Friday, November 11, 2016

COSLETT MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT COMPANY - local success story in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur....

It goes without saying that industry boomed here in our Lakehead cities throughout the beginning and middle of the 20th century.  Coslett Machinery and Equipment was one of those success stories along with many others, beginning in the 1920's and possibly before...I have no historical proof before the 1920's however.  The business boomed through the years mainly at 571/573 S. Syndicate Ave. in Fort William and on Lorne St. in Port Arthur with a brief stay at a building at 608 S. Vickers St in 1968/69.  (research by telephone books and Henderson directories). 
One of my all time favorite porcelain advertising pieces was the following United Service Motors sign, which adorned the Coslett Hardware building in the 1920's.
The Coslett Hardware Co. (Coslett Machinery & Equipment Co.) were one and the same.  In 1951 the proprietor was William R. Coslett, and the sales manager was William R. J. Coslett.  (I believe father and son)  They were Industrial Jobbers and distributors for pumping systems and pumps for all types of diesel and gas generating, logging, construction, municipal, industrial and mining equipment, marine diesel and gas engines, market garden equipment for golf links estates etc.  They sold machine tools, woodworking machinery and sawmill supplies, belting, oil filters and batteries, power mowers barn equipment and a plethora of hardware supplies to the general public as well.  They were quite a diversified company.

Here is a newspaper advertisement showing the inside of the store in the 1930s.  To the right is a fairly large (about 1 foot long) mirrored thermometer advertising the company from my personal collection.  Below is the enlarged top portion of this showing phone numbers before the dial telephone system came to our twin cities.  They also had a location at 188 Lorne St. in the downtown area of Port Arthur off Cumberland Street.
As mentioned above Coslett's sold hundreds of different items including Naphtha Gas in bottles as shown in the following two photos (thanks to Russ Wanzuk for allowing me to photograph his bottle).  On the label was also the "United Service Motors" logo, and it also showed their address on Syndicate Ave.  It is quite an interesting bottle with a glass stopper from the 1920s.                       From WikipediaNaphtha is a general term that has been used for over two thousand years to refer to flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixtures. Mixtures labelled naphtha have been produced from natural gas condensates, petroleum distillates, and the distillation of coal tar and peat. It is used diversely in different industries and regions to refer to gross products like crude oil or refined products such as kerosene.  We always used it to start briquettes in the BBQ.

Below is an original invoice from my files from 1928 where Coslett's were selling items to Pigeon Timber Company from Port Arthur.....its fun to compare prices.  Be sure to click on all the photos to enlarge them.
Matchbook Cover 1950's

This is how Coslett's looks today as Henderson Glass.....

Their Port Arthur Store would have been down here on Lorne St.

Here's another angle of the building taken in early spring...note the reflection of the Ogilvie Elevator in the right window.

The photo on the left is the last known location of Coslett Machine...there is a new building there now as shown in the photo but the address was 608 S. Vickers St.
Hotrods and Jalopies hope you enjoyed this post....... Posts to now stand at nearly 3/4 of a Million views.  Thanks for looking all these years.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016 - The Best of HR&J and more.....

It's been great fun doing Halloween posts through the years on HR&J, and this year I thought you might enjoy some of the "best of" on Hot rods and Jalopies that were posted for Halloween plus a few
If the weather stayed fairly nice, the Intercity Drive In would open for a "SPOOKTACULAR" evening of scary films some of which you will likely remember.  * Be sure to click on all the photos if you want to see them larger...

Here's a less than two minute trailer of "The Blob"  Starring of all people Steven "Steve" McQueen in one of his early films playing the character "Steve".  Click the arrow in the middle to view.

 ....a few more to watch with your honey at the drive-in......

Well maybe you wouldn't watch the above one with your girlfriend....maybe your kid sister or brother....LOL

This Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi classic scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.


The spirit of Halloween lives in all of's easy to recall the joyous times we had when we were kids growing up and now our kids, and kids kids are enjoying the same fun we had.  The following are a few vintage pieces of advertising from the 1960's and before.

Here's a couple of pieces of Texaco advertising using the good ol' Jack o lantern to let us know that it's Halloween and from this point on "It's Gonna Get Cold".

In the Spirit of Halloween and The Munsters, I'm sure some of you gearheads have built these two model cars by AMT sometime during your life.

Two of George Barris' designs above were the Munster Coach and Drag-u-la.  My friend Dennis and I had the distinct privilege to meet George Barris at his shop after we attended the Grand National Roadster Show in January of 2014.  George has since passed away and left an indelible mark on the hot rod culture in both our countries.
Dennis Winko, George Barris, Dave Cano

One of my all time favourite Halloween moments were when my great friend Ron Clark and I dressed as the Blues Brothers for a Halloween bash at the old Armani's on Victoria Ave back in 2003.  Ron's son Steve Clark is of course the leader of The Sensational Hot Rods show band.  In these photos, we were up on stage singing "Ghost Riders in the Sky".  Ron has since passed away and is dearly missed by many...RIP my old friend.

Thanks for checking Hotrods and Jalopies...hope you enjoyed the post.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jack's Switch Engine and preserving vintage tin in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario.

