Sarah Palin is the only woman who can make Tony Romo WIN a playoff.

calendar   Thursday - November 07, 2013

Woo Woot!


In all the world, nothing sounds like the whistle of steam locomotive. Here in my corner of the world, the Black River & Western Railroad finally managed to get engine #60 back in service last year, after a full renovation, a federal steam inspection, and proper steam engineer and fireman certification. I’ve been hearing it’s charming three tone whistle every Saturday evening since early summer while I do my weekend work down in Flemington. The sound carries for miles, along with the dinging of the bell and the chuff-chuff-chuff of the engine. #60 is an Alco 2-8-0, a medium sized charmer that does the tourist runs on the weekends. Seen here crossing the 1890s Holcomb Mills bridge over the South Branch of the Raritan River, just a stone’s throw upstream from my favorite iron lady at Rockafellows Mills.

Click the pics for huge versions ... they make nice wallpaper for your PC.

image  image

And good grief, isn’t YouTube just full of videos of this happy little choo-choo.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/07/2013 at 02:52 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - November 02, 2013

Double Whammy After Dark

This Blows. Twice.


two blow outs, no waiting

So I’m driving home from Flemington and suddenly I start hearing this clunky noise from the back of the car. Then it starts shaking up and down and yowling like some great big grinder.

You know it, blow-out. I haven’t had a flat in ages, and I don’t think I’ve had an actual blow-out since about 1983. But I had to get home.

So I’m milking it, rolling along at 38mph, trying to find a flat place that isn’t pitch dark to pull over and have a look.

Meanwhile, I’m racking my brain trying to remember if - or when - I put air in the micro-spare. Pretty sure I did it less than half a year ago.

So I rode about 4 miles on it, and got to a gas station and pulled in. There was the wheel, and two flat disks of sidewall on it. No tire left at all, anywhere. Although the side of the car seems to be rubber plated at this point.

So I pull everything out of the trunk, and dig out the spare. And the jack.

Yeeha, the spare has air!

Boo-hiss, the jack is rusted solid.

Yay me, I have a hefty screwdriver and a hammer in the back, so I can whack the jack open and get it going. A couple drops of motor oil on the screw and on the lug socket handle hinge thingy, and I can get the car up and the old tire off.

Ach Crivens!!! The fash scunner bastige spare tire has air in it, aye, but the tread has lifted off on an area the size of my hand, exposing the cords.  Summuna beach! Dat fargin ice-a-hole!!

Grr ... this is turning into one of those Fortunately / Unfortunately stories from grade school. But it’s real!

So I put the nearly dead micro-spare on, and set off at a sedate pace to try and make it the last 3 miles home. Fortunately, it wasn’t snowing or raining. For once.

I made it 2 miles.  Then the spare blew out. On the highway, just before my exit. But hey, there wasn’t much traffic, and with the flashers on I was only going 40mph anyway.

So I said to hell with it, and I limped home the last mile on the shreds of the spare. Those things suck.

Or do they? It’s the tire that came with the car, from the fall of 1996. And I’ve used it a couple times before, although only for 50 or so miles. I don’t think they’re supposed to last forever.

So Monday I guess I’ll be walking into the tire store with my smoked rim. Whereupon they’ll tell me they don’t have anything in stock that will fit, I’m sure. Unfortunately.

I think it’s time for a drink.

I’d have pictures, but it’s dark. Maybe I’ll take some tomorrow. OTOH, once you’ve seen one blow-out, you’ve seen them all.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/02/2013 at 07:05 PM   
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calendar   Friday - October 11, 2013

aw crap

I’ve got a fuel leak in my car. Gas puddling on the ground under the tank. Smelly.


Time to get a flashlight and see what’s leaking. Maybe it’s just the fill pipe flex hose or a loose clamp.

And I was going to drive up to Binghamton this weekend for homecoming.


update ... Ok, maybe not so bad. Looks like it’s the vapor return hose between the gas tank and the filler neck vent tube. Probably almost impossible to get to without putting the car on a lift and dropping the tank, but the part itself seems to be about 4” of regular 1/2” rubber fuel hose. It’s dripping because I parked facing a bit uphill, and the gas tank is filled to the max. Once I drive it down it should be fine, and I’ll use up the whole tank going up there and back. So I’ll take it down to the service guy Monday with a nearly empty tank, and let them do it. Should be quick and easy ... and cheap? Meanwhile I’ll park facing downhill.

image image
part # 6, rubber hose with 2 clamps.

