Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

calendar   Tuesday - August 24, 2010


Fatal Spitfire Crash In Norway


Swedish aviator Bertil Gerhardt, 68, tried to land at the Tynset airport. Witnesses say he came in a bit hot, the plane veered off the side of the runway and the landing gear got caught in some crops growing there, causing the aircraft to flip.

The airshow scheduled for this Sunday has been canceled.

Gerhardt was a very experienced pilot.

A Biltema company pilot for over 30 years with more than 31000 flying hours under his belt, the Swede Bertil Gerhardt is the top historic aircraft display pilot of his country. At Tampere-Pirkkala he will showcase the looks, sounds and moves of the P-51 Mustang fighter. He started his Swedish Air Force career in 1963 and has flown the Saab J29 Tunnan - the “Flying Barrel” - and the double-delta wing Mach 2+ Saab J 35 Draken frontline fighter/interceptor, but he´s just as much at home at the controls of a glider soaring in the silent skies. While the Swedish Air Force had some structural problems with the J29, he was introduced to the Sk16, the Swedish AT-6 Harvard-like piston powered trainer. This experience came in useful much later while he was transitioning to the Cavalier Mustang and the two Spitfires the Biltema company acquired for their collection.


Bertil Gerhardt, RIP

The aircraft is likely repairable. It is a Spitfire Mk XVIIIe, one of the later ones built during the war. This one never fought in the skies of Europe, since VE Day was May 8, 1945.

SM845 was built at Chattis Hill in 1945 and delivered to 39 MU (Maintenance Unit) on May 30, 1945. It was used operationally in India, first with the RAF, then the Indian Air Force.

She was one of eight Spitfires recovered from India by Duxford-based Ormonde and Wensley Haydon-Baillie in 1977. It passed through several owners before being returned to the air by Historic Flying Ltd. in 1998.

SM845 has been sold to the Swedish company Biltema in 2009 and was based in Ängelholm in southern Sweden.

Built Southampton with Griffon 66 engine, it is believed to have been the 2nd Mk.XVIII delivered to the RAF, arrived at 39 MU May 25, 1945, then 76 MU December 13, 1945, followed by “Sampenn” January 19, 1946, with Air Command South East Asia in India from February 28, 1946.  Sold as instructional airframe on December 31, 1947, to the Indian Air Force serving as HS687.  SM845 was one of 8 recovered from India in 1977-78 by members of the Haydon-Baille Aircraft and Naval Collection which netted a total of 8 Spitfires, five MK.XVIII’s, one MK.VIII and two FR.XIV’s. 

When [restoration is] complete the Griffon-powered Spitfire will be the sole flying example of a XVIII in Europe.


SM845 in better days

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/24/2010 at 07:43 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - August 19, 2010

DAS BOOT …….. H/T Drew for the inspiration … th th th that’s all folks …

Drew posted some lovely boats I enjoyed seeing.  They also qualify as eye candy.

Well, I’m not trying to upstage friend Drew BUT ....  this was in the paper and I admit while I am attracted to the canoe these folks have, I kinda like the lady a lot too. OK, I think she’s really pretty and maybe even prettier then the boat.  But they go together you see.

What a catch she was for this guy.  Read on and see the link for more.

What a catch! Humble British fisherman lands billionaire Canadian boss’s daughter and returns on bride’s £100m superyacht

By Luke Salkeld

Before he left his home town, he worked on a little old boat taking holidaymakers on trips to catch mackerel.

Guy Barnett returned in style aboard a £100million superyacht.

The 35-year-old sailed into Dartmouth on the 247ft Northern Star and invited old friends to celebrate his best catch yet.


Mr Barnett, who left Devon to work as a deck hand for a Canadian billionaire, ended up marrying the boss’s daughter and heiress.

He and his bride, the former Sarah Risley, are honeymooning on board the six-deck yacht, which was chartered by her father John as part of their wedding present.

The couple hosted lunch for 30 guests in Dartmouth harbour, followed by an evening party when another 50 arrived on board.

It is eight years since Mr Barnett went to work for 62-year-old Mr Risley, owner of the largest fishing fleet in North America and known as the ‘Rockefeller of the North’.

And hey folks .... how’s this for a dining room ....


The couple then flew to Europe for the wedding celebration on the Northern Star, which is based in Gibraltar and costs £533,000 a week to charter.

Father of the bride John Risley, 62, a native of Nova Scotia, started his career with a small lobster shop in 1976 and went on to become the founder and director of Clearwater Seafoods.

The firm operates a large fleet of vessels and processing plants throughout Eastern Canada.

Mr Risley’s empire also includes a telecommunications firm which operates in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as a fisheries research and development business.

So we bid fair well to the happy couple with good wishes for the future and the hope that an unbreakable prenuptial agreement is in place.  Failing that, then daddy has excellent mafia connections.


Click on the happy couple to see more at the source.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 08/19/2010 at 03:55 PM   
Filed Under: • Adventureplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Wednesday - August 18, 2010

What Recession?

Golfer Greg Norman some rich folks buy another boat

Update: I could have sworn I was reading several web pages last night that showed that the series of mega-yachts named Cakewalk belonged to Greg Norman. Alas, that is not the case, as reader Ron L. was so kind to diplomatically point out:

Please be advised to get your information correct.  The Yacht Cakewalk was never owned by Greg Norman.

The only yacht he owned was Aussie Rules.  The older Cakewalk and the new one just launched is owned by an American from Denver, Col.

Get your facts straight.

Gosh. red face
So, like at least one of the Cakewalk yachts, it looks like I’d better give this post a total refit.

Well, it turns out he was correct. I think. I’m not going to bother to do a huge bit of web investigation, but at least TWO of these Cakewalk yachts was owned by Charlie and Diane Gallagher. Of Denver.

Timelessness, technology and tradition – along with a no-compromise approach to quality – were the guiding principles behind building Charlie and Diane Gallagher’s 205-foot Cakewalk at Van Lent Shipyards.

Flanking the chart table in Cakewalk’s large wheelhouse are a ship’s clock and barometer, a simple matching brass set that Charlie Gallagher considers the most valuable pieces of equipment in his extraordinary new Feadship.

Pity the yachtsmen and yard management teams that don’t communicate clearly. Some owners tell custom yards they want a magnificent stateroom soundproofed to the hilt to lull them into dreamland, when in reality they want every room to be whisper-quiet. Others fail to get as involved as they should in the layout of behind-the-scenes areas like the engine room. While those owners still end up with workable yachts, the vessels aren’t as exceptional as they could—and should—be, given their custom nature.

Not so with the 204-foot Cakewalk commissioned by the American couple that Capt. Bill Zinser works for. In fact, they made it very simple when they approached Feadship’s Van Lent en Zonen yard about building the yacht: “We wanted the best of everything,” Zinser says matter-of-factly, adding, “We told Feadship we wanted them to build its best yacht ever.”

Having bought the Van Lent-built Fiffanella in the late 1990s, extensively refitting her and stretching her to 142 feet (she launched in 1987 at 132’7"), the owners were familiar with the yard’s craftsmanship. Three years of “trouble-free cruising under every conceivable condition,” in the words of the husband, convinced them to return to Van Lent to commission a new, larger project when the yacht, which they had renamed Cakewalk, couldn’t accommodate their growing family—18 members strong. The project started out on paper at 187 feet, gradually increasing to 204’5” to make her profile even sleeker.

So Cakewalk (II) is the 2001 Feadship built Cakewalk, and would be mega-yacht #2 for the owners. Mega-yacht #1 would be the rebuilt Fiffanella, rechristened as Cakewalk(I).

Cakewalk (III) may have been the 2003 yacht built by Trinity Yachts in New Orleans built and originally called the Mia Elise. Changed owners soon thereafter, refitted, became a Cakewalk, sold, refitted, and is now called the Vita.


Notice how much this one looks like the first white yacht below, which IS/WAS Norman’s yacht Aussie Rules.  Don’t be fooled by little things like radar masts and shark gill windows - this is what refitting can do. And this is where my error may have crept in. Who owned it when it was Cakewalk? I have no idea. Could be the Gallaghers, could be someone else. But with the infinite number of names out there, it is a little odd that several mega-yachts keep bearing the same name. And the world of mega-yachts is really not all that big.

Cakewalk IV MAY BE the yacht now called Fortunato. But since it’s a little older than the formerly Cakewalk Vita, it may have been Cakewalk III and Vita was Cakewalk IV. Who can tell? Why would anyone spend such huge amounts of money on a fricking boat to begin with, much less buy and sell them as soon as the “new” smell was only half worn off. Then again, I could be wrong about that too. What’s to stop someone of unimaginable wealth from owning a whole bloody FLEET of luxury yachts named Cakewalk all at the same time? Nothing. However, Wikipedia lists Cakewalk/Fortunato as belonging to the Gallaghers.

But I was able to find out that the latest Cakewalk, the 3000 ton behemoth I originally wrote this post about, was called Cakewalk V during it’s building. (It was also called the Dancer Project, so go figure.) And, somewhere in the process, there were financial difficulties, even though that project should have brought the shipyard $82 million.

