Google analytics

Friday 29 April 2011


My hearty congratulations to William and Kate on their marriage today.

The only disappointment of the day was not seeing them leave the palace today on the back of William’s Ducati. Now that really would have made headlines.

Oh and my “rear of the year” nomination must go to Pippa Middleton.


Pic shamelessly nicked from Max Farquar

Thursday 28 April 2011

For sale

Anyone want to buy one used aircraft carrier?

20110323-Ark_Royal_Pic-UVessel ARK ROYAL R07 

Vessel ARK ROYAL R07
Light Aircraft Carrier
Length: 210m
Beam: 36m
Draught: 5.8m
Current Displacement: 19000 tonnes
Estimated Metal Weight: 10000 tonnes inc. machinery
Estimated metal %: 95% steel

Location: HM Naval Base Portsmouth

Date and time for viewings:
8am Tuesday 3rd May
8am Wednesday 4th May

Requests for viewing MUST be submitted in writing no later than Wednesday 27th April together with a brief outline of your intentions regarding the vessel to the following:
Noelle Gardner email: (01869 256346)
Janet Kynman email: (01869 256017)

Tender Closure: Monday 13th June 2011 at 10 am

All Tender Documents to be sent to:
Emma Harris MCIPS,
Commercial Manager Special Projects,
Building H9 Room 7, H Site
DSA Bicester
DE&S Arncott
Tel: 01869 256014

All Tender documentation will be found under Additional Specifications.

Product ID:  


Availability: In stock

Our Price: N/A

Bring your own aircraft. Note: Must have vectored thrust. Or you could just supply those ones with the whirly thingee on the top.

Best buy a replenishment ship to go with it. Fuel consumption approximately 110 litres/Mile.

The successful bidder will be required to send a cheque made out to “Filthy Engineer independent trader” within twenty four hours.

Early wedding picture

wedding camera

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Wet slippers

old man

This’ll probably be me shortly.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be. Supplemental

I was asked in the comments by Woman on a Raft, a question about what uniform we wore.

Well, to start off it was fairly minimal, but over the years the requirement for a motley selection of uniform grew.

In the beginning, the only uniform required was No.5 Blue uniform for colder climes, and evenings in warmer climes.


The day uniform in the tropics was open necked white shirt with epaulettes, complemented with white shorts an long white socks.

However over the years more was added ensuring that travelling with one suitcase was a thing of the past.

No.10 uniform consisting of white long trousers and a jacket with a stiff upright collar for formal wear. This was superseded by changing the top for a bush jacket with a white open necked shirt.

Next was “Red Sea Rig”. This was an evening uniform used when travelling the Red sea in the days when air conditioning was either pathetic or at worse, non existent. A cobbled together mix of white short sleeve shirt with epaulettes, coupled together with black trousers and finished with a cummerbund. (Still in use today).

For formal evening wear white mess undress was the order of the day. Consists of what can only be described as a white waistcoat with epaulettes, black trousers and a cummerbund. Oh, and I nearly forgot, a black bow tie.

After the summer of ‘76 when it got a tad hot a more relaxed rig was the order of the day for non ceremonial wear during the daytime. No 12A’s. White, long sleeve shirt with epaulettes and a black tie. (Tie comes in useful for funerals). And of course long black trousers. A “Wooley Pooley” over the top in colder weather.

Of course this saga is a bit like a government department and it’s spending. Always increase, never downsize.

In came Blue mess dress. Similar to white mess undress but with a slightly longer top over a waistcoat.

The white shirt and an shorts is slowly fading out and is being replaced with long white trousers instead. Copied from the yanks.

That’s why I needed two suitcases.

On the working rig front the situation has improved. In the dim and distant past you had to carry that around as well. Boiler suits and safety boots. Now it is supplied on a temporary loan on each ship.

Fire retardant boiler suits.

Action working dress (AWD’s). consisting of fire retardant  blue long sleeve shirt, and blue trousers.

Safety boots.

Action coverall. Basically a double layer boiler suit with Velcro cuffs and collar to be worn over AWD’s in the event of going in harms way. Think war.

Anti flash hood and gloves to be worn with action coverall. The clue is in it’s name.

NBCD (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, and Damage control) suit. Two piece suit designed to protect from all sorts of nasty's.

S10 respirator. Designed in order not to breath in those nasty's above. (Sadly I had to hand mine back in. Scares the shit out of trick or treaters at halloween).

