Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wartsila Sulzer RTA96-C - The Worlds Largest Diesel

1,556,002 cubic inches !

Some facts on the 14 cylinder version: (The Photo is a 12 Cylinder)

Total engine weight 2300 tons (The crankshaft alone weighs 300 tons.)
Length 89 feet
Height 44 feet
Maximum power 108,920 hp at 102 rpm
Maximum torque 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102rpm

USCG 47 Motor Life Boat

USCG 47 Motor Life Boat
The Coast Guard commissioned the 47 foot MLB to replace the venerable 44 foot MLB which had been in service since the 60's.  The last 44 is scheduled to be decommissioned in May of this year.  The 47 footer is made of aluminum rather than steel, and is capable of around 30mph.  Like the 44 it is self righting, self bailing and the engines will remain running during a rollover.  What must be a welcome improvement, the vessel incorporates both and enclosed helm and an exposed bridge for better visibility.  Check out the video on the right to see what the boat and crew are capable of.

Friday, March 27, 2009

F-14 Tomcat Supersonic Fly By

The water vapor in the air neatly and clearly show the shockwaves producing the Sonic Boom. Well worth the look.

Singing Tesla Coils - The Ghost Busters Theme

I Sh*t you not

The Leavitt-Riedler Pumping Engine - Chestnut Hill MA

The Leavitt-Riedler Pumping Engine (1894) is a historic steam engine and has been declared a national landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the coal-fired engine was designed by noted engineer Erasmus Darwin Leavitt, Jr. (1836-1916) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, built by N.F. Palmer Jr. & Co. and the Quintard Iron Works, New York, and installed in 1894 as Engine No. 3 of the Chestnut Hill Station to pump water for the Boston Water Works Corporation. At its normal speed of 50 revolutions per minute, it pumped 20,000,000 gallons in 24 hours.  The engine itself is of an unusual triple expansion, three-crank rocker design, with pistons 13.7, 24.375, and 39 inches in diameter and 6 foot stroke. Each rocker is connected both to a crankshaft with 15-foot flywheel and to a large pump's plunger rod.

The engine was removed from service in 1928 but remains in its original location and will soon be the centerpiece of the Waterworks Museum along with three other period steam engines.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crazy 'bout a Mercury

In this day and age it seems crazy to put this outsized medallion on a product as pedestrian as an outboard motor. But this is how they used to roll. I rather like this Cylon like facia, to me it shows real pride in the product. Seems out of place now, and I am not sure that speaks well of us.

Proteus WAM-V by Marine Advanced Research: AKA - "The Spiderboat"

Directly from their website: Marine Advanced Research

The WAM-V™ -Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel- is a new class of watercraft based on a patented technology that delivers a radically new seagoing experience. These ultralight flexible catamarans are modularly designed to allow for a variety of applications and to fit the requirements of specific users, missions or projects.

Wave Adaptive
Unlike conventional boats, the hulls of a WAM-V™ conform to the surface of the water. A WAM-V does not push, slap or pierce the waves. She utilizes flexibility to adapt her structure and shape to the water surface. Instead of forcing the water to conform to the hull, she gives and adjusts; she “dances” with the waves.

A superstructure is flexibly connected to specially designed pontoons by several components that actually move in relation to one another. A WAM-V™ has springs, shock absorbers and ball joint to articulate the vessel and mitigate stresses to structure, payload and crew. Two engine pods, containing the propulsion and ancillary systems, are fastened to the hulls with special hinges that keep the propellers in the water at all times.

The Alnwick Garden Tree House

Located in the U.K., Alnwick garden claims to be home to the largest tree house in the world @ 6,000 Sq, Ft. The interior is suitably Elven (of the Keebler variety) and contains a 120 seat restaurant and loads of rope bridges etc.

Caterham 7 Superlight

The Caterham 7 traces it's roots directly to the 1957 Lotus 7, and like the Lotus it is also offered in kit form.  Not merely small, the 7 is lilliputian in comparison to a modern performance car.  Lotus' founder Colin Chapman was a fanatic for making cars as lightweight as possible and is quoted as saying  "Adding power makes you faster in the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere".  True to this maxim, the Caterham weights in at a paltry 1200 pounds.  Even when powered with relatively modest 4 cyl Ford engines, the Caterham is devastatingly quick and punches far above it's weight at the track.  The car pictured is a Caterham 7 CSR powered by a 260hp Cosworth tuned Ford, the CSR can hit 60mph in 3.1 seconds.  How much does "adding lightness" (another Chapman quote) pay off?  Well, this puny little car based on a 1957 design has the same power to weight ratio as the fastest production car in the world, the 1 Million Dollar, 987hp, 200 + mph, 16 Cylinder Bugatti Veyron.  The Diminutive 7 is banned from SCCA racing for being to fast (really) and is capable of running with true supercars.  Okay, comfortable, roomy and practical went out the door with the weight, but if you are looking for the most bang for your buck, this is it, just ask folks like Steve Tyler from Aerosmith and Jay Leno, both are Caterham owners.  Follow the link after the photo for a video of a 7 racing a Ducati motorcycle.  For more info : Caterham USA
Caterham vs. Ducati

