Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Down the rabbit hole!

When I came back from my trip to Dayton and Indianapolis with so many photos and books I planned on spending many hours going through them, researching the engines I'd never heard of, the configurations I'd never seen, etc.. I never dreamt I'd spend quite so many happy hours doing so, to the point of waking in the middle of the night to go read or re-read a certain piece, or look up some piece of information that suddenly "gelled" as my mind mulled things while the rest of me slept...

The ever-widening circle of information led me back into realms of engine theory I hadn't visited since my days riding and street racing Triumphs, the engineering I taught myself then just being a primer for the things I'm delving into now. A new pantheon of engineers and designers is taking shape in my "hall of heroes". It's an interesting trip! (Thus my title for this post.)

I was startled to find supercharged motors in the Air Force Museum that dated almost to the end of WWI. Having come home and devoured the "Packards at Speed" book I bought, along with a few other "lighter" things, I moved onto the Packard "Master Motor Builders" book. Also, unable to buy a book covering the Allison engines at the museum I visited in Indianapolis, I came home and found one on eBay-being sold by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust (they operate that museum). Several transactions later, I'm now a member. The things I've learned as I tied all this together have added Henry Royce to that list I mentioned earlier.( I'd never considered the possibility of weighing the air/fuel charge in a cylinder to determine what the power output would be under a given set of circumstances...among the many things I'm learning!)

The "Master Motor Builders" book has me hunting down names and theory, scribbling notes and working a calculator, much to the amusement of my wife. I keep finding things that predate my ideas of when they began by decades! It seems Tesla wasn't the only engineer who was years ahead of his time; he was just more prolific...

All of this is making me miss my mother-in-law terribly as well. A mechanical engineer, descended from a long line of inventors and engineers, she graduated college just in time to work for Pratt and Whitney during WW2, laying out assembly lines and streamlining things, hiring to fill them, along with various design projects. She always had a way of reducing things into simplest terms, thus making "the little light bulb over my head" turn on. What it takes me two or three days to sort out by surfing the web or sorting through other books she would have settled in a few minutes. Somewhere I know she's smiling...

Curiouser and curiouser!

May the days be kind to each of you!

alan





3 comments:

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Anji Knutsen said...

I bet the hours fly by! My dad had a friend who was supposed to be a descendant of Charles Rolls. Their favourite day out was to steam engine Rallies.

Charles Rolls was killed in a flying accident which reminded me of my postcards (again). Many of the early pilots were very keen cyclists too. No doubt some of them would have taken part in the Tour de France.

I love the paths and twists and turns down the Rabbit Hole.

robin andrea said...

I love the excitement about learning new things. It's the best, so invigorating. I am intrigued by the mention of your mother-in-law. She sounds like quite a person, and way ahead of her time. I'd love to know more her. Enjoy your journey, it sounds GREAT!