Have a guess what I did with all that compulsory uniform?

Have fun……………..and Die?

Some people have the strangest ideas.

An engineer has designed a new roller coaster which offers riders a more extreme experience than usual - ending in death.

roller coaster

While it might look like the ultimate roller coaster, the Euthanasia is designed to 'humanely, with elegance and euphoria, take the life of a human being.'

It is designed to subject the rider to a series of extreme experiences that would eventually kill them.

Lithuanian engineer Julijonas Urbonas claims his theoretical creation will cause tunnel vision and – when travelling at 100m/s – death, due to a lack of oxygen reaching the brain.

Well I’m not going on that little monster. Even if they offer me a senior citizen discount.

Sunday 24 April 2011

A picture paints a thousand words

























Saturday 23 April 2011

Went to the races again.

* For my engineering interested readers there will be a post next week that will include ladies of the night, transvestites, and steam porn.*

A good day out was had by all. No winners at all this time. What amazed me was the weather. In half an hour the temperature dropped from 26 deg to 14 deg and we experienced the heaviest hail storm I have ever known. Anyone else suffered the same today?

That was the up side.

The down side is that Mrs FE and my niece are watching an old film and are denuding the cellars of FE towers. The wine level is now reaching critical.

Reverting to live writer

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination." -- Albert Einstein

cat on computer

Testing BlogJet

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination." -- Albert Einstein

Cat on computer

Friday 22 April 2011

That wedding

A trailer of the event.

The best flow chart ever! Never seen a Flow Chart described so clearly.

flow chart

When top level guys look down, they see only shitheads.                              
When bottom level guys look up, they see only assholes.

Now that’s a House to have.

What a creative idea! Joanne Ussary bought a used Boeing 727.  She paid $2,000.00 for the plane.  It cost $4,000.00 to move and $24,000.00 to renovate.  (She has a LOT of wood and specialty windows for $24,000!  I want her carpenter!)  But not bad for a $30,000.00 investment...  The stairs open with a garage door remote and one of the bathrooms is still intact.  There is a personal Jacuzzi in the cockpit. The Boeing home is featured as part of a collection of creative conversions.  It  has a spectacular view!  (I wonder how much the land with this view cost!!!)  WOW!!!  Scroll down...









The Broken window fallacy

This is the philosophy that the Labour party would carry out if they were still in power. And I’m afraid this government believes in it as well.

Thursday 21 April 2011


A  Somali arrives in   London  as a  new immigrant to the  UK  .

He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says........

'Thank you Mr. British for letting me in this country, giving me housing, money for food, free medical care, free education and no taxes!'

The passer by says, 'You are mistaken, I am Mexican!'

The man goes on and encounters another passer by. 'Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in the  UK  !'

The person says, 'I not British, I Polish!'

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand  and says, 'Thank you for the wonderful  Britain !'

That person puts up his hand and says, 'I am from  Russia  , I am not from  Britain  !'

He finally sees a nice lady and asks, 'Are you a British?'

She says, 'No, I am  from  Africa  !'

Puzzled, he asks her, 'Where are all the British?'

The African lady checks her watch and says ...'Probably at work'


Nothing else needs to be said.

Didn’t happen.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Gay Abandonment.


In the early hours of the morning I was woken by a loud bang that was both heard and felt. Assuming it was just the main air compressor starting I went back to sleep. I was soon woken by the general alarm. Enthusiastically jumping out of bed and throwing my overalls on I made my way to my emergency station at the Fire and Repair Party Post.

When I arrived there I found out we had been involved in a collision with an aircraft carrier. Apparently the OOW (Officer of the watch) had not seen the huge grey aircraft carrier heading straight at us because it was not in the same window he was looking out of. The ship was holed below the waterline and was taking on water at an increasing rate. Some 40 minutes after the initial collision the ship was still not fully mustered at emergency stations. Apparently this was because some ABs (Able seamen) had refused to muster because it was “outside of their normal working hours and it would make them tired in the morning”. In the meantime the ship had started to list to such a degree that the beer in the bar fridges was starting to fall over. Several engineers heroically volunteered to save the beer before it was lost.

