Deconstructing Technology, Go-Fast Technology, Hooniverse, Pushing Boundaries

The badge says DAF Variomatic. It’s a racing transmission.

Huron 4A Cosworth DAF Variomatic, by Wouter Melissen, via UltimateCarPage

It was a rainy Tuesday when I got a tip from Monkey10is that DAF had a history of racing. A machine I’d never heard of called the Huron 4A Cosworth DAF Variomatic. A quick search turned up an article by Wouter Melissen. Real enough. That’s where I found the first picture. Seems DAF already had some experience in Formula 3. Never mind their reputation for making innocent-looking two-cylinders named Daffodil. Wikipedia noted, quote ‘interesting’ low speed behavior when ice was around. And it’s an open secret that at top speed, slowly releasing the gas will make Daffodil go faster instead of slowing down. But I was more interested when Wouter mentioned an AWD DAF 555 prototype in passing. As if such a thing can be mentioned in passing.
Continue reading The badge says DAF Variomatic. It’s a racing transmission.

Deconstructing Technology

Packard Revival


In a bit of positive news out of the land of Detroit, the deal for the former Packard plant has been completed, and the planned revival is scheduled to begin.

The Packard Plant ruins on Detroit’s east side could soon be buzzing with construction cranes as the plant’s Spanish-born owner launches the opening phase of his ambitious redevelopment project.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday, Fernando Palazuelo said he anticipates the arrival within two to four weeks of cleanup crews…the workers and equipment due to start next month would clear debris and dangerous loose concrete from the vicinity of the old Packard Motor’s administrative office building and the iconic red brick bridge that crosses East Grand Boulevard.

An eventual second phase would involve restoring to original condition the bridge and the four-story office, as well as a courtyard behind the office building.

Palazuelo envisions restoring some of the original Packard structure and redeveloping it for commercial, industrial and cultural uses. (Detroit Free Press.)


The plant was sold to Palazuelo for $405,000 in the Wayne County Treasurer’s foreclosure auction, but the actual title to the complex had been in limbo until very recently. A former owner came forward with a claim that he was still the owner because the county auction didn’t satisfy all of his ownership interests, so a deal had to be worked out before the project could move forward. Hopefully now work can begin and some of the iconic structure can be saved.

Past the jump, check out a recent “remote control helicopter cam” video of the complex in its pre-recovery state. (And kudos to for calling it an RC helicopter!)

Continue reading Packard Revival

Deconstructing Technology

Secrets Revealed


The Magic Eight Ball is a wonder of wonders, a see-er of seers! But have you ever been the least bit curious how it works? Or what the frequency of positive versus negative answers are? If you harbor no such curiosity, and prefer your spoilers unspoiled, then I would suggest you not hit the jump…


Invented by Albert Carter, the first versions of his future telling device were simple tubes, decorated with mystical promises! Later versions had the look of a crystal ball, for enhanced mysticism. He partnered with Abe Bookman to mass produce this device, but Carter passed away before seeing his product sold to the world. The company they formed, Alabe Crafts, did begin to market the device, and was approached by Brunswick Billiards in 1950 and asked to convert some of the crystal ball style seers into billiards balls for advertising. The powers of the Eight Ball were such that it remains with us today. There is even a digital eight ball, for those who don’t care to venture out into meat space!

Continue reading Secrets Revealed

Deconstructing Technology

Surreal Stop-Motion


Very early in the days of film, certain highly creative, perhaps you could even say weird, filmmakers, saw an opportunity to show the world just what sort of oddities had bouncing around in their brains. Welcome to the world of the surreal, a new reality that expanded the bounds of what you could believe. Call it surreality, brought to life through the magic of film.

Without a doubt, the brains behind the film you can watch just beyond the jump, was one of the pioneers of surreality. Charley Bowers was a filmmaker and film actor during that transition time between silent film and talkies, after getting his start as a tightrope walker in the circus at the age of 6. He started as a cartoonist around 1912, making mostly Mutt and Jeff toons, but by the late 1920s he had perfected his self-proclaimed “Bowers Process”, his way of combining live action and stop-motion animation. There seems to be little detail on how exactly this process worked, but the stop-motion it’s impressive, even in today’s CGI world, perhaps even more so, and his films have a certain feel, a style of a dream come to life.

““It’s a Bird” is a strange little stop-motion animated short directed by film pioneer Harold L. Muller in 1930 that features a shoe-wearing, metal-eating bird (that actually looks a fair bit like a pterodactyl) that devours a car, piece by piece. Slapstick comedian Charles R. Bowers plays an explorer who encounters both the bird and a gruff-voiced talking worm on his travels to Africa.” (laughingsquid) As a note, Bowers and Muller collaborated on several films, but the stop-motion effects that really set this apart were created by Bowers.

Continue reading Surreal Stop-Motion

Deconstructing Technology

Technology Flow


Technology comes and goes, and sometimes a product or tool or super-mega-future bomber lasts only a few years before it gets eclipsed by the next big thing. Last week, in a sort of round about discussion* about post ideas and spam, skitter and I kicked around the idea of new technology as a rebuttal of existing technology, with the initial thought a focus on changes from bombers to ICBMs. Then it occurred to me, there is also the opportunity to refute the argument entirely, and say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Are the strategic long range B-2s of today really all that different than the strategic long range B-36s of yore? Evolution of technology of revolution? Let us know your thoughts, perhaps we can stimulate a little weekend discussion! To help get those intemperate thoughts in the right frame of reference, hit the just an enjoy some classic Convair B-36 Peacemaker footage from the classic film Strategic Air Command!

Continue reading Technology Flow

Deconstructing Technology

Cabbages on Rails

The EMD F40PH is in use with several train operators. It’s a capable train for passenger service even though it is somewhat outdated now, despite production ending in the early 1990s, due to the more efficient designs coming from GE and others over the last decade. Amtrak had several F40PH locomotives when they […]

Deconstructing Technology

Planetary Gears

Wait, this has nothing to do with the solar system. Hit the jump for a nifty video from the US Army on how planetary gears work. Just because it’s Friday doesn’t mean you can’t learn somethin’!

Continue reading Planetary Gears

Atomic Awesome, Deconstructing Technology, Technostalgia

Regarding the Images in “Mesta Memories”

plantproductofme00mest_0027Good morning everyone.

When I started posting the Mesta Memories series, one of the first questions asked was how those striking pictures were made. Were they photographs or drawings? They resembled photographs at first glance, but the tonal scales were off in a way that was hard to put your finger on. They didn’t appear to be drawings either, especially when examined closely. My thought at the time was the effect was from the process used to transfer photographs to plates for printing and the printing process itself. I have seen many of these types of images from that period, the late 1800s to the early 1900s, and I wanted to know how they were made, so I started looking into it.

I did a lot of looking, too. I searched everywhere I could think of and I couldn’t find anything that answered my questions about how images like that were produced. So I decided to email my cute niece Holly, who has studied publishing at college (has a degree in it, I believe) and works for the audiobook publisher Blackstone Audio, and see if she could give me any references. She put the question to her graphics guy, James, who is knowledgeable about these sorts of things, and he looked at the images and had this to say:

Continue reading Regarding the Images in “Mesta Memories”

Deconstructing Technology, Shutdown

An Exploded View…

Click on the image to see the entire picture.

A new occasional feature. There will be cutaway images too.

Deconstructing Technology

Pits And Lands

The CD is one of those technologies that seems to be…lingering. In fact, it’s on our A-T Technology Death Pool. But what of that shiny surface?

As you may already know, it’s made up of “pits” which are usually 100 nm deep and 500 nm wide and vary from 850 nm to […]