When a self-made American millionaire was looking to commission his 281-foot yacht, he rebuffed the international boat making scene, instead vowing to stay local by enlisting Derecktor Shipyards Connecticut for the job, according to a recent article in the Hartford Courant.

“We just wanted to do it here to prove to the elite northern Europeans that we could do it here,” the yacht’s would-be captain told the newspaper on behalf of the mystery owner. “The U.S. takes a hammering worldwide over the [poor] quality of its products – and it’s not true, and we’re proving it’s not true…We thought we could do it here, and we are.”

Well, kind of.  The millionaire’s campaign to showcase America’s yachting prowess is off to a rocky start after Derecktor’s July Chapter 11 filing. Plans for the on-board spa, gymnasium and theater are still in tact, but the Bridgeport, Conn., company’s balance sheet is on shakier footing. And the multimillion dollar “Cakewalk,” which experts say could be the biggest yacht ever made, has been caught in the crosshairs of the courtroom drama.

Paul Derecktor, president, of the Bridport yacht building yard, Derector Shipyards has said that the building of Cakewalk V, the largest yacht to be built in the USA in 75 years, was the most important job in the company’s 60-year history. Now, through court records we learn just how valuable that contract is to the firm.

The price of the 85.6 metre yacht has been revealed as US$82 million and comes at a time. Local newspaper reports say that these days, Derecktor has been very tight-lipped about the project and the only reason the price tag is known is through court records from Derecktor’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. This stems from a disagreement with one particular client over the building of the world’s largest catamaran called Gemini II.

So the owner finally got his big boat built, and just like Cakewalk I, Cakewalk V - whoever actually owns it!!!!! - is built to have the very best of everything

The price tag for the vessel has not been disclosed, but one expert estimates more than $100 million.

Although not the longest motor yacht constructed, Derecktor noted it is the largest yacht by volume built in the United States. The steel-hulled vessel with aluminum superstructure is six decks tall and 281 feet long. More than a mansion on water, the Cakewalk V is a floating country manor with millwork carried out by Ohio and North Carolina craftsmen.

It can accommodate 12 guests in six large cabins. The owner’s deck includes a master stateroom with his and her’s heads, a theater system, study and lounge area, spa, gymnasium, bar and dining table with seating for 14. There are multiple lounge areas and a library, and the lower deck will carry waverunners, outdoor equipment and three tenders, which are the boats that can be used to run ashore. The smallest of the tenders is 32.8 feet.

Well, fair wind and following seas, and may they have the best of luck with their latest yacht.

PS - Who are the Gallaghers? Yes, they are from Denver. And yes, they are very rich. He’s into a bit of corporate Engulf & Devour, but also runs another company that focuses on moving raw materials around and supplying the things you need for building large things.

In 2005, Gallagher Enterprises formed and internally funded Gallagher Industries to commit additional resources and focus to future investments in manufacturing and value-added distribution businesses. Gallagher Industries continues to build upon the Gallagher legacy, forming long-term partnerships with excellent operating partners who have turned their vision into profitable enterprises. Our current team has led six highly successful leveraged buyouts and has positioned current platform holdings for significant future growth.

To date, the Gallagher Industries’ investment model has driven significant, repeated successes across manufacturing, marketing, and value-added distribution businesses including: mining, minerals, ferroalloys, refinery outsourcing, bulk shipping terminals, petroleum coke, metal building products, high density and PET blow-molded containers, clay-based soil amendments, leading-edge erosion control products and synthetic stone veneer.

They have a very well funded ($20m) philanthopic foundation giving educational scholarships, are involved in any number of community, cultural, and artistic associations, supporting hospitals and so forth. And they look to be significant contributors to the Republican Party. Sounds like good people to me; they got rich helping America grow, and they give back where they can.

Unlike others who make a fortune hitting a little ball with a stick.



Greg Norman’s yacht, Aussie Rules. Sold to somebody else.


One of the former Cakewalk yachts, now called the Fortunato


The new Cakewalk V yacht under construction. Steel below, aluminum above, utter luxury inside. Note the foredeck similarity to the ship now called Fortunato.  And now, here’s the latest and greatest Cakewalk, launched but perhaps not yet fully finished inside.


Isn’t that pretty? What a nice sense of proportion it has. You’d hardly notice that this water bauble is 281 feet long (85.6m) and displaces 3000 tons. You can’t see its two custom designed elevators, but it needs them, since the boat is more than 6 stories tall.

As many of us in the media have been reporting since the contract was signed in 2006, the 281-foot (85.6-meter), 2,995-gross-ton Cakewalk is the largest yacht by volume to be built on U.S. soil since the 1930s. An American couple who previously owned two European-built megayachts commissioned her. They firmly believed that they could get a well-engineered yacht stateside.

The yacht will remain at Derecktor for the next few weeks undergoing final outfitting and sea trials. She is scheduled to make her much-awaited debut at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October.

The latest Cakewalk only carries 3 little runabouts, including a 10m Vikal limousine. Nice. I think everyone should own a little boat like this, nearly as big as a destroyer.

Length, o.a.  281 ft
Length, w.l.  248 ft
Beam 46.9 ft
Draught 13.1 ft
Gross tonnage 2995
Propulsion 2x 16V400M71 @ 2465BKW (3306HP)@200 RPM MTU
Propeller 2x 5 Blade Rolls Royce Single Pitch
Speed 17 knots / 15 knots
Fuel capacity 97,000 gal
Range 5000NM @15 Knots

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/18/2010 at 08:01 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-Stuffplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Friday - July 23, 2010

cheap fix

Shortly after I got the air conditioning on my old Satrun fixed, the check radiator light started coming on on the dashboard. I know that the coolant level sensor has always been very sensitive, so I ignored it for a bit. It kept coming on. So I took a look, and the overflow tank was a bit low. So I added some water. Fine. A couple days later the light came on again. Added more water. Then it came on after only 50 miles, and this time it took more than a quart to top the thing off. I’ve got a leak. My guess is that the mechanics who did the A/C were a bit heavy handed, and clonked the radiator. Not only is the thing almost 14 years old with 200K miles on it, it’s a thin aluminum core with plastic end tanks. So I investigated ... and found a crack on the inside of the top of the left end tank. I looked things up online - God, how I love the internet! - and found that not only is replacing the radiator a very simple job, I could get a brand new one, heavy duty, with new upper and lower hoses, all name brand parts, for under $125 delivered. Awesome. I was expecting $400. But then my inner cheapskate came to the surface, and I wondered if I could fix it myself. It’s plastic, after all. So I got out the super glue and the epoxy, and found a fairly thick lid to a plastic tub of cat litter in the recycling. After cleaning and drying off that part of the tank, I ran a bead of super glue along the crack, and while it was drying I cut 3 plastic rectangles from the lid. Each one fits between the ribs on the tank, and extends about an inch to either side of the hairline crack. Mix up a big blob of 5 minute epoxy, slather a generous amount onto each rectangle, and press them in place. Then I used a chopstick to flow more epoxy over each rib, so every last part of the crack is covered with a thick coat much wider than the crack itself. It’s out there drying in the heat right now.

Will it hold? Have to wait and see. It’s not like I can’t afford $125 to get the parts, and I can do the work myself. But if this fix gives me a bit of time, or works perfectly, or even if it only slows the leak down a whole bunch, then it was a half hour well spent. Just in case, I’ll carry a couple of gallons of water with me.

Yeah, I know. I was looking for some excuse to use duct tape, but there’s nothing there that could take any. The hoses are just fine and the rubber radiator mounts are holding up as well.

To my surprise, a Saturn doesn’t really have a radiator cap! It’s a closed system, so the cap on the overflow tank is built to handle 15psi instead. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/23/2010 at 03:46 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily Lifeplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Sunday - June 20, 2010

Road Rage


You know what pisses me off when I’m behind the wheel? Other drivers. Stuck on stupid.

Sure, this is New Jersey. And the expectation is that everyone will be speeding almost everywhere. Especially on the highway. But if you don’t want to, that’s fine. Just don’t glue your vehicle to the passing lane on the highway and go no faster than 2 over. That’s you I’m talking to, entire state of Pennsylvania. Speed it up, or move it over. On single lane roads on nice days, you do the speed limit. Because the reality is that this isn’t the maximum speed you are supposed to drive, it’s the speed that you are supposed to drive. Not 30% less.

And you old farts. Yeah, you, the DMD/OGBs ( Dead Man Driving / Old Guy in a Buick ): your car has a gas pedal. Really, it does. Even your Buick. It’s where your foot should be when it’s not actively pressing the brake pedal. Try pushing it with your foot. The car doesn’t have autopilot. You aren’t saving any gas by putting it in “D” and just letting it go. But you are pissing off a whole lot of people behind you. And we know that you know that, and that this is the only way you can get your rocks off since your dick stopped working 35 years ago. Knock it off. Because you are expendable.

