Public service broadcasting.

This month’s update is slightly different in that unusually, we have some music with an engineering connection laid on! I stumbled across a duo called “Public Service broadcasting” some time ago while trawling through YouTube. They are unique in that they don’t have lyrics as such to their performances, instead they use old recordings of globally important events or public information films as the narrative, most of which were recorded in that particular 1950’s upper middle class accent that only the British can do! The YouTube video below, has been taken from a film documenting the construction/refit of a Loco (Hence our interest) and it contains some really interesting footage of seriously heavy engineering.

It would be fun to count the instances of H&S violations in the modern world, of note at 4:12 we have some footage of a “Man Mountain” welding a sledge hammer like it’s a child’s toy, the gentleman in question is of course long gone, but I guess he wouldn’t be the best person to knock his drink over in the pub!

I understand the music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I am not that fond of electronic sounds either, but it’s worth a look and listen, turn it up to “Eleven”* sit back and enjoy the engineering!

Their best offering for me, is simply called “Go” and tells the story of the Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s decent onto the surface of the moon punctuated with dialogue from mission control. “Spitfire” is a close second, doesn’t take a genius to work out what that’s about! Enjoy.

*Ten is the loudest the amp will go up to;eleven is of course “One Louder” and therefore better! Courtesy of Spinal Tap of course.

Minature Marvels.

Our next YouTube offering is of an Italian gentleman who constructs some extremely complex and intricate models of air powered IC engines. I find his work to be a true inspiration,who would take on a double row radial engine, with what has got to be the ricketiest looking lathe I have ever seen, no milling machine and a well-used drill press. There is no CNC and DRO’s here, lots of what he creates is initially hacked out with and angle grinder, he makes cams with the thing!!! If anyone wanted to start model engineering and was put off by the cost of machines, they need to look at this guy’s prestigious output, if you have the skill, determination and patience, all the modern machinery in the catalogue is just icing on the cake. Get to it, I want a miniature V8 on my desk by tomorrow night!

The video below is of his W-32 engine.

His video page is given below, a feast for the eyes, and ears lovely gentle music plays over his workmanship.

Flying fast and the miracle of the human body.

Last but by no means least, down the club one afternoon a discussion broke out about the human body and how old is oldest part of it is, I seem to remember seeing this on an episode of QI and from memory (I could be wrong!) every part of you is replaced on a continuous basis, including the less obvious bits like brain tissue and bone! The oldest parts being just seven years old, this is absolutely amazing in my book.

This discussion reminded me of something I read about with regard to Unlimited Air racing, which takes place in Reno in the USA. To get the best time round a closed course the racers tune RR Merlin’s nearly to the point of destruction and modify the airframes of WW2 fighters to the same limits of performance! As you can imagine there have been some truly disastrous examples of taking things a bit too far, when it comes to air racing, it’s not the hobby of wimps or the poor. The bit at the bottom gives you an idea what’s going on in the human body, every second of the day and night, now that is real engineering!

The Unlimiteds go flashing through the racecourse, engines howling, air shearing, heat waves streaming. Four hundred eighty miles an hour is 8 miles a minute, and the elite racers take about 70 seconds to cover the 9.1 mile Reno course. If you could take a souped P-51 racer flying the circuit at Reno, slow time down, and examine just one second, what would you find?

In that one second, the V-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine would have gone through 60 revolutions, with each of the 48 valves slamming open and closed 30 times. The twenty four spark plugs have fired 720 times. Each piston has travelled a total of 60 feet in linear distance at an average speed of 41 miles per hour, with the direction of movement reversing 180 degrees after every 6 inches. Three hundred and sixty power pulses have been transmitted to the crankshaft, making 360 sonic booms as the exhaust gas is expelled from the cylinder with a velocity exceeding the speed of sound. The water pump impeller has spun 90 revolutions, sending 4 gallons of coolant surging through the engine and radiators. The oil pumps have forced 47 fluid ounces, roughly one-third gallon, of oil through the engine, oil cooler, and oil tank, scavenging heat and lubricating the flailing machinery. The supercharger rotor has completed 348 revolutions, its rim spinning at Mach 1, forcing 4.2 pounds or 55 cubic feet of ambient air into the combustion chambers under 3 atmospheres of boost pressure. Around 9 fluid ounces of high octane aviation fuel, 7843 BTU's worth of energy, has been injected into the carburettor along with 5.3 fluid ounces of methanol/water anti-detonant injection fluid. Perhaps 1/8 fluid ounce of engine oil has been either combusted or blown overboard via the crankcase breather tube. Over 1.65 million foot pounds of work have been done, the equivalent of lifting a station wagon to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

In that one second, the hard-running Merlin has turned the propeller through 25 complete revolutions, with each of the blade tips having arced through a distance of 884 feet at a rotational velocity of 0.8 Mach. Fifteen fluid ounces of spray bar water has been atomized and spread across the face of the radiator to accelerate the transfer of waste heat from the cooling system to the



In that one second, the aircraft itself has travelled 704 feet, close to 1/8 mile, or roughly 1.5% of a single lap. The pilot's heart has taken 1.5 beats, pumping 5.4 fluid ounces of blood through his body at a peak pressure of 4.7 inches of mercury over ambient pressure. Our pilot happened to inspire during our measured second, inhaling approximately 30 cubic inches (0.5 litres) of oxygen from the on-board system, and 2.4 million, yes million, new red blood cells have been formed in the pilot's bone marrow.

In just one second, an amazing sequence of events have taken place beneath those polished cowlings and visored helmets. It's the world's fastest motorsport. Don't blink, or you will miss it!