Good news is, the latest rain has rinsed the car off, so the yellowjackets are no longer crawling all over it. Much.

What what what?

Yeah, our parking area here is under some big old pine trees. Which drip sap and drop needles. When we had the big storm the other day, tons of needles came down. Tons. All the cars looked like buffaloes, big brown lumps. That many needles fell. Anyway, pine trees get this little specialized insect called an adelgid, commonly known as a pine aphid. And when they suck the sap from the tree they crap out some sugary goo. It’s called honeydew. Yellowjackets love sugar, so they love honeydew too. So when all the needles fell, I guess a lot of that goo came off the needles and stuck to the cars. So there were bees crawling all over the place the next day, having a snack. Now that it’s rained again, and all the loose needles are gone, most of the honeydew has been rinsed off. So the bees are much less of a bother. But, egad, the other day ... dozens of them crawling and buzzing all over the cars.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/11/2013 at 09:23 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - September 10, 2013

Grease Monkey

Check Engine Light

The old chuggaboom, my 1997 Saturn SC2, keeps giving me the Check Engine light. Crap. But not unexpected; I’ve got a quarter million miles on the thing so something is bound to go wrong sooner or later.

So I get out my little ODBC II code reading tool - a device as indispensable as a 10mm socket wrench these days - and it tells me I’ve got two codes, a P0340 and a P0341. Uh oh, this looks bad.

Next I look the codes up on the chart (they’re online too). And these are camshaft position sensor error codes. Just like what happened with my wife’s car last month.

Problem is, Saturns don’t have camshaft position sensors.


 To the batcave!  To the internet!

Turns out that Saturn built this engine with a waste spark ignition. Instead of having an old school distributor and a coil to fire one spark plug at the right time, the engine has two coils and a crankshaft position sensor and fires two plugs at once. One cylinder gets a spark when it needs it, at the peak of the compression cycle, and the other cylinder gets a spark when it’s in the exhaust cycle and doesn’t need it, so that one is wasted. Four cylinder engines are built like double two cylinder engines, with two pistons up and two pistons down. So this is actually a pretty neat idea, and it saves money and complexity. It just gives the shade tree grease monkey a few minutes of confusion when things go a little wrong.

What’s the fix? Well, the first stage is to remove the coil packs, clean them up with some contact cleaner, and bolt them back in nice and tight. And go get some new spark plugs, gap them properly, and install them. Good grief, I think this car may still have the original spark plugs. Wow. 17 years old. Make sure the boots go on properly, clear the engine codes with the ODBC reader, and see if that does it. If not, then the next step is a new set of ignition wires. That’s more expensive, but still not really so bad. And that should do it; the coil packs apparently never ever go bad.

Phew. Glad I won’t have to do any freaky upside down automotive gymnastics to get at some impossible to reach sensors. Guess I’ll be running down to the auto parts store today. I probably need one of those gapper disks too, which used to cost 50¢. I’ve got several of them ... somewhere. In a toolbox, in a cardboard box, somewhere lost in the garage. Crivens, someday I’ll actually finish unpacking and be moved in here. At least I know where my 10mm and 13mm sockets are. along with my plug socket. Well, one set of them. I think I have 3 or 4. Somewhere.


once upon a time the chuggy buggy looked this nice

update - Well now, that was easy. I got a set of plain old Autolight plugs, the basic copper core model. $1.49 each. Pulled the old NGK plugs - the DOHC hemi engine means I had to use the long extension - and they were fine. Rather worn looking, and their gaps were about 0.15”, several times too big. New plugs went right in, touch the dipstick to the threads, 1/3 turn past finger tight to tighten the gaskets. Clear the ODBC and the car starts right up. No lights. Drove to the gas station, put in $20 worth. No lights. Drove home. No lights. Sweet. Interestingly, before the engine was idling at 1100rpm and would sometimes stumble a bit when cold. Now its idling rock steady at 750rpm, and no stumble. Go chuggy buggy go!