Estwing Claw Hammer

My Favorite Hammer

Modular PreFab Bathrooms

Though this particular manufacturer specializes in student housing and hotels, there are many other firms selling similar products. Pre wired and plumbed, they come apart to fit through a standard door. They come in myriad configurations and colors and range from spartan to fancy. From what I can gather, these bathroom pods are most popular in Britain. Seems like a good alternative for anyone setting up an accessory apartment, cabin, pre-fab unit or mother in law apartment, or anything where convenience or durability is paramount.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

PowerHouse Power POD Pre-Fab

Here is another great option for a guest room or vacation cabin/camp cabin.  The PowerHouse Power POD comes on one flatbed and purportedly sets up in a day.  Designed for either efficient on-grid power or off grid, the Power POD has a pretty compelling feature list starting with passive and active solar for heat, hot water and electricity, Radiant floor heat, high efficiency windows and insulation, highly efficient lighting and rainwater collection for a cistern.  There are a few other models other than the butterfly roof pictured and PowerHouse also makes full sized prefabs.  Best of all they are located right here in MA, so transport would be relatively inexpensive in N.E.
More Info HERE PowerHouse

1963 Lincoln Continental

To me the early 60's (61-65) Lincoln Continentals are the absolute epitome of cool.  Though the convertible is the most sought after incarnation of the Continental, I actually prefer the hard top.  The aspect of this design that seperates this car from it's contemporaries is something that is surprisingly rare in automative design, and that is restraint. The Continentals that followed this generation were larded with ever increasing styling "improvements" (read: Gewgaws), like vynal roofs, opera windows, fake spare tire trunk bumps and hidden headlights.  By 1970, the magic was long gone.  I don't know why most manufacturers can never understand when they have captured lightning in a bottle with a car design  It took BMW 40 years to piss away their design legacy, Ford did it in 8 or 9.  The only American car that I can think of that has remained relatively consistent to it's design heritage is the Jeep (and even that had an awkward affair with square headlights.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Googie Architecture

Googie Architecture - Named for a long gone coffee shop, Googie Architecture is possibly the easiest architectural genre to recognize, once you see one good example - you know exactly what it is..  The building pictured below is the Cooper Theater, which was demolished to make way for a Barnes and Noble of all things.  At the time of it's opening the Cooper had the worlds largest screen.

From Wikipedia:
Googie architecture (also known as populuxe or doo-wop) is a form of Novelty architecture and a subdivision of Futurist architecture, influenced by car culture and the Space Age and Atomic Age.  Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by space-age designs that depict motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers,atoms, parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and the ubiquitous artist's-palette motif. These stylistic conventions reflected American society's emphasis on futuristic designs and fascination with Space Age themes. As with the art deco style of the 1930s, Googie became undervalued as time passed, and many buildings built in this style have been destroyed.

BMW C1 Scooter

This scooter has been around for a while now in Europe and has enjoyed some success there.  The design attempts to combine some of the benefits of a closed vehicle in a scooter form factor.  Besides the seatbelt, the C1 also sports a metal cage surrounding the driver to provide protection in the event of a collision.  BMW went to great lengths to enhance the safety to the point where the driver would not be required to wear a helmet

Goofball Vehicle(s) of the Day - Bonus Edition

1924 Armstead Snow Motors and Bonus Russian ZIL Screw Drive Tundra Cruiser

Jail House Modern and Sing-Sing Chic

If your bathroom needs that little bit of lockup luxury, the Neo Metro combi might be just the thing your looking for.  Or if you prefer the real deal, Bradley Plumbing makes basically the same item, but industrial strength. What makes a toilet industrial strength?  Well the seat of the Bradley toilet sink combo can withstand a weight of 5,000 pounds.  If you prefer a locker room vibe, Bradley also makes those multi head column showers and the always popular 5 person handwashing basin - same one we all used in elementary school, half round, foot operated.  if you need a reminder, this is what I am talking about -->
More @ http://www.bradleycorp.com/index.jsp

Monday, March 23, 2009

Green Building Material of the Day - Compressed Straw SIP (Structural Insulated Panel)