Gliding out to the end of the entrance ramp and then coming to a stop and then checking for traffic is stupid. You have mirrors, use them. And it’s annoying as hell when there’s a line of cars behind you, as there always is, because you’re a slow ass motherfucker. If your glaucoma is that bad, get off the road. If you can’t stand the sunlight even with those full face granny shades you wear, get off the road. If you’re such an addled old ninny that any speed over 35 is frightening, check your saggy old ass into a nursing home ... and get off the road. If you can’t drive the speed limit or drive along at the speed everyone else is doing, you’re the problem. You can tell because there’s a line of 20 cars behind you. Always. Everywhere. Screw you and your passive aggressive bullshit Mr. Greedist Generation. My size 10 is going right up your benefits laden retired ass unless you stop blocking traffic. This message applies even more to the middle aged yuppies and preppies who drive expensive and powerful sports sedans, like BMWs and AMG Mercedes. Cars with fantastic and powerful engines. Driven as if they were pedal powered. Slow as molasses. Afraid of the tiniest bit of cornering. Not only are these drivers jerks, they’re pompous assholes for choosing such vehicles and not having the skill or desire to drive them as they were intended. Not in the slightest. Trade it in. Go get a crossover minivan thingy from Infiinity. Just as “luxurious” but not at all scary, if that’s what’s keeping you back. And the rest of us won’t expect any performance driving from you, even though some of us know that that Infinity has 300hp under the hood and can actually handle a bit.

But highways are one thing, and regular town roads are another. And there sure seem to be a whole lot of drivers without much in the way of smarts. Or attention. Tell you what, if you really need to talk on that cell phone, or send somebody a text message, pull off the road. Somehow folks who can carry on a conversation with the other people in the car while driving can’t manage to talk on the phone behind the wheel. And the texters? You’re trying to get us killed. Not just yourself. I didn’t sign up for that, thank you. Go home and kill yourself. We don’t want to be part of it.

And you, the lazy bastige who never does a walk around, a “pre-flight” check on your car. Who doesn’t know that their brake lights don’t work. Or that their turn signals are out. Or that they have things dragging on the bottom of their car. Or one tire mostly flat. Geesh. Fix the car or get it off the road. Or those One Headlight Wonders and their first cousins the “I don’t need to turn my lights on until it’s utterly and fully dark”, who are closely related to the “I don’t need my wipers when it rains; I can see around all the raindrops” simpletons. You guys are idiots. Oblivious arrogant morons. If it’s getting to that time of day when half or more of the vehicles you see have coming the other way have their lights on, it’s time to turn yours on too. Hey, maybe you have Miracle Vision™ and can see in the dark. Who gives a shit? Turn your lights on so that we can see you. And this goes especially for those folks who had the “wisdom” to buy pavement and weather colored vehicles. Asphalt black, fog gray, and even dirty snow white in the winter. You’re hard to see. Flip ‘em on already. It’s called thinking about someone else for a change instead of me, me, me.

But the drivers that really provoke my ire are the ones who expect me to take part in their driving. The ones who don’t bother to look before turning, the ones who pull out with the expectation that I’m going to slow down and dodge for them. The ones who stay right next to me in the left lane when the sign says “left lane ends 1/4 mile” and make no effort to either speed up or slow down. Usually the only effort they do make is an effort to go just fast enough to stay in my blind spot. Asswipes. You expect me to speed up or slow down for you, or to jump out of my own lane so you don’t pile into me or the guardrail? I ought to let that happen. I really should. Arrogant fuck. You deserve to get into a crippling accident for your douchebag antics on the road.

The ones who don’t know what a turn signal is until they’re actually turning piss me off too. Oh sure, give everyone else a sudden panic attack because you just decide to jam on the brakes for no apparent reason at all! And then when we’ve all just scrubbed 5000 miles worth of tread off our tires to avoid not creaming you, and given ourselves a nice hearty surprise dose of adrenaline THEN it’s blink-blink blink as you make a left. At 2mph. You festering crotch wart. And don’t tell me that the corner caught you by surprise. You make that same turn 10 times a week.

So I’m coming home today from my morning job. Coming down the hill just outside of town, doing the 45mph speed limit.  I’m about 2 seconds from a cross street on my right, the little back road that goes into the back of the grocery store parking lot. And this woman in a white Toyota Avalon is coming out, just sitting there at the stop line. And she looks right at me and pulls out to make her left. And doesn’t even step on the bloody gas. Nothing. Just lets off the brake and slowly glides out into the street. If I’d been texting, she’d be dead. If my car was in crappy running condition with bad brakes, she’d be dead. If I had worn out tires, she’d be dead. But I don’t, so she isn’t. I jammed on the brakes and came to an eyeball popping stop maybe 10 feet from her car door as she slowly crosses in front of me. And she’s giving me the hairy eyeball and yelling out that I’m a jerk. Fuck you bitch. Did you think your millisecond of eye contact was going to make my car slow down by flamin’ magic? That that eyeblink was permission asked and received? Or is it that your brain is so addled that you think every road situation everywhere is “alternate merge”; the car ahead of me went past you, so now it’s your turn to go, and you’re going to take that turn thank you very much no matter the fuck what? It ain’t like that sweetie. There’s a thing called right-of-way. And you, on a side street with a stop sign, pulling out across traffic onto a busy road, don’t have any. At all. Which means you wait. But you wouldn’t know that, I know, because I see you and the rest of your relatives blowing past the yield sign just down the street every single day.

Sometimes I wish I had a rusty old tank to drive. A real one. I don’t even want the cannon, just the 8” thick armored steel front end. Or a ‘72 Vista Cruiser station wagon. (same thing almost) Some heavy duty accident-proof I-don’t-give-a-shit mobile. Maybe something with a great big snowplow on the front. Eye level. Just for revenge. Just to help Mr. Darwin thin out the losers from the gene pool. Because they’re out there, and they’re breeding unchecked.

And don’t even get me started on teensy tiny timid women who drive those houseboat sized SUVs. 10 under everywhere, 0-65 in about 30 minutes, full stop before turning, incapable of being driven on their side of the lane in a parking lot. Make that whale swim honey, or go get a Corolla. I don’t buy your “I only drive this for the kids” crap. I see you almost every day in that beast, and it’s always just you inside. Always. I walked past your Moby in the parking lot and looked in the windows. No soccer goals, no massive pile of kiddie toys. No quarter ton of power tools and 4 ladders. Just your iPhone socket, your travel latte cup, the dry cleaning you picked up, and 2 little plastic bags of groceries. All single serving sized stuff too. You ain’t foolin anybody.

We seem to have an awful lot of stupid drivers. Self-centered, unskilled, isolated, unthinking, inattentive, and distracted. Piss poor behind the wheel. And New Jersey has flatly turned down my request to mount Hellfire missiles to my roof. Hey, I’d just be helping everyone else out, come on! And I only asked for 6!!

Me and old Mr. Darwin have a solution. It’s brutal, which is how you knew it a Drewsolution would be. But it would work real well. 

Stuff this “junior operator” license bit for new drivers. Let 13 and 14 year olds on the road with just a written test. But not in cars or on motorcycles. Around town only, on mopeds and little scooters. 100cc and under, 3 speed auto transmissions. With bicycle helmets. The ones who survive can graduate to 250cc motorcycles at 16. Manual shift, with their butts out their in the elements. And real full face helmets. Still not allowed on the highways though. Teach them to be aware of everything, all the time. Everything. From engine speed to gear selection to road surface conditions to flying bugs to the smells in the air you breathe. That’s what motorcycles do. It’s another weeding out process. At 17 they get to drive cars. Small ones. Manual transmission only, semi-anemic 2 liter 4 cylinder engines. and the car has no radio and no iPod port. After 6 months of that we let them on the highways. 3 years of that and they might have enough awareness ingrained in them to be reasonable drivers the rest of their lives. And every 5 years when that license gets renewed, they have to pass a written test, and eye test, a reflexes test, and a significant road test. Maybe we’ll have a few less idiots that way. And a lot more people who learn to love driving, who know their limits and their vehicle’s limits, who thus pay attention and engage in the verve of it all, and who don’t become a hazard or an obstacle for the rest of us.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/20/2010 at 12:37 PM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Friday - May 14, 2010

Little Big Guns

I had fun yesterday doing my own peculiar follow up to the post I did on the new Mustang GT. First I found out that the tires for this monster cost nearly $325. Each. Then I played around with the gear ratios in the car’s transmission, trying to figure out the breaks between shifts (ie how much the engine slows down when you upshift). That was a fun spreadsheet exercise, and I also worked up some numbers for a new 5th and 6th gear that would give the car another 3mpg on the highway. The new GT uses some very interesting ratios in it’s manual transmission, and the breaks between gears are huge, considering that the 6 speed transmission is a 5+1; it only has a single overdrive gear. First gear is stump pulling low, so low that for normal driving you wouldn’t even use it most of the time. Shifting at a moderately sporty 4000rpm will let you shift from 4th to 5th (or 6th) gear at a hair over 65mph, while going real easy on the gas and shifting at 3000rpm puts the 5th to 6th shift right at 65mph. Lead footed boy racer types will redline the engine and hit highway speed coming out of 2nd gear. Yikes.