Roughly 4 hours after the initial collision the last of the ABs had finally mustered, persuaded by the promise that the union would arrange for a “Mustering Outside of Normal Working Hours Allowance”. By this time all the ready use DC (Damage Control) boxes were under water and totally useless. All the DC timber had long since been used for other more useful things like door stops and plugging holes in leaky pumps. This didn’t seem to bother the damage control teams as they had already been back to their cabins and returned with pillows and duvets. Most of them were fast asleep on the fridge flat deck whilst the FRPP (Fire and Repair Party) OIC (Officer In Charge) and IBO (Incident board Operator) played “noughts and crosses” on the incident board.

Meanwhile the engineers who had volunteered to save the beer were busy saving the 12th case of beer. The mess president had reprimanded them for not wearing correct rig in the bar. Funnily enough they didn’t seem to be bothered. They were far more concerned about whether or not the 12 cases of saved beer should go on a chit or not. It was at this time that one of the more experienced engineers decided that the spirits should be saved as well.

Around 6 hours after the initial collision the Captain was faced with the decision that every commanding officer dreads – should he wear a hard hat or beret when getting into the lifeboat? He sent the deck cadet to check BR875 for guidance. Finally the decision was made to abandon ship. Everyone mustered at lifeboat stations – nobody quite had the nerve to ask why the Chief Petty Officer had mustered wearing ladies’ underwear. The purser just complained that we couldn’t abandon ship yet because he hadn’t done the end of month accounts.
Just as the boats were being lowered to the embarkation deck the Chief Officer made a pipe:
“In a change to daily orders there will be an action stations exercise before we abandon ship. Coveralls and anti-flash are to be worn on the upper decks.”

Apparently the Captain had decided there was time for one last pointless exercise before we went for a jolly in the lifeboats. The ship’s company marched off to action stations with much grumbling and complaining. The Chief Petty Officer continued to whinge about pointless shit to anyone in his immediate vicinity. One 2/O(E) in particular was heard to remark “This better mean I get Christmas off!”

Finally, 9 hours after the initial collision the boats were lowered into the water. A few engineers had tears in their eyes, some thought it was the sight of their beloved ship slowly disappearing beneath the waves. Those who are more familiar with the engineer department knew it was because some alcohol had to be left on board.

As the boats drifted in the water the Chief Engineer wondered if this counted as an A1 OPDEF (Operational Deficiency). The Captain wondered how many pointless exercises we could do before we were rescued. The engineer cadet wondered if Asda were recruiting….

Luckily assistance came quickly, because this had all occurred whilst moving from the fuel jetty at Yonderberry across to Devonport. However, this didn’t stop the navigator from trying to get a position fix and plot a course to the nearest land. By his reckoning that was in Norway.

As a sad footnote to this story, all those on board the Chief Petty officer’s lifeboat committed suicide when he told the same story for the 28th time.

Engineering as it used to be. Royal Wedding Edition

I did warn you


Tuesday 19 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be Part 5. Continued

Now where was I………………………………..?

Oh yes I was in the boiler room. It has been pointed out in the comments that I haven’t given a good description of the properties of superheated steam. Most of us think of steam as the wispy stuff emanating from the spout of the kettle. Wrong. The wispy bit is actually water vapour condensing from steam. It’s the bit you can’t see close to the spout that is steam. 

Pure steam is a transparent gas. At standard temperature and pressure, pure steam (unmixed with air, but in equilibrium with liquid water) occupies about 1,600 times the volume of an equal mass of liquid water. In the atmosphere, the partial pressure of water is much lower than 1 atm, therefore gaseous water can exist at temperatures much lower than 100 °C (212 °F) (see water vapour and humidity).

In the above paragraph you’ll note that you can’t see real steam.

The one thing that may save your life is your hearing. Superheated steam at 600 psi (41 bar) and at a temperature of 800 deg F (426 deg C), makes a noise when it is issuing from a small hole or leaking gland. As I said in my last post don’t believe that noise is a drunken motorman whistling. Another valuable aid involves a piece of stick and a captured sea gull. *Now you really think I’m losing my marbles*  It’s really quite simple. Take one feather, attach it to the stick, hold stick in front of you, and when the feather magically disappears you know the rough vicinity of the steam leak.

Technical bit over for now.

Damn. Lost my train of thought.

Anyway the ship set sail for an exotic location. So I thought. I was wrong. Instead we sail across the Indian Ocean till we nearly hit Africa. Then we stopped. What was our purpose you ask? We were to maintain a blockade of the Rhodesian (Zimbabwe)  port of Beira to stop the import of fuel to the then, white Government of Ian Smith who had declared unilateral independence.