I've always wanted to tell this story....most of it is fact but keep in mind that some is somewhat hearsay...  I've been told this through the years and believe it to be the truth.
PLEASE NOTE - NEW DATA - (I received an email from Merlin's family friend Kevin Herman who set me straight on the information that was hearsay.  The new and correct information is shown in red).
The story will develop into wondering why us gearheads preserve vintage tin.
The story begins in 1927 when a young man named Jack Merlin came to Fort William with his father at the young age of 3.  Jack and his family lived in Montreal, as his father was working for Canada Car and Foundry there.  His father was promoted to Superintendent of the Fort William plant in 1927 so off they went to make their home here at The Lakehead.  Jack himself began working at Can Car in 1941 at the age of 17 and retired in 1989.  During this time two important things happened.....
Firstly he had an affinity for old cars of which he purchased his first at age 12.
Secondly, during his tenure at Canada Car and Foundry he had purchased a Canadian Locomotive Company 44Ton 44H44A1 Type Switcher commonly named DT2 (CPR Class HS-5B) powered by 2-250HP Caterpillar D-337 engines from the then Great Lakes Paper Company, which was stored at Western Metals.  It was retired from CP Rail use on July 29th of 1974 and was also owned by Calonego Construction.  The original CPR number was #12 and Great Lakes Paper changed it to #231.  Jack had to remove it from Western Metals so why not take in home...which he easy feat.
...Now when you travel west up Oliver Road and not too far before Murillo....look to your left and you will see Jack's train on a short piece of track set back on his may also notice a few old vehicles along Oliver Road near the train, however what you can only see from aerial photos thanks to google earth are literally 100's of vintage vehicles there mostly from the late 1940's to the late 1970's, and even a bit later.  I had the privilege about 12 years ago to visit Jack's collection with my old friend Clarence Merko and Jack.  I was blown away by the massive amount of fully intact cars in there, of which all are for sale by contacting Jack's son Bill according to family friend Kevin Herman, who also helped me out immensely to correct all that you see in red here (Thank You Kevin) now some photos.
The original Great Lakes Paper 
Mill and Woodlands Logo.
This is one of the many Great Lakes Paper's Original switchers
but not Jack's.  This one is #128 and the GLP logo is shown on the 
side.  This engine was previously owned by Can Car before going 
to GLP and was a General Electric Unit.  I believe that Jack would 
have operated this locomotive.

Here's GLP #129 - not Jack's either.
Kevin sent me this updated photo of #12 before Great Lakes Paper purchased it.

This is what you will see as you head out west towards Murillo on the south side of Oliver Road.

To the left is a close-up of Jack's train on the property and the photo on the right is the same engine  - a CLC 44TON built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1958.  The paint scheme had changed somewhat but it was the Great Lakes Paper switcher.  The window configuration is exactly the same.

The next photo shows approximately where it is located on the Merlin property and also shows the massive amount of cars from a Google Earth photo.  Oliver Road runs east and west along side the property on the left.  The top of the photo would be east and the right would be south.
 This next photo is a similar photo turned showing Oliver Road along the top....left is west and right is east.
 Jack Merlin was a great guy, and the visit that Clarence and I had those many years ago was very memorable.  I remember seeing Jack at auto auctions around our city and was always likely to win with his bid.  I must also mention that Jack ran "Merlin Motors" in 1960 as well as working at Can Car.  There is no phone listing in the 1960 phone book, but Merlin Motors was located at the same location as the Merlin property is today.  The Merlin family did live at 2627 Arthur St. in Fort William in the early years...the property would have been just west of Papa Piccolino's Pizza where the two apartment buildings are today...and Jack did have a few cars on that property to the chagrin of local neighbours nearby.  Their original house was actually moved out to the Oliver Road location as well.
The next part of this post is firstly a story that was posted on this blog in January of's a great memory written by my friend George Rogers who now lives in Winnipeg......It is about the excitement in finding an old piece of junk when we were kids which was always elusive as we were either run off someones property or we could never afford it at the time.....this falls in line with all the vintage tin still on Jack's property....still elusive to this day.
Please click on this link to view the post then return for the rest of the story.... Field of "A's"

This is a photo of the guys wife who wouldn't let us kids purchase the cool potential hot rods.
 This final group of photos are a few of my own field finds and what they became over the years
'32 Ford Coupe before from Mankato Mn.
My '32 Ford as it appeared in American Rodder magazine in 1995.

This Old Stock Car Chassis
....and this old stock car wreck
from about 1954
 The Chassis and Body parts on the left were restored to the modified race car here.  This was another check mark off the bucket list.

Many of you have already seen the before and after of the model A sedan I drive.

Last is my present Model T custom started as the partially primered sedan in this field of dreams, but took me way to long to finish to the "Thai Teal" sedan you see in the last photo below.

Thank you to Jack for preserving that diesel engine and all those great cars...thank you to George Rogers for the impressive local story and thank you to all those who held back from scrapping all that tin and saved a few pieces for guys like myself to resurrect them into something new again.  It's been a fuel tank's almost on more projects for me.....LOL.