Must remember to get new plugs for the wife’s Spec-V. Bet hers have 75,000 miles on them. It’s time. Get her the fancy platinum ones maybe.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/10/2013 at 11:49 AM   
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calendar   Monday - August 26, 2013

Flying Artwork

There was a school of design in the 1930s called Streamline Moderne. This style lent an aura of movement and speed to everything, from buildings, to ships, to toasters and radios, even to airplanes. Long flowing lines and “natural aerodynamics” are it’s hallmarks.

We caught another episode of Torchwood last night, one of their oddest yet, but the story was predicated on these 3 people who mysteriously land at an airfield more than 50 years after they took off ... in this old beauty.

The de Havilland Dragon Rapide


My goodness. Wow. 30s much?

The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a 1930s British short-haul biplane passenger airliner.

In late 1933, the Dragon Rapide was designed at the de Havilland company as a faster and more comfortable successor to the DH.84 Dragon. It was in effect a twin-engined, scaled-down version of the four-engined DH.86 Express. It shared many common features with the larger aircraft, including its tapered wings, streamlined fairings and the Gipsy Six engine, but it demonstrated none of the operational vices of the larger aircraft, and went on to become perhaps the most successful British-built short-haul commercial passenger aircraft of the 1930s.

At the start of World War II, many (Dragon) Rapides were impressed by the British armed forces and served under the name de Havilland Dominie. They were used for passenger and communications duties. Over 500 further examples were built specifically for military purposes, powered by improved Gipsy Queen engines [9 liters, 200hp], to bring total production to 731. The Dominies were mainly used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy for radio and navigation training. Postwar they were used as communications aircraft by Royal Naval air station flights.

Other civilian Dragon Rapides continued to fly for UK airlines as part of the Associated Airways Joint Committee (AAJC). The AAJC co-ordinated the UKs wartime scheduled services which were entirely operated on over-water routes.

After the war, many ex-RAF survivors entered commercial service; in 1958, 81 examples were still flying on the British register. Dominie production was by both de Havilland and Brush Coachworks Ltd, the latter making the greater proportion.
Postwar operations

The DH.89 proved an economical and very durable aircraft, despite its relatively primitive plywood construction, and many were still flying in the early 2000s. Several Dragon Rapides are still operational in the UK, and several suppliers still offer pleasure flights in them


The old girl could chug across the sky at about 150mph with a 570 mile range. And totally Moderne. Love it.

flight video


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/26/2013 at 01:47 PM   
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calendar   Friday - August 23, 2013

Honey, What’s This Yellow Light On My Dashboard?

The Dreaded P0335 Engine Code


Hey, this little thingy looks mighty familiar!

Toldja so. A month or so ago my wife “had” to take her ‘03 Sentra Spec-V into the shop to get the camshaft position sensor replaced. Although I’d looked it up online and found it was a simple repair and a reasonably priced part, she had the service station mechanics down the road do the job. Ok, fine, less grease on my hands. My bit of online research showed me that this is a very common part failure on these cars; eventually oil seeps in and shorts the thing out. The crankshaft position sensor is the exact same part as the camshaft sensor, so it’s always best to replace them both. If one goes, the other is going soon. Nah, there’s nothing wrong with the other sensor, she decides, I’ll just have them do the camshaft one.

Yesterday the crankshaft sensor goes blip and her engine shuts down. 10 minutes later, it starts right up and she gets home. I’ve got one of those engine code readers, so I plug it in and it comes back P0335, crankshaft position sensor malfunction.

So today she took my old buggy to work, my ‘97 Satrun SC-2 with a quarter million miles on it. The car she hates. The smelly old car which always starts and runs, no matter how much the rest of it rattles, jounces, vibrates, has no power, no brakes, a really noisy fan, blah blah blah. So I have to drop hers off at the shop and walk most of a mile back home uphill. Hey, the exercise will do me good. I just hope the weather clears up some more so there’s no chance of rain when I go down there.

I really shouldn’t complain. You have to expect some repairs as cars get older, and hers just turned 100K the other day, after 10 years. Still ... toldja so!  rolleyes


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/23/2013 at 07:39 AM   
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calendar   Monday - August 12, 2013

stuck here for awhile: Jersey Gridlock

There’s a tank truck fire on the highway 3 miles away. Rt 78 is closed in both directions. We live near the highway, so when traffic gets bad all the “smart” drivers try to get around the jam by taking local roads. Now all those roads are jammed to.  So I can’t get in, or out. Even the main road through our condo park is bumper to bumper, and it’s a private road. Not that that stops people from using us as a short cut.

