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.
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Pushing Boundaries

Rescue T-13

Yesterday I discovered a fascinating story about a daring space adventure back in 1985, a rescue mission to save the Soviet space station Salyut 7, the direct processor to Mir. This tale was posted over on the arstechnica website, and I am not going to do it an injustice by trying to retell […]

Pushing Boundaries

Egads! LADS!


Lasers are useful for a great many things, certainly up to and including being placed on the heads of irritable sea bass. For no reason whatsoever, this weekend will be the weekend of the laser here at Atomic Toasters, and we are going to start out by taking a look at a laser system that has proven to be quite useful indeed for those friendly fellows from down under. In the 1970s, the Royal Australian Navy noticed a lack of progress made in the surveying Australia’s territorial waters. There was much of the sea area that was was unsurveyed or simply old data from the age of sail, prompting the RAN to seek a method of effectively surveying large areas from the air. The Defence Science and Technology Organisation developed the LADS system, which stands for Laser Airborne Depth Sounder. The system began feasibility trials in is 1977, and although it was not operational until 1993, it is still flying today.

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Pushing Boundaries, Uncategorized

Forked-Tail Doctor Killer: The Beechcraft Bonanza


At the end of WW2 men who had been trained by our nation’s military to fly wanted to continue flying as a hobby. As they found employment and disposable income they began buying aircraft. Two companies saw the coming general aviation boom and prepared for it. Cessna built their Model 195, which was basically a continuation of their pre-war designs. It had a high wing, tailwheel design a radial engine. Beechcraft, on the other hand, designed an all new plane with a metal low-wing, monoplane design using Continental’s E-185 horizontally opposed six cylinder engine, and retractable landing gear.

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Pushing Boundaries

Overnight Delivery Not Available On This Item

In 2004, the heavy-lift ship MV Blue Marlin transported the Thunder Horse PDQ semi-submersible oil platform from South Korea to Texas. The trip took 63 days as the route took it around the Cape of Good Hope. The 60,000 ton Thunder Horse PDQ is the largest oil platform of its type and is […]

Pushing Boundaries

Doppler On Wheels


A while back we looked at Doppler RADAR and its importance to weather prediction. What about when you need the miracle of Christian Doppler’s discovery in a storm that may or may not cross a fixed Doppler RADAR installation? Enter Center for Severe Weather Research’s Doppler on Wheels (DOW) trucks.

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Pushing Boundaries

In Technicolor

Color films began appearing in the 1930s, shortly after the talkies. Technicolor created a process that could record “natural color” on the film. They did this by using a three-strip color process. Light entering the camera was split by a prism and recorded on separate film strips which had filters and emulsions sensitive […]

Pushing Boundaries

Silence of the Films


Once moving pictures could be recorded on film the industry grew quite rapidly. From the first motion picture c. 1890 to the 1920s, these films went from run times measured in seconds to ones measured in hours. The art went from filming guys walking out of a factory at the end of their work day to actual scripted and acted stories. The initial celluloid film, which was quite flammable and led to many movie house fires, was soon replaced with plastic-based film that was less prone to catching fire from the heat of the projector lamp or a movie operator’s cigar. At first, the only soundtrack was the clicking of the projector wheels. Soon, theaters hired pianists, organists or, in large urban areas, an entire orchestra to provide mood music. Soon, the producers were drafting sheet music to go with the movie so that moviegoers in Iowa City had the same movie experience as moviegoers in NYC. The industry as a whole really came alive. Even though Europe’s movie industry, which was the crown jewel of the industry, suffered a major setback due to a little world war during the 1910s, it came roaring back and was made stronger by a burgeoning film industry in an upstart town called Hollywood.

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Pushing Boundaries

Architectural Shift

MFO 006

What can you do if you have a historic building that is impeding the path of progress in the form of an expanded railway? If you are the Swiss company ABB, you simply decide to tear the thing down, not a very elegant solution. Plus, you run the risk of rousing the ire of the normally pleasant Swiss citizenry, who might just band together to, gasp, write a petition! This is indeed the situation that unfolded in Zurich last year, when the last remaining building from the Oerlikon machine factory, built in the latter part of the 19th century, was slated for demolition. Shown below, the complex was constructed by “Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO)”, who began manufacturing tool machinery, weapons and electric locomotives in 1876. Once all the signatures were counted up to save the building, ABB developed a different plan, working with new owner Swiss Prime Site and the Swiss Federal Railways to move the entire 260 foot long, 6,200 tonne 3 story structure nearly 200 feet out of the path of the new railroad. How you ask? Just like the Egyptians did it, with rollers! Well, maybe not just like, since the Egyptians probably did not have access to heavy duty hydraulic rams, but still, they put the entire building on rollers and slid it out of the way! Hit the jump for some time lapse video, and check out the Civil Engineering Bulletin for more detailed pictures and information.


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Pushing Boundaries

Northern 4-8-4

That ominous presence is the Canadian National Railway’s 6213 steam locomotive. In use with the railway from 1942 to 1959, it covered over a million miles pulling passengers and freight across the continent. It represents the pinnacle of steam locomotive design — the Northern type locomotive.

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