As you may or may not know, people other than the Three Little Pigs have been building houses out of straw for years. Traditional wattle and daub has been used for at least 6,000 years, and of course thatched roofing is very common, and more recently (Late 1800's onwards) with the advent of the hay baler, straw has been used in the form of stacked bales as load bearing exterior walls. Due to lack of available timber, this building method was especially popular in Nebraska and other Midwest states. More recently however modern manufacturing techniques have allowed the development of straw panels made by heating and compressing straw (often without binders) into a thick dense material similar to partical board or MDF. It turns out that straw is a very flexible product that can be formed into many different products, ranging from Drywall and Particle Board substitutes to thick exterior load bearing walls with pre-formed electrical conduits. Not to be confused with hay, straw is the stalk of grain crops such as wheat and rice. Generally straw is either plowed under the soil or burned after the harvest. Straw is resistant to fungus, rot, fire and vermin. Unlike timber it can be regenerated in 6 months rather than decades. Compressed straw has been used for a long time in Britain and the houses have performed well over the years.

For more Info

Straw the Next Great Building Material (Building Green)

Pub Evacuated After Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Scare

Pub evacuated after Monty Python prop mistaken for grenade

Bomb disposal teams were called in and buildings evacuated after workmen mistook a Monty Python film prop for a hand grenade.

More from telegraph.co.uk

Bruce Schneier's Solitaire - Secure Encrypted Communications Using a Deck of Cards

I just finished reading Neal Stephenson's Novel Cryptonomicon.  In the book, two characters in prison use a deck of cards to encrypt their written communications.  Well, it turns out that it's actually a real encryption technique invented by Cryptologist Bruce Schneier for the book, but it is also intended to provide serious security in actual field use, check it out, it's a pretty cool concept.  Here is the overview from Scneier's Website: http://www.schneier.com/solitaire.html

"In Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon, the character Enoch Root describes a cryptosystem code-named "Pontifex" to another character named Randy Waterhouse, and later reveals that the steps of the algorithm are intended to be carried out using a deck of playing cards. These two characters go on to exchange several encrypted messages using this system. The system is called "Solitaire" (in the novel, "Pontifex" is a code name intended to temporarily conceal the fact that it employs a deck of cards) and I designed it to allow field agents to communicate securely without having to rely on electronics or having to carry incriminating tools. An agent might be in a situation where he just does not have access to a computer, or may be prosecuted if he has tools for secret communication. But a deck of cards...what harm is that?

Solitaire gets its security from the inherent randomness in a shuffled deck of cards. By manipulating this deck, a communicant can create a string of "random" letters that he then combines with his message. Of course Solitaire can be simulated on a computer, but it is designed to be implemented by hand.

Solitaire may be low-tech, but its security is intended to be high-tech. I designed Solitaire to be secure even against the most well-funded military adversaries with the biggest computers and the smartest cryptanalysts. Of course, there is no guarantee that someone won't find a clever attack against Solitaire (watch this space for updates), but the algorithm is certainly better than any other pencil-and-paper cipher I've ever seen.

It's not fast, though. It can take an evening to encrypt or decrypt a reasonably long message. In David Kahn's book Kahn on Codes, he describes a real pencil-and-paper cipher used by a Soviet spy. Both the Soviet algorithm and Solitaire take about the same amount of time to encrypt a message: most of an evening"

Oddball Engine of the Day - The Napier Deltic Diesel

Designed and produced by the British company D. Napier and Sons in the years following WWII.  It was designed to replace the gasoline engines then used in PT Boats.  Compact & lightwieght, (1/5 of a contemporary diesel)  the Deltic was an ideal design for high speed marine use and had considerable success in that application.  Napier Deltics also saw some limited use as a locomotive engine.  Because of it's compact dimensions and subsequently low magnetic signature, it is still being used to power British minesweepers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Six Wheeled Tyrrell P34 Formula 1 Car

I remember seeing this car on "Wide World of Sports" as a kid, in fact to this day, when I see this car I swear I can hear Jackie Stewart's voice.   Designed by Derek Gardiner in 1975, the theory behind the six wheels is pretty simple, braking and aerodynamics.  The ten inch front tires punch through the air much easier than a single pair of larger tires, and four fronts should offer more grip for better braking and handling.  Indeed, the car scored a one two finish at the Swedish Grand Prix, and posted good results it's first season.  Unfortunately, because nobody else was using these unique tires, development suffered and Tyrrell was forced to use uncompetitive tires which limited the cars success's.  In historic racing against it's contemporaries however it has been vindicated, having achieved excellent results.  To me as a kid, such an exotic looking car festooned with the huge words ELF, could not have been cooler.  I suspect I am not alone as the f34 is one of the most popular vintage racing cars around, and always gets an enthusiastic response.

Fun extra, Jackie Stewart Testing the P34 back in the day, very cool footage, check out Jackie's hot 70's lady
Linky Link Link