All in all we spent months of that coast. Sometimes at a crawl up the coast, sometimes drifting, even sometimes going in large circles just to break the monotony. Occasionally we would meet up with other ships in the task force and competitive sports would be played. deck Hockey being one of them. All to win that most coveted prize. “The Beira Bucket” (Mentioned in my last post).

The trophy for these sporting activities was a battered old metal bucket which at the end of each sporting contest was hung triumphantly from the winning ship’s yardarm. Now housed in the Portsmouth Naval Museum it remains as a reminder to crews and naval personnel of those Indian Ocean patrols in the years 1966 to 1971.

Decorated with ships names and crests, the bent and battered Beira Bucket is an unusual reminder of those years in the Mozambique Channel, and has been the subject of a number of fond reunions in the past years.

After months of patrol I would happily have kicked the sodding thing over the side.

*Technical stuff alert*. Look away now if you hate technology.

The one thing that I had plenty of time do though, was to actually find out how all this strange machinery worked. Right we’ve had the steam in all it’s forms bit so I’ll give you and idea what to do with it.  First it would meander it’s way through large, lagged pipes until it arrived at the throttles in the engine room. (Think huge tap) . The two throttles, one for forward and one for backwards (Even ships need a reverse gear. Especially if someone shouts out “Iceberg ahead”), were controlled by what looked like large steering wheels.


An actual picture of the control station of The Tidereach

The steam (superheated type) would then whiz over and into the turbine which is made up of steam injection nozzles and rows and rows of  rings with blades on them. Pretty much the same as a modern jet engine.


Of course this turbine would spin at several thousand RPM which is not a very practical speed to turn a ships propeller. A bit akin to permanent wheel spin. So just like a car you need a gearbox to achieve an output speed somewhere in the region of 100 RPM.

Whilst all this is going on all that steam wizzing out of the boilers causes the water levels to drop therefore it needs to be replenished. This is where those handy little items, condensers and feed pumps come in. The steam leaving the turbine is no longer superheated, as it has given up much of it’s energy to produce motion, and is now a saturated vapour. This vapour is cooled in the condenser by sea water(Plenty of that. The volume of the oceans and their seas is nearly 1.5 × 109 [sic] cubic kilometers"), and then pumped back into the boilers.

Now you know as much as me about steam engineering. After all I’m qualified as a Motor Engineer.

Are you bored yet?

Next time on Lost Fe’s adventures at sea will be Sembewang, voyage on a destroyer, a broken light bulb (You think I’m joking. Oh No), Japan, and  Ladies of the night, and Portland harbour.

Mind you I might just blog about the local elections or the Royal wedding. Your choice. You have been warned. Don’t blame me if it ends in tears.

AVing a larf.

Maybe this is how you should use your referendum ballot form.

H/T to the Frog

Monday 18 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be–part 5

I hope that you’re all sitting comfortably with your popcorn and drinks for my next instalment of how young and inexperienced I was in my younger days.

When I left you last I was on the motor ship, RFA Retainer. I spent approximately four months on that greyhound of the seas (If you can call 13kts, speed, then you’ll be under the impression that a tortoise can win the National,), and learnt all the essential engineering skills of drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Engineers were always warned that because of the high engine room temperatures, we should always ensure we kept up a high fluid intake. Of course we followed the leadership of the ship’s doctor, who not having anything to do, spent most of his time in the bar. He was our Role model in all things healthy.

I digress. This is not a post on drinking prowess. Oi. wake up at the back.

As I said, having settled in nicely, and really still hadn’t learnt the difference between a pump and a compressor, I received a shock that shocked me to the core.

I was going to be subjected to a “pier head jump”.

You can imagine what went through this callow youth’s mind. What had I done that was so terrible that I was going to have to undergo some sort of “walking the plank” punishment? Of course, if I’d bothered to read my terms and conditions, I would have realised that I was to serve on different types of ships in this phase of my cadetship. (Then again, how many teenagers read the bold print in their T & C’s, let alone the small print). A pier head jump just means a swift transfer.

God, I really am rambling now

I went whistling up the gangplank of RFA Tidereach……………………


Not. As before I struggled up an even steeper gangway than the Retainer due to the Tidereach being low in fuel and therefore high in the water. Did I mention the heat and humidity in Singapore? Oh I did. OK.

