Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Royal 69th Highland Attack Oboes NEED YOU!

The Royal 69th Highland Attack Oboes, Airborne Division is looking for a few good .....uh......beings!

The Royal 69th Highland Attack Oboes is dedicated to the defense of the Caladonian way of life by means of general debauchery, lewdness, and the development of double reed instruments as tactical weaponry, whilst wearing tiny kilts and bunneh slippers.

Many technical specialties are possible for those with suitable qualifications. Positions available include (but are not limited to) Duke of Earl, Lord and/or Lady SmellyBottom, Bikini Inspector, First Codpiece, and the ever popular Homicidal Maniac.

Potential recruits should make application to;

Amplebeak Tinlegs LP (Lustrous Potentate)
Tanglewood Forest
Caledon Tanglewood

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In Memoriam

1992 - 2010

'... I have had cats whom I liked better than this, ...but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'
Dr. Samuel Johnson
(As reported by his biographer James Boswell)

He was his master's faithful companion for just over 18 years. He had no regard for my fortunes or lack thereof and was my steadfast friend, often my only friend, through the bad times and the good.

He was cantankerous, imperious, and demanding but also considerate, empathic, and affectionate. And an excellent listener, though very opinionated.

He was the bane of rottweilers, yet he befriended my parents elderly poodle. He loved kittens and puppies, an unusual trait in a tomcat, and he adopted and raised several over his lifetime. My labrador retriever was one of those he took under his wing. I don't think he ever got over how large she grew to be, and so quickly.

The end came quietly in his sleep between the hours of 2 and 4 AM on the morning of April 25, 2010. He was in the company of those he loved, his master and his master's wife, and the other pets he shared a home with.

He is survived by his humans, two moggies, a labrador retriever, and a red-ticked coon hound.

After 18 years it is hard to adjust to his not being here. I can't read a book without noticing he isn't snuggled into my side as I sit in my old leather armchair. Every time I sit and read with a dram of whisky near at hand I shall be thinking fondly of him.

Aye, he was a fine cat and a fine friend. The finest of all the cats I have known.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Belated Congratulations

I fear I have been most remiss in my blogging duties.

On August 25, 2009, Charles Burnett III successfully broke the land speed record for a steam powered car with an average speed of 139.843 mph on his two runs over the measured mile. The previous record had stood since 1906.

The following day Don Wales set another land speed record for a steam powered car, the record for a measured kilometre with an average speed of 148.308 mph on two runs.

My congratulations to the British Steam Car Challenge Team. A job well done!

I am saddened to report that my own challenge to the record has met with some severe setbacks. In addition to a lack of appropriate venues in world for such an attempt it seems that the FIA has no methodology for verifying virtual speed records, assuming virtual speed could even be translated accurately into real miles or kilometres per hour.

On the other hand the building of the Spirit of Caledon did stretch my building skills a bit so the effort was not for naught. And with a bit of luck the burns from scalding will heal soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I feel a Need for Speed!

Some time ago my typist made me aware of the British Steam Car Challenge, an attempt to break the 127 mph Land Speed Record for steam driven cars. The current FIA certified record was set by a modified Stanley Steamer in 1906. Another record was set by in 1985 by Bob Barber at 145.607. However the Barber record was not FIA certified.

The lads of the British Steam Car team are currently at Edwards Air Force base attempting to break both records with their steam turbine powered car.

The car uses several flash steam generators fired with LP gas to provide steam for a turbine that drives the rear wheels directly. The theoretical top speed is around 170 mph.

For a FIA record the car must make two timed passes through a one mile segment of the trial venue. The second run must be in the opposite direction of the first. The average speed of both runs is the official speed for the trial.

The first attempt was this past Wednesday. The first run the car performed quite well, but mechanical difficulties prevented the second run. I believe they intend to make the attempt again today. I wish them luck.

When I first heard about this attempt I began to wonder. Why is it that there is no challenge from Caledon? After all are we not Steampunks? So I sat down at my desk in my study and began work on a Victorian steam land speed record car.

After several months of work in my shop I now have a completed vehicle with which to attempt to take the record. I call it "The Spirit of Caledon".

I attempted to limit myself strictly to the use of Victorian/Edwardian technology, and I feel I did fairly well on that goal. Still the two cars are very similar in several regards.