Hope they get it fixed soon. Not that I was going anywhere ... well, maybe to the grocery store. We can always have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, or some canned tuna. This is just another time when life in NJ, which is pretty congested to begin with, even out here in the sticks (we have cows on the farm one hill over from us), gets annoying. And it’s only the middle of the afternoon, that slack period before rush hour starts around 4:30. Looks like there’s an 8 mile tailback already to the East. If it builds up another 7 miles (not hard to do at all) it will hit Rt 287, and that will gridlock the entire center of the state. It’s happened before, believe you me. No telling how far west the jam extends, but there isn’t much out that way, other than Pennsylvania. Rt 31, the local north-south highway, is already frozen at least a few miles north and south of Rt 78.

I’ve heard rumors that in some places way out west, or on certain streets in quaint English villages out in the country, only a car or two a day go by. Times like this make those rumors pretty hard to believe.

UNION TWP. — The westbound lanes of Route 78 are closed between Exits 13 and 12, as firefighters respond to calls of a tractor-trailer on fire near mile marker 14.4.

Responding crews were told to enter the highway at Johnny’s truck stop and travel east in the westbound lanes to reach the site of the fire.

A hazmat crew was called to the scene to handle a spill of diesel fuel into a storm drain.

The initial call about the tractor-trailer fire was dispatched shortly before 2:30 p.m., according to unconfirmed radio reports.

Nah, that’s wrong. Marker 14.4 is just west of exit 15 at the end of my piece of Rt 173. I can see exit 13 from the top of our hill, and traffic is blocked way west of there. Johnny’s is at exit 12. If the accident was where they say, that part of the westbound highway would be empty. Pretty sure it’s west of exit 12, maybe as far as exit 11.

Yeah, we have exits nearly every mile. There’s just that much density around here.

update: fire is out, one lane open, but it’s too late. Traffic backup extends halfway across the state (which is all of 63 miles wide in our part here).

Guess it wasn’t a tanker truck after all. I still think this is west of exit 12. The land flattens out there; exit 12 is almost at the top of a hill.

Update: Nope, I was thinking mile marker 15.4. I went past the burned spot today, and it was west of exit 13 between marker 14.4 and 14.3. And it turns out that it was a truckload of diapers that burned up.



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/12/2013 at 02:33 PM   
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calendar   Friday - August 09, 2013

Last Cruise For The Love Boat

You are now officially old ... the Pacific Princess has been sent to the scrapyard.

Nothing Romantic About This Trip


The MS Pacific, a cruise ship made famous by the popular U.S. 1970s television show “The Love Boat,” has sailed its final voyage to a ship-breaking yard on Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast, a shipping group said on Wednesday.

Called the Pacific Princess when it was on the long-running comedy, the iconic 13,500-tonne, 171-m-long (561-foot-long) vessel will be stripped for its metal and parts, said Ersin Ceviker of the Ship Recyclers’ Association of Turkey.


“This ship has undergone several modifications over its lifespan. It had been decommissioned for five years, and renovation now would have been too costly,” Ceviker said.

Turkey’s Izmir Ship Recycling Co. acquired the 42-year-old Pacific for 2.5 million euros ($3.3 million).

The vintage cruiseliner arrived from Genoa, Italy, at the breakers in the seaside town of Aliaga in Turkey late on Tuesday after a difficult trip in a violent storm, Ceviker said.

The Pacific began taking on water and required the help of additional tugboats to make it to Aliaga. It was now listing on its starboard side at Aliaga.


the breaker’s yard in Aliaga Turkey

Scrap steel currently sells for $383 per metric ton in Turkey, 25% less than at it’s peak 3 years ago.

Leyal, the ship breaker, has managed to make this dirty and dangerous task a “green” business. This is the same bone yard that the HMS Invincible and HMS Ark Royal went to (one of which is still visible on Bing maps).

LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd. (LEYAL Gemi Söküm Ldt Şti) is the leading ship dismantling and recycling company in Turkey. Established in early 1980s, the Company has evolved to become the owner of the largest ship dismantling facilities in the country. With approximately 5 hectares of land dedicated to ship dismantling, the company is capable of directly or indirectly processing up to 100,000 tons -nominal capacity- of steel per year. LEYAL is fully licensed for its ship recycling operations by the relevant competent authorities in Turkey, namely the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Undersecretariat of Maritime Affairs, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (in Turkey the three ministries jointly regulate the ship recycling industry).

