger and lighter beams structures than Meccano


Both makes uses of pulley, gears and etc and you could powered your creations by using a steam engine (Meccano) then electrical motors on both Meccano and Erector. Earlier versions used 110 Volts electrical (mains) later used a lower voltage DC motor (18, then 3V battery power).

Both makes had a variety of size kits to makes various models, lets identify my set to find out what it is supposed to contain.

Turns out, my set is the No 8-1/2 (All Electric) and is the first set to have the whistle.  Its not really a whistle, it drags on a rotating shaft and makes sounds  like a whistle of some sort.  Mine is MIA.

Typical of both sets, the so call assembly instructions are very sketchy.  Basically a picture of assembled model with perhaps a few close up drawing of sub assemblies.  The rest you were supposed to figured it out.  And that was half the fun :-)




Here are some of the models you could build with this set Instruction manual 

Empty box and inventory what we have.
Then armed with this guide, figured out what parts are what and we can also dated them.



I am obviously missing the blue cardboard cut outs for both layers.  They help store and protect the pieces and you can see at a glance what is missing.  Also MIA besides the whistle and manual, are one other box of parts (mostly nuts and screws), one flange wheel (Z), the sheave pulley (AQ), one small baseplate (MC) one light bulb holder (NH) (and both 1-1/2 volts bulbs, NI).  And of course the motor (A49).  Wow, impressive, that most parts are still present.  No doubts because many of the same parts were bolted together.  That sure helped a lot...

Found out that I could download hi res copies of the missing sticker on top of the box, and others small characters (parachutist, merry go round horses etc)  Also of course a copy of the manual, and interesting enough, even a downloadable template to make my own replacement cut out.  Very cool.  By now, if you are thinking, these Erectors sets must be collectible? Short answer Hell Yes! :-)

Armed with a pictorial of what the top and bottom layers are lay out and which parts and qty, it was easy to reassemble my parts as they would had been and visualize the missing ones.

Bottom layer

Top layer

The stickers inside the box are in good shape.
First set with the whistle.  And I bet mine was not the first one loosing it...


Alright, enough playing, recreation is over kids.

Bob, reminiscing about all the stuff I made with my Meccanos thru the years.  Wonder what ever happened to my sets :-(

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The other Yankee screwdrivers...

When you think Yankee screwdrivers, the first thing that come to mind is probably the ubiquitous Yankee automatic spiral screwdrivers.

But North Bros originated all kinds of other fastening tools, including a wide variety of ratchet screwdrivers.


Lets have a look at some I came across lately.



Yankee No 3400 small offset ratchet slot screwdriver

Was available in a few other blade tips under similar series Numbers

No 3400 had 2 different sizes slot screwdriver tips,
No 3412 had 2 Phillips bits, No 1 and 2
No 3422 had a Phillips No 2 and a Reed & prince No 2
No 3423 had a Phillips No 2 and No 3

Never seen the other ones, but the No 3400 comes up often on various online sites and in person...


Yankee Stanley, that makes it post 1946


Two different blade width on it.
The larger one is 3/8, the smaller 1/4 inch wide


Lets have a closer look at patent

Patent No 2058855
DATAMP screen shot

The original patent drawing, 1936


After Stanley took over , in 1946, they continued North Bros tools at their factory in Phila and they were stamped
NORTH BROS. MFG. CO. DIV. OF STANLEY TOOLS PHILADA
Later on they will gradually shift all production lines to New Britain Conn and shut down the original North Bros factory.  From there on (30 Jun 1958) ALL North Bros/Stanley tools are now simply stamped Yankee, Stanley, such as my example.

Mine is probably a mid 50s to late 50s version since it still has the 1936 pat date on it.  Patent being good for about 20 years, say possibly 1936-1956 before they removed the Pat date.

Ad from Popular Mechanic magazine of Mar 1951.
Still shows Philadelphia address

There is a similar sized version made by General Hardware Mfg Co, I do not know if it featured the same long ago expired patent design.  Instead of a series of various tools with different fixed bits, that one uses simple 1/4 inch hex bits inserts.

The General version.
Pic from Amazon

The Stubby ratchet screwdriver No 2H Handyman

A small 4 inch overall long ratchet screwdriver.  Like all North Bros products, it has a very smooth operating and rugged mechanism.  It is a delight to use.  Blade tip is 5/32 inch wide




Ad in Sep 1939 Popular Science

Besides the handy ratchet mechanism, a great advantage of these two small screwdrivers is that they both featured a proper slot screwdriver for woodworker, parallel tips.

They are both roughly 4 inches long

Great find, great tools.  If you ever come across some of North Bros products, unless it had a rough ride and put away wet, you will find that they are great tools and are smooth operators.

Bob, barely scratching the surface of his new pile of tools.  Rudy and I are back under adult supervision :-)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Yes, birdhouses...

