Thursday, April 21, 2016

Board Track Racing

Was there a more elegant, yet insanely dangerous form of racing in the 20's?

I really hope that someone out there will one day build a small 1/2 or 3/4 mile board track to host a pre-war racing event.  This form of racing should continue to be celebrated.  Absolutely amazing.

(photos all from Google Images)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mercedes Streamliner Development

I love seeing pictures of aerodynamic development in the late 30's and 40's in the automotive industry.  Germany was on the mark for sure with aerodynamics and streamlining.  How about some Mercedes development during the W154 period?  Amazing accomplishments!

The pictures below are from THIS article on "My Auto World".  It covers development during the mid to late 30's at Mercedes Benz.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mechanical Craftsmanship - Tower Clocks

Sticking to the topic of inspiration found in mechanical madness and amazing craftsmanship, I thought I would post some random pictures of tower clock "movements".  The mechanical guts that make those hands turn the clock hands far above your local town.  A lot of people don't think much about what's behind those big dials, but you would be surprised what kind of beautiful machines were built to tell you what time it is.

Focusing on the later 1800's and early 1900's installations, you will typical find amazing cast iron frames beautifully hand painted and filled with hand-cut brass gears.  These were typically 8-day clocks, so they would have to be wound once a week.  Some models had a bell strike train to release a hammer on a given time increment (every 15, 30, or 60 minutes) and often had a chiming mechanism to play a tune, as you may often hear in your local church.

I'm currently in-process of volunteer restoration work for one of our local clocks and will post pictures during the restoration, when possible.  In the mean time, here are some pictures for you to enjoy of various tower clock movements.

(These pictures were found on the internet by doing a Google search.  I do not claim these to be mine and if you enjoy what you see, I would encourage you to do a search to see more examples of these times pieces)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Building Your Dream - Friday Film - Petrolicious

Oh man...  Petrolicious just keeps delivering some of the most inspirational videos.  This is one of my favorites and really hits home with me on a future project I'm planning.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Brian Alfonsi - Craft Method

Most of you know, that check in on this blog from time to time, I really like old tools and anything old and mechanical.  So it may come as no surprise that my eye is easily caught when I see a picture of an old machine tool, steam engine, or anything "Rube Goldberg" looking.  One day while cruising InstaGram I came across this picture of this really cool single cylinder steam engine.  I immediately had to check out this person that went by "craftmethod".  Maybe this person has a similar interest (read illness) as the things I look for for inspiration.

So I started following this guy on IG.  Brian Alfonsi.  This guy "GETS IT".  A young guy with real old-world thinking, technique, and style.  He took the leap and is building himself a Machinist's empire as well as an incredible collection of antique tools.

(All pictures used with permission from Brian)

Brian is machining everything from drawer pulls and beer taps, to Yoder power hammer dies for recreation of body panels.  He has machines from about every era including CNC technology and he's not afraid to use them.

Here's a few things from the mouth of Brian himself... (Brian gets all the credit for this write-up.  It was such a great read I wanted to share it as-is.)

My name is Brian Alfonsi. I am 30 years old and was born and raised in the fine state of Michigan. My shop is located just outside of Detroit. I started Craft Method with the desire to be a multidisciplinary maker. The name "Craft Method" was inspired by my interest in the dawn of the automobile. Before automobiles were mass-produced, they were built one at a time by craftsmen and machinery. Historians use the term craft production to describe this method of making. Over the past 6 years, my infatuation with the industrial revolution has lead me to research and acquire several tons of old, belt-driven machinery. I'm restoring them in my free time and intend to set them up in a proper building someday. As a proponent of tradition and technology, my dream shop will be an unbiased space in which modern and antiquated machinery will work together in harmony.

My father has been a machinist for 35 years. When I was 8 years old, he brought home a milling machine and from then on I was hooked. In addition to working over 60 hours a
week at his day job, he would take on side work in our home machine shop and I would help him deburr parts. I give full credit to my parents for raising me with a strong work ethic. I was also fortunate to attend a high school with a vocational education program that was second to none in Michigan. My machine shop instructor, Guy Hart, is the most dedicated teacher I've ever met. He worked tirelessly to improve the program and inspire young people to work with their hands. After high school, I started taking classes at a community college to work towards an art degree. A desire to utilize and exercise my creative side led to this radical change of direction. After a year of art classes, the magnetic force of the Motor City pulled me in and I began working in the concept vehicle group at General Motors. What started as a temporary parts procurement job quickly turned into an amazing decade-long career of building concept vehicles. Fast forward to January of 2015, I made the decision leave GM and start my own business.

I serve clientele that desire quality over quantity. Due to my lifelong passion for transportation, I work with clients on projects involving automobiles, airplanes, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. I've also had the opportunity to make architectural details, custom beer tap handles, tin signs, and other creatively fulfilling work. I get the highest level of satisfaction from a project in which I am granted full creative control. The challenge of taking a project from conception to completion is very rewarding. For now I've been predominately working on client based work, but down the road I intend to create some products of my own.

In 1934, the Museum of Modern Art organized an exhibition titled Machine Art. The organizers of the exhibition wanted to prove that art could be made without the handicraft approach. The objects on display shed a new light on the nature of beauty and value in an age of mass production. Today, there seems to be a resurgence of this mentality. Although I can't take credit for the hashtag, my #machineart posts are heavily inspired by the research I've done on the exhibition. I'm trying to expose the beauty in machine made objects.

My Haas CNC milling machine has been utilized in nearly all of my work so far. Because of this, most pieces I've made are heavily influenced by our current digital age. The triangular tessellation which forms the surface of my Statue of Liberty TIG torch holder is a great example of this. As I complete the restoration of my antique machinery, it will enable me to draw inspiration from the entire span of the Machine Age."

I'm really excited to be sharing Brian's story here.  His story is very inspirational to me and I'm assuming some of my readers as well.  Here are some additional pictures of his operation and work.  Hopefully this will inspire people to get out there and make beautiful things WITH beautiful things.