The Company’s recycling facilities are located near the city of Aliaga on Turkey’s Aegean coast ( map link )
Working with LEYAL also carries the stamp of approval of the International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA), a Dutch non-government organization formed to promote safe and environmentally sound ship recycling around the world, especially in the absence of globally enforceable “green” standards for ship recycling.

LEYAL is your reliable partner for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of your obsolete seagoing vessels assisting you in emphasizing your “green” CSR credentials. In a rapidly changing environment, LEYAL’s management was quick to recognize the difference between traditional ship breaking vs. ship recycling that contributes to Green Growth by offering a high standard and cost effective operation in line with the new international “green” norms.


HMS Invincible goes gently into that good night

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/09/2013 at 02:32 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - July 11, 2013


I am a pedestrian today.

My wife’s car had the good grace to break down at the service station last night, right in front of the late working mechanics. So they looked at it right away, and determined that the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors were going bad. This is a fairly common problem on the 2.5L Nissan engine; the original sensors were plastic and tended to leak oil around one of the electric connector pins, shorting out the part. Which means that the engine stops dead. Let it cool off and drain the oil back for a bit, and they start right up again, as I proved when I stopped off at the gas station and started her car right up in the parking lot. Still, she chose to have the parts replaced, and I can’t fault that decision.


Nissan uses the same sensor for both locations, and the “new” version of the part is now tightly enclosed in a little metal can. about $30 each for quality aftermarket parts, and one of the sensors is actually dead easy to get to. A 5 minute job with just a 10mm socket. The other one is a bit fussy for DIY, an hour’s worth of blood and swearing, but easy if you can put the car on a lift. Aftermarket companies have been making the “new” version for nearly a decade now, so I’m quite hopeful that the mechanics will source one of those from their NAPA dude. [fast online research - OMG the internet rocks! - shows 2 in stock at the parts guy 1/2 mile away. Sweet.]

So she had to take my lumpy old Saturn to work - rock solid dependable after 17 years - and that leaves me here with just sneaker power.

Oh well. Guess I’ll be doing housework today.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/11/2013 at 10:11 AM   
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calendar   Friday - July 05, 2013

Eye Candy In Steel: Guy Friday Wallpaper

“that giddy, unchained-Satan feeling”


The 2014 Saleen Mustang Convertible: 700hp, $82,500. Right click, Save As.

Taking things up several notches, again

First announced at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and then previewed in prototype form at April’s Fabulous Fords event held in Buena Park, California, the latest Saleen 351 Mustang looks to live up to the reputation of its predecessors: delivering extreme performance.

The latest 2014 Saleen 351 Mustang is Saleen’s most extreme Mustang to date, in fact. In keeping with its name, the vehicle features a 5.75-liter (351-cubic inch) V-8, which is supercharged to the tune of 700 horsepower and 655 pound-feet of torque. This is at least a 200hp increase over older versions.

An intercooler and high-flow fuel injectors make sure the engine runs fine, and a number of forged internals should mean longevity. A six-speed manual is standard and is fitted with a high-performance clutch and lightweight flywheel. The final gear ratio is 3.73:1.

To ensure the car handles well, a custom suspension setup is installed, along with 20-inch wheels, 14-inch brakes with four-piston calipers, and a downforce-generating body kit.

Right. Because, let’s face it, you need that 3.73 rear axle to get this bloated piglet to move forward. Right. Riiiight.

Ford sells a “lesser” “gentler” version of the idea. Their 2013 GT500 comes with a similar aluminum engine of about the same displacement, 5.8 liters, their own style of supercharger, a similar 6 speed shifter, but a “pathetic”, “anemic” mere 662hp. And while Ford’s street bomber costs $28,000 less, it’s built with much tamer gears in the back, so that you can actually drive the thing, and maybe even get a month out of a set of tires. Maybe. But you can tell those “dud” gears make for a rather lame driving experience ...

With a car like this, you inevitably focus on the numbers. The $54,995 GT500 coupe turns in a 0-to-60 sprint of 3.5 seconds. Ferociously tall gearing means third gear is good for 140 mph and first gear is long enough to reach highway speeds. Even so, the quarter-mile passes in 11.8 seconds. Slam a redline shift from second to third, and you’ll hear the rear tires chirp. We also saw an even 1.00 g on the skidpad.


