A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of November,  Solar Year 2018

He Says “Woof”

November 2, 1947 marks the first and only flight of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose.

In 1942, the U.S. War Department needed to transport war material and personnel to Britain. A requirement was issued for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic with a large payload; however, because of wartime priorities, the aircraft could not be made from strategic materials such as aluminum. Henry J. Kaiser, a leading ship builder, teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create the largest aircraft ever built at that time.

The aircraft was designed to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 fully equipped troops, or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks. The final design was to be built mostly of wood to conserve metal, with its elevators and rudder covered with fabric. The construction of the first prototyple, the HK-1, took sixteen months. Henry Kaiser, frustrated by the long delays and the restrictions on materials, decided to withdraw from the project.

Howard Hughes continued the program on his own, under a new contract limiting the production to one plane, now the H-4 Hercules. Work proceeded slowly and the H-4 was not completed until the war was over. The plane was built by the Hughes Aircraft Company using composite technology for the laminated wood construction. The finished plane was moved in three sections to Pier E in Long Beach, California, where a hanger was erected around it with a ramp to launch the H-4 into the harbor. In all, development cost for the plane was twenty-three million dollars, or more than ten times that in today dollars.

On November 2, 1947, with Howard Hughes at the controls, and a crew of seven, and fourteen invited guests, the Hercules picked up speed and lifted off. The Hercules remained airborne for 26 seconds at a height of seventy feet above the water and a speed of 135 miles per hour. At this altitude the aircraft still experienced ground effect. This brief flight proved that the now uneeded aircraft was flight worthy. The Hercules H-4 never flew again; its lifting capacity and ceiling height were never tested.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has the Hughes H-1 Racer and a section of theH-4’s wing. The Aero Club of Southern California acquired the Hercules H-4 aircraft in 1980, displaying it in a very large geodesic dome in Long Beach, California. The club later arranged for the aircraft to be given to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon where it is currently on display. The 315,000 square foot aircraft hanger where the Hercules H-4 was built, located in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles,  is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 1st of October, Solar Year 2018

Love with a Heart

October 1, 1908 marks the introduction of the Ford Model T by the Ford Motor Company.

The Ford Model T was produced by the Ford Motor Company from October 1908 until May of 1927. It is regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American. The success of the automobile came not only because it provided inexpensive transportation on a massive scale; but it also signified innovation for the rising middle class and became a symbol of the age of modernization.

Although automobiles had been around for decades, by 1908 they were still mostly scarce, unreliable and expensive to purchase. Marketed as reliable and easily maintained, the Model T was a immediate success. Within days of its release, fifteen thousand orders had been placed. On September 27, 1908, the first production Model T left the factory at Piquette Avenue in Detroit.

The Model T was designed by Childe Harold Wills, and Hungarian engineers Joseph Galamb and Eugene Farkas. The original engine was capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol, which eventually became an impractical fuel once Prohibition started. The ignition system was an unusual one, using a low-voltage magneto incorporated in the flywheel, as opposed to the high-voltage ones on other vehicles. This made the Model T more flexible in the quality or type of fuel used. The starter was hand-cranked; and acetylene and oil lamps provided illumination for the road.

In the first years of production from 1908 to 1913, the only colors available for the Model T were gray, green, blue, and red: Green for touring cars, town cars and coupes; Gray for only town cars; and Red only for touring cars. By 1912, all cars were painted midnight blue with black fenders. In 1914, the policy became only black cars, due to the low cost, durability, and faster drying time of black paint in that era. During the lifetime production of the Model T, over thirty types of black paint of different formulations were used on various parts of the car.

The initial cost of a Model T Runabout in 1909 was $825 with the Model T Touring costing $850, equivalent to about $23,000 today. With the innovation of the moving assembly line production at the Ford Company, the costs dropped substantially: from $440 in 1914 to $345 in 1916. By the year 1925, with almost two million cars produced that year, the cost of a Model T Runabout was $260 and the cost of the Touring Model was down to $290. Overall, a total of 14,689,525 Model T’s rolled off the assembly line during its years of production.

Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre, The S.O.S. Chair, 2003, Fiberglass, Polyurethane

Fabio Novembre was born in Milan in 1966. An architect since 1992, he became famous through a large series of design projects for restaurants, nightclubs and shops in Italy and abroad, as well as through his unique pieces of Italian furniture designed for Cappellini, Driade and Flaminia.

Novembre proposes works that highlight curvaceous forms and elegant and innovative lines. He often emphasizes sex within his creations. He stands on the boarders of provocation and poetry, contemporary art and design with his pieces.

The S.O.S. line is a joinable system of armchairs and chaise longue realized in a cubic form with a structure in lacquered matt black fiberglass. The sitting area is covered with a bielastic stitch spread in polyurethane and PVC, in a golden color.

Pontiac Chieftiain

Classic Hood Ornament of the 1952 Pontiac Chieftain

The Pontiac Chieftain is an automobile, manufactured from 1949 to 1958, porduced by Pontiac, a division of the General Motors Company. The 1949 Chieftain, along with the Streamliner models, were the first new car designs from Pontiac since World War II.