This time I found my cabin slightly easier than the last ship. It was only hours, not days. However for some strange reason the cabin I was sharing with another cadet was in the forward accommodation, a deck below the bridge (That’s the bit that has the steering wheel). Strange seeing as my workplace, the engine room, was at the other end of the ship and at the bottom.

Eventually I was let loose into the machinery spaces………

What a contrast. It was quiet compared with the last ship’s engine room. Why may you ask? Because this ship had a different means of propelling itself through the water. It was steam powered. No big main Diesel Engine thumping away and diesel generators clattering like a horde of metallic banshees. No, just the hiss of superheated steam (800 deg F), and the whirring of the ventilation fans.

The Engine room was split into  two spaces, the boiler room and the turbine  room. The Boiler room (I’m adding a little bit of detail here as requested by a commentor on my last post), was filled with three large main high pressure boilers used for propulsion. These were Babcock Wilcox sinuous header boilers producing the steam for propulsion and steam to the steam steam generators which converted energy from superheated steam into non superheated steam to supply essential steam services whilst underway.

The remaining boiler was a scotch boiler which was a very worrying thing I learnt later. Not because it was tartan clad or anything, they just had a habit of blowing up if not watched carefully. Why you ask?

There are two types of boilers in use. Water tube boilers where the water flows inside the tubes are pretty safe, insofar that if a tube was to split very little water in comparison would fall into the furnace.

Not so with a fire tube boiler such as the Scotch boiler. In this type of boiler the fire goes through the tubes which are surrounded with several tons of water.


It was not uncommon for the water level dangerously falling, causing those tons of water to end up in the red hot furnace with catastrophic results. Usually turning those who were unlucky enough to be in the same space, into deep boiled lobster look- a -likes.

One novel side effect is that the the force of the steam generated in the furnace had a habit of propelling the boiler through the ship’s side at Mach 1 or more. This was not popular with ship’s captains as the big hole caused, usually meant the ship would sink. Captains hate that, as it is universally expected that the captain should go down with their ship. (Bugger being the Captain, I would just clamber over the wimmin and cheeldren and get in the first available life boat. After all I’m young and my parents love me, etc, etc).

Am I being to technical or alarmist?

Then again those other boiling machines were not with out their downside. Steam at 800 deg F and at  a pressure of 600 Psi can hurt you slightly. It was a case that if you heard a whistling noise in front of you, you didn’t assume it was a stoker in a good mood. More likely that if you continued you were likely to have some part of you expertly amputated by the steam leak you were too stupid to avoid. (The wound was well cauterised, therefore the ship’s doctor might be able to save your life. If he wasn’t too pissed).

To be continued………………………………

I know that you’re just waiting for the smutty bit. You’ll just have to wait.

Monday Miscellany

These are classified ads, which were placed in a U.K. newspaper:



8 years old.

Hateful little bastard...



1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbour's dog.


Mother is a Kennel Club registered German Shepherd.

Father is a Super Dog, able to leap tall fences in a single bound.


Also 1 gay bull for sale.


Must sell washer and dryer £100.


Worn once by mistake.

Call Stephanie.


**** And the WINNER is... ****


Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes. Excellent condition, £200 or best offer. No longer needed, got married, wife knows everything.


Statement of the Century

Thought from the Greatest Living Scottish Thinker--Billy Connolly.

"If women are so bloody perfect at multitasking, how come they can't have a headache and sex at the same time?"

Sunday 17 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be–Part 4a

For those of you who wanted some technical details about my last post on Engineering as it used to be.

What you are seeing in this old and grainy movie, is the upper pistons and cross heads of a Doxford engine moving up and down.

This is the upper piston reciprocating (Big word) attached by side rods conveying power to the crankshaft. At the same time there is a lower piston travelling in a reverse direction. When at their closest point, Heavy fuel oil is injected in to the space which ignites, and forces the pistons apart. The running speed varied from about 30 RPM to 120 RPM. Consider that your diesel driven car’s engine usually runs between 1000 RPM and 4500 RPM.


Just so you know.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Good and bad.

Bad: The monitor on my main computer has thrown in the towel.

Good: I went to the races and backed the winner in five out of six races. Easily enough to buy a new monitor.

There must be a deity that is watching over me. Or the Easter Bunny has come early.

Aaaah. A past life.

Just some technical info to bore you stupid.

Long since gone.