[after writing about all the go-fast goodies in the Ford] All of this works well until you stand on the right pedal, at which point it works very well, and then you look down at the speedometer and realize you’re going 140 mph and have only shifted twice. Make no mistake: The GT500 is not a slow car, but it doesn’t feel as quick as it is. This is deceptive, long-haul speed, a surprising pairing of monster thrust and continent-crossing gait. After a couple of balls-out acceleration runs, you feel like Robert Crumb’s Keep on Truckin’ guy, all legs, a continent between your shins. It’s initially unimpressive, and then you glance out the window and notice you’re three states away from where you started.

Right again. Boring. So let’s amp things up half a dozen notches. While the 2013 Ford GT500 uses super tall rear axle gearing for basic drivability, those gears also give back 24mpg on the highway and a top speed way over 200mph. Don’t expect that from the Saleen. Shorter gearing will bring the top speed way down, perhaps to a “mundane” 175mph or so, but will make getting there - or even the fine art of getting out of your driveway - a rip roaring, eye popping, heart stopping experience. You know, like you’re just toodling down the highway at a mild 135mph and stamp on the gas to pass some slow poke, only to find your tires turning into smoke and the car getting sideways from the crazy amount of torque that’s always right there waiting to explode. That’s got to be worth another 30 grand or so, right?

Saleen has always taken the donkey-kick in the pants thrill ride path. Their much lower powered 1998 S351 from 15 years ago was not exactly a timid little econo-box either:

Saleen’s supercharged S351 Mustang would be inexcusable if it weren’t so fast. It’s a fiend with so much brute torque the driver feels as if he could pull both the Titanic and the ocean floor beneath it up out of the North Atlantic. Through corners, it’s as effective and subtle as a leopard clamping his jaw down on a zebra’s femur. The S351 is for fanatics

Now take this experience, and add half again as many horsies and pounds-feet. Yeah, that’s gotta be dull, right?

Now when is Saleen going to get serious, and bring out the version with a 460 under the hood and a decent 3000hp? I want to be able to do my morning commute in 18 seconds flat, no matter how far I have to drive to work.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/05/2013 at 08:23 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - June 30, 2013

élèvent dans le ciel, juniors hommes oiseaux!*

Up In The Air, Upside Down


france_flag_2  france_flag_2  france_flag_2

Ten years ago, Airbus Military began working on a new transport aircraft that would take Europe into the next century of aerial warfare.

Backed by seven European members of NATO: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the aircraft program suffered years of delays and cost €20 billion ($26.1 billion).

Now, the A400M Atlas is almost here.

Scheduled for first delivery to the French army in time for July 14 Bastille Day celebrations, the turboprop plane is designed to be capable of everything its new owners need, from midair refueling to paratrooper drop-offs to landings on short and unpaved runways.

It can even carry more than 80,000 pounds of cargo, while remaining remarkably agile in the air.

Well, yay for Airbus. Seriously. This looks like a great airplane.

Except for the T shaped tail, the A400M looks quite a lot like the Lockheed C-130 Hercules turboprop aircraft that the US has been flying since the 1950s. But while the two aircraft have similar wingspans, the A400M’s fuselage is half again longer (cargo bay is 13x13x58 vs 12x9x40), and it has engines with nearly three times the power. So it can carry about 210% more cargo mass (80,000lb vs 37,216lb), and do it while flying a third faster (485mph vs 366mph), fly just as far (2000 miles), yet land on the same kind of rough short runways. The A400M fills the niche between the C-130J and the massive jet powered C-141 Starlifter (retired).

Word for the day: anhedral. Dihedral is the upwards “V” profile of the wings of an airplane when seen from the front. Anhedral is that same kind of “V”, except the wings tilt downwards, like “^”. The A400M has anhedral wings. Dihedral wings are most often used on low wing airplanes, and help the aircraft fly smoothly with minimal rolling. It’s a pendulum thing. Think water in the bottom of a cup. Anhedral wings are most often used on high wing airplanes, like the B-52 or this A400M. Works the same way, just backwards. The airplane hangs from the wing, like a pendulum weight on a Steadi-Cam. Either way, as the picture above shows, the new A400M is quite agile, considering it’s a turboprop cargo plane that flies nearly as fast as a jet airliner.