Then I looked at torque loading on the tires, weight balance, fuel consumption, etc, and determined the obvious: this is a toy car to have fun with on the weekends in nice weather. Keep a little Hyundai in the garage for day to day driving, rainy weather and winter use.

And while the new GT is wicked fast, both the Corvette Z06/LS7 and the Corvette ZR1/LS9 will eat it alive for lunch and spit out the bones while laughing. Sorry guys. There is no replacement for displacement, and both ‘vettes make at least 50% more power while weighing at least 500 pounds less. And cost nearly twice as much, but who counts price when we’re talking toy cars for sunny weekends?

Um, gee, that’s nice and all, but I thought this was a gun porn post? What’s the connection?

Well, diddling around with gear ratios trying to get the GT’s RPM down to just over idle in top gear at 65mph to maximize MPG without compromising the on-ramp rush was an exercise in practicality while dealing with excessive power. The same concept can be applied to firearms. There are two ways to get lots of power out of a gun: shoot a small bullet very fast, or shoot a really big bullet at pretty much any velocity. Big bullets at high velocity pack unbelievable power. Elephant guns and anti-aircraft weapons. But big soft bullets at moderate velocity get the job done just fine on everything else that is not an elephant or a 747. Buffalo guns and elephants guns comprise a class of firearms known as heavy rifles, and that’s exactly what they need to be. Massive power generates massive recoil, and the one true way to dampen that is with mass. So these rifles need to weigh 10 to 15 pounds. And that’s a whole lot of gun, too much for most people to schlep around in the woods all day. Over the past couple of decades the trend has been for lighter, shorter rifles, while at the same time the newest hunting cartridges have become far more powerful. Combine the two and you get an easy to carry gun potent enough to hunt blue whales with, that smacks the bloody snot out of you when you pull the trigger. Not the ideal situation.

One way to lighten a rifle is to shorten the barrel. Steel is pretty heavy stuff, and lopping half a foot or so off the barrel can cut a pound or two of weight. One of the problems with that is that the new super-boomer cartridges really need that long long barrel to work their magic. With stubby barrels all you’re doing is wasting powder and damaging your hearing from the mighty muzzle blast; short barrels cause their velocity to drop a large amount, sometimes 300-400 feet per second, negating all the extra performance you bought them for in the first place. But short barrels make for short rifles, and short rifles are very easy to maneuver in the bushes.

So what’s the work-around? Little light rifles that shoot big soft bullets at moderately low velocities. They give you all the power you need to hunt deer, elk, and bears out to 200 yards, without the excessive recoil. Ok, with only somewhat excessive recoil. And that’s where modern technology comes in, because these days you can buy guns that have shock absorbers built right in. And that helps a lot, far more than just a rubber recoil pad.

So onto the latest in the Little Big Gun field.


Marlin introduces it’s new 1895GBL. This is the 1895G model rifle with a larger loop in the lever and a full length magazine tube. Chambered in the .45-70, it gives you 6 shots and a lever big enough to work while wearing thick gloves. The pistol grip stock and the big squishy recoil pad absorb quite a lot of kick, and it’s wood laminate stock and blued metal finish give it a traditional look while being fairly weather resistant. With a mere 18.5” barrel, the gun is just 37” long and weighs only 7 pounds empty. Fully loaded it will tip the scales at about 8 pounds and be a bit muzzle heavy, but that makes for a smooth aiming gun and helps cut recoil even more.


Taking the concept even further is a new rifle with a name nearly as big as the gun itself. This is the Thompson Center Encore Katahdin Pro Hunter FlexTech™ Carbine. It’s a 6 1/4 pound single shot rifle, chambered in the same .45-70 as the Marlin, along with the .460 S&W, the .500 S&W, and the “209 x 50” black powder version. All 4 of these chamberings will push a 300 grain bullet to 2000fps, plus or minus a little, which makes them potent short range hunters for deer, hogs, elk, and medium huge bears. The TC Encore is a break action design, so it’s receiver is very short. The Katahdin version comes with a 20” barrel, yet the rifle is only 34.5” long. That’s mighty short, and mighty light. The really impressive thing about this one is the FlexTech™ stock, which has a recoil absorbing design. It works like a series of progressive leaf springs, and is said to reduce felt recoil by up to 50%. I believe it; I’ve played the heavy rifle game for years and I have concluded that it is not the pounds/feet of recoil impact that causes the pain, it’s the speed of the impulse. The springy stock slows the impulse down a lot, turning a sharp punch into a big slow push. That’s much less punishing, and keeps you from wimping out in front of the other guys at the rifle range for much longer periods. Been there, done that, own the Past Magnum pad and use it without shame.

So there’s your gun porn. Power in a small package without excess recoil. That’s practical, for practical hunting at practical ranges.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/14/2010 at 01:30 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Controlplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Monday - May 10, 2010

Auto Musing, again

Want to feel young again? Take a gander at this options list for the new 2011 Ford Mustang:


How long has it been since you’ve seen something like that? I’m amazed. You haven’t been able to pick rear axle gears in ... 30 years? 35 years? Maybe, just maybe, if you were truck shopping, you had a choice of either the plain vanilla boring standard “mpg” gears or the barely warmed up “towing” gears. For cars? Forget about it. And now Ford, the non-government owned car company, is actually offering you choices, at least on their new and improved pony car. The 3.73 set (sigh, 3.73s!!!) is a limited slip hoozimabob. Damn, it’s been so long I can’t even remember what Ford’s version of Posi-traction rear axles were called. Traction-Lok?

I was intrigued by their new TV add promising 305/31 - the base Mustang comes with a 305 horsepower V6, a 6 speed manual transmission (sigh) and pulls 31mpg on the highway. Which is pretty much what I was talking about on my last auto musing post. The bad news is, and you knew there would be some, that you’ve got to wind the engine up a bit to get that power. You don’t have to wind it up as much as you need to spin an Acura to get to the good part, but still you’ve got to go past 4000rpm.

Of course, for the purists, the more hard core drivers, Ford finally got around to putting the (minimum) proper sized V8 back under the hood in the GT version. Gone is the egg sucking 4.6L, and a decent 302 is back in place. Granted, they call it a “Coyote” 5.0L, but we know better. It’s a 302. One with 11:1 pistons that wants to be fed 91 octane gas or better. And Ford built it better than ever: FINALLY, and only about 25 years too late, they managed to build a 4 valve head on the thing. Independent valve timing is said to create 412hp and 390 lb/ft of torque. Is it an aluminum block?  Why yes it is. As are the heads and the pistons. Alas, it needs to be spun up to rice-rocket revs to make those big ponies, and I haven’t been able to locate a dyno chart yet. But maybe it’s got some low end power too, where most of us drive most of the time. The 6 speed manual is a 5+1 single overdrive transmission, and 3.31 rear gears are standard.

So, V8, manual, optional hot gears, and supposedly a lighter, stiffer chassis with much better brakes and handling, plus an interior said to rival an Audi? [ yeah, right ] Lighter? This Mustang tips the scales at 3600lbs, a full half ton heavier than the stripped down 1983 GT I once owned.

Gee, what’s it like to drive the new GT?

Watch the speedo if you can, because the needle sweeps by 60 in less than 5 seconds. After my first initial acceleration run, I found myself jabbing the throttle at any possible moment, giggling like a lunatic each time.
The optional Brembo breaks on the V8 provide retina dethatching levels of halting power, keeping the go in check with woa. The whole experience was so unlike any muscle car I’ve driven that I was doing double takes at the pony on the steering wheel with each curve.

Yeah, that sounds about how it ought to be. Get out on the road and offend and terrorize a leftist greenie Pius driver. Then righteously annoy the one M3 driver you can find who actually drives his bit of German engineering, instead of putt-putting around in his bone jarring status symbol.

I hope this works out for Ford. Heck, I know it will. I test drove the 4.6L GT a couple years back. The one with “300 horsepower!!!!!!!!!” It. Was. Lame. Fat, flat, and flatulent. I am utterly certain that the ‘83 and ‘84 GTs I owned once upon a time performed much better. And that was before the old 5.0 engine got all the neato internals.


Set to officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in just over a weeks time, the 2011 Mustang GT brings back the 5.0-liter V8 with 412-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm, a far cry from the 175-hp 302 cubic inch motor found in the 1983 model.

Ok, I’ll give you that. But driving is more than just a numbers game. The ‘83-84 engine was tuned like a diesel semi. All the torque was just over idle, and the power was all gone by 4000rpm. It was a tank motor, but a tank motor made regular driving a real grin inducing experience. All torque, no waiting.

1983-84 5.0GT
100” wheelbase
175 hp @ 4200 RPM
245 lb/ft @ 2400 RPM
3.08 gears standard

2011 5.0GT
3600 lbs
107” wheelbase
419hp @ 6500rpm
390 lb/ft @ 4250rpm
3.31 gears standard

1971 Boss 351 (5.7) - the biggest fattest Mustang ever. But not the fastest. Until now.
109” wheelbase
370 lb/ft @ 4000rpm
3.91 gears standard

The 1983-84 GT carried 11 lbs of body weight for each ft/lb of torque, which peaked just off idle at 2400rpm. To match that low end grunt, the new ‘stang V8 needs to churn 327 lb/ft at the same engine speed. Does it? I hope so. The 4.6 didn’t, or it sure didn’t feel that way. The 2011 still looks mighty pudgy to me, but at least it’s got a good engine in it for a change.

