Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta memories #22: Gear Drives


One of the things that always stand out to me when I’m looking at pictures of old factories and machinery, is the enormous gears that are used almost everywhere. The herringbone-toothed gear shown above is a great example.

The Mesta Machine Company made a great variety of large gear drives for heavy industry and power production. The following pictures show some of the monstrous gears that Mesta made on a regular basis.

Continue reading Mesta memories #22: Gear Drives


Shutdown: A Method for Science

She’s my kind of girl…

Not often do I find an example of my way of thinking regarding the expansion of the boundaries of science, but Monday’s installment of the Girl Genius comic hits the bullseye while striking the nail on the head, so to speak. After I read it, I jumped up […]


Shutdown: Showing the Flag

Click to Largerizerize

I had just dug my way out of a mound of sawdust, broken wood, twisted metal and scattered tools, and I as I lay there gazing up at the sky through what until very recently had been my ceiling, and beyond that, my roof, I thought to myself, “Bloody hell, […]


Recording the Shuttle Launches


The mailboxes are watching…

We’ve all watched lots of videos of various NASA launches, especially launches of the Space Shuttle. I’ve always marveled at the videos that show the vehicles clearly at very high altitudes and wondered at what kind of equipment that they use. Well, perusing the UK edition of Gizmodo, I found my answer. A post by Jamie Condliffe today included a video from the 1980s about the photo operations at Kennedy Space Center, and shows all sorts of interesting old camera tech and the various shops and contractors that made it all work. Well worth watching after the jump.

Photo Credit: NASA

Continue reading Recording the Shuttle Launches


Shutdown: Derelict Elevator

Click to Largerizerize

Here we see Silo #5 on the Pointe-du-Moulin in Montréal, a rather large derelict grain elevator built between 1903 and 1906 and was in service until 1994 when, after losing a bet, the Canadian Wheat Board sold it to the Montreal Port Authority for a crate of used toques and […]


Shutdown: Beautiful Tools

Click to Largerizerize

Dèárthàír’s post talked about how some tools are an absolute joy to use, so much so that you dream up jobs to do just so that you can use that wonderful tool again. Here I’d like to point out that tools can also be beautiful, to the point that they […]

User Input

User Input: Free Money Season


Ah yes, it’s that time of year again, that time where the Federal government and most State governments shower free money onto the bulk of their constituents in the form of Tax Rebates. That’s what happens in the US at least. I don’t know if Greater Canuckistan has […]


Shutdown: Closed Bridge

Click to Largerizerize

Bah, phooey! I’ve been trying for an hour to write some sort of pithy text to accompany this wonderful picture that I found, but everything I come up with is so horribly pretentious that I can’t bear to look at it. So, to hell with it. Imagine your own story […]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #21: Sheet Mills and a Pickling Machine


 Today we’ll look at four types of inter-related rolling mills that produce steel sheets. A jobbing mill rolls steel sheets that range between 1/8″ and 1/2″ in thickness and then send the sheets to a furnace for annealing, producing “blue annealed sheets”. Some plate mills can produce light plates that overlap the output of jobbing mills, but the output of plate mills is not annealed, unlike the jobbing mill. The material sent to a jobbing mill is called “sheet bar” produced by a universal mill or a sheet bar mill and sent to the jobbing mill cold. A jobbing mill uses two-high stands, i.e. stands with two rollers, and consists of a stand with both rollers pinion driven, a roughing stand and a finishing stand.

Continue reading Mesta Memories #21: Sheet Mills and a Pickling Machine


Startup: Locomotive Drag Racing

Click to Largerizerize

Drag racing has deeper roots than we thought. In the photo above, we see two drivers getting ready to experience “rubbing is racing”.