Not bad. And it only took them 60 years to build a possibly better plane than the C-130.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/30/2013 at 07:07 AM   
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calendar   Wednesday - June 19, 2013

No, Really?

Another branch of the federal government has been lying to us for years? Oh Noes!!!1!
Yeah right. Like anyone bought their BS in the first place, even back then.

Latest Whistleblowers: TWA 800 Conclusion Fake

A group of whistle-blowers, including a number of aviation experts, have come forward in a new documentary to claim that the official explanation for the crash of TWA Flight 800 was wrong and a gas tank explosion did not bring down the flight off the coast of Long Island 17 years ago.

However, the six whistle-blowers, all part of the original investigation team, stopped short of saying the plane was shot down.

Flight 800, a Boeing 747, had just taken off from JFK airport with 230 people aboard on July 17, 1996, en route to Paris when it exploded and crashed off the coast of nearby East Moriches, Long Island, killing everyone on the plane.

“..This team of investigators who actually handled the wreckage and victims’ bodies, prove that the officially proposed fuel-air explosion did not cause the crash,” reads a statement by the producers of the film, which will debut on cable network EPIX next month. “They also provide radar and forensic evidence proving that one or more ordnance explosions outside the aircraft caused the crash.” However, the statement said they did not speculate about the source or sources of any ordnance explosions.

Ordnance explosions? That means a bomb. With shrapnel. Outside the aircraft? That means the bomb was ... a missile.

Just like we saw in that video that some civilian took at the time. Contrail(s) rising. And the feds turned themselves inside out coming up with some Dr. Science Explains It All cock and bull story about how all that was just sunlight reflected off the underside of clouds or something like that.

Kind of like how the FBI wouldn’t admit that even one single instance of “man made disaster”, and there were many, during the entire Bush administration, were in fact acts of terrorism. Oh no. Workplace violence. Yeah, that’s it. Allawoo Snackbar!! Nothing to see here, clean up the blood and move along.

The whistle-blower team, which includes investigators—at the time—from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), TWA, and the Airline Pilots Association, have since retired from their positions. They claim that at the time, they were placed under a gag order by the NTSB, which they charged falsified the official conclusion of the cause of the crash. They indicated they would elaborate more in a Wednesday media briefing.

So here we go again. Time to tighten the chin strap on your tinfoil hat. It’s gonna be a rough ride.

Can somebody call up Hillary for a quote? “At this point, what difference does it make?”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/19/2013 at 10:31 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobilesWar On Terror •  
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calendar   Wednesday - June 12, 2013

Saving the last flying pencil

1940 Luftwaffe Relic Retrieved From Watery Grave

WWII Dornier bomber wreck pulled from the Channel off of Kent is last of its kind


Shot down in the Battle of Britain by an oddball fighter plane you’ve never heard of, the plane has rested in 50 feet of water for 70 years. Now recovered, can it be restored?


Dornier Do 17s in the sky, ca 1940

The Dornier Do 17, nicknamed “the flying pencil” for it’s long thin fuselage, was a “fast light bomber” designed in the interwar period. The idea behind it was that it would be as fast or faster than the fighter planes opposing it, and thus could evade them and drop it’s few bombs on target. With a bomb load of just over a ton and a top speed of only 255mph, by the time WWII got really hot the plane was more of a sitting duck. Although 2100 of them were built, not one survived the war intact.

A British museum on Monday successfully recovered a German bomber that had been shot down over the English Channel during World War II. The aircraft, nicknamed the Luftwaffe’s “flying pencil” because of its narrow fuselage, came down off the coast of Kent county in southeastern England more than 70 years ago during the Battle of Britain. The rusty and damaged plane was lifted from depths of the channel with cables and is believed to be the most intact example of the German Dornier Do 17 bomber that has ever been found.

“It has been lifted and is now safely on the barge and in one piece,” said RAF Museum spokesman Ajay Srivastava. The bomber will be towed into port Tuesday, he added.