UPDATE: No, it does not. I found a dyno test online. Several actually. And while at least one of those tests shows that Ford is being conservative with their numbers, the testing reported at Inside Line was really well presented. So I borrowed their graph and modified it a little.


Well, what does all this mean? It means that when just putting around town, the 2011 GT will not feel as potent as the 1983 GT. Simply because the new car weighs so much. It won’t feel wimpy, but it won’t have that same level of “holy cow” sensation. HOWEVER, if you stick your foot in it just a bit then the entire game changes. Whereas the old school ‘83 gave you a pitiful 2000rpm powerband, and a not really amazing one by today’s standards but a true joy back in 1983, the new one will take off like a shot and just keep getting stronger. Which is awesome. So it’s got a strong stealth sleeper aspect to it. Getting the shortest optional rear axle gears will make it go much faster at the cost of gas mileage and top end. Who cares? But I would consider the optional high performance brakes as an absolute necessity. With the 3.73 gears and some really sticky tires we’re looking at a 13.00 - 13.25 second car here on the drag strip. Open up the intake airflow just a bit and you might get shave a quarter second off of that. Find some 93 octane premium and shave another tenth. And that puts the new GT within touching distance of the biggest baddest rarest rides from the late 60s. All for about $30,000. And it gets you a car that can stop and go around corners too, two nice features that most of the old machines didn’t do very well. Nice job Ford!

Compared to the 1984 GT, the 2011 has a 7” longer wheelbase, is 8” longer overall, weighs 1000 pounds more, has double the horsepower and has a much higher crash worthiness rating. Interior room and volume are quite similar. Yet the 2011 gets the same 17/26 mileage as the 1984, and I’m certain that it does that with much lower tailpipe emissions too. And it has to ride better; the early 80s ‘stangs only had suspensions in theory. They rode like rocks.

And it almost goes without saying that today’s GT a) makes more power and torque than the biggest Cobra Jet engines Ford offered back in the day, and b) will out drive pretty much any stock Mustang ever made, whether the road is straight or twisty.

Technology sure sucks, don’t it? LOL

But I still wish Ford could trim some weight on this thing. 500 pounds would make all the performance difference in the world.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/10/2010 at 08:19 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - May 04, 2010

automotive dreamin

I want a car with a proper Jersey overdrive.

Most cars sold in America just really aren’t geared properly for high speed highway driving.

My little Satrun is churning 3500 rpm at 80mph, right about the spot where the 4 valve head really comes online. Which means I can cut and thrust through traffic with panache if necessary. But most of the time it isn’t necessary, and the car tends to eat gas when spun up that much. It’s got a 5 speed, but that overdrive really is optimized for driving at 53mph. If it been built with a 6th gear I’d want it big. Trim at least 1000 rpm off of that, maybe even 1250. It really doesn’t take much more than 15 horsepower to push an aerodynamic vehicle down the road at that speed ... so why put >100hp into the mix when I only need 15 out?

My wife’s Sentra Spec-V has a 6 speed, and waaay more power in the engine than mine has. But instead of making the tranny a 3+3, which would be both awesome and Joisey-perfect - 3 regular gears and then 3 overdrive gears, they dropped in the gearset directly from the Altima, which is a much heavier car. And the 6 speed is so “close ratio” that it’s really a 5 speed with 1 extra gear stuffed in there; the cuts between the gears are very slim. I often gently drive her car around town by shifting 1-2-5, and then drop it into 6th at 40mph. See what I mean? 6th at 40mph? That’s all wrong. Even though her engine is 25% larger than mine, her car only spins 300-500 rpm less in top gear than mine. Which means that at Jersey highway speed, which means cruising at 80 and passing at 95, her car is a BLAST to drive. It’s alive. Punchy. Aggressive. Super, but not necessary. Give me a grandpa gear so I can go that speed and just putt-putt along a bit over idle. And get 35-40mpg. A great second overdrive would not work at 40mph. The engine would stall, or at least cough. No, it should come on at 60mph, minimum. 1250rpm.

You can get decent gas mileage and still drive fast. Those little EUmobiles get 75mpg on diesel, and highway speeds over there are around 81mph (130kph), I’ve heard. It can be done. It’s all in the gearing.

I bet they don’t tailgate at 90 in France like Joisey drivers do. You’d think they’re all having a NASCAR drifting fantasy, but most of them wouldn’t know from NASCAR if a Yarborough bit ‘em in the ass.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/04/2010 at 07:35 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - April 29, 2010

Gosh, it was right here just 9 minutes ago

Air Force Loses Rocket Glider During Test Flight

Have You Seen Me?


Please call 1-800-HTV-LOST if you have

Lockheed Martin and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are investigating why contact with the first HTV-2 test vehicle was lost soon after launch on a mission to demonstrate technology for high-performance, long-endurance hypersonic flight.

The third stage of the Orbital Sciences Minotaur IV Lite booster successfully completed energy-management maneuvers, released its clamshell payload fairing and deployed the HTV-2 at the edge of the atmosphere, but telemetry signals from the hypersonic glider were lost about 9 minutes into the mission, DARPA says.

Launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. on April 22, the unmanned HTV-2 was planned to cross the Pacific and impact the ocean north of Kwajalein Atoll in the first of two flights to demonstrate technology for a prompt global strike weapon capable of flying 9,000nm in less than 2 hours.

The HTV-2 is a slender, highly-swept, sharp-edged delta with “unprecedented” aerodynamic efficiency for a hypersonic vehicle, said Erbland. The vehicle is designed to fly at a low angle of attack relative to other hypersonic vehicles.

Autonomous guidance, navigation and control was designed to enable the HTV-2 to manage its energy and fly a precise flight path to a “very accurate” terminal location, said Erbland. After release, the vehicle was planned to navigate via a series of waypoints, managing its trajectory “to arrive with sufficient energy to get to the next one, plus a little extra in case the drag is higher than predicted.”

The test flight called for a 30-minute mission in which the vehicle would glide at high speed before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, north of a US military test site at the Kwajalein Atoll.

The glider separated from the booster but soon after the signal vanished, a spokeswoman said.

“Preliminary review of data indicates the HTV-2 achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20. Then contact with HTV-2 was lost,” Johanna Spangenberg Jones, a spokeswoman for DARPA, told AFP.

The Kwajalein Atoll is in the Marshall Islands, roughly 1500 miles northeast of Papua New Guinea and 2300 miles west southwest of Hawaii. Call it next door to Bikini Atoll. Between 4100 and 4800 miles from Vandenburg AFB depending on their impact target. Not bad for a 30 minute trip; 8200 miles per hour or better. Waaay faster than 9000nm in <2 hrs as the DARPA press release states. Twice as fast.

No reward has yet been offered for the carbon fiber little wonderplane, although I hear the government has a rush order on printing milk cartons for the South Pacific.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/29/2010 at 02:51 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesMilitaryplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Saturday - April 24, 2010

Actual Economic Stimulus

Somebody must be doing some blog analysis out there. Now I’m getting the maritime newsletters in my inbox. Fine by me.

MMC To build 31 more ships for the government

In Wisconsin

I don’t ordinarily think of Wisconsin as a great center of ship building. What the heck, it’s in the middle of the country, about as far from an ocean as you can be and still be in the USA. But it sits right on the shores of 3 of the 5 Great Lakes, and as the phone company likes to say, we’re all connected. So it makes a lot of sense.

And in Marinette Wisconsin, a bit north of Green Bay, is the Marinette Marine Corporation and it’s shipyard. These are the people who in 2006 launched the USS Freedom, LCS-1, the US Navy’s first Littoral Combat Ship. This week they’ve announced several more contracts. Seems like their personal economies are being well stimulated. Glad to see something solid come out of all this money spent.

Marinette Marine awarded 30 more RB-M’s


Fincantieri Marine Group member Marinette Marine Corporation, reports that, as the Prime Contractor and Program Manager, it has been awarded an additional 30 Response Boats - Medium (RB-M) by the U.S. Coast Guard. The award is worth about $63.6 million and is part of a multi-year, Coast Guard contract for the construction and delivery of up to 250 RB-M’s at a total contract value of up to $600 million. This latest award brings the total number of boats under contract to 97

$73.6M New NOAA Fisheries Survey Vessel

NOAA awarded a $73.6m American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract to Marinette Marine Corporation located in Marinette, Wis., for the construction of a new fisheries survey vessel, which will dramatically improve NOAA’s ability to conduct surveys for fish, marine mammals and turtles off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

The vessel will be the fifth in a series of state-of-the-art Oscar Dyson-class ships built for the agency.

“Our fisheries and marine ecosystems are critical to our nation’s economy,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Thanks to the Recovery Act, this new vessel will greatly enhance our understanding of our ocean resources and play a vital role in supporting NOAA’s mission.”