The Chieftain was introduced initially with four model designs; the Business Coupe, the Sedan, the Sedan Coupe and the Delux Convertible Coupe, each model having a choice of four engines. For the  1952 model year, the Chieftain was the only model car available when Pontiac discontinued the Streamliner line.

The hood ornament was made of amber plastic that lit up when the headlights were turned on.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 19th of July, Solar Year 2018

Sailing Away

The steamship SS Great Britain is launched on July 19, 1843.

The SS Great Britain was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an English mechanical and civil engineer, for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, SS Great Britain was the first to combine both features in a large ocean-going ship.

The ship’s design team, led by Brunel, were initially cautious in the adaptation of their plans to iron hulled-technology. With each successive draft however, the ship grew ever larger and bolder in conception. By the fifth draft, the vessel had grown to 3,400 tons, over 1,000 tons larger than any ship then in existence. The ship was originally designed to use paddle-wheels for propulsion: however, after testing a number of different screw propellers over several months, Brunel persuaded the company directors  to build completely new engines suitable for powering the new propeller.

The launching or, more accurately, the “floating out” took place on 19 of July, 1843. Conditions were generally favorable and diarists recorded that, after a dull start, the weather brightened with only a few intermittent showers. Following the launch ceremony, the builders had planned to have Great Britain towed to the Thames for her final fitting out. Unfortunately, the harbor authorities had failed to carry out the necessary modifications to their facilities in a timely manner. This dilemma was to result in another costly delay for the company. After being trapped in the harbor for more than a year, SS Great Britain was at last floated out in December 1844.

When completed in 1845, Great Britain was a revolutionary vessel—the first ship to combine an iron hull with screw propulsion, and at 322 feet in length and with a 3,400-ton displacement. She had four decks, including the spar upper deck, a crew of 120, and was fitted to accommodate a total of 360 passengers, along with 1,200 tons of cargo and 1,200 tons of coal for fuel. An innovative feature was the lack of traditional heavy bulwarks around the main deck; a light iron railing both reduced weight and allowed water shipped in heavy weather to run unimpeded back to sea.

On 26 July 1845, seven years after the Great Western Steamship Company had decided to build the ship, and five years overdue, SS Great Britain embarked on her maiden voyage, from Liverpool to New York under Captain James Hosken, with 45 passengers. The ship made the passage in 14 days and 21 hours, at an average speed of 9.25 knots, almost 1.5 knots slower than the prevailing record. She made the return trip in thirteen and a half days, again an unexceptional time. In her second season of service in 1846, Great Britain successfully completed two round trips to New York at an acceptable speed, but was then laid up for repairs.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 7th of July, Solar Year 2018

Casual Attitude

July 7, 1880 was the birthdate of the American inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder.

Otto Rohwedder was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Claus and Elizabeth Rohwedder, of ethnic German descent. He attended the public schools in Davenport, eventually becoming an apprentice fo a jeweler to learn a trade. He continued his studies, graduating with a degree in optics from the Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology in Chicago.

Otto Rohwedder became successful in his career as a jeweler, expanding his business to three locations in Saint Joseph, Missouri, where he had settled with his wife and two children. He used his experience with watches to invent new machines in his spare time. Convinced that he could develop a machine that would slice bread, Rohwedder sold his jewelry stores to fund his efforts. In 1917 a fire broke out in his factory, destroying his prototype and his blueprints. Forced to find new funding for his project, it took several more years before he could bring his machine to market.

In 1927 Otto Rohwedder successfully designed a machine that not only sliced the bread but wrapped it afterwards. He applied for patents and sold the first machine to Frank Bench of the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri, in 1928. The first loaf of automatically sliced bread sold commercially on July 7, 1928, on Rhowedder’s forty-eighth birthday. Sales of the machine to other bakeries increased and sliced bread became available across the country.

In 1930 the Continental Baking Company of New York City introduced their “Wonder Bread” as a sliced bread. Other major companies saw the success of the marketing and followed with their own sliced products. The availability of standardized slices boosted the sales of the 1926 invention, the automatic pop-up toaster. For the first time, American bakeries in the year 1933 sold more sliced than unsliced bread loaves.

Otto Rohwedder was granted seven patents for his bread slicing and handling machines between the years 1927 to 1936. In 1933, he sold his patent rights to the Micro-Westco Company of Bettendorf, Iowa, and joined the company. He became vice-president and sales manager of the Rohwedder Bakery Machine division. His original bread-slicing machine is in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

The Glass Insulator

Blue Colored Hemingray CD257 “Mickey Mouse Ears” Glass Insulator

The Hemingray Glass Company operated between 1848-1972 and was the largest manufacturer of glass insulators in the world. This five inch high cable-style insulator by Hemingray was produced from 1910 to 1940. It was used in secondary power distribution and had a voltage rating of  6,600 volts. They were produced in two versions: a regular saddle groove (as shown) and a wide saddle groove for heavier gauge wire. It was patented on June 17, 1890.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 23rd of June, Solar Year 2018

The White Alcove

On June 23, 1868 Christopher Latham Sholes patents the typewriter with the QWERTY keyboard.