The chassis is made of tubular carbon steel rods fastened together in machined steel sockets by rivets (since arc welding wasn't available to me) and reinforced by use of the best adhesives I could find. The body shell is a thin but rigid laminate of wood and thin brass plies with spruce framing. The wheels are the new wire spoke types commonly used on bicycles, but much sturdier in build. The spokes are covered in sheet metal to aid in airflow.

Like the British team I decided to use one of those new fangled turbines. However since our metallurgical arts are not as advanced in some ways my turbine is somewhat larger and heavier than theirs. I opted to drive the wheels through a two speed planetary transmission system so as to give better torque for acceleration. This is to compensate for shorter venues for timed runs (more on that later) and hopefully will counter the increased weight.

The steam is provided through a flash steam generator, as on the British car. I couldn't find any "LP Gas" in Caledon so I fuel my car with highly compressed town (coal) gas. The exhaust is total loss since the goal here is weight savings and speed, not range.

I had originally planned to make an attempt at the record before now, but remaining technical issues and other personal matters have delayed me.

One such technical problem to be resolved is where to actually make such a record attempt. Dry lake beds are exceedingly rare in Second Life and non-existent in Caledon.

The North road to Penzance is long and level enough but far too narrow and is also lined with homes. I have done some initial testing there but there is little margin for error. I gave poor Mr. Drinkwater quite a fright one evening during a test run.

(I also damaged some flowers in the gardens of a few homes when I swerved to miss Mr. Drinkwater. My apologies to my neighbours and please forward the bills for damages to me at my home in Eyre.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Spotniks!

Appropriate music for a cruise in your Astro-Gnome.

Monday, February 16, 2009

O'Toole Plays Your Favorites!

Knuckles O'Toole that is.

Although there is a faint resemblance to a certain chap over Steelhead way.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blame Hotspur.....

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Who is that, rampaging over the mountains! It is Sir Amplebeak, hands clutching a piece of chainlink fence! He howls homicidally:

"I'm going to cram objects into you from every conceivable angle!!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More on the Doble

Many readers have noticed my infatuation with the Doble Brothers and their automobiles and other derivatives of their steam technologies, such as the Besler Brothers Steamplane of 1932 and the McCulloch attempt at resurrecting the production steam car in the early 1950's.

But I never seemed to have gotten around to providing a photo of an actual Doble automobile. In part this is because only 40 to 45 such cars were ever built and few survive.

However one of the best surviving examples of the marque is in the collection of renowned entertainer, car nut, and steam enthusiast Jay Leno, who has seen fit to make a video about his Doble and generously allow others to link to it.

Thank you Mr. Leno, and if you should ever find yourself in Caledon Eyre please do drop by for some Bellambi Reserve Whisky and test drives of virtual steam trucks and tanks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Quest for the Northern Gnomes, Part One

It all began a while back in the not so distant past when I was paying a visit to my typist. We had been enjoying a rather nice whisky made in the realm to the north of my typist's home, a place called Tin-a-see. Apparently a chap named George makes it in away in some hollow.

My typist made mention that he and his good lady had plans to travel to that far land in the near future, though somewhat further to the east. To a settlement called Chatty-new-gah, or something of that sort. I confess I wasn't paying attention as I should have been being somewhat distracted by a building issue back home in Caledon that vexed me. In fact I had been trying to sneak a peek at my pocket watch and trying to think of a way to excuse myself without seeming rude for some time.

Then he casually mentioned that he had heard rumour of a tribe of gnomes that dwelt in the mountains therebouts and asked me if I would consider traveling with him and his lady in the search for the gnomes of Chatty-new-gah.

Well if my pointed little ears had perked up anymore at that then they would have punctured the brim of my hat! Of course I agreed to accompany them and we proceeded to lay the plans for our grand adventure.

The day of our departure broke with rain on the horizon and falling temperatures. We rapidly packed some extra warm and dry clothing in expectation of a cold wet day and set forth from my host's estate in Ali-bah-ma. Our predictions of less than ideal traveling weather came true but our spirits remained un-dampened.

Our destination for the first days travel was a way house my typist was familiar with in the north of the realm of Ali-bah-ma. By the time the cold drizzle was just starting to weigh on our spirits our lodgings for the evening came into view and a homey little place it was.
Though obviously built to human scale it showed the definite hand of gnomish influence in its rustic simplicity and solidity and I breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief that my night's rest would be spent in warmth and comfort.

We unpacked and started a nice fire in hearth and a settled in for a restful night after a wee dram of Mr. George's whisky.