Smith-Roles Comet

A piece of Canadian history finds a new home and is put back to work after many years dormancy.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

I was surprised to learn that there were arc welders manufactured in Canada at one point, the world’s finest, in fact. Operating out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the late 1940’s when many farms did not have electricity, Smith-Roles began making welders driven by surplus WWII generators that could be run off of a tractor. They made welders and other farm shop tools until the early 1970’s in Canada and the United States.

I found this machine listed for sale online and took a chance on it still being in working order. It has all its original cables, extension cord, and leads and even the accompanying battery charger that draws power from the welder. The power level selection is facilitated by plugging the two leads into a grid of number and letter coordinates based on the accompanying chart. I cleaned it up, checked over the cables, and wired it up and it seems to be in fine order. One end of the extension cord is wired into a junction box which allows the welder to keep its original proprietary plug intact.

So far it has been instrumental in creating a portable forge stand and finishing the corner handrail project. Thanks to Dennis for preserving this piece of Canadian metalworking history for so many years.

Smith-Roles Comet
Model 180 CH
Serial No. 6111
15-180 amps output
230v/33amps input
20% duty cycle

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Island Blacksmith: Hand Forged Metalwork.

Smith-Roles Company History

Sometime during the 1950s or 1960s, this firm manufactured the “Comet” bench grinder and a metal cut-off saw. The company itself, founded by Tom Smith and Clem Roles, began after World War II to sell a combined generator and welder that used war-surplus generators. They gradually expanded into other equipment useful for farmers, including drill presses and metal cut-off saws. They went into receivership during the late 1980s.

The Smith-Roles manufacturing facilities consisted of the Saskatoon factory and an adjacent foundry, known as the Blanchard Foundry. The Blanchard name was used on some of their products.

Besides their Canadian presence, they had sales office and warehouse in Minot, ND and in Wichita, KS. The North Dakota operations were already in operation when the Kansas operations were started in 1974. The American operations sold the Smith-Roles shop tools and small farm equipment: combine monitors, drill-fill augers, metal cut-off saws, tire changers and bench grinders. Smith-Roles arc welders were big sellers in Canada but were not sold in America because of import duties.

Source:
http://vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=1995

One of the main problems for early manufacturing on farms was the lack of electricity, which prevented the use of welders. On the basis of research at the University of Saskatchewan concerning farm use of generators to produce electricity, Clem Roles modified war surplus generators that would power welders; with his partner Tom Smith, he formed Smith-Roles Ltd. to market the welder outfit. Following Rural Electrification, the company began to manufacture line welders, expanding several times its manufacturing field equipment; but in the late 1980s it went into receivership.

Source (about halfway down the page):
http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/agricultural_implement_industry.html

the air compressor, grinder, and snowmobile:
http://www.nelsonsauction.com/2009-sales/2009-10-17/100_1524.jpg
http://www.nelsonsauction.com/2012-sales/2012-03-17/schwartzenberger%20March%2017%20031.JPG
http://www.nelsonsauction.com/2009-sales/2009-10-17/100_1526.jpg
http://www.vintagesnowmobiles.50megs.com/PP3688.html

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