In 1837, at the age of eighteen, Christopher Latham Sholes moved to the new territory of Wisconsin where he initially worked for his elder brothers, who published a newspaper in Green Bay. Shortly thereafter Sholes became editor of the “Wisconsin Enquirer”, in Madison. After a year, he moved to Kenosha to take charge of the newspaper there and soon entered politics, serving in the state legislature. In 1860 Sholes became editor of the “Milwaukee News” and later of the “Milwaukee Sentinel”.

In 1864 Sholes and a friend, Samuel W. Soulé, were granted a patent for a page-numbering machine. A fellow inventor-mechanic, Carlos Glidden, suggested to Sholes that he might rework his device into a letter-printing machine and referred him to a published account of a writing machine devised by John Pratt of London. Reading the article in the 1867 issue of the journal “Scientific American”, he was inspired to construct what became the first practical typewriter.

It was the second model attempt by Sholes that received a patent, US 79265, on June 23 in 1868. The working prototype was made by the machinist Matthias Schwalbach. It wrote faster than a pen and had the first QWERTY setup of the keyboard. The first typewriter had no shift-key mechanism though: it wrote in capital letters only because of the problem of printing both capitals and small letters without increasing the number of keys. Later improvements in the machine Sholes made brought him two more patents; however, he developed difficulty in raising working capital for future development.

Sholes sold his patent rights for $12,000 to Densmore and Yost, who made an agreement with the sewing machine and arms manufacturer E. Remington and Sons, a firm with the machinery and skill to carry out the development and marketing. Remington began production of its first typewriter on March 1, 1873, in Ilion, New York, placing the first typewriters on the market in 1874.

Among its original features that were still standard in machines built a century later were the cylinder, with its line-spacing and carriage-return mechanism; the escapement, which causes the letter spacing by carriage movement; the arrangement of the type bars so as to strike the paper at a common centre; the actuation of the type bars by means of key levers and connecting wires; printing through an inked ribbon; and the positions of the different characters on the keyboard in a QWERTY format, which conform almost exactly to the arrangement that is now universal.

Mark Twain purchased a Remington model and became the first author to submit a typewritten book manuscript.

Art Deco Radio

Addison 2 “Waterfall” Catalin Art Deco Radio, 1940, Dark Green and Butterscotch

The Addison 2 was made circa 1940 by Addison Industries Limited in Canada. It had an Art Deco unique styling and bold use of color; in this model it featured a marbleized dark green-black case and butterscotch trim.  This streamlined radio design featured the famous “waterfall” speaker grill trim and surround “bumpers” at the base with speed-lines.  A fairly small radio for the period, it measures 10.25 inches x 6 inches high x 5 inches deep.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 21st of June, Solar Year 2018

Pastel Study in Blues and Pinks

The original Ferris wheel opened to the public on June 21, 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

George Washington Gate Ferris Jr. was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.

The buttressed steel wheel that Ferris designed was truly original—so much so that the structure’s design had to be derived from basic assumptions because no one actually had experience constructing a machine of this size. By the winter of 1892, Ferris had the acquired the $600,000 in funding he needed but had just four months of the coldest winter in living memory to complete construction before the expo opened. To meet the deadline, Ferris split the wheel’s construction among several local machine shops and constructed individual component sets congruently and assembled everything on-site.

Construction crews first struggled with laying the wheel’s foundation. The site’s soil was frozen solid three feet deep overlaying another 20 feet of sand that exhibited liquefaction whenever crews attempted to drive piles. To counter the effects of the sand, engineers continually pumped steam into the ground to thaw it, then drove piles 32 feet deep into the bedrock to lay steel beams and poured eight concrete and masonry piers measuring 20 x 20 x 35 feet.

These pylons would support the twin 140-foot towers upon which the wheel’s central 45-ton, 45-foot-long, 33-inch-wide axle would rest. The wheel section measured 250 feet across, 825 feet around, and supported thirty-six enclosed wooden cars that each held up to sixty riders. Ten-inch steam pipes fed a pair of one thousand horsepower engines—a primary and a reserve—that powered the wheel’s movement. Three thousand of Edison’s new-fangled light bulbs lit up the wheel’s supports.

The Ferris Wheel opened on June 21, 1893 on the first day of the Exposition and ran until November 6th of that year. A fifty cent fare entitled the rider to an initial six-stop revolution as the passengers filled the cars and then a nine-minute continuous revolution with views across Lake Michigan and parts of four states. The attraction was a success, earning $726,805 during the Exposition. By 1906, after operating for thirteen years in three locations, the original Ferris Wheel had fallen into disrepair and was slated for demolition. It required three hundred pounds of dynamite to completely level the wheel and shatter its foundations.

The Stealth Bomber

The Stealth Bomber Electric Bike from Sweden

Ultra-powerful electric bike with nine pedal speeds using an internal gearbox in the bottom bracket. Top speed of 50 miles per hour with a 1.5 kwh battery pack and 4,500 watt motor. Long travel front and rear suspension to soak up bumps and jumps, this thing is more motocross than ebike.