Engineer v “Engineer”

This blog is “engineer friendly” or “designer who designs from practical experience” friendly, as I was just saying to Ivan in the Aficianados thread.

How can we know the manhours these people had on the water or in the air or alternatively,  how far are they designers out of university, trying to impress with their shiny new toys?   Where my life is concerned [or death], I’d want to know those teams of engineers came up through the ranks and started out with a grip on design principles.

In fact, before I board that aeroplane [which is why I have a down on Airbus and Boeing], I’d like to know the background of the engineers and even then there are prejudices.   Also, I’d like to know if the design came through free R&D and not via some bureaucratic “push this through now”, money dependent initiative.   [Yes, know that's naive.]

And the mindset is important.   One of my Russian friends who uses his computer at breakneck speed is into overclocking and all sorts of things I don’t even start to try to understand.   First thing he used to do in looking through my computers was install FAR [on PCs].   There were things in there I’d never dreamed were there.

I don’t have the mindset for IT – an accomplished user but not much more.   I understand PHP [which is pretty simple language use] and various other goodies by hanging about with engineers but all it does is show me my limits.

To the story today.   Sent under the heading “when engineers run the company”, I presume it’s going to be engineer-praiseworthy:

Just over a year since the final launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis and the retirement of the Space Transportation System, SpaceX has successfully launched a Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket — the first ever commercial resupply mission (CRS-1) to the International Space Station.

Watch the engine explode:

Yes, you read that right: During last night’s launch, an engine exploded — and yet the Falcon 9 rocket continued its climb into the stratosphere unabated. Believe it or not, Falcon 9 is designed for such “engine out” occurrences. When you’re burning RP-1 and liquid oxygen to produce 138,000 pounds of thrust, explosions happen.

In this case, the Falcon 9′s on-board computers almost instantly register the engine failure, and then alter the output of the remaining eight engines to compensate. If you watch the video clip again, you’ll see that the engine outage is a non-issue; the rocket continues on course, as if nothing happened.

OK, you’re talking to a man here who distrusts the “camel designed by a committee” Airbus and one who doesn’t like maglev for its obvious shortcomings – outages, human error etc.

DK and others set me straight here but even so …….

And this worries me:

Both the Space Shuttle and Saturn 5 launch vehicle had similar “engine out” capabilities, though in their cases the solution was to shut down the faulty engine before it could explode. It isn’t clear why the Merlin engine exploded (SpaceX will hopefully hold a press conference later today with more info), but in any case it seems that the Falcon 9 rocket was constructed in such a way that an exploding engine isn’t a catastrophic failure.

Fine for an engineer who’ll never fly on her and I do accept the JFK maxim that fear of failure is the surefire route to no progress – we learn from these and also, I agree that one designs in failsafes – I’ve done that with the cat – and yet I wonder just how maverick the engineers in this case were.

Not to worry – it wasn’t manned.   Would it ever have been?

And why is it that though I’m supposedly an academic [and may soon be back into it apparently], almost all my friends have been engineers?   And why would engineers put up with my Luddite pig-ignorance?

And whilst we’re on that, I’ve solved the bath/shower problem in the boat.   For a start, I’m not putting in a head but a porta-potty.   For £79, with two compartments, the tank 19 litre and flush disposer, I can’t see the point of redesigning it.   However, the bath is a problem.

In a design with only 5’2″ headroom and not wishing to put more than one hatch on top – any hole in the boat needs justifying – then a bath seems the solution.    So – you know how bilgewater accumulates?   Well, use that to advantage – actually flood the epoxy-sealed 4′ x 2.3′ x 1.5′ bath in what is a designed wet space anyway though not selfdraining – with seawater filtered through two layers of calico/stockings [have to research this and probably won't bother with the osmosis for washing].

However, how to drain the water after the bath?   I could put in a venturi but don’t like holes within 2′ of the waterline.   Answer is simple and I was looking at hand bilge pumps on the market – all cheap [under £50] and the more I think about it – a hand bilge pump is so portable and useful anywhere – but the reviews on the one I liked – 36 inch with 72 inch hose – showed it to be faulty.

Then I saw a brass version but that’s real engineering and I only know different woods so I thought a wooden Archimedes wheel would fit the bill.   I know a 1.5 inch plastic job does the job but an Archimedes wheel lends a certain je ne sais quoi, do you not think?   Your bath emptied by an AW – like it.   Needs to be ornate on the outside too – maybe not – better straight sided and varnished.

Something a bit auto-erotic about it too – one end cranking away between your legs and draining everything.

No, no, I have it – it needs to be transparent so you can see the water going out, presumably whilst still in the bath operating the crank.

Now, that 72 inch hose only had a 3.75′ rise to achieve and goes through the companionway hatch and over the side.  Y-e-e-e-s-s-s!   8 pumps to the gallon and 2 gals a minute would clear the bath on a cruising boat quite adequately.   At the end, the pump, if small enough, would only have about 5kg of water left in it and that can be taken up through the hatch after towelling down and dressing.

Downside is your butt needs to be under 2.3ft wide.

Sorry – weren’t we talking about exploding engines?   Digressed somehow.   Oh and by the way, the mass of water in that bath, filled to 6″ would not be enough to appreciably alter the sailing characteristics of a cat, except positively, if the bath was taken whilst on the port tack [bath hull to windward].  And yes, with one partially raised hull, I do realize that the venturi would be up in the air but I still don’t trust venturis in a maglev way.   KISS is better and as few holes as poss.

How did those guys make a rectangular pump?   Was it a cylinder encased in a case?   Hmmmm ………

[Think Chuckles was involved in this somehow]
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