Jean and I are part of the Glooscap First Nation Elders society.  Jean is the vice president and I, do whatever she asks me to do :-)
We meet once a month and are trying to revive interest in the group by showcasing various crafts as part of our gatherings.  Last month, Jean did candle making, then she volunteered me to do bird houses today.  Next month she will be making wreath.  Hopefully someone else will pick up after that, or my turn will come back fast :-)

But jokes asides, I don't mind and it is fun.
The challenge was how to pull it off in a relatively short time, while using basically very simple instruments.  Just something up my alley :-)

The nite before, I gathered my tools and supplies, read up on birdhouse, downloaded and printed some materials to pass around, etc

My original bright plan was to round up some of the decorative bird houses around my yard as example, then build one like I will be demonstrating and build it all from one board 1X6X6 ft with no power.

That's where my brilliant plan started to unraveled fast.  I got stuck in a struggle to keep my tool kit light and minimalist.  Those that knows me will understand why I struggled with minimalist intentions, so many choices :-)

The scene last night on my kitchen floor, trying to decide on what to bring

Oh, by the way, me and Rudy are left without adult supervision for two days, Jean is gone to a retreat with the grand kids.  Will try to keep out of trouble :-)  Yes Dear, I cleaned up my mess :-)

After a few (too many) iterations, this is what I got before calling it quit at 2130.
I did not build one that nite, need a longer board than I was willing to sacrifice

Part of my bright plan was to showcase a few different tools to do the job.  But not knowing my audience genders make up and interest, I had a few back up plans and parts to skip ahead :-)

Sure enough, it turns out that I had an all female audience today, so I concentrated on the technical details, read going over some of the critical features of a good bird house.  Stressing the why and no-no's.

I made some last minutes changes to my tool kit, of course, but still managed to forget to bring some stuff like screws, nails, drivers bits, square, pencil... So much for last minutes preparations.
OH, and I forgot to bring some example of decorative birdhouses with me.

No biggie, had to make a stop on my way to buy a 1X6X6 ft long Eastern white pine board and a box of Hot Dipped Galvanized (HDG) finish nails.

Thankfully I had my tape measure, which I temporarily misplaced last nite in between two beers.
At one point I even text her asking if she has seen my tape lately?  I'll abbreviate the answer to just NO :-)

So armed with my trusty Disston D7 cross cut saw I proceed to cut my board into 6 pieces.  I was going to bring my saw horse, but nixed that quickly last nite, it would had entailed moving around too much stuff.  I made do using two foot rest from one of the couch.  That worked well until my board became too short and was impossible to keep straight on the upholstered saw horse.  Switched to a regular chair to finish my last cuts.

This is where I got my dimensions and most of my data on bird houses
http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/making-bird-houses.html

After going over the requirements of a proper bird house, explaining the dimensions and hole size and location etc, etc. Came time to drill a  1-1/2 inch hole.

Shown the options: Brought a corded electric drill, mounted in a small portable drill press attachment.  That was because of one choice option for the bits, the Forstner.  By hand you risk to mess up or break your wrist, especially with the larger sizes with saw tooth edges.
Then shown the cordless drill with two types of paddle bits (skipped the lecture on bits geometry) and the brace.  I of course choose the brace, a Spofford brace with a big center bit.  I tried it last nite and it was more chewing than cutting, so I gave it a quick touch up sharpening and big difference.

Came from both sides as soon as the center pin goes thru, to minimize splinters.
At this point realized that I forgot both sand papers and rasp,  but discussed the importance of a smooth entrance hole and some of the way to guard against predators or other bully bird species.
Putting a double layer of wood around the hole or putting a metal ring, piece of flat metal stock etc.  All to prevent them from chewing the hole bigger

Then one more important detail, we need to makes some sort of scratches with saw blade or a small gouge, on the inside surface of the entrance hole board to give the bird a way to climb his way out.

For assembly I used no glue (unnecessary) but if I was using one, it would need to be outdoor rated.
Shown them the differences between regular shiny finish  nails and HDG ones.  The irregular surface texture helps them grip better.  For added strength I shown them how to dovetailed the nails.

One side panel is not nailed in but is held only by the two top nails acting as a pivot hinge.  For cleaning and inspection.

The intended recipient of my bird house

I was purposely wearing a Toronto Blue Jays T-shirt, asking them to guess what type of birdhouse I will be building?  Apparently, not many of these ladies, if any, follows much Major League Baseball, Toronto MLB team are the Blue Jays :-)

After about 1/2 hour, I had this rough but serviceable bird house to show.

I changed the plans on the fly, I angled down the roof instead of straight across.
Yes, the bird house is resting on top of my upholstered saw bench :-)

The left side opened up for inspection and cleaning.
The bottom floor has its four corners cut off.  That is for drainage and air ventilation.
Yes, sandpapers would had been nice, oh well.