A few fragments of the plane dropped off as it was being lifted, but officials said divers will retrieve them later. The museum had been trying to raise the relic for a few weeks, but the operation was delayed by strong winds and choppy waters. In 2008, divers discovered the aircraft submerged in 50 feet (15 meters) of water.

image [ May 3, 2013] The operation will see the retrieval of what is the only known survivor of the Luftwaffe’s ‘flying pencil’ bomber from the Goodwin Sands, off the coast of Kent where it crash-landed in 1940. Using pioneering techniques, it will take approximately three weeks to complete the lift which has been made possible thanks to a grant of over £345,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

The aircraft is the only known example of its kind in the world and was spotted by divers in 2008. After sonar scans conducted by the museum, Wessex Archaeology and the Port of London Authority the identity was confirmed as Dornier Do 17Z Werke nr. 1160 (aircraft history below).

The aircraft is in remarkable condition – considering the events surrounding its loss and the effects of spending so many years under water. Other than the effects of sea life such as barnacles, corral and marine life, it is largely intact. The main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber’s final landing.

Amazingly, researchers were able to identify the very airplane itself, who the crew were and what happened to them, and even who shot it down with what kind of plane.

Over 400 Do-17 participated in the Battle of Britain during the course of which nearly 200 examples were destroyed. [sitting duck, indeed!]

Research by the Air Historical Branch and the RAF Museum suggests that the wreck is Do-17-Z2 Ser No 1160 of 7/III/KG3 (5K + AR) lost on 26 August 1940, the height of the Battle of Britain.

The Dornier 17 was part of a large enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft at midday on 26 August 1940 as they attempted to attack airfields in Essex. This particular aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing on the Goodwin Sands at low tide after an attack by Defiant fighters of No 264 Sqn that left both engines stopped and the crew wounded.

The Dornier, flown by Feldwebel (Flt Sgt) Willi Effmert attempted a wheels-up landing on the Goodwin Sands. He touched down safely and the aircraft sank inverted. Effmert and his observer were captured but the other crewmen died and their bodies were washed ashore later.

Of the flight of 7 bombers that this one was part of, 6 were shot down that day, by half a dozen Boulton Paul Defiants from RAF No. 264 Squadron, which themselves suffered 50% casualties from the Dornier’s escorting Messerschmidt Bf109 fighters.  War is hell.

Lots more pics at these links:
Daily Mail Online
UK Mirror
This is Kent
The Guardian

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/12/2013 at 09:06 AM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / AnthropologyBattling Brits planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobilesWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Wednesday - May 15, 2013

Shrinking Expectations

I saw a 1977 Thunderbird on the highway over the weekend. OMG, what a whale. Then the old brain cells kicked in, and dragged up the memory that the late 70s ‘birds were in fact downsized, and were built on the old Ford Torino platform. The Torino in it’s day was a mid-sized car. So by the late 70s, was the T-bird still “mid-sized” at 217” long, 3500lb, 114” wheelbase? Or had it’s shrunken size been eclipsed by shrinking size categories such that it was now a full-size car? I really don’t know. But the big square ‘77 looked like an aircraft carrier going down the road compared all the little rounded off blobby cars around it.

I saw a two door 1977 Chevy Nova the day after that. Now I know that the Nova was sold as a compact car, because the Vegas I was driving at that time were sold as sub-compacts. The 111” wheelbase of the ‘77 Nova was just 3” shorter than that of the T-bird, but at 196” long and only 72” wide the Nova was 20” shorter, 6” narrower and more lightly built.

These days the dimensions of that late 70s compact car almost perfectly fit what Chevy would like us to believe is a full sized car, the 2013 Impala. The 2014 Impala is 201” long with a 111.7” wheelbase, half an inch wider than the old Nova, yet tips the scales at 3800lb, 300lb heavier than the bloated brick that was the 77 bird. With engines just about half the size to boot, yet it goes much faster and gets at least double the mpg.

So we’re only really talking about a foot and a half between the ‘77 T-bird and the 2014 Impala. So why does the old Ford seem so gigantic? Is it width alone? The new Impala looks small and feels smaller. I don’t get it.

I’m just musing here. I guess I don’t really have a point. But I notice that most full sized American pickup trucks are 78-80” wide, and that gives plenty of shoulder room. I wouldn’t mind one bit if today’s smaller cars were half a foot wider. Kind of like the AMC Pacer tried to do, only done right this time around. Where are those “wide track” people when you need them? Oh wait, never mind. Pontiac is gone too, right? Not that the “wide track” 97 Grand Prix was even 73” across. No, that was a big con.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/15/2013 at 02:38 PM   
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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