The ship will be equipped with a full suite of modern instrumentation for fisheries and oceanographic research, including advanced navigation systems, acoustic sensors, scientific sampling gear and extensive laboratories.

The high-tech ship will also produce much less noise than other survey vessels, allowing scientists to study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with fewer effects on fish and marine mammal behavior.

Oscar-Dyson? Sounds like a radio call sign, or some really sci-fi lunch meat that comes in little balls. Nope, it’s a very sturdy and very well equipped sea going scientific research vessel.


It’s not built for speed, or to go twice around the world on a tank of oil. It’s built to house all sorts of research gear and instrumentation, and to comfortably berth the science types who use it. From the height of the strakes it looks to me like it’s built to handle some pretty rough seas too.

General Specifications

* Length (LOA): 63.8 m (209 ft)
* Breadth: 15.0 m (49.2 ft)
* Depth to Main Deck: 8.65 m (28.4 ft)
* Draft (Centerboard retracted): 6.0 m (19.4 ft) Full load
* Draft (Centerboard extended): 9.05 m (29.7 ft)
* Full Load Displacement: 2,479 metric tons

Speed & Endurance

* Cruising Speed: 12 knots (14 knots maximum)
* Speed, Hydroacoustic Survey: 0 to 11 knots
* Range: 12,000 nautical miles

Yes, you read that properly. The Oscar-Dyson class of ships have centerboards, retractable keels that help stabilize the ship. They also have rather huge bilge keels along the sides, for the same reason.


So out of all those untold billions of stimulus, here’s about $140 million of it that will actually turn into something useful. I wonder if they’re hiring?


In more shippy news ... in case you’ve every wondered ... it takes 5,500 gallons of paint to paint a battleship. Paint maker Sherwin-Williams knows; they’re putting a fresh coat of gray on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor.

Nearly 5,500 gallons of Sherwin-Williams coatings have been applied to the historic Battleship Missouri, which recently returned to her home pier near the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Work on the $18m refurbishment began in October under the guidance of BAE Systems at the U.S. Navy’s Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. The superstructure was pressure washed by memorial volunteers. BAE Systems and its subcontractors used power tools to remove remaining paint, spot-primed bare steel, airless-sprayed the ship’s superstructure and freeboard, and plural component-sprayed the underwater hull.

Actually, the Big Mo went back in the water January 7th, but I suppose the deck painting came later. For more on the project, read here.


Gray over gray? How utterly dull. Don’t you think it would have made the greatest episode of Extreme Makeover ever if they’d used color? Say a high gloss candy apple green over gold fleck, with white trim highlights and deep plum below the Plimsoll line. It would have been sharp! All they’d have to do is send the Navy to the mall for about 7 months, and then bring them back blindfolded, then SURPRISE!! Great times!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/24/2010 at 06:34 PM   
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calendar   Friday - April 23, 2010

Working Towards Freedom

GM Repays Debt Early: It’s A Start

I got this in my email this morning


Not bad. Nice effort. So, does this mean GM is now “free at last” and can operate as a privately owned company? Not hardly. They still owe the government zillions. This was just a drop in the bucket.

General Motors Co. has repaid the $8.1 billion in loans it got from the U.S. and Canadian governments, a move its CEO says is a sign automaker is on the road to recovery.

GM CEO Whitacre formally announced the loan paybacks Wednesday at the company’s Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas, where he also announced that GM is investing $257 million in that factory and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, both of which will build the next generation of the midsize Chevrolet Malibu.

GM got a total of $52 billion from the U.S. government and $9.5 billion from the Canadian and Ontario governments as it went through bankruptcy protection last year. The U.S. considered as a loan $6.7 billion of the aid, while the Canadian governments held $1.4 billion in loans.

The U.S. government payments, made Tuesday, came five years ahead of schedule, and Whitacre said they are a sign that the automaker is on its way toward reducing government ownership of the company. The payments on the Canadian loans were also made Tuesday.

GM still owes $45.3 billion to the U.S. and $8.1 billion to Canada, money it received in exchange for large stakes in the company. The U.S. government now owns 61 percent of the company and Canada owns roughly 12 percent. GM plans to repay both with a public stock offering, perhaps later this year.

GM officials say the company’s public stock offering will take place when the markets and the company are ready. They will not predict how much of the remaining government debt will be repaid from the stock offering, but said it likely will take years for the governments to divest themselves fully.

The stock offering hinges on GM posting a profit, which Whitacre has said could come this year. GM lost $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009 on revenues of $32.3 billion. After the event at the Kansas City plant on Wednesday, Whitacre heads to Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers.

I don’t think they are ready for an IPO yet. Not until they have paid off enough of their government debt to be 51% privately owned. Or 65%, given the uncertainty in the automotive marketplace and the possibility that they might need large infusions of cash from the government at some future date. They screwed us all with their bailout and the government’s takeover. Never again.

So keep paying down that debt GM. This is a good first effort. But I won’t be buying your stock, or your cars, until you can show me a lot more than just a profit for one measly quarter. And throw out the unions, or at least rip out most of their teeth. I’ll be damned if I’ll put a nickel into your company until you do.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/23/2010 at 12:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Big Businessplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - April 22, 2010


Here we go again. Another crop of crazies have got themselves a ship.


Behold, the MV Saint Pancake


Now owned and operated by this bunch

On March 31, 2010, the Free Gaza Movement bought her at auction for €70,000 and will send her to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza loaded with cement, paper, and medical equipment, all banned by Israel from this battered and bruised slice of the Mediterranean.

The Free Gaza Movement along with the Turkish humanitarian organization, IHH, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza and the Greek and Swedish Boat to Gaza organizations will sail 8 boats loaded with building supplies as well as taking 600 passengers and journalists at the end of May.

As the people from the town of Dundalk work on her every day, painting her, guarding her and collecting cargo, they have a vested interest in what was once a lonely and abandoned vessel, now slowly coming to life under their care. The ship has been renamed the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23-year-old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli military bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.

h/t to Sondra K, who reminds us that the US has poured over 1.2 billion dollars a year into Gaza for more than a decade and a half ... with nothing to show for it, and they’re still our enemies.

Now, when the ship sails, we’re going to hear a whole media dung pile about these daring humanitarians, braving the crazy Israeli navy, risking life and limb, for the children. And it will all be pure horse manure. Because Israel already decided to let this kind of aid in, and made that decision public BEFORE THE SHIP WAS EVEN PURCHASED!

Israel allows cement, aid into Gaza
04/04/2010 01:14

n a gesture of goodwill to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the rare transfer of large amounts of cement, shoes and clothing to the Gaza Strip, defense officials said on Saturday.

According to the officials, Barak approved the move in late March, around the time that he and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Washington and Ban traveled to Gaza.


Defense Ministry officials said that they were aware of the Free Gaza Movement’s plans and consult with the IDF and the Foreign Ministry over whether to intercept it or allow it to dock in Gaza. One official raised the possibility that the ship would be forced to dock in Ashdod, where the cargo would be unloaded and searched, and if found to be of a humanitarian nature, sent to Gaza via land crossings.

And that’s exactly what is going to happen. The little Free Gaza flotilla - they have 8 small ships - will be brought to port and searched. Expect more Cynthia McKinney-like hysterics and histrionics about their “narrow brush with death” etc. Same old crap; another dose of propaganda from the left.

For all sailors and lovers of ships, regardless of how they get put to use:

The MV Rachel Corrie was formerly the MV Linda, a Latvian 1200 ton cargo ship. That’s pretty small, down in the “tramp steamer” range. 224.5 feet long by 34.5 feet wide.

The Latvian-owned MV Linda was seized by the International Transport Federation (ITF) last July after the owners were found to be withholding wages and subjecting workers to humiliating treatment.

The ship was auctioned at the Crowne Plaza hotel Dundalk last month where the Free Gaza movement purchased it for €70,000.

Now the Ukrainian crew, who remained on board until last November in an effort to secure payment of wages, will receive over €50,000 of the proceeds.

So the ship itself is only worth €20,000, about $27,000. Minus the auctioneer’s cut. Which is the price of a decent new car. For an entire ship. Uh huh. Makes me wonder if this thing will actually float all the way from Ireland to Gaza. It’s going to need more fuel than the ship cost to make that run. This is starting to smell a little ... fishy.

There are several pictures of a MV Linda online, in stories about the sale. The ship shown in all of them is the Finnish MV Linda IMO 9354325. It took me a little bit of effort, but once I was able to locate the auction notice I could get the IMO number. IMO - International Maritime Organization - numbers are unique, like fingerprints. After that it was, as they say, clear sailing.


the 43 year old rustbucket MV Linda chugging along safely close to shore


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/22/2010 at 09:35 AM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsPaleswineplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - March 11, 2010

It’s Peiper’s Fault

Another entry in the continuing Letters from Littleton series

Cutty Sark restoration delayed further


Her cutty-sark, o’ Paisley harn

That while a lassie she had worn,

In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,

It was her best, and she was vauntie,-

Ah! little ken’d thy reverend grannie,

That sark she coft for he wee Nannie,

Wi’ twa pund Scots, (’twas a’ her riches),

Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!