I ended up with a 19 inches piece left over from my 6 ft board.
5 straight crosscuts cuts with the D7
One angled cut (yielding two match angled sides) with the D7
One hole with a brace and center bit
Cut the corners on floor piece (4 cuts) and made a few saw cuts inside the front piece with a tenon saw, crosscut
Assembled with regular claw hammer and HDG finish nails 1-1/2 in long and voila!

Of course having forgotten my screws, it is missing a small crucial detail.  You must secure the side against predators opening it.  That's why the side opening is a better option than a top opening.  Also makes its easier to clean.  Important in between residents to not transmit diseases among them.

I would add one screw at the bottom to secure it down.  Yes, you need to open it with a screwdriver, but it is very secure.
Small inconvenience for us, peace of mind for the residents.

Then a clean up and make ready for a special birthday girl, Patty Smith, who is or is one of the older elder on the reservation.

The birthday girl is blowing her candles.
It was successful :-)

We had some special visitors dropping in to wish her happy birthday.
L-R Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap reserve, Patty Smith and Canadian Senator Dan Christmas

And Rudy during all of this, you ask? I left him with his doggy girl friend at Jean's Mom place, whom I picked up for the gathering.  The two of them, Rudy and Eva, gets along very well and keep each other company.

Back home later had a nap then supper.

Rudy photo bombing my latest pick at my recent chocolate run (Tm)

Long day but an interesting one, we both learned a lot more about bird houses.

Bob, and Rudy still unsupervised for one more nite :-)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

My outside movie theater experiments.

Last year there was a quick flash sale at my local Canadian Tire store (CTC) on a outdoor screen and projector for roughly half price. They quickly went out of the projector, but had a couple screens left.
Picked up the screen for half price, $50.

This year, went shopping for a temporary outdoor shelter with bug screens. To be placed over my recently moved platform.

In order to fit on top of the platform, I needed a 10 X 10 ft shelter.  Those are plentiful and cheap.
But it had to come WITH the bug screen, not as an add on.

Found this one at Giant Tiger, on sale for $199.  Ball's detent connections and wing nuts/bolts.
Goes up easy and wont take much room in storage.  Definitively wont survived any snow load, will come down for the season. `


Turns out, my platform is not approx 11 ft square, it's barely 10 feet across and the corners are chopped off.  Fit around it for now, but will repair damaged corner and make it square again, to screw on the shelter on top.

And then it rained...again...

In between rains, we managed to finished it.
We were bound and determined to finish it while we had the grand kids for a sleep over :-)

In my travels shopping around for the shelter came across this inexpensive RCA (Curtis electronics) projector for $98 at Walmart.

The projector I picked up alongside the screen I got last year.
Oh that bag of treats??

Alright, we both know what it is, gave it to me...

Projector...check
Screen...check
Popcorn machine...check
Speakers and amp...uhhh???

Works great, no complaints, except that at this price point, you get no built in speakers, only headphone out mini stereo jack.  Had to lugged in my older retired receiver, rummage thru my adapters, plugs and cords, then hook up speakers to get it going.


Assembled the screen outside

Set it up an optimistic 17 feet away!! :-)

Humm not much of a picture, lets see what they recommend...
2.15 meter.  I'm Metric challenged, but that sound a smidgen smaller than 17 ft :-)

Reset the screen 4 ft away, we have a picture but projector needs to be raised.
What you see is the reflection thru the bug screen of the shelter, not the pic on the screen

That worked, we watched the adventures of TinTin, the Spielberg movie with the kids.
The reflection thru the screen is distracting, need something better.

For a source, I plugged in a Google Chromecast dongle and used my phone and Wifi to cast movies on it (Netflix, Crave, You tube etc)

The next morning after the winds and rains.
That screen has the firmness of an Al Dente noodle...

Plan B, put the screen inside, add some shower curtains for shade and rain protection.

Speakers got wet overnite, will need some protection.

This old curtain look like the kind of wall paper pattern you would find at Gramma.
That old lamp rescued, fit the decor well :-)
We call this corner: Grammy's corner  

The other corner is more hipster for a younger Rudy

Then the screen.
Need to make it more taut

Amp hooked up, Chrome cast on.
Last minute inspection by Mr Rudy

All looks good from here dad!

It did not took long for Rudy to steal Jean blanky and wrapped himself in it.
It was a bit damp, what with all the rain we been having...
Mosquitoes protection is a must!!!!!

I got a picture about 8 ft diagonal, and room to pull back the projector some more.

View from outside.
Movie was Charlie's Angels

It is a tad cosy, but functional.  This site will be for  a future outdoor kitchen building.
At which point I may relocate the movie theater, but for now it will do nicely.
This would make a great, inexpensive set up for my friends camping.

Pass the popcorn and ...ACTION!

Bob, with a few more projects resulting from this experiment