Friday 15 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be - Part 4


In Part 3 I left you at my hotel prior to joining my first ship. Now comes the start of what was to become my career for 43 years…………….

And I strolled up the gangway whistling……………………..

No I didn’t. I struggled up that gangway lugging those two suitcases, sans wheels, sweating my bollocks off in 35 deg of heat and 100% humidity.  At the top of the gangway I was met, by a nigh on, geriatric individual, who demanded to see my ID. Not knowing what rank he was, (He could have been the  captain for all I knew. He in fact turned out to be a quartermaster), I fumbled out my seaman’s card which was readily accepted with a cursory glance. After a bit of questioning by me I was pointed in the direction of the Officers accommodation and given rough directions to the engineer’s office. Needless to say I got hopelessly lost. For a person that has never been on a ship before, directions like “ It’s on 01 deck, For’d, Port side” is akin to being spoken to in a Martian dialect.

Eventually I did find it after two days without sleep, water, and food, and met my boss, The Second Engineer (The Chief Engineer is GOD and never wants to see cadets). Surprisingly, he was very nice and showed me to my cabin which I was to share with another engineer cadet.

Anyway a week later the mighty vessel set sail. (I didn’t want to bore you with tales of drunkenness, debauchery, and the tale of falling into a monsoon ditch complete with Akai reel to reel tape deck, as I know that, is of no interest to readers of this blog. I have high standards to uphold).

That day I descended into the ninth circle of hell. The Engine Room. The moment I opened the door, two things hit me. Heat as I’d never experienced, and a noise that would keep the dead awake for all eternity.

Most of this was brought about my the most humungous piece of machinery in the middle. The main engine. A six cylinder J type Doxford. All the rage in those days. This was an engine that had two pistons in each cylinder (yes you heard me directly, TWO), whilst one went up, the other went down. They nearly meet in the middle. (An interesting fact is that they had common rail , fuel injection. The very system that modern car manufactures boast about).

More noise was created by four diesel generators producing 110V DC. (DC is the electrickery that comes out of your battery to start your car. AC is wot we use to light our houses and power our computers, etc). DC was the medium that powered the electrical circuits of ships in those days.

Have you had enough yet?

No, Ok I’ll continue.

The sheer size of the engine room left me flabbergasted. The height alone was equivalent to a four story building. And in every corner there was some sort of contraption of, which at the time, I had no idea of it’s purpose.

After a couple of days of being allowed to wander round , I was told that I was going to be on a watch. What’s a watch you say? Well, before we had automation and unmanned engine rooms, someone had to be up and around. Therefore the day and night were split up into four hour watches. I was nominated for the 4-8. Ie, 0400 – 0800 & 1600 – 2000. Hell for an eighteen year old.

However I did managed to survive this vessel. Just an interesting side note. It’s cargo was ammunition and smoking was allowed almost anywhere. Mind you, you weren’t allowed to smoke in number two hold. That’s where the big bangs were kept. (Think Hiroshima).

Would you like to hear about my next ship? It involves lady boys, the Beira bucket, and more ramblings that will bore even me.

World leaders still.

copper wire

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, Canadian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by their neighbours, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times:
"American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50
years earlier than the Canadians".

One week later, the British authorities reported the following:
"After digging as deep as 30 feet in North Yorkshire, Jack Arkwright, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely f*** all.
Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Britain had already gone wireless."

Just makes you bloody proud to be British, don't it!
Don´t stop believing !

Don't you just love the RAF!

Conversation overheard by civilian airliner on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai.


Iranian Air Defence Site: 'Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace.   Identify yourself.'

Aircraft:   'This is a British aircraft.    I am in Iraqi airspace.'

Air Defence Site: 'You are in Iranian airspace.   If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!'

Aircraft: 'This is a Royal Air Force GR4 Tornado fighter.  Send 'em up, I'll wait!'

Air Defence Site: ( .... total silence)

Thursday 14 April 2011

Rules are Rules

The Good News:
It was a normal day in
Sharon Springs , Kansas, when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina .

The Bad News:

Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.

The Good News:
A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the Rules.

The Bad News:

The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.
The crew tried to explain to higher-ups, but were instructed not to move the train!
They were instructed that the Rules prohibit moving the train when a part is defective!


Don't ever let common sense get in the way of a
good disaster!!!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Engineering as it used to be.–Part 3

Following on from Engineering as it used to be  - Part2, here is the next in the Saga. (Bloody hard work to remember that far back, believe you me). Anyhow, here goes.

