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mike
Magnificent obsolescence
Wed Aug 29, 2018 12:28
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Various mechanisms at the absolute pinnacle of their development do go down fighting with tremendous panache don't they?

Biplanes certainly did, the Hawker Fury and the Swordfish and Gladiator come to mind, what magnificent performances the last two went out on, of course that doesn't in any way detract from the achievement of their pilots, in fact it magnifies what they did with such out of date aircraft.

Steam locomotion also went out on a high note. The often overlooked Sentinel steam lorry, various marine engines and last but not least the unforgettable Mallard which is not to under rate the magnificent stable of the GWR and LMS too.

Unfortunately the wisdom of hindsight has to make us hope that the death of all heat engines is not too far off if it isn't already too late. They are the true villains albeit their deleterious effects upon Earths atmosphere could not have been realized in time to halt their use.

Time pieces are another mechanical device whose high water mark was realized with some truly brilliant designs such as the Rolex family of watches, Dad had one he got during the War and it still was keeping perfect time some 30 years later.

Cameras are another example of magnificent ingenuity such as the Leicas, Rolleiflex, Hasselblad and Nikon to name but four and I must add my favourite, the Polaroids, I had three of them, the Swinger, the 210 model (I think with concertina bellows lens) and the really brilliant SX70 which is a truly wonderful piece of ingenuity, a pocket sized, fold flat SLR design.

Record players, cassette tape recorders - I had a top of the line studio quality Panasonic for outside portable stereo recording with twin VU meters and it produced some excellent recordings, wish I still had it.

If I lived long enough I'd enjoy regaling my young listeners with tales from the Workshop! When I taught CDT in England I made a wholly mechanical record players that would play stereo records, it used an upside down bicycle and a hand drill as part of its drive components, it had two pickup heads with different length sound paths to sort of get sort of slightly out of phase stereo which I would have eventually got working properly had I developed it but the point of the exercise was to show unbelieving kids that it could be done!

The downside was the racket the chain and bevel gears made drowned out the record sounds because modern records dont have the mechanical properties that old 78's did. When I located a couple of these the system worked really well and was much louder.

I was trying to teach them about how it was possible to make a purely mechanical sound system and how horns work as amplifiers. Of course I had my early memories of my own wind up gramophone to help me! The kids thought I'd invented this amazing system myself - I did not correct this error!

  • I question the wisdom of - mike, Wed Aug 29 09:41
    Flying a 'restored' 70 yr old warbird that was at the ragged edge of performance in its day and surely shouldn't be being raced nowadays? When they say 'restored' did they magnaflux each component of ... more
    • I rise in defence! - Sarge, Wed Aug 29 12:34
      Wrights were brilliant engines, all the B17s can't be wrong, as well as Mitchells, Hudsons, many of the DC3/C47, the late Wildcats, and a host of other auspucious aircraft. The T28 and the Albatross... more
    • Magnificent obsolescence - mike, Wed Aug 29 12:28
      • The bit about... - sarge, Wed Aug 29 12:54
        ...making us hope the death of all heat engines is not too far off has me to wonder what alternatives will man accept? Just talking of transport, I hear about the electric car, but that is no option... more
        • No I dont agree - mike, Wed Aug 29 13:14
          I like 'em as much as you do but the fact is that heat engines are an environmental disaster. Replacements? I dunno, nuclear fusion perhaps but yes you're right to point out that various... more
          • Because the view is narrow. - sarge, Wed Aug 29 14:39
            All the environutters are banging on about transport, but ignoring the real elephant in the room. My point is not that "heat engines" are maligned, its that Prius, electric cars, all that codswollop... more
            • I agree with - mike, Wed Aug 29 17:12
              Your last 3 sentences
              • For me, I'm good if just... - Sarge, Wed Aug 29 17:24
                ...the last complete sentence is good enough for you to agree with. That is the real low-hanger in this forest. You can also believe final fragment, too. ;-)
          • Of my article? I gave you all those lovely mechanisms to drool over!
            • Because... - Sarge, Wed Aug 29 14:41
              ...that passage seemed plucked from the environutter lexicon to make me feel guilty for drooling over those lovely images! Grin!
              • Absolutely no one - mike , Wed Aug 29 17:43
                Likes the products arising from the Industrial Revolution more than I do. I even like the smell of burning coal though smog is no fun at all. There it is though, fabulous fun and how lucky we were to ... more
                • Wogs means any foreigner - mike, Thu Aug 30 09:46
                  I suddenly realised that remark could be misinterpreted but from a true blue Englishmans privately held opinion, everyone outside the British Isles is a wog! Certainly the French and Italians are,... more
                  • No misinterpretation here. - sarge, Thu Aug 30 13:58
                    Lord knows I've been told many times in America, "You ain't from here." Some days I feel like I "ain't" from anywhere. It can be depressing...
                    • Regarding Worthy... - sarge, Thu Aug 30 14:04
                      ...Oriental Gentleman, I have many times over many years heard the old saw, "The Wogs start in Calais." I had a very similar experience in Aldershot, except the shoe was on the other foot. "He might... more
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