A terrible thing happened to me late last year. Whilst walking through the Central Library I passed a shelf with a sign on it saying “All books 50p”.
I bought a lot of them.
Most of the books have subject matter suitable for Steam Geek, so I’m going to start scanning some of the images from them and posting them here.
First up is Bizarre Ships of the Nineteenth Century by John Guthrie. Published by Hutchinson Scientific and Technical in 1970. From the Editor’s Note-
This series of books is primarily intended to be of interest to those professionally concerned with the design, construction and operation of ships and other marine vehicles. Many remarkable changes are now taking place in the size, shape, speed and capability of conventional ships of all types, while hovercraft, hydrofoil ships and other unusual vessels are beginning to have a striking effect on the maritime scene. Technical staff and management increasingly need up-to-date design data and specialist information on a wide range of topics, and it is hoped that most books in the series will be of direct value to them, and to many students at universities and technical colleges.
In addition to specialist monographs and student textbooks, the series also includes books having a broad appeal to all those who want to know more about the fascinating variety of craft which can be seen in ports, on rivers and at sea: this book is one of that group. Its principal purpose is to remind us of some of the odd and highly unorthodox vessels which have played a minor but not inglorious role in the development of the modern ship. This chapter of nautical history is easily overlooked and often decried, but many of the freak ships built a century ago taught a technical lesson which had to be learnt the hard way and which is not always fully understood even to-day. Quite apart from its professional value, this story of the mostly unsuccessful, but always brave, attempts of bold inventors and enthusiastic cranks has a personal appeal which is difficult to resist. It is written simply and directly by a ship surveyor with a lifelong experience of all types of craft and an enduring passion for the telling details which are essential to a real understanding of the way in which ships, large or small, successes or failure, matter to the men who design and build them and then risk their lives to test their belief in something different.
It’s a good day for steampunk at BoingBoing. As well as the pneumatic underground they also point to the Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Elecric Railway, which operated between 1896 and 1901. The carriage was mounted on legs so that it stood 24 feet above the submerged rails. At high tide it could manage no more than 2 miles per hour and required a qualified sea captain, life boats and other rescue equipment at all times because it was travelling in the sea.
Steam Geek was a companion to Scale, where I posted about cool old technology, particularly of the “What if?” variety. As it’s been dormant for a while I think it’s time to bring its archives across to Spinneyhead. Some of these links may no longer work.
I won an Airfix model of a Fairey Rotodyne through EBay, so the helicopter/plane hybrid made a good subject for a first post. I was a little lazy and just rounded up data from the Internet-
The Fairey Rotodyne was a compound helicopter of unprecedented size at the time of it’s first flight on 6 Nov. 1957, having originally been ordered by the then British Ministry of Supply, later the ministry of Aviation, in August of 1953.
First Flight : November 6, 1957
Engines: 2 * 2.800 hp Napier Eland NEL7 Cruise Speed: 300 km/h Range: 700 km Weight: Max: 14.900 Kgs Rotor Span: 27.43 m Length: 17.88 m Height: 6.76 m Disc Area: 591 m2
The Rotodyne was extremely large, with a cabin volume of 93m3 cubic feet. The logistical attributes of the machine were considerable with rear clam-shell doors allowing the loading of large motor vehicles. A forward-located door permitted simultaneous entry and exit of passengers, which would have allowed a quick turn-around in a commercial airline operation.
It was estimated that a passenger load of as many as 48 could have been carried by the Rotodyne. That passenger compartment was 14m long, 2.4m wide, and 1.8m in height.
The Fairey Rotodyne originated from an idea for a large compound helicopter by Dr. J. A. J. Bennett and Capt. A. G. Forsyth of Fairey Aviation, whose original study dates back to 1947. Their concept evolved into the “Eland” Rotodyne prototype, which sucessfully completed its maiden flight in November, 1957. Its four-bladed rotor was powered in helicopter mode by tip jets, driven by compressed air. This compressed air was lit with fuel at tip jet combustion chambers to drive the rotor, removing the necessity for an anti-torque tail rotor. The tip jets were extinguished at about 60 mph after a normal helicopter takeoff, converting the aircraft to an autogiro. In autogiro mode the collective pitch of the rotor blades, and hence rotor lift, was reduced with up to about half the weight taken by the wings, allowing much higher speeds than conventional. When approaching to land the tips were relit, converting the aircraft back to helicopter mode for a normal helicopter hover and landing.
And that’s just the first few results from a Google search. I’ll be mining the results for further info as the build approaches.