The stage is set in the year of our Lord 1967, and the venue is Heathrow. I’d been driven there by my parents,  in their motorcar, (that’s what they were called in those days) and deposited at the terminal complete with two suitcases and hand luggage. My parents bid me a swift goodbye and departed in a cloud of smoke from the tyres on their motorcar. I always had the feeling that they’d been trying to get rid of me for many years. After all they had sent me to a prison camp boarding school, for three years.

Any way must get on.

In those days there were no wheels on suitcases and no trolleys in racks for the use of the fare paying passengers, so I lugged my bags to the check desk by sheer brute force and threw myself  at the mercy of the stewardess at the check in desk. A quick check of my passport and the issue of a boarding pass, (There was no “Did you pack your own cases in those days”. Mind you would you say, “My luggage was packed for me by a man in a dress sporting a bushy beard”, No.). Anyhoo, straight off to the departure lounge to await my aeroplane. After a short while we boarded the mighty bird of the skies. A Vickers vanguard turboprop.

To jump ahead after 26 hours of flight and stopovers we finally reached our destination. Singapore. After passing through immigration, cursory at best, as we still had significant influence on the island, we emerged into the heat and oh Fuck me, it was hot. Not only hot, it had a humidity that you could barely cut with a bread knife. I luckily was met by a crown agent who  informed me that the ship I was supposed to join had not actually arrived and he was going to put me up in a hotel for the next couple of nights.

My apologies for the lack of engineering so far. This bit just sets the tone of what it was like back in the dim and distant past.

Now comes the fun part, expenses were regulated, like a troughing MP would die for. The agent hands me 80 singapore dollars and tells me that it is to cover my hotel bill and expenses. Well in those days there were 8 dollars to the pound which equates to £5 per day. I was used to subsistence in the UK of less than £5 per week. Even better when I found that my hotel was only 5 dollars per night, and Tiger beer was  only 50 cents per pint. I’d truly found a job made in heaven. Or so I thought.

To be continued………………….Hell begins.

Russian air bag testing

They really must keep off that Vodka.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Sick Bird Mincers

It would seem that everything is not going quite so well in the Offshore wind turbine industry.

Roughly 600 of Europe’s installed 948 offshore turbines have been prone to grout connection failure, causing turbines to tilt within their monopile foundations. But according to some, the problem lies less with the grout itself, than with a design that relies on grout to hold the foundation and transition piece together.


So that’s 2/3 that are failing already. However all is not lost.

Retrofits: expensive, but promising

Several solutions to remedy ailing monopiles have come to the fore………………………………….

So the repairs are going to most likely cost us a small fortune.

Bloody useless bits of kit. They produce bugger all electricity when the wind isn’t blowing and fall over when it does.

Completely Bonkers

But incredibly brave

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.

Don’t try this at home.

Monday 11 April 2011

25%. You what?

Is there something you’ve forgotten to tell us Mr Cameron?

The European Union is set to propose new regulations which could see British fuel prices rise by up to 25 per cent.

And that nice Mr Osbourne has let us have a whole 1p back.

Basing fuel tax on energy content rather than volume will mean a significant price rise for haulage companies and private motorists who use diesel.

That means diesel will cost me £1.76 a litre against the £1.41 I’m paying at present. At the moment it costs me £98.70 to fill up my tank. if that rise goes ahead it’s going to cost me £123. 37 in the future. An increase of  £24.67. WTF will that do to our Hauliers? I can see most small hauliers going to the wall and shops running out of goods, if this madness comes about

If this goes ahead we are truly screwed as a nation. Get a grip you cunts and do the right thing. Tell them to taking a running jump into Le Manche.

Monday meandering


The US  standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is
4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England and English
expatriates designed the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built
the pre-railroad tramways and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and
tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial   Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe
(including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used
ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. 
Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Bureaucracies live forever.

The next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process
and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be
exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just
wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
(Two horses' arses.)
Now - the twist to the story:

A Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad has two big booster
rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are
solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol
at a factory in Utah .
Engineers who designed the SRB's would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRB's had to fit through that tunnel.
The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably
the world's most advanced transportation system, was
determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a
horse's ass!

AND YOU THOUGHT  BEING a horse's ass wasn't important!
Ancient horse's asses control almost everything.

CURRENT Horses Asses in Washington are controlling
everything else.