-Robert Burns, Tam O’Shanter

a poem about the risks of strong drink and naughty thoughts and witches by moonlight

In case anyone has been wondering why I haven’t posted in the past few days, I have an excuse. Two of them.

First, I’ve been working, doing the handyman thing again. And I have decided to identify my profession as gigolo when asked. It’s true! My customers are women of a certain age, either divorced or widowed young, or married ones whose husbands can’t give them what they really want. So I go to them, referred by one satisfied client to another, and I let them know that I have certain skills and abilities that most men don’t have, and quite a lot of experience. That I pay attention to detail, don’t rush my job, and work until they are completely thrilled. And in exchange for money, I’ll do whatever they want. I should incorporate, and call the business Sometimes You Just Need A Man.

Second, Peiper sent me another one of his envelopes full of various clippings from the British newspapers. They’re always fun to read. This time, the articles were on the latest political scandals - their MPs have misplaced over ONE MILLION POUNDS in improper reimbursements!! (which is less than what Charlie Rangel probably owes in taxes), how ClimateGate egoist-in-chief Raj Pachauri owns lots of different hats, considers himself to be a test quality cricket bowler, gets himself driven to work one whole mile in a chauffeured Toyota Corolla (!!!) instead of driving the green car his institute gave him, two columns on utterly MAD Harriet Hartmann ("This woman is a plague on England!” engraves an enraged Peiper at the top of the page) is going to ruin the nation with her Equality Bill, a real estate article showing me I can now buy d’Artagnan’s actual house for a mere £3.24 million (I want it. Utterly. Even if I have to buy my own sword to live there. Drool, swoon, and gibber with excitement. It even has a mother-in-law turret on the back side of the castle, with it’s own studded iron door!) And this article on the Cutty Sark.

The what? The which? Your typical American, if she happens to be a drinker, will recognize the name as a brand of very light bodied blended whiskey. Yellow label on a green bottle I think.

I am not your typical American. I knew that the Cutty Sark was a clipper ship. And I know what clipper ships were, and I’m pretty sure I saw the rotting timbers of two or three of them somewhere on the coast of Maine when I was a little kid. Or my great gandmother did and I saw the pictures. Hey, I was small at the time! They were sailing ships from a long time ago, queens of the seven seas from the last dying breaths of the Age of Sail. Back in the long gone times when there was no such thing as stay-fresh packaging, and tea came in a wooden box, clipper ships would race home to England with the fresh crop of tea leaves from China, all the way around the southern tip of Africa, flying past pirates and sailing through storms at the neck snapping speed of 15 knots. 17 mph. Fresher tea sold for more money, and these ships made their owners a fortune.

That era ended when a) steam ships became reliable, and b) the Suez Canal opened, shortening the journey by at least a month. Actually, the short era of the clipper ship never really should have happened. 20 years before they existed you could take a propeller driven steamboat from London to New York. Or to Rio. But steam ships were expensive, and expensive to operate. Sail was cheap. So were the lives of the sailors. Here’s an account of one voyage of the Cutty Sark. I’d rather do time in prison. Or serve under Holly Graf, who seems a whole lot nicer than the first mate. He was so nasty the whole crew ran off. And his replacement was even worse!

Ok, so I knew it was a ship once upon a time. A great and famous one. I did not know that it still existed, and that it was some kind of maritime exhibit in England. In Greenwich. Right across the street - Trafalgar Road naturally - from the meridian building at the Maritime Museum and Sir Harrison’s clocks, eh Peiper? Pretty sly, guy. So it was exciting for me just to see the pictures in the paper of this long legged wooden beauty. And read of how it was undergoing restoration while in drydock. And how it was rusting apart. And that the plan was to raise the ship up 11 feet so that everyone could see the amazing round bottomed hull, which is what gave her her speed. And to do that, the plan was to hang the ship from steel girders driven through the sides. Abhorrence! Sacrilege! The chief curator had already quit over this plan, and I could understand that perfectly. It would be like going to a museum to see the famous race horse Man o’ War, stuffed and displayed, but to better show you the underside of his hooves - that’s the part that made him run fast! - we mounted him to the wall by driving a spear through his heart and another through his eyes. Gross!! And this, this in England, with it’s long and grand maritime history. How dare they! And I knew then that I had to post on it, and that meant a lot of research. For starters, the name. Why name a boat after a bottle of whiskey?

Wrongo, Drew. It was the other way around. And the ship was named after the clothing worn by the character Nannie in the Robert Burns poem quoted above. I think it’s a bit of a pun in Scottish, as a cutty sark is a wee slip worn by a wee slip of a girl who grew up to be a naughty witch. Who went dancing in the moonlight wearing only that. Which just goes to show you that sailors never change, and occupy their thoughts with booze and nearly naked women. If they built that ship today it would be named The hot babe in a thong bikini or the X-tra Small Nightie or the SS Underboob or similar. They actually named the ship after a sexy bit of women’s underwear. Not after the oddball little island in the English Channel named Sark, the one that just got around to ending the Middle Ages in 2008. (which is what you get when you let lefty newspapers own entire countries!) See, Nannie the witch almost caught drunk Tam one night, and managed to grab the tail of horse as he rode away in fright.


And here she is today, tail still in hand.

And I’d be wrong about the fortune part, even though the ship’s figurehead turned out to be quite apt. Cutty Sark never made riches for her owner, John “white hat” Willis. And while she was built for speed, she never beat her rival the Thermopylae. Just caught her tail, finishing the Shanghai to London run 5 days slower. And they both lost to steam and the canal, which opened the year the ship was built.

Her intended lifespan was 30 years when she was commissioned in 1868 by John ‘White Hat’ Willis, a London ship-owner who wore a white topper as he went about his business.

His purpose in ordering the new vessel from Glasgow firm Scott & Linton was not solely commercial.

An old hand in the China tea trade, he owned many clippers, but none as fast as Thermopylae, owned by the rival White Star Line, which had been launched earlier that year and looked set to outpace everything else.

In those days, the annual race of the tea clippers to be the first back to England with the new season’s crop was a national preoccupation. Large sums changed hands in bets.

Her maiden voyage, however, was not triumphant. She had teething troubles on her way out to Shanghai, and her first passage back to England with a hold full of tea took 110 days, compared with Thermopylae’s 105.

That was still pretty swift. The trouble was that however determinedly these two ships raced against each other during the coming years, their real rivalry was with steam.

The Suez Canal opened the very year Cutty Sark was launched. Only powered vessels could use it, and it meant they could do the voyage home in 60 days.

For a time, Willis and the other clipper-owners were defiant, claiming that steamer-carried tea was tainted by coal-dust. But as the price dropped, few tea-drinkers noticed the difference. By 1877, when Cutty Sark carried her last cargo of tea, it had become plain even to Willis that the days of the tea clipper were over.

Like I said, an era that should never have happened. And if Cutty Sark hadn’t split a bunch of sails and lost her rudder in a storm on that trip, she probably would have won.

But why was this old wooden ship rusting apart anyway? Wood doesn’t rust. Well, Cutty Sark is a “composite ship”. Which means it’s only wood on the outside. Teak and elm, actually. The ribs of the ship are iron. Not steel, iron. Not I-beams either. They hadn’t been invented yet. I’d heard of composition ships before, read about them in some little book on ships my aunt gave me when I was young. And in that book was a picture like this one:


which shows half of a rib of a composite ship. Wood on the outside, iron frame members on the inside. But ships have keels and keelsons and bilge boxes and a million other salt encrusted parts. And Wiki is telling me how composite ships were ever so much stronger than plain wood ones. Heck, they practically had the problem of hogging and sagging licked!

Huh? Hogging and sagging? What on earth is that? Well, ships are fairly large. Otherwise they’d be called boats. But the ocean is much bigger. Otherwise ships would be called bridges. And some ships are about the same size as the length of the waves they sail on. So when the top of the wave goes under the ship, it lifts up the front bit. (The front pointy bit is called the bow. Pronounced the same way as that bit of obsequious toe touching that Obama loves to do when he meets important people) And as the top of the wave goes under the middle of the ship, it lifts that part up too. Leaving the front and back (bow and stern) floating on lower parts of the water. So the ship bends. This is called hogging, after the term hogback, which refers to the top of pigs, which are often curved with a high point in the middle. Unlike horses and similar critters, where the high point on the back is at the shoulder. And when the low point of the wave is at the middle of the ship, the bow and stern are floating on higher bits of water, so the ships bends up at both ends. Or sags in the middle. Same same. That’s called sagging.


sagging and hoggin, via Wiki. I drew the waves

I’m a natural engineer. I can see how this kind of bending can stress a ship until it breaks. I realize that it really isn’t an issue on small boats. Or on medium ships made entirely of wood, since wood is flexible. Or on steel ships, because they’re far far stronger than wood ones. But I could not see how composite ships had any strength at all, if all they were made from was wood planks over toroidal girders. And that led me on a long chase, until I found a reprint online of a 120 year old book about ship design, Sir William Henry White’s A Manual of Naval Architecture. And found out that those composite ships had plenty of diagonal strap bracing between the ribs, and often had iron keels and keelsons as well. [ The keel is the bottom spine of a ship. All the ribs and hull parts attach to it. Sometimes the bottom of the keel stick through the bottom of the ship and helps it travel straight through the water, like an extra bit of rudder. Keelsons are smaller, lateral parallels to the keel. They are usually built inside the bottom of the ship and help keep the bottom stiff. ] Reading through that was quite interesting, and showed me what was missing in that picture. So I knew how the Cutty Sark was built, before I even saw a picture.

