Machinery which impressed you

Giving the music a break – jazz tomorrow evening. Instead, just this look at the R18 and then a task for you.

We’ve looked at planes, trains and automobiles, also rockets and sailboats. My question to you is which machinery impressed you mightily, either positively or negatively, in any form? Which impressed the most at the time? Any links would be appreciated.

Can be an engine, device, machine, vehicle but it has to be mechanical. As for myself, I liked the Wankel rotary, also cruiser bikes and currently, the baby boat.


19 comments for “Machinery which impressed you

  1. Ripper
    May 23, 2020 at 19:07

    For me it has to be the Aspin engine. It first appeared in 1933 and never took off because of heat problems, but it achieved 14,000 rpm and reduced wear. It worked by replacing the valves with a conical, rotating cylinder head which exposed/covered the ports as the piston does in a 2 stroke. Rotax are still using the engine today in speedway bikes. This is the only info I can find:

    Aspin’s original idea also spawned many others, one of those being the spherical valve which replaces the overhead cams on a normal 4 stroke engine and does away with the valves.

    Another offshoot is the Duke engine from New Zealand, which also does away with the crank and valve train completely…

    In fact, a whole new world of invention has now opened up. Some will work, some won’t, but its great to see it happen.

    • May 23, 2020 at 19:46

      That’s exactly the sort of thing – I was hoping there’d be some links also for readers.

  2. Doonhamer
    May 23, 2020 at 20:04

    Aged 5, a normal steam engine at night in winter when only other illumination was dim paraffin station lamp, waiting for another coming the other way to clear the single track section. The noise, hissing of leaking steam, the safety valve just about to blow, a pump of some sort sounding like a heart beat, the scrape and clang of the fireman’s shovel as he loaded it with coal and flung it into the furnace. The smell of hot steam, hot lubricating oil, burning coal. The sight of huge (for me) wheels, gleaming steel drive shafts and connecting rods, the leaking steam back lit by the dim light and the cab, seen from a footbridge above the tender, with two crew wearing those shiny peaked caps with gleaming badges lit up by the red and orange glare from the open firebox door. I remember it as if it was yesterday.
    Aged 12, Sunderland flying boats taking off and landing like big swans. And then to wander among them (security was different in those days and vandalism unheard of), hauled up on hard standing and appreciate the size of them and the graceful curves. And then to clamber about inside them, up and down ladders, (see security above) see the bed, the catering facilities, the radio, etc. All big boxes with big dials and polished knobs. And the flight deck, big and spacious with a view along each huge wing, and then the tiny gun turrets with hardly room for one man.
    Aged , a lot later. 155 mm artillery firing in front of you and seeing the shell, apparently slowly, receding, or firing behind you with the sound of the shell whooshing over head. Such power combined with such delicate precision. Only then do you appreciate that sound and light travel at different speeds. Unlike on stupid films and news video, you do not see the flash of firing and splash at the same time as hearing them.

    • Doonhamer
      May 24, 2020 at 08:33

      And the low speed sound.
      These used to pass here in middle of night pulling long line of coal wagons. Pulling hard up a gradient. On a still might they could be heard from many miles away, getting nearer and louder and then passing with clatter of trucks. A crescendo as good as any heavy metal. On second thoughts, that is exactly what it is.

      • microdave
        May 24, 2020 at 15:40

        One of the Deltic comments:

        “Spooky, raises the hair on the back of your neck! Lovely”

        Exactly the same thing occurs when I play this clip – another 2 stroke, by the way (turn your speakers UP!):

    • Andy5759
      May 24, 2020 at 18:31

      The Deltic locomotive was my favourite when I were a lad. We used to cycle from St. Albans to Hadley tunnel just for a Deltic or two. The sound as they neared the tunnel exit, then the explosion as they burst out into the light. Ah, happy memories. We used to do the London sheds, there was always a Deltic at Finsbury Park. Those were the days of the Red Rover ticket. We’d get the only red bus from St. Albans to High Barnet and the Northern Line, then we’d take in depots like Old Oak Common, Stratford, Willesden, Hither Green, Cricklewood. I’m sure that’s all but it feels as if I’ve forgotten one or two. Days of innocence, mum only allowed me to go if there was an older boy with us. Until at age thirteen I became the older boy. Imagine that nowadays.

  3. May 23, 2020 at 22:06

    Going to be some nice Sunday watching.

    Days not to be repeated, Andy.

  4. dearieme
    May 23, 2020 at 23:10

    (i) Honda motorcycles: they were so superior to the rubbishy British bikes that they soon displaced from the market in the 60s.

    (ii) The Land Rover.

    (iii) The tractors I learnt to drive on, with big bucket scoops on the front.

    (iv) A .22 rifle with a bolt action and a five-round magazine. Fun for Boys.

    (v) A De Havilland Dragon Rapide: the first plane I ever flew in.

    (vi) The first (and only) helicopter I flew in.

    (vii) The first (and only) drone I flew.

    (viii) A couple of lab instruments that my chums and I developed. It was lovely to see such simple, elegant designs producing the goods.

    (ix) The first “factory” I ever visited, on an Open Day when I was about twelve or thirteen. It was, in fact, a nuclear power station.

    (x) At a steel works, in the dark, seeing the waterfall of hot coke being discharged from a coke oven. No Guy Fawkes Night could compare.

    (xi) A longbow. I’ve only used one once, for an hour’s fun. The enormous thud as our arrows hit the target was thrilling. Poor bloody knights, that’s wot I say.

    • May 24, 2020 at 00:00

      (x) Would gladden Sauron’s heart.

  5. dearieme
    May 24, 2020 at 00:01

    (xii) I had a long vacation job in a paper mill. The beauty of paper manufacture is you can see the process happening before your very eyes.

  6. Wolfie
    May 24, 2020 at 03:00

    BMW makes nothing but shit.

  7. May 24, 2020 at 04:34

    First car was something like this, including the sound:

    Fondly remembered, though it was probably a lot of trouble at the time. Old man said it had a V6 block engine. Could easily open it up to 90 mph on the straightaways near the East Bank.
    Probably didn’t get any more than 18 mpg, though the thing was a tank.
    Pulling away from a gas pump once a car cut me off (her fault). Shredded her car’s entire rear quarter panel, left a thumb-sized scratch of paint on mine. Could also easily transport a 4-piece band plus all equipment.
    Plenty of other stories, some of which are better left untold. 😉

    This one is identical but mine had a luggage rack and spoiler:

    Old Man’s first car was a 38 Buick Special, though I can’t remember any of his stories.

    Have pics of great-grandfather’s days as a locomotive engineer on the PRR that are pretty amazing, could only imagine his stories.

  8. The Jannie
    May 24, 2020 at 15:40

    Stewart – Mosquito, definitely. The only thing better than a Merlin is more than one Merlin! A1s, definitely but I hate the name: it’s just naff when compared withe the magically evocative names on the original class members:

  9. May 24, 2020 at 16:37

    Just went through those links and thank you very much – sound of those engines, the paper mill, rallying – I did some rallying for a short time, way too expensive.

  10. peter partridge
    May 24, 2020 at 23:05

    be ready on the volume button on this one – it’s loud (12 trains arriving at station):

    .. and these blokes .. almost a ‘Gimme Dat Harp Boy’ –

  11. May 25, 2020 at 05:46

    Deep joy. Crank that volume up.

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