And I was wrong again. The Cutty Sark is a composite ship. But it’s made up of a whole lot more iron than just the inside bracings of the hull. The keel is iron. So are the masts, at least the lower parts. And some of the yardarms. And the bowsprit. And the stern cap. And many other parts. I think that the only reason they put wood planks on the hull was so that they could use Mentz metal sheathing. Another WTH moment. Mentz metal? Yeah, a “patented” alloy we call brass. 60% copper, 40% zinc. Brass doesn’t rust, and it doesn’t get shipworm, and it doesn’t support Mermaid’s Hair and other tropical plants which tend to stick to wood ships sailing in tropical seas. And that slows a ship down considerably. Ok, so you get some galvanic reaction between the brass plates and the iron ribs. But a lot less if you put wood walls between them, and then fasten the brass plates on with bronze screws.

Satisfied at last on how the ship was put together, and knowing a bit of her history, I felt I could better understand this article on the snags in the restoration process. This is the ultimate kind of handyman work, and has to be done carefully. After all, how long has it been since the last restoration of this 140 year old ship? Well, I won’t say I was wrong again, but I’m not really clear on that question. Seems like the ship has been under restoration for nearly 60 years. This ship, designed to last 30 years, worked from 1869 until 1922, then served as a training ship until 1954, then became a museum piece. During restoration work in 2007 some oik left the vacuum cleaner on when he left for the weekend, and it caught fire. And a large part of the ship was burned.


Wikipedia: the Cutty Sark ablaze, 2007

Fortunately, most of the ship had been taken apart by then, and the greater amount of original parts were not on board. But plenty was damaged nonetheless.


So the work continues, but it’s taking longer, and costing more, than anticipated. Like quality work always does, because it’s impossible to accurately estimate things when you are unwilling to hide problems beneath a thick coat of fresh paint.

Here is the link to the official restoration website. There are several galleries of superb photographs here, well worth seeing. The diagonal bracing I researched can be seen in the pictures from October 2007.

And as for Andrew Gilligan and his article on the plan to spear the old girl and hang her high? I’m still not sure. Searching around the official page I can find letters that say such a support is needed, because the ship is starting to sag around her keel. Probably because it was designed to live in the water, not in perpetual drydock! Or perhaps (quick, somebody call Rosie O’Donnell!!) the fire could have melted or softened the iron ribs (only the 2nd time in history that such a thing has happened, eh Rosie??? Stupid cow.)

Another article by Gilligan, dated yesterday, says the plan is for the ship to be floated on a giant bubble of glass. So maybe I misread the “steel beams, punched through the ship, would hold it in place” part. Wait, no I didn’t. Gilligan is against the plan. And I am too. Unless there is absolutely no other way and even refloating the ship in a giant aquarium full of pure filtered water won’t work. The big glass bubble and I-beam idea “would give the ship a modern, iconic look” according to Gilligan. Who the hell wants that, when we’re talking about a living piece of mi 19th century history. It would be as bad as that damned pyramid at the Louvre. Please England, let the French stand alone with iterations of poor taste like that.

But maybe Andrew is closely related to that Gilligan more famous in America. I tried to go through every page of the official site, and I did not see a word about any big glass bubble, but it is a pretty large web place. They mention that the ship must be supported by a collar, whatever that means. Is there a lack of transparency in their news about that transparency? Who knows. And Gordon Brown wants it done in time for the 2012 Olympics, and some of the restoration funding may truly be contingent on this horrid method of support.

Wrong for the Nth time on this one Drew. Gilligan is no Gilligan. The funding is there, and it is hooked into the glass bottomed dock concept:

Cutty Sark’s consultants suggested suspending the ship above the dry berth to even out the strains on the hull. The approved scheme not only allows the public to admire the ship’s lines for the first time, and appreciate the reasons for her success in carrying cargo under sail, it also frees up the dock below to be used for education, exhibition and entertainment purposes.

The ship’s fame and performance comes ultimately from her shape.  The importance of being able to see Cutty Sark’s under water shape was recognized by Frank Carr during the restoration of 1953.  He originally proposed that the ship should be drawn up on wooden ways on the hard at Greenwich, rather than her exquisite hull being concealed in a dank dock.  He saw that this would enable visitors to wander around her to see her lines from every angle, much as they would have been able to do when she was being built in Dumbarton at Messrs. Scott & Linton’s yard in 1869.

Historic ship conservators have long pondered the best way of conserving a ship out of the water.  It has been recognized that a large vessel tends to “sit down” on her keel over time.  The shores that supported Cutty Sark in her 1953 dock had cut into her hull planking and the keel was stressed. 

Rats. I was hoping that this Gilligan was true to this roots, and I could call a “Gilligan, drop those coconuts!” line. After all, the guy does not know front from back. Or bow from stern, actually:


Telegraph caption:

“The front of the Cutty Sark is removed as part of an ongoing conservation project in Greenwhich Photo: GETTY”

DUDE. It’s the other end, m’kay? It ain’t the “front”.


photo used without permission, but I modified it so it’s mine, right?

And it looks like there will be a History Channel special on the ship next week. Tune in and watch, Tuesday the 16th at 8pm!

On the 140th anniversary of the Cutty Sark’s maiden voyage, and for the first time on television, Ben Fogle presents the full story of this world-famous ship and the dramatic bid to save her.Many believed the infamous fire of May 2007 spelled doom for the Cutty Sark, but using exclusive access, this programme explains the true context and consequence of that disaster.

Her story begins in 1869, launched from a Dumbarton slipway and bound for the lucrative Chinese tea trade. It was the age of the famous ‘tea races’, in which the clippers (merchant ships built almost purely for speed) competed to be first back to London with the new tea crop. The clippers were the fastest commercial sailing ships ever built, and the Cutty Sark was the fastest and most famous of them all. Her speed and grace made her a legend in her own time. 

In her long life she has faced the scrapyard many times. But thanks to good fortune and the hard work of her admirers, today she is the last tea clipper to survive. For fifty years she has stood in dry dock in Greenwich, where she has become a top tourist attraction and famous London landmark. She is, not least, a unique link to Britain’s proud maritime past.

So that’s where I’ve been. It’s all Peiper’s fault, actually.

And I still say it’s wrong - creepy even, in a perv kind of way - to lift up a ship named after a witchy hot babe in a really short dress in a way that lets everyone look up her skirts and see her nicely rounded bottom. Show a little respect.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/11/2010 at 02:18 PM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Monday - March 08, 2010

Too Much Gun

Recoil Sucks

From the Little Big Guns to the Big Big Guns, putting large projectiles on target gets the job done. But the price gets paid on the sending end too. Big ouch. Here are a few links to tails of excessive recoil that ultimately caused failure.

These two failed in the marketplace. Great cartridges that gave the “lowly” lever action rifle extended range and power, but kicked like rabid demons. I own one of these, and without a recoil pad it’s a nasty piece of work. Really pretty rifles. Very well made. Enough power for hunting elk and bison and even polar bears. But awful ergonomics. The .375 and the .356: two levergun cartridges that didn’t survive.

Another levergun, another failure. The 1895 Winchester was probably the best and strongest lever action rifle ever made, possibly surpassing the legendary Savage Model 99. But it had the ergonomics of a brick and was another evil kicking beast. The 1895 is famous for being chambered in .405 Winchester, a cartridge so potent you could hunt elephants and lions with it. Which is exactly what Teddy Roosevelt did with that. Winchester made a short run of these rifles a couple years ago and they sold out in a flash. Hornady still makes the ammunition today. And it still gets the big jobs done. And the brand new 1895’s with the brand new ammo still try to tear your arm off and dislocate your shoulder in a brutal 19th century manner. Professional safari hunter Craig Boddington builds a proper rifle in .405 and finds it works just like it did for old TR in Bully for the .405.

At the other extreme, Rich K sent me a link about the battleship Texas. Hey, happy birthday state of Texas, a little late. And b-day wishes to the USS Texas, which turns 95 this moth. The USS Texas exists today as a floating museum, but she took part in both WWI and WWII. A very old school looking ship. Rich also sent a link to a bit of fiction, one of those military “what if” stories. In this one I gather there are no airplanes, and the biggest naval battle of the Atlantic in WWII is about to start. And Germany has a secret weapon. Check out the recoil on that baby. Form Battle Lines!, and read Anton Savage’s story of a clash between real and mythical Last Dreadnoughts, a 40 minute read in 6 or 7 parts.


USS Texas, BB-35, the actual Last Dreadnought


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/08/2010 at 11:55 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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